The May Day Art of Making-do

It is April 26th, 2020, as I write this and, for the first time in a long time, I will not be with my fellow Temple ministers and community turning the Wheel of the Year at our Beltane celebration. There is an aspect of grief about this, as if I had lost a part of my life. With all the changes we have had to adapt to during the covid-19 pandemic, I have definitely felt overwhelmed. You may be able to sympathize to some of these feelings. Whatever your situation, I think the message of this Beltane is the ancient art of making-do. Witchcraft’s roots grow from our ancestors who had to make-do with what they had to create celebrations, rituals and magic, and just to get by day-to-day.

As the wheel turned to Ostara, I have switched to holding the third ray, the yellow ray, the ray of the ancestors and mighty dead. So I have been taking the time to listen to my ancestors and get their advice about surviving this time in my morning meditations. A story from my grandmother Sartwell bubbled to the surface. She once had a squeaky door on her car and told me she fixed it with some petroleum jelly that you would usually use to soften your feet. I remember asking her why she didn’t use some wd-40, grease, or some extra oil. She told me how she was born in the Great Depression and, when she was a kid, they learned early to find a way of using what they had on hand and petroleum jelly was what she had. She taught me to make-do with what one had. Our ancestors survived hard times, they made-do, and so can we.

So in the spirit of my grandmother and our ancestors, I wanted to share this teaching about making-do when it comes to this year’s Beltane. We may not all be able to get together, we might not have all the things we want to celebrate on-hand, We may feel overwhelmed and not want to do anything. Access where you are, what you have on-hand or can easily get, and choose something simple to create a ritual that will turn the Wheel. Here are some suggestions to practice.

  • One of our members is braiding some embroidery floss to simulate the Maypole.
  • You might light two candles and “process” between them in ritual to cleanse yourself in the fires of Bel for health in the coming year.
  • Gather some flowers from your garden and make a flower crown or put some cut or potted flowers on your altar.
  • In ritual set out tarot cards that align with the lessons of the season like the Lovers, the Empress, or the Three of Cups and meditate on them.
  • Make a May King-and-Queen cake, baking a coin into the cake to share with your family. Whoever gets the coin has a magical year ahead.
  • At dawn on May Eve go out and bathe yourself in Beltane dew for youth and beauty.
  • Make a fire in your fire-pit, throwing in herbs or baked goods as offerings for a better year to come.
  • “Go-a-maying” and have a picnic out doors with your love—or just yourself.
  • Burn some of that special incense you have been saving for a rainy day and cleanse the house after ritual.
  • Go draw some sigils and encouraging words to the world on the pavement or sidewalk with some colored chalk.

These are just a few ideas of how to celebrate Beltane and I am sure you can come up with more. So get creative with what you have and make-do!

Adam Sartwell (New Hampshire) works as a certified Consulting Hypnotist with the National Guild of Hypnotists and ICBCH, and professional Tarot reader. He is a co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft. Award-wining author of Twenty-one days of Reiki and The Blessing Cord, Adam has been published in anthologies such as The Green Lovers, Ancestors of the Craft, and Foundations of the Temple. For more information on his work as a hypnotist and online hypnosis courses, visit hypnointuitive.com. To see more about his work as an author, psychic reader, and teacher check out his website, adamsartwell.com.

X