Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Potential Energy and The Spark of Life

Fire is an important element of this holiday.
Happy Beltane!!

I had the opportunity this Beltane to be part of a class centering moment.  This week's focus in our Christian Worship class is on the liturgical year and, as the calendar would have it, it landed exactly on May 1st.  So as I gathered with my fellow students (all of whom are Christian), we talked about how to center the class and bring in this discussion about my pagan holiday.

We eventually settled on a very simple lay out.  We started with a Christian song we sang in a round, followed by a scripture reading, and lastly I spoke and then guided the class in a pagan song.  One of my fellow group members liked the idea of creating a trajectory from God to Goddess, but I struggled with that, both because of the dualism and the fact that I didn't really want to talk about the Goddess.  We talk enough about the Goddess at PSR.  I wanted to talk about the Spark of Life.

As I have been preparing for this centering moment I have also been sitting in silence and looking for the inspiration I need to lead our small circle.  Meditating on the meaning of Beltane this year, I touched on the fact that I always struggle with this holiday.  Due to a mix of a very sexually repressed childhood and my early pagan training being very sexually focused when it came to this holiday, I have often struggled to find where I belong on Beltane.  Yeah, sex is wonderful and procreation is great, but isn't there something else, something deeper for those of us who might not be feeling sexy that day?  After years of weird attempts at spiritual sensuality and feeling left out and alone, Beltane was becoming the Valentine's Day of Pagan Holidays - all expectation and disappointment, no real substance or meaning.

So I sat this year and meditated on the balance between the holidays.  Each holiday is tied to it's opposite, the cycle moving on the other side of the earth.  So Beltane is just Samhain upside down.  I have spent so much time dealing with and learning to love and honor the moment when the spark of life leaves.  So how has it taken me this long to realize that this is when we honor the moment the spark of life arrives?  What else is procreation and germination but the words, symbols, and imagery we use to describe the moment when something actually comes into being?

This is this tipping point when an idea or a plan shifts from potential to actual.  In physics they talk about it as potential energy and kinetic energy.  A ball that has been raised high into the sky is just brimming over with potential energy.  It has a million possible ways that this energy can become expressed.  It could fall in any direction, at any slope, and be impeded or not.  But until it falls, all of that energy is just potential.  And then something happens.  Some spark, some shift, some external force comes in and suddenly the potential turns to kinetic energy and the choices are made.  BAMMM!

As so this is what I took to circle and to the class - a discussion about potential and kinetic.  We all have parts of our lives that sit in the back of our minds, ideas being contemplated, risks being weighed.  Sometimes these things sit there for a very long time.  But now is the time when that external force is out there, ready to push our idea into movement.  It won't become big immediately.  This is just the first movement into being.  But it will start, and arguably that's the most important step.  After all, once a thing starts it's only a matter of time till you discover what it will become.

Here is what I read to the class today day.  Our exercise was very successful as many of my fellow classmates took the opportunity to push something into being while we sang the Kore Chant.*

Today is Beltane, a holiday in the pagan liturgical year.  Historically, many European cultures have celebrated May Day with festivals and maypoles to honor the beginning of the warm season.  For modern pagans, Beltane is a holiday of fertility, life, and creativity.  This year, as I have meditated on the symbolism and inspiration that we can draw from this time of year, I find myself thinