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Dear Friends,

According to Wikepedia, "May Day is a public holiday in some regions, usually celebrated on May 1 or the first Monday of May. It is an ancient festival marking the first day of summer, and a current traditional spring holiday in many European cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities."

May 1 later became International Workers' Day; labor unions marched for an eight hour work day -  their work day was fifteen hours – along with proper wages and paid leaves.

Mayday (one word) "is an emergency procedure word, used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications…it's repeated three times in a row during the initial emergency declaration to prevent it being mistaken …under noisy conditions."

In Gaelic culture, the eve of April 30th and May Day began the start of the summer season. In Ireland, the feast of Bealtaine (or "lucky fire") has been celebrated since pagan times. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to grant luck to people and livestock.  The celebrations mainly focused on the symbolic use of fire to bless cattle and other livestock as they were moved to summer pastures. Cattle would be made to jump over fires to protect their milk; people would also leap over the fires for luck.  The best known modern May Day traditions, observed both in Europe and North America, include dancing around the Maypole and crowning the Queen of the May.

In her fascinating blog, my friend Beth Owlsdaughter goes more deeply into these celebrations
and speaks of this season as "the ecstasy of the Earth Herself"
. She reminds us:
 
"Despite vast heartache unimaginable, despite terror and pain across every continent, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the magic of May Eve and Beltane arrive just the same.  They come as an ancient, sacred blessing to all who receive them with grace, joy, and the ecstasy of the Earth Herself.

We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humankind, with a most ominous future for civilization as we have known it, as well as for the living land and all who share this planet together…But now, at this sacred threshold, even with so much uncertainty, the life force that now calls to us from the living land is irresistible…
The divine conspiracy of Love abides."


The photograph in this issue was made with infra-red film while in residency at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; for me, it speaks to the fecund creativity of the land and the creative resilience of its inhabitants.  The verse is excerpted from my poem "The Tangible Illumination of Summer" (NOTEBOOKS FROM MYSTERY SCHOOL, Finishing Line Press, 2015)

May we cut through all the noise to heed the distress signals our Earth has been sending us. 

May her beauty break open our hearts in the best ways, leading us to heal.



BEALTAINE -- May 1, 2022



There were no meadows near, but still I knew
myself to be a part of meadows, their dirt was in my hair,
no matter where they were I did not have to be separate from them,
their openness, their vastness, their big-heartedness
were all mine.

How could I have not seen clearly
this was the case all the time?  What blindness veiled me,
shielded me from the tangible illumination of summer?
What in my soul made a wall that needed to be cracked
then breached?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once handed out on street corners, it seemed right to update the broadside* form for our electronic age's street corner - the web. Welcome to A VISION AND A VERSE, an e-Broadside. Four to six times a year, I'll showcase a featured image and poem of mine, matching them on a seasonal or timely theme.

A seasonal celebration and a sharing of my creative process, I hope you'll want to subscribe to future issues. Click here for a free subscription

Margaret McCarthy

*A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements. Today, broadside printing is done by many smaller printers and publishers as a fine art variant, with poems often being available as broadsides, intended to be framed and hung on the wall.
-From Wikipedia