Friday, August 22, 2014

Pagan Blog Project – week 34 – Q#2 – Queen of the May

Pagan Blog Project – week 34 – Q#2 – Queen of the May

My eclectic ritual group actually has very few traditions, but one that we adore is our Beltane ritual.  Since we take turns hosting, writing, and facilitating rituals, no two events are ever the same, with the exception of our May Day celebration.

Our first Beltane was a very small gathering in 2010, and it’s pretty much been the same ritual for five years, with a few variations.  I have hosted all of our Beltane rituals with the exception for one, and the ritual has elements in it that trickle into the next year and into the next year and into the next year, with the potential to spiral on and on and on.  People seem to like the ritual, though, and I’m a lazy person, so this format has worked so far.

I have always loved the idea of having a May Queen.  I know I like to feel special, and I assume others like to feel special, too.  So crowning the Queen of the May can be a nice way to make someone feel good about themselves without putting too much attention on them and making them feel weird.  My alma mater coven incorporated a circle-casting structure that invoked the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, and I included these elements for my May Day ritual in an attempt to make more people feel a little more special, too.

So, for Beltane, the facilitator plays the part of the Fool, who has a special relationship with the Green Man/Consort/Hand-Maiden.  (This part has been called all three of these names over the years, depending on the attendance and needs of the group.  Basically, this part is the person who “serves” the Queen and group in some way.)  The group agrees on all of the other parts as part of the ritual.  This is done before the circle is cast because each part plays a special role in the ritual.

“If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now; it's just a spring clean for the May Queen. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on.”

The former Queen/new Crone  crowns the new Queen.  The former Maiden/new Queen crowns the Maiden, and the Maiden crowns the Crone/former Queen.  When the crowning takes place, the person bestowing the crown (a floral wreathe, circlet, and witch’s hat) are free to offer their own blessing, with words, silence, or energy.  After this brief ceremony, the Fool blesses all others in attendance as the “Red People”, and this is usually done with a gratuitous amount of red glitter. 

“Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know, the piper's calling you to join him. Dear Lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know your stairway lies on the whispering wind?”

We go into the ritual with a pretty good idea of who will have each part (because if you were Queen last year you’re going to be Crone this year), but we still like to make a show of it and “vote”.  But what is decided new every year is the Maiden.  I think we all secretly want to be the Maiden but are too afraid to speak up (or maybe that’s just me).  But being the Maiden is fun because you get to wear a crown of flowers and you have no responsibilities – at first.  Because eventually, as is the cycle, the Maiden will mature into motherly energy, and the next year she will be Queen.

“And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul, there walks a lady we all know who shines white light and wants to show how everything still turns to gold. And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last when all are one and one is all!”

After five years of this ritual, I’ve noticed some interesting trends about the Queen of the May.  The women who have been crowned as the Queen have quit their jobs, gotten engaged, embarked on their dreams, traveled the world, gotten married, been initiated, and almost always taken more responsibility in their lives and in the craft, in one way or another.  So what I’ve come to realize about this ritual is that it’s not just wearing a fun crown for the ritual and into the night as we drink and dance and laugh.  An exchange of energy happens, and that archetype of Maiden/Mother/Crone begins to work in the lives of these women in a very powerful way.  I’ve seen Crones settle down and buy homes, get promoted at work, and grow in wisdom.  I’ve seen Maidens laugh and party and get taught harsh and challenging life lessons.  But these cycles spiral and change, to be repeated again with a new Maiden, Mother, or Crone the following year.

“The wheel turns. Without ceasing. The Wheel turns. And turns again.”

This was the first year that I didn’t facilitate our Beltane ritual.  And since this was the first year that I wasn’t in charge (as much as a Fool can be in charge), this was the first year that I was eligible to enter the cycle of Maiden/Mother/Crone.  This year my group chose me to be their Maiden, which means next year I will be the Queen.  It’s a responsibility I have avoided for five years, and next year it will be my honor to take my place beside my crowned sisters as Queen of the May.

What are your favorite Beltane celebrations?  Do you or does your group crown a Queen of the May?  Do you incorporate the Maiden/Mother/Crone archetypes into your rituals in any way?  What archetype have you been avoiding in your life?  Don’t you just love the song Stairway to Heaven?  Please leave some thoughts and comments below, because I’ve love to hear from you!  And in the meantime, clear skies, and all hail the Queen of the May!

Credit to Led Zeppelin and Uncle Buck for years of ritual inspiration and scripts.

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