Let the Bonfires Burn

Dear Writer,

I hope that when you wake this the morning of May first, the sun warms you when you walk out of your apartment, your home, your creative crypt. I hope that you take a moment to enjoy that ripe green smell that resembles so much the grave, but your thoughts don’t linger on the rich loam but go to the grass and the trees and the first flowers that are forcing their way through the top soil.

The morning is a reason for celebration, even if you’d don’t observe the ancient festival of Beltane. For you, dear creative person, know that this day is regenerative: it’s a fertile time for ideas to be planted for later so they might blossom into stories; for those little seedlings to take root in your imagination and become something lush and verdurous in the months to come.

Being someone who takes the time to appreciate the darkness, a lady who loves the cold months because of their mysterious magic, spring has the exact opposite effect on me than it does most people. When it gets warmer, I slow down. I meander more, I start walking home from work instead of rushing back to my manuscript. The cold and the dark months are productive for me. Sunlight is the natural enemy to my level of creative output.

However, the wheel of the year turns as it does, and come August when the cold starts to bite into the night, I revel in the harvest. Those languid days spent reading and running through the quiet streets of TMR at six o’clock in the morning, and dallying with friends in the early evenings on the roadside terraces of Montreal, provide a jumble of ideas waiting to be plucked from heavy vines. For me, the creative process starts in the gestation of those ideas, and May first is the day on which it begins.

Beltane, also known as May Day, is a fertility festival. A fire festival, too. Its observance begins on the evening of April 30, and spills across the first of May. It’s a revel. In days of old — well, it might’ve been a bit of an orgy too. (The May Pole? Really? What did you think that represented? Sheesh.)

In some parts of the world, they still light bonfires that burn through the night, and some still take a running start to jump over the flames to ensure fertility, protection, and to burn away lingering traces of harm that staunch new growth. Fire destroys when not contained, but from the cooling ashes new life often springs.

Tonight I spark my hearth flame, and I’ll be thinking of you as the candles catch and sway. The lovely thing about fire is the shadows it casts — those who love the dark know one thing is for certain: the shadows can’t dance without the play against the light.

Wishing you a prosperous season,



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