It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating
on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last
week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer.
The BBC web-site tells us that:
Beltane is a Celtic
word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival
that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming
year.Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring
time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a
fruitful year for their families and fields.Beltane rituals would often include
courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and
lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and
marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.
Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my
eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is
a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and
in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.
I believe that we
live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real
celebration, and marking the passages of life;
1. Are ritual markings of birth marriage and death important to you?
I love rituals but unfortunately I cannot say that I've participated much in rituals for birth, marriage, and death. Yes, there are the baptisms/blessings, marriages, and funerals but for whatever reasons they do not fully represent or embrace what I consider rituals. Perhaps that is because they vary so much, there might be one or two pieces that are the same.
2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
This past year one of our members was voted Sheriff and officially starting the job on Jan. 1. The Sunday before we blessed him at church and while looking for materials I came across John Wesley's Covenent Renewal Service (UMC BOW 288-294). It is often used on New Year's Eve or Day but can be used at any time of the year. We used it as part of our service the Sunday before Jan. 1. I loved it. One of the focal points is Wesley's Covenent Prayer which I love:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou
wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or
brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all
things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy
pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
Oh, there are many I'd love to work on! Loss of a pregnancy, divorce, pre and/or post abortion, a ritual for birth you'd do in the hospital or home right after the birth, the celebration of beginning and ending the teen years, a better ritual for the celebration of life/death and ressurrection/funerals, onset of menstration and menopause.
4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how? I think many of our festivals in the church are already connected to ancient and pagan festivals whether we admit to it or not. I think there is richness in many of these ancient festivals but I'm not ready to begin incorporating them into churchlife. As an aside, my daughter's best friend went to a neo-pagan celebration of another friend's onset of menstration. Part of that included the girl wearing a white dress and her guests "painting" her with their hands dipped in red paint. I'm torn between this been over the top or wonderful. They had red-velvet cake and everything centered on red. Interesting if nothing else!
5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?
Hmmm...that is an extraordinarily difficult question. My ideal celebration for our 15th wedding anniversary would be for Joel and I to be whale watching in Alaska. My ideal celebration for each of my girls' 16th birthdays would be to take them each to NYC and do things specific to their interests--visiting the art museums for my artist and taking an art class, taking my writer to the main branch of the NYC library and absorb all of those writers who have gone before us and write at least one story/poem while we are there, for my drama queen taking her to an acting class and a show. Those are just a few ideas I have for wonderful celebrations.