01 May 2017
Whether you have a Maypole ribbon to hand or are watching the dancing. Perhaps you're at a demo or a rally for worker's rights. Or maybe like me, indoors until the rain blows over, happy Beltane!
Apple blossom in the quarry, last week.
All over the world folks celebrate May 1st, as a Workers' Day, for very good reasons. In some states it's a Revolution Day, and all sorts of regimes and causes put their name to it. However, in these islands, as well as a time to protest, it was traditionally a day off work for dancing, merriment, drinking and flirting. The Church and even Cromwell had a hard time stopping it. The spirit of celebrating Summer's return makes utter sense, and has survived to the present era- all over the country there are events. Perhaps there's one near you. When I was a kid, even in my C of E school, we would dance around the Maypole every May Fair, dressed in white and ribbons. There would be country dancing, plenty of cakes, including 'guess the weight of the cake', which was taken very, very seriously by The Mothers.
The pole is the Tree Of Life, and also symbolic of the pole around which the years turns. Those of us who pay attention to the solar year (and the lunar month- such as with the fisherman / woman with the tides) do not expect to feel the same every season, or at every time of the month. Like all natural things, humans ebb and flow with their environment, although electric light and central heating has dulled this rhythm considerably.
In T'ai Chi and Taoist Classics, the phases of the day, month and year are often used as metaphors for times to work harder, to rest, or as codes for specific moments in meditation, or at the peak of an opponent's attack, when it changes into retreat, for instance. This moment in the year in the Northern Hemisphere could be descibed as having strongly rising Yang energy, for instance. Everything is growing upwards.
Close attention to the immense subtleties of the natural world, the entire environment, the wider context, the moment at hand - these are not the tenets of superstition or flakey ideas, they are indeed the basis of science itself. Empirical observation and attention to the subtle can be the foundation of great art, science, meditation or internal martial arts, all of which are enriched and refined by awareness and letting go of pre-conceived ideas.
May Day brings us freshness (in my case in the form of rain, which my seedlings need). What can we look at afresh today?