During modern times, society has become more and more disconnected with nature, disconnected with historical existence, and more disconnected from rites and rituals that were previously used to unite communities during times of growth or despair.
Today, the rituals that might be used on a regular basis, religious or not, are rarely studied or even understood by the participants and have a shallow experiential sequence consequently. By putting a bit more effort into natural existence and further understanding of the wild world, a greater understanding of the internal self can be achieved.
What does this have to do with anything? As a religious studies major, much of my interest in social behavior came from the studying of various faiths and the rituals people have used over the millennia to explain the unexplainable. When mentioning to my athletes that May Day was around the corner, they looked at me as though I was from Jupiter. They had no clue what I was talking about.
This saddened me, so of course, that meant one thing and one thing only....Give me that soapbox and let me preach!
Throughout the northern hemisphere, the first day of May was a day to celebrate the ensuing summer. This was a time to praise pagan gods, to burn fires and inspire divinity and even in Christian faith, it was a time to celebrate the crops that would grow prosperously and pray to Christ to protect the crops and provide optimal growth, which would, in turn, lead to a massive harvest in the fall.
Where does existence come from?
You could ask 1,000 scientists and you would get 1,000 different answers. What is the belief then? Clearly, it varies based on the geographical location. Take, for example, Ireland.
Related articles: The Importance of Living Off The Land
In Ireland, ancient tradition was known as Beltane. Beltane was an ancient ritual where massive bonfires would be created. Farmers and other members of the community would gather around the fires, they would dance and celebrate the coming of summer and praise gods for healthy soils and water to ensure healthy crops and livestock throughout the summer. They would even believe that their divinity would be represented within the fire and would dance between the two bonfires, bringing their livestock through the fires to almost “baptize” them with the goodness of the divinity.
In Germany, the “dance into May” was the celebration. This was a celebration around a “maypole” where participants would dance around the well-decorated pole while also surrounded by bonfires. It was a way to celebrate time and health spent with loved ones, while also staying connected to the Earth and surrounding wild world and to have hope for a prosperous season of growing and animal husbandry!
Even the crazy communists knew the value of May Day. Their goal to gain full mental control of their constituents was to focus on removing anything spiritual, anything religiously based, anything that took away from the state brought about creativity within the self and the community would be abolished. Except they still saw the value in May Day.
What did the Commies do? They turned May Day into their own “Workers” Day. This meant that the traditions and celebration could continue, but the celebration would be based around workers more so than around the planet or gods or divine beings.
What does this mean?
Rites and rituals are important for success in all realms. Successful business people wake up every day and execute similar rituals to ignite a prosperous day. Healthy religious communities exist in a unified plane by experiencing happy celebrations around a unified cause.
Powerful athletes have their own consistent rituals around competition, around preparation, around recovery. These consistent, comfortable rituals can bring normalcy to our chaotic life, they bring relevance, they explain the unknown while valuing the most important aspect of existence. The cyclical nature!
Recognition of cycles is important. Things come and go, the value must be placed on failures, on success, lessons need to be learned and experiences need to be shared for constant progress! Enjoy your May Day!