May Day: Celebrating the Fertile Earth

The third in a series of posts celebrating the changing seasons, based on the neo-pagan eightfold festival year. I am not overly religious but I’ve always had leanings towards Pagan beliefs. My practice largely revolves around observing the seasons and celebrating the beauty of nature.

About the may-pole we dance all a-round,
And with garlands of pinks and roses are crown’d;
Our little kind tribute we merrily pay,
To the gay Lad and bright Lady o’ the May.
Maypole Song (1673)

May Day Bluebells © Bryony Whistlecraft |

Festival of Joyus Communion, Love & Fertility

Spring has most definitely sprung! The fresh green fronds of fern are unfurling. Blossom stars the trees and the woods are awash with a haze of bluebells and wild garlic. Birds are nesting and raising their young, and bees buzz drowsily from flower to flower, collecting pollen to make honey while also fertilising the plant. May Day, or Beltane, is an exuberant, sensual celebration of life in all its glory. We stand on the threshold of summer, and while the odd frost may yet nip at tender green leaves, we are ready to embrace the outdoor life and make ready the BBQ.

While Spring Equinox is a fertility festival which focusses on gentle newborn animals and symbolism in the form of eggs and buds, May Day is one great… well, orgy of fecundity. Traditionally a time for ‘greenwood marriages’ where lovers might slip into the woods for the night, to make merry and make love. This act, through sympathetic magic, would also ensure the fertility of the crops for the year.

That particular tradition may not be widely practised now (at least, it’s not mentioned in polite society). However, communities still come together to dance around the Maypole – a wonderful visual reminder of the energies of this time. The phallic pole crowned with fresh flowers gradually entwined with vibrant ribbons. Village greens around the country play host to scores of Morris dancers. I truly feel like Spring is here once I’ve encountered my first Morris troupe out in the wild.

Across the land windowsills and greenhouses are crammed with seedlings awaiting their turn to be planted in the warming ground. And so too, I hope, all your dreams conceived in the winter months are now sprouting and ready to grow and grow into a fruitful harvest.

May Day Unfurling Oak Leaf © Bryony Whistlecraft |


  1. Orgy of fecundity is a fantastic phrase! I think beltane is one of my favourite times of year and this captured perfectly why. Going to listen to your fantastic playlist today.

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