IN THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
The Beltane or May Day celebrations that survive today in parts of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, are mostly tame by ancient accounts. In days of yore, May Day was a time of general licentiousness, with numerous "greenwood" weddings, conducted by a local unordained "Friar Tuck." Some of these unions were, no doubt, subsequently blessed by the clergy, but many children conceived in moments of abandon were later permanently abandoned by their fathers. A popular girl might not even be certain of her child's paternity. This wild revelry led to a crop of festival names, like Mayfair, Fairbanks, Merriweather and Greenwood.
The Rites of May were fertility rituals rooted in the concept of sympathetic magic, which can be most easily described by the notion inherent in Homeric simile. Even as the gods (spirits or demons) do in heaven, Asgard or the Otherworld, so shall (I, we, they, whomever) do in this one — on earth as it is in heaven. Agricultural communities that wanted their herds and flocks to multiply and their crops to grow, held their festivals in places of power or in the pastures and fields themselves, or both, just to be sure. The hunters and gatherers had similar ceremonies, sometimes dressing in the skins of the animals they sought to propitiate, to be certain that their ritual magic was directed, for example, at an increase in the deer and not the wolves!
Our story begins with a May-Eve concert heralding the beginning of summer and will end with a Halloween concert, heralding the start of the winter season, the significance of which will be made clear elsewhere. But keeping the Rites of Spring in mind, you may be sure that Fiona's suggestive revelation about festival names is meant to interest Morgen in her "pageant." Her own name reveals a great deal to the initiate. Fiona means "white," a thinly veiled reference to the White Goddess, Cardea, from which we take the cardinal points of the compass, but also the Moon Goddess. If Laura is the incarnation of the goddess of love, Fiona is another such incarnation, Mother Nature in the flesh, wanton Maid Marion of the Greenwood. The loaf of bread baked in the form of a nude woman she leaves behind for Morgen is both a reminder that her festival is imminent, and an invitation to him to come join the fun!
Travis Edward Pike
28 January 2019, Otherworld Cottage