Make way for Beltane!

by | Oct 27, 2022 | Seasons Newsletter | 10 comments

 

I was surprised. She didn’t want to be Persephone in the school play.
I thought all the girls would have lusted after the part of the maiden, dancing with her friends amidst the spring flowers, her head crowned with a ring of blossoms.

But not 11-year-old Mira. She wanted to be Hades.

 

The clash

Each year, at the height of Spring, I make a new attempt to reconcile what I’ve seen as a jarring clash. Southern hemisphere Beltane, Whiringa-ā-nuku, Flowering and Sap Rise has been invaded, it seems, by the northern hemisphere festival of Halloween. At dusk, children form excited clusters, clad in black cloaks and spooky gear, and giggle their way down the streets to trick and treat.

 

Once upon a spring

This was unheard of when I was a child. Spring stood supreme, showering us with pollen and petals as we walked to school, raining its bounty over our heads and into the eager warm soil. The idea of death remained aloof.

We launched ourselves into outdoor games, swimming, and running freely once more over the hills. The cows came back into milk, hens were clucking and laying again, and calves were ready to be groomed for Calf Club Day.

Our mothers baked their soft airy sponges, dusted with icing sugar, our fathers cut their best cabbages, and we kids pushed pansies and daisies into sand saucers, ready for the flower show.

Spring was simple then: a season of awakening and enthusiasm as we shook off the shackles of winter.

 

 

Bad characters

“Why Hades?” I asked my granddaughter.

‘Because he’s much more interesting than Persephone. I like the sound of him. He’s a tiny bit evil and powerful too.’

Have you noticed how children are drawn to the bad characters? Maybe that’s the attraction of Halloween, imported into our southern hemisphere season of peak spring from America.

 

 

Spring captured!

Spring is full of the brightness of newly awakened oak leaves, lush grass, and a sea of rain lilies, the white crocus-like blooms that spring up like mushrooms after warm rain.

But then, spring in all her innocence, is abducted. The earth opens and Hades charges up from the underworld in his chariot, grabs Persephone and takes her down to the realm of death.

The dark realm is the current season of the northern hemisphere, on the brink of Samhain. In this Festival of the Dead, chaos rules and the usual social order is turned upside down. The importing of this festival to the southern hemisphere threatens to swallow up any spring celebrations.

 

 

My fantasy

But I have a fantasy. In it, two seasons live in one day. That day is October 31.

I imagine clusters of Persephones tripping down the streets, laying flowers on people’s doorsteps at dawn. Then at dusk, gaggles of ghosts and goblins prowling the darkening streets with their bags of tricks and treats. Not just the Halloween takeover, but space for flowers, maypoles, and maidenhood as well. Two hemispheres in one day, a kind of reconciliation.

Is there a way for the young ones to flirt with the shadow without being abducted by it?

What do you think? I welcome your thoughts.

Blessings of the season to you,
Juliet

PS And if you are in the northern hemisphere, this link will take you into your season, to help you prepare for winter.

 

 

Three books for the seasons

For guidance in aligning with the season you are in, my Seasons books are there to help you.

Sun, Moon, and Stars will inspire you to celebrate with your family or whānau.

Celebrating the Southern Seasons is a classic resource book to take you through Māori, Christian and European traditions for every season.

Dancing with the Seasons is a personal guide to the seasonal flow. It will guide you through three ‘tasks’ for each season, on the physical, psychological and spiritual levels.

10 Comments

  1. Jane Duncan Rogers

    I love this idea! There’s an assumption at the moment around Halloween that precludes anyone outside of the northern hemisphere.

    I’ve made that assumption too.

    So I’m delighted to read this post and consider the day being marked by both occasions.

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you, Jane; lovely to hear your feedback. We celebrate Samhain/Halloween on April 30 here in the southern hemisphere, and it has deep meaning as the shadows gather and we stand on the threshold of winter.

