Happy Thor’s Day
From a Viking point of view, May Eve or April 30 represents the final day that Odin hung upside down on the World Tree and gained the knowledge of the runes. It is a festival time that commemorates his sacrifice for humanity. If you think this is suspiciously familiar with the Christian holiday of Easter, you would be right.
All mythology has within it some story of a god who sacrifices for humanity, this is hardly a unique concept and a very popular one with humans in every myth it is employed. The End of April is a special time of year for pagans of Northern European heritage known as Walpurgis with its celebration of April 30 Beltane and May Day with its maypole celebrations. First, though, we should look at Easter and the elements of paganism in it.
Easter. The very name is stolen from Eostre the fertility goddess. The pagan holiday revolves around fertility with rabbits being fertility symbols for obvious reasons and the egg as well-being the symbol of the beginning of life. It is funny to watch Christians with candy rabbits in their homes and coloring eggs and spring-like Easter traditions. Probably harmless, but it shows how much the traditions of paganism can survive and adapt. The whole end of April though is pretty much about fertility to pagans and the actions that bring it about – namely sex and lots of it.
Walpurgis. This a time of year at the end of April that stretches from April 22 to April 30 representing the nine nights that Odin hung from the World Tree. It is the official end of the Wild Hunt on April 30th. Six months previously it had started and now it ends. On May 1st – May Day – young couples dance around the maypole and oaths of marriage are taken which lasts one year and a day. Walpurgis is a time of other oaths as well.
Beltane. There are other traditions around this festival time. Most notably Beltane which is the night of April 30th itself. The end of winter is official and Summer begins. The most notable tradition is spending the night in the woods ‘a-maying’. Basically having sex and you could pretty much have sex with whoever you wanted. Even married couples could for that single evening lay their wedding bands aside and have sex with whoever they wished. You could also stay at home if you didn’t want to participate.
May Day. May First becomes the maypole festival portion where young couples, who probably had sex the night before, dance around and give their oaths of marriage. These oaths lasted a year and a day. The idea here that is unspoken is that married couples might split at this point, or retake their vows that would last another year and a day. Must have made every year an interesting thing for married couples joined this way. No one and done but a renewing of vows each year.
Time to Look Through the Eye:
If there is one thing we can all have faith in it is humans like to
fuck have sex. This time of year actually celebrates that rather than calling down condemnation. Spring is about the death of winter and the birth of summer. Fertility has a large part to do with that and is also celebrated along with children. The one thing I can draw some faith from is looking at nudity, sex, and sexuality as a positive spiritual expression rather than taboo. It is a welcome change.
It takes religion to destroy the joy of life. One of those joys is making love and religion always tries to set standards, but in truth, there is no rational reason to forgo sex other than not wanting an STD or a child. Outside this, religion is basically a way to control sexual behavior and in my mind, this is the great distinction between religion and paganism. Paganism isn’t interested in controlling the sexuality of others. Far more practical, free, and less cult-like.
As a deist, I no longer have the appeal to authority that once was so necessary to dictate terms to people’s sexual relationships. I don’t want it and it is a waste of energy in my mind to be judgmental of people’s sexual habits or living arrangements. With this absent, a theology of sex and sexuality is not difficult; it is simply non-judgmental. If you look at the nature of the world of sexual guidance, you will see it all. From faithful monogamy to harems to interchange of partners whenever the mood strikes – animals literally do it all.
In the end, I leave it to each person’s own moral sovereignty to determine their living arrangement and sexual partners. Control of sexual expression is just no longer part of my theology. My issue is wisdom in such arrangements and whether or not people are going to try to steal from me to pay for the consequences and results of such unions. My only other moral concern is that each person is engaged with their full free will consent.
Personally, I have always found sex to be as spiritual as it is physical. Oneness is the best way I can describe it. The fact that it is also physically enjoyable is pretty cool too, but its the intimacy often after sex that I enjoy the most. That moment where you are naked in each other’s arms having spent all to make love. That moment is the best part to me spiritually speaking.
I continue to find pagan holidays and customs to be more practical and more realistic than religious ones. There are more freedoms here and as such less unnecessary guilt and no shame. If a relationship goes forward, it does so by constant yearly assessment rather than one and done. Sex is and it is not evil or dirty. Rather it is a natural thing to make love and the only concerns are children (which in paganism are celebrated), STDs and consent. Our modern world has actually made the STD and Children questions a matter much more manageable. Rape, of course, is universally condemned or at least it should be.
I find this holiday the most liberating from my past. Even though I will be at home with my wife on Beltane because of my vows are ’til death do us part’, I find the notion of releasing religious judgment makes things less stressful and opens the door to a lot more friendships. Enjoy Beltane with your lover. Peace.
Continuing to Walk the Path,
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.