Music For Beltane 2018 - Song Of The May
Music for Beltane and May Day
- "Song Of The May", by Alison Eve, from the songbook and CD set, "The Song Of The Wheel"
This song is all about the joys of spring! The birds getting frisky in the branches. The images chosen to accompany this song seek to communicate something of the passionate energy of this season. In contrast to the deeply Christian nature of the previous seasonal celebrations of Spring Equinox and Eastertide, Beltane and May Day have a distinctly earthy feel. Taken together these celebrations delineate the multivalent landscape which Ancient Arden Forest Church surfs and negotiates - a world of tensions and possibilities.
There is a resolutely archetypal flavour to this festival, as it presents us with male and female energies in quite simple yet deep dualities. This has the potential to be alienating for those among us who have a complicated relationship to cultural stereotypes and societal expectations of gender or sexuality, but let's think of it here as a dance. A dance going on within us. It is the same with other dualities such as heaven and earth, human and divine, sinner and saint, light and dark. These liminal places, with boundaries that flux and change, are to be trod lightly for they are Holy Ground. A friend recently wrote that they knew not from one day to the next which would arise within them, the boy or the girl. This is boundary dancing. It's not always easy to find the steps. In some cultures, dance is all about the distinct steps learnt by different sectors of society: the men's dance, the women's dance, etc. It must be hard to follow the steps in a dance you feel is not your own, or when none of the available choreography expresses you completely. But to begin to dance at all is to make friends with our body. The inner dance, may it guide our feet so that we can weave our dance.
There are all sorts of other boundaries. Categories and labels that we enforce on ourselves and others. Sometimes we forget how these are just tools and talk them up as deep Truths. We use these tools and that's ok, as we need some skill in categorising behaviours to survive in the world. But my wish for Beltane is that with the energies available to us at this fertile and blossoming time of year, we would find a way to dance lightly upon our boundaries and borders, to not mend broken fences or build brick walls, to add lots of gates, to explore unknown territories, to meet each other and the Other, and to dance together.
Sometimes the dance becomes broken, and we're left dancing alone. Searching for images to express Beltane, I was painfully aware how hard this festival can be if you are on your own. There is a loved one whom I have lost recently, leaving another loved one suddenly stranded outside the circle of this dance of intimacy. There is no dancing across that boundary. There are no words that can sweep it comfortably up into the whole to bring it a neat conclusion. There are no neat conclusions, for love, as strong as death as the line from the Song of Songs used in this song says, is a raging torrent at both ends.
The Song Of The Wheel