      Reply
  2. Monika

    I have been torn between northern and Southern hemisphere celebrations, had mixed feelings about Halloween. But as my daughter grows up she has been interested in taking part in this tradition- and I wonder if her reasons are more innocent. She is enjoying the dress ups and lollies, the social side of it of going around our neighbourhood. This year she is planning to be a witch. So maybe in the spirit of embracing it I can talk to her (yet again) about witchcraft as being in tune with nature? She loves flowers and gardening as well, we just put up fairy lights in the flowering cherry tree outside her bedroom window. Maybe we can make little bunches of flowers that she can give away to neighbours in exchange for sweets? I love the idea of embracing both sides, thinking about creating our little family traditions.

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Monica, thank you. I appreciate how little ones like dressing up etc in quite an innocent way. I love the idea of giving the neighbours little bunches of flowers in exchange for sweets. That carries a teaching about giving and receiving going together, not just asking but also offering. Beautiful. I wonder if one day the little girls will dress as spring fairies?

      Reply
      • Tanja

        Growing up in Germany close to the Harz mountains, we celebrated ‘Walpurgisnacht’ on April 30th. Looking back at it now I guess it has it’s traditions in May Day and especially Beltane with the veil between the world’s being thin.

        We used to dress up as witches (and boys often as zombies) as we dance through the night in front of big bonfires, so for me celebrating Halloween with it’s spooky dress ups is easily enough translated into the ‘Walpurgisnacht’ or ‘Dance into the May’ traditions I’m used to from the northern hemisphere.

        I don’t want to sell any of these tours but the following website has a good explanation of Walpurgisnacht 🙂
        https://www.macsadventure.com/us/blog/what-is-walpurgisnacht/

        Reply
        • Juliet Batten

          Thank you Tanja! I enjoyed hearing about your ‘Dance into the May’ traditions and appreciate the information.

          Reply
  3. Penny

    Thank you for your words Juliet. Unfortunately I see the establishment of celebrating ‘Halloween’ in NZ at this time as an increase in the Americanisation of New Zealand. Let us hope we can keep our kiwi/English spelling!
    Beltane is my favourite festival. Why? Because it was my Nanna’s birthday (1 November). She loved Dublin Bay Roses, beautiful red bush roses. Red and Green are the colours I think of when I think of Beltane, so each year I seek those roses out and bring some inside. I recently moved house and to my delight, I now have the most wonderful climbing red rose positively blooming outside where I can see it.
    On Saturday night friends of mine hosted a Beltane/Halloween party and were encouraged to ‘wear the green’. They also said ‘no plastic’ to their decorations so everything was natural. Tonight I will put my usual ‘no trick or treaters, come back April 30th’ on my gate and tomorrow in come some roses and greenery, reminders of my favourite season :-)

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Penny! What a pleasure to find a red rose blooming at your new house. I love the way you enter so fully into the spirit of Beltane, and smiled at the notice on your gate. Happy celebrations to you.

      Reply
  4. Tara

    HI Juliet, a friend posted this article on facebook. I have been dipping into Sun, Moon and Stars again to get my head around this time of year. We lived rural for a long while so successfully dodged trick or treaters. Now my boys are older and we live in the suburbs, we’ve had a few conversations around Halloween. We don’t do it, I explained to the boys that it’s the wrong time of year, and my 9 yr old completely understands the darkness bringing a little more spookiness. They love dressing up though, so we found a light party to go to instead. We are also creating our own little mixed tradition of; the boys build a next somewhere in the garden….then a ‘dragon egg’ arrives, and lastly a dragon (toy) hatches. This evolved from my son making a nest one year and I added a toy dragon as a surprise. Today they will come home and find a chocolate egg (stashed away from easter) in there. A sort of mish mash of spring nests/ fantastical creatures of Halloween and treats. (And we have talked about making more of an effort in April for some spooky stories maybe).

    Reply
    • Juliet Batten

      Hi Tara, so sorry I missed this comment when you first posted – I think I got distracted by replying to you on Facebook. I appreciate your comment very much; it’s great to hear your perspective and your creative ways with this seasonal ritual.

      Reply

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