A FAIR MAIDEN – THE MAY QUEEN

The dawn breaks and a fair maiden is readied.

She is Flora, Goddess of Flowers and the Princess of the Fairies.

Her first wash with the morning dew of the rowan guarantees fine complexion and supreme beauty.

She is the Chosen One.

It is exactly a year and a day since she was pledged.

Her time has come.

Today this young girl of tender teenage years will submit to mother nature.

It is the fulfilment of her wish planted in the soil after a fresh cleanse of rainfall an age ago.

Today is Beltane or Mayday for the uninitiated. The first day of summer.

April showers have given way to Maytime flowers.

Flora is beautified by her elders and she is permitted her first sip of hawthorn wine.

She wears only a thin laced white cotton gown, through which her small beacon-like breasts are transparent to the world.

A wreath of daisies braids her long blonde hair which flows freely over her slim nimble body.

She has earned the right to wear the floral crown and to be blessed by the garland of flowers of primrose, gorse, and hawthorn.

Other teenage girls of virtue younger than she, of which she was once one, herald her demise.

Fair maidens of yesteryear receive baskets of fruit and flowers from unknown donors.

The baskets are hung on the doorknobs of their home to ward off evil spirits and warn not to give salt, water or fire to another on this eventful day of all days.

The Maypole is a phallic symbol at the centre of the festive proceedings, a re-earthed trunk of birch from the magical forest chosen carefully by the menfolk during the night time hours and planted by the green man.

It is painted in stripes and appeasingly decorated with colorful ribbons.

Each ribbon represents a strand for the dance which will pay tribute to the May Queen.

Charm.  Enchantment.  Luck.  Longevity.  Harmony. Grace.  Blossom. Divinity.

Eight garlanded young girls will each take a strand and dance clockwise around the maypole, intertwining the ribbons in a complex pattern of universality.

Forgetmenot.  Lily.  Hyacinth.  Azalea.  Snowdrop.  Tulip.  Daffodil.  Iris.

One day in the not so distant future, it will be their turn to be similarly blessed.

Fertility of life itself is never more potent and meaningful than on this glorious day.

This is the day which represents the spiral of life and a spiritual union between the earth and the sky.

Pipes, Tabor and Fiddle provide the music to Spiders Web and Barbers Pole with joyous dancing around the maypole until the late afternoon.

It is then time for the arrival on scene of the carnival parade headed by the May Queen who is formally crowned and permitted afterwards to embark on her journey into the magic of the forest.

Oh how dreams that lay within the earth are now truly awakened.

Hope that slept forever and a day has awakened too.

Shall glow bright the moonlight on this wonderful night.

The test of purity has been faced.

The leap of faith has been overcome.

The threshold has been crossed.

The fair maiden is dutifully crowned as bounty with blossom and heralded by well-wishers intent on offerings, prayers, purification, sacrifice, generosity, goodness and grace.

Aphrodite rules and presides over the realm of love, sex, beauty, flowers and fruit.

Milk, honey, eggs are among the countless blessings, not to mention treacle, cinammon, ginger and a dousing of home made punch.

Cakes and loaves of bread are baked.

Holy wells are dressed and water is drawn as clean as crystal spring.

Hares and Goats, further symbols of fertility, are slaughtered and provide for the evening feast.

The bell tolls just once.  It is time.

The barefoot contessa is guided into the forest by the fairies at the dusk of the day.

Local folk make a procession for her short journey with torches which burn bright with dried sedge, gorse and heather.

The green man awaits her.

Nature alone determines their intercourse in the realms of the forest.

Bonfires are lit at dusk to signify the creation of their relation and a token sacrifice is offered to the Gods in gratitude.

All across this pastoral land in hamlets, villages and towns, there is a fair maiden chosen just such as she.

The laughter of the hedgerows can be audibly heard.

A gentle breeze does blow and offers a sign.

Two young people are ready to make love.

The magic of the forest is spellbinding.

Cattle are driven by their shepherds between the ancient ash and oak trees and the bonfires as an act of final purification from disease and stave off sterility.

Tradition, culture, custom and ritual are as one.

Now is not the time to stand on the platform and peer through the window of the world.

Now is the time to live the dream and to drink, dance and be merry.

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