Beltane-tide Prayer 2009
I dedicate this prayer and post
To You oh Illustrious Lady,
Golden, Sea-Born, Cyprian,
Night and Laughter Loving Queen,
As we wind our way towards Beltane,
Open the peoples eyes and inform their minds,
To dangers both known and unseen
I have yet to make it to a festival myself, I don’t have anyone I know real well to share camp with and now that issues of time and money are waning I am hesitant to throw myself into this aspect of the Pagan community without finding a festival buddy first. Silly, I know, but its how I feel.
As we wind our way towards Beltane I am reminded, by stories from one of my dearest Pagan friends of just how festive some of the festivals out there can be!
Especially this time of year. Beltane, or May Day, is the time of year when many of us modern Pagans celebrate fertility and passion and joy and love and lust. In theory it’s all about the fertility of the land and a time when many Witches and Pagans celebrate the sexual union of their Goddess and God bringing life back into the world. In practice there are event’s and festivals that feature that symbolism and often a dancing of the May Pole, and a lot of flirting games and sometimes a lot more than just flirting as folks very actively celebrate fertility.
For me, as a Witch who is also a budding Hellenic Polytheist, Beltane seems like the natural time to honor Aphrodite.
Aphrodite is the Goddess of Love and Beauty, of Procreation and Fornication, of Desire and Flirtation: She is Fairest of the Gods of Marriage, She whose wrath can strike men impotent, She who bestows Beauty and Grace, Lady of Pleasure and Merriment; She Who with Erato and Apollon presides over Love Poetry and Song, Lady of the Morning Star, Protectoress of the Homeland, and Goddess of Peace.
I’ve written a few things about Her before, prayers of my own, and the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite, and a little post wherein I suggested we modern Pagans should celebrate and honor Her in our Circles and at Beltane.
Now I could wait and hold a solitary ritual with an altar of images of Aphrodite, and with flowers and sweet candies for Her. I could, and possibly shall, read the Orphic Hymn to Her and some more prayers of my own to Her, and pour libations of wine and water and honey.
In the last day or so, however, I feel compelled to say some things about sex and sexuality how we Pagans honor Beltane.
Now, sex is wonderful and beautiful and sacred, as is wine, and music. So too is Love, in all it’s forms from friendship to blazing passion to deathless romance, so too is Trust; and so too are every atom and cell of our bodies. At least that last part is a part of the party line for a lot of Pagans out there; some of the stories I hear from friends about the festival circuit are beginign to make me wonder though.
If every atom and cell of our bodies partake of the Divines, then don’t we owe it to Them and to ourselves to be a little careful with our cells and atoms? If our community is so fabulously free of psychological hang ups, so open, so sex-positive; if sex is sacred how come you never see an HIV testing tent at a community Beltaine event?
Since personal responsibility is such an integral part of being Pagan, why don’t we talk more at this time of year about reproductive health and about birth control and about family planning? Why don’t we see Beltane (or even Imbolc) health fares in our Pagan communities?
I find myself wondering how many people in our community realize that one of the big reasons that a lot of open rituals will pass out dixie cups for sharing or wine or mead at the appropriate time in the ritual is because sharing a drinking vessel can spread oral herpes?
How many of you knew that oral herpes is present in 50 to 80 percent of the U.S. population?
When I read that roughly 1 million people in the U.S. have HIV; and 1 out of every 5 of them has no idea that they are infected! When I hear that someone in the United States is infected with HIV every 9 minutes and 30 seconds…
I cannot help but wonder what Aphrodite, what any of the Goddesses of Love and Beauty, must think of these sad simple facts? Are we truly celebrating fertility and honoring the full spirit of the season if we don’t think about our actions?
Nor is HIV the only potentially lethal STD that you need to worry about. To paraphrase Henny Youngman…
Take my Hepatitis B. Please!
I have no idea where or when I got Hepatitis B, I learned about it long after that fact when I was taking a routine HIV test.
Luckily enough (if you can say that about a life-changing illness) my body fought off the infection. This means that while Hep-B is present in my blood, I am not actively contagious and cannot transmit it to my Partner through casual contact or even sexual activity. It is still in my blood though, and I am at risk for liver problems later in life.
I find myself wondering how many in the Pagan community may face a medical time bomb and not even know it?
We are responsible for our actions and choices. The gods have granted us this gift of intellect and will, and Will, so use it wisely! Honor the Goddesses and Gods of your path, especially those of Love and Beauty and even Lust; but seek to do so in wisdom and honor. Inform and educate yourself and make choices grounded in your head and heart, not your hormones, this Beltane season!
~~~A Few (unconventional) Beltane Resources~~~
CDC general STD information and curriculum tools
An STD information page from the University of Maryland
Coalition for Positive Sexuality ~ A free-online Sex education resource, including information on STD’s and Birth Control.
A Safer Sex information website from William’s College