Beltane. May Day. Usinš Diena. Walpurgis Night. Floralia. There are so many holidays celebrated worldwide bringing in May 1st. But just what is everyone celebrating? Today marks the exact half-way point between Spring and Summer Solstice. Considered an important cross-quarter, these are the dates that bring into our consciousness the halfway points of our beloved Sun as She makes her way through the seasons. The days are considerably longer than they once were even just at Spring solstice, bees are buzzing, flowers are popping up everywhere, and the hard work of the humans and creatures of the fields are starting to become evident. This day is often associated with protection of the harvest yet to come, celebrating the wild sexuality and fertility seen in all of the animals, insects and plants, and generally bringing nature's party into our daily human lives.
In Latvia, we celebrate this day as Ūsiņš day. Ūsiņš is the Lord of Light, responsible for and associated with protection, horses, bees, fertility, and the other plants, creatures and powers associated with the Sun. In ancient times, this was the day that horses were led from the protected barn into the pasture to graze. The horse was considered a holy animal because it was hard-working horses that carried the Sun Goddess during Her journey across the skies; and bees Her hard-working emissaries for blessings upon the fields and therefore people. While a celebration of the hard-working creatures of the fields, no actual work was encouraged on this day. His symbol or sigil was drawn in the fields, on horses, and around the home to encourage his continued protection and blessings upon the home and harvest.
Tips for Self-Care and Ritual this Solstice:
Take a moment and really enjoy some nature today! Look outside your window and allow yourself to be mesmerized by the abundant flowers that were not there just a few weeks ago. Tend to your indoor or outdoor gardens not by working on them, but admiring them. Tell your plants and crops how much you appreciate them working hard for you. Spiritual tending to plants and creatures is just as important as the mundane today. Today is just as much a celebration and admiration of the beauty of Nature's wild spirit as it is to give our thanks for Her continued blessings. Celebrate the sensuality of Nature and feel Her blessings through the Sun on your skin, the wind in your hair like it's the warmth of being held by a loved one (and feel free to celebrate the physicality of what it feels like to love and be loved by your loved ones too!).
Take a noticing of how sometimes imbalance is the proper balance. Today marks the first real significant shift between light and dark where light tips the scale. If we'd had this much sunlight during the winter it would not only feel "off," but would also be detrimental to Nature's cycles through the seasons. If part of Spring solstice's perfection is the equal amounts of light and dark; part of May 1st's perfection is the longer day and shorter night. We often look at productivity in the West as never-ending; it doesn't matter how long or short the day is, our work deadlines remain constant. However, looking at how to look and/or feel more productive when the Sun has a longer time in the sky is one way to sort out balance of another kind - one for the spirit and one to work with the power of the seasons to have an even more fruitful harvest. Whether your personal harvest is crops, self-cultivation or a successful company's busy time of the year - what could benefit from mindfully added focus on productivity during this season?
Build a bonfire, light a candle or otherwise welcome this season of more light into your body, mind and spirit. Invite the power of Light to illuminate something that has been heavy resting on your soul. Invite the power of Light into your daily work in the world, or into your wishes for a brighter future. Send some light backward into your lineage and honor your ancestors, holding that Divine Light as sacred still for those without form who continue to bless us with their love and their presence.
I leave you with a blessing for Ūsiņš Day from the Dainas:
Par kalniņu Ūsiņš jāja By hillside Ūsiņš went
Ar akmeņa kumeliņu; With rock's foal;
Tas atnesa rudziem ziedus, This brought rye flower's blossom,
Zemei zaļu āboliņu. [and] green clovers to the ground.
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Brightest Blessings this day!