Blessed Beltane to everyone, near and far. It’s the traditional first day of summer, and it’s a time to build some Maypoles, set out your flowers and may bushes, then build some bonfires and dance your heart out. It’s a time of joyous celebration, and one that we should get back to–but we don’t, ’cause those commies had to go and ruin it for everyone. Thanks, Lenin!
At my fictional Salem school, today is a big deal. Coven Blodeuwedd is responsible for setting up the celebrations–better The Flower Girl than Cernunnos, because Beltane is also tied to fertility, and the last thing you want to do is send half your student population home to the folks in a family way because The Horned God kicked out the jams. Don’t worry: Cernunnos does the Ostara Festival, and they keep the kids busy singing and dancing then.
Beltane at Salem has its own traditions. First, there are no classes: it’s casual lay about day for everyone. Despite being metric to all hell, the Flight of the Mile High Club takes place right after breakfast. What’s that, you say? It’s the day a few brave A Level, first-time for flying students, hop on their Class 1 PAVs and fly them a mile, 5,280 feet or 1,610 meters, into the air. It’s described a bit like getting on your mountain bike and riding to the top of a mile high peak–only your mountain bike hasn’t any wheels, and there isn’t any mountain under you. The only thing keeping you in the sky is a thin sliver of enchanted technology and a whole lotta willpower. Think about sitting on a bicycle with nothing between you and The Big Splat but emptiness–and then think about doing that when you’re twelve.
Yeah, it’s like that. Either you stay home because that image is too much, or you become a leaf on the wind.
Then, after it gets dark, about half the instructors head out to Selena’s Meadow where awaits the mother of all bonfires. They bring about fifty, sixty students with them, all there by invitation only. They say a few words about how great the school year has been, how there’s only a month left and they’re going to miss everyone, they bless all those who reside within the hallowed walls of the school–then light that sucker up with a few well-placed fireballs.
It’s at this point that people are encouraged to dance, have fun, and let their feelings hang on their sleeves. It’s also where the optional part of the show kicks in: anyone wanting to dance “skyclade” is encouraged to disrobe and get right down to their nothings. This is why it’s invitation only for the students, because you need to have a not-easily blown mind to know you’re not only gonna be dancing around naked with a few of your fellow classmates, but you’re liable to find the instructor you’re having class with the next day cavorting around in her birthday plumage. Don’t worry: only about two-thirds of the instructors and staff attending get down to their altogethers, so some students may be spared some momentary embarrassment.
It’s actually in this year, March 2014, that in my fictional universe Professor Erywin Sladen tells Kerry the story of her B Levels, her “Year of Hell” as she dubbed it. It was the year she came out as the first openly gay student at Salem. It was the year she got her ass beat in the girl’s bathroom for her troubles. It was the year she was shoved back inside the fishbowl by a huge portion of the student body, because it was 1979/1980 and shunning was the order of the day. It was the year that everyone was afraid they were gonna get lesbian cooties from her. (Sure, it wasn’t like the school hadn’t seen lesbians before–like three hundred years before–but times get strange, you know?)
It was also the year she met her “pretty girl”, her ta mokoed Kiwi, Helena. It was the year she finally made a mate, and then a bestie, and at Beltaine a skyclade Helena convinced Erywin to cast aside her prudish Protestant upbringing and join her to dance under the stars, and Erywin did that. She dance first for the first time, she actually made friends–who finally realized she wasn’t some perv and that she wasn’t there to seduce them, and who was, all in all, a pretty damn good witch.
It was also at that bonfire she cried, because someone told her they loved her, the person remained the center of her life and who still taught along side her as she tells Kerry this story with misting eyes.
It’s a time to change, to bring in newness. It’s a time to find direction and focus. It’s time to cleanse yourself of the staleness of winter.
It’s time to get out and dance–
With wild abandon.