Our True Nature
At Bealtaine we transition from the quiet, inward activities of the cold months to a vibrant focus on the world blooming around us. Bealtaine (pronounced BYAL-teh-neh in Irish), celebrated in the US as May Day, initiates the light half of the year (samos) in the Celtic calendar. Flowers lure bees and other pollinators with showy, fragrant blossoms. Seeds sprout, stretching stems and leaves toward the newly-warm sun. Animals and birds mate, bear young ones and begin to raise them to maturity. We humans strip off layers of wool and fleece, dig our hands in the soil during the lengthening days, and feel the fires of passion ignite.
At this time the veil between the physical and spirit worlds is thin, as it was at Samhain (Halloween) six months ago. Then, we drew close to the spirits of beloved ones who had died. At Bealtaine, we dance with the Earth Spirits to the beat of life. In Ireland they are known as Aos Sí (pronounced es shee) or the fairie folk.
In Ireland last fall, I had a vivid, moving experience of direct contact with Aos Sí. In the past I have feared their trickster ways, vividly described in many old folk tales. I learned that these beautiful and generous beings have much more to fear from us. We humans have been taught to see ourselves as separate from nature and to act as if that were true. This mistaken belief is deeply disturbing to Aos Sí. If we want to connect with the Earth Spirits, we need to overcome it.
Easier said than done.
Try this. Take some time in the next week to go into a forest or patch of woods near you. If you can’t do that, go outside in your yard, neighborhood or local park. Find a tree you are drawn to and stand near it. Take a deep breath. Feel the oxygen-rich air fill your lungs all the way down into your belly. Exhale, breathing out carbon dioxide. You are breathing with the tree, which is breathing out oxygen, taking in carbon dioxide, and turning it into sugar and cellulose (wood).
Imagine that you, too, have roots growing several feet deep into the soil beneath your feet. Your roots, like the tree’s, extend out laterally from your body as much as 20 feet. Feel yourself anchored firmly in the earth. Notice how that affects the sensations in your body.
The tree’s roots, and your imaginary ones, connect to the roots of every other plant within that 20-foot radius. They store and share sugars and other nutrients and take up water. The plants, and the fungi that live on their root systems, form a community. Ask permission to join that community, at least temporarily. Sense the response. How does it feel to be part of it, to feel your individual identity blend into a network of hundreds, thousands of living beings?
Ask what you can contribute in exchange.
Become aware of any creatures that are part of this community – a crow, a woodpecker, a line of ants, a squirrel, a small grub or worm, a bee. Sense their presence with your whole body, not just your eyes and ears. What do you notice?
Try this experiment with both a flowering and a non-flowering tree. What difference in sensations do you experience?
By doing these things, you are opening up your sensory perceptions and energy field to the living beings around you and increasing your awareness of being part of, rather than apart from, nature. Because you are.
Now that your field is open, allow yourself to imagine that each being around you has consciousness and intelligence – a spirit or soul. Imagine that you can listen to that being. Messages may come through in sounds, words, sensations, images, or an impulse to move in a certain way. Or you may suddenly know something you didn’t know before without knowing how you know it. Don’t worry if you’re not aware of anything in particular. And if something does come through, please try not to discount it or tell yourself you are making it up. Write it down, if you can. Notice how that message, whatever it is and however it comes, affects you over the next few days.
Welcome to the dance of nature, and happy Bealtaine!
Join with others to celebrate Bealtaine and connect more closely with Aos Sí on April 30, 2-5 PM! For more information, click here.