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Summer is Come

I am sitting here with my back to my home altar and the sun is beginning to shine in through the curtains. The birds are braying for attention and licit love, and the greening of the world from three days of good rain is a good sign that winter is mostly behind us for this turning of the Wheel.

We have come at last to the final hours of April, which is rightly called the cruelest month. This particular April has seemed about ninety days long--even with opera glasses and a proper squint, I can no longer see Fool's Day.

In the refrigerator, there is a big mason jar filled with sweet woodruff, strawberries and good white wine. "Summertime" is coming from our local NPR affiliate--a careful rendition that speaks less of hope than of persistence.

Greening, planting, worrying about the ragged fencing and the already-fat groundhogs that live in the hill--these are the morning musings for this day, the last day of old Winter. What shall we leave behind to compost? What shall we carry like nasturtium seeds in our pocketses, ready to plant in any likely--and some unlikely--place?

Most of us are not preparing for a fete on the village green but have smaller goals for our own to-do list. I will spend tonight (because I fit into the tribe that reckons a holy festival begins at sundown the day before) with friends as we say farewell to that old season of the inward spiral and welcome the Summer.  Tomorrow I will spend time with a community of good folk at the old cathedral in the old village and we will raise the tree and dance the ring.

And on Saturday, my spiritual community will come together for a public ritual to mark this turning. Yes, a tree. Yes, a crown for the Queen and her Crone and her Maiden. Yes, feasting and talk and song.

But the real Beltane of my heart--and maybe of yours--is the heady frightful grip of renewed life. It is the painful green and the flooded creek. It is a short row of radish seeds that germinate impossibly in a day and a half. Beltane is remembering young days and wearing a flower crown, and it is likewise dreaming of the day when your rumpty-tumpty deep night fumblings are shared with another.

In the face of so much destruction of the natural world and so much disregard for life, Beltane is also an act of rebellion against the status quo. It says about us--as simple people, as a growing community--that we don't give in to the death cycles imposed on us from Away, not in this season.  We plant and know that the harvest comes--not in the stately march from Lughnasadh to Samhain--but bit by bit and day by day.  We eat the impossible radishes in two weeks, we rip the dewy and crispy lettuce from the fat stem that sustains it. The hens fluff out and begin to lay again and life is there before us--irresistable, delicious.


Let your Beltane be an act of vibrant, heretical rebellion against the forces arrayed against life. As the final inches of ribbon wrap snugly against the mythic and flowered tree, raise your defiant fist high in the air and shout aloud--

Summer is come! Power to the People!


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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


  • Editor B
    Editor B Tuesday, 30 April 2013

    I appreciate how you weave in the spirit of rebellion. That's an aspect of May Day that also can be seen in the more explicitly political tradition of street protests. I also want to say: You write beautifully.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Tuesday, 30 April 2013

    Thank you--how kind. May Day and Beltane do have common roots. And I do mean "common."

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