E2 Magazine, May 2014
Festival, Faith, and Fury
Holidays have a way of bringing out the best and the worst we have to offer. As the seasons transition there always seem to be holidays underfoot, though you may have to look a little harder to find the ones in the Springtime.
Festival and Faith
This section of E2 Magazine dredges up some of the writing we have to offer on spring holidays. Pagan holidays, and drinking holidays, and co-opted rituals, but hey, what can you do?
Ask most people what holidays and celebrations come around this time of year, and surely some of them will stare back vacantly and drool. But some may in fact tell you about May Day, even if they're not sure what it's really about, except maybe not being able to deposit checks that day. The more history-minded may grumble about Communist infiltration.
Much more likely though, particularly in North America, will be cries of Cinco de Mayo. Mexican Independence day? International Tequila Day? The flagship holiday of the Cultural Appropriation Movement? I can tell you though that if you happen to make the mistake of hitting the bar circuit on the 5th of May you're likely to see college kids doing things you didn't think were legal anymore.
Floralia, though is far less likely to pop up at all, and for that reason alone you may consider reading about it. I don't know when the last time you left an offering for Chloris was, but if nothing else do some light reading about why people used to.
Finally in this section, one of E2's beloved authors hints at things to come with his brief but informative look at Walpurgis Night. Don't tread too far down the softlink path, though, before you've had a look at what comes next.
This section of E2 Magazine closes with an editorial, of sorts. As the fury of winter storms fades, the greening begins - and the blossoming of spring rites descended from time immemorial.
Except wait a second, no they're not! A contributor brings us thoughts on Beltane and its presentation in certain circles, including right here on Everything2:
At the time of this writing there are no less than 8 other normal writeups and one Webster in the node Beltane. Which is nice and all — God grant we should have so much work on every topic — excepting one niggling problem: that every inch of the first seven writeups is total bullshit, and the eighth is saved from the same solely by its nature as a fairly dispassionate report on the insane bullshit of other people.
Reading the node is a startlingly unpleasant experience, not unlike, say, looking up the phrenology node and discovering that every writeup starts with some variation of »Phrenology is a science which has gone from triumph to triumph since its inception in the late 19th century, despite the attempts of jealous scholars to discredit it«.
Here is what we actually know about how to celebrate the actual feast of Beltane (which, by the way, means »bright fire«; I thought you might like to know if you prefer accuracy to »I made this up so that it wouldn't make one lick of goddamn sense«) in a historically attested way:
- Put a wreath on your door. (Maybe. Probably.)
- Build some bonfires.
- Drive your cattle between them.
That's it. Everything else — everything else — is at best a mediævalism, which means it's Christian, or at worst, and in the case of every single fucking thing described by every contributor to the node except the estimable Noah Webster, a load of absolute garbage made up in the Fifties at the earliest, by an English record-setter in the field of assholery, and based on another bunch of mooncalf garbage about Italy pulled from thin air by another Englishman — so there's not a shred of God-damned Celtic in there — in the 19th Century.
There is no demonstrable connection to Belenos, it is only postulated. The jumping over fires and the tradition that all fire would be extinguished and then re-lit with faggots from the great bonfire at Uisneach appear to be inventions of the Middle Ages — and remember, the 15th Century is twice as far away from real Pagan antiquity as it is from the present day. Anybody who says virginity didn't matter to the Celts has clearly never heard of the Brehon Law, or the Ulster Cycle, or presumably even of looking shit up instead of inventing a magical fantasy world populated by the intrinsically good Übermenschen of the long-spoiled past. (In point of fact practically all primitive societies have cared about families the exact same way: by the men going to insane lengths to make damn sure all their wife's children are their own. They still failed at that a lot. But seriously.) There is no maypole, because that's a Germanic paganism — and don't get me started on being unable to tell those apart, it's like a Christian failing to distinguish Ganesh from Jesus. There is no sex, fairies or herbs. It is drivel, it is worse than drivel, and it is being presented as fact, which is the worst of all.
In short, STOP. SAYING. THESE. THINGS. Stop making these idiotic claims! Right goddamn now! I will REMOVE the fucking Ireland if you don't shut up!
As an aside, although it's not my particular area of expertise, last I heard there is not one iota of authentic recorded folklore regarding the Green Man in any way, shape or form; the term Green Man itself is architectural, an obsolete way to refer to foliate heads of various types. In churches. Various individuals certainly have hypothesized that characters such as the giant Green Knight are in fact representations of the Green Man in some way, but, and I cannot emphasize this enough, those remain hypotheses, and they are hypotheses based on Christian stories, and even so, they're frightfully tenuous. The Green Man is an image.
I mean don't get me wrong, let's make one thing abundantly clear: I don't give two shits if you want to adhere to a half-century-old syncretic nostalgist mess, although I'm sure you can tell I don't particularly respect it either. However, if you say word one about it »being Celtic«, or Heaven forbid, mention the fucking »Horned God« or »The Goddess« in a context predating Chuck Berry, you are contributing to a falsification of actual history, which is a bad thing that you should not do. Okay? Admit it. Admit that Gerald Gardner made all that shit up for his own murky reasons, and you can believe in it as fervently as you like. But so help me, if I hear someone go off about »The Burning Times« again I am going to set fire to him myself.
Thank you. Jesus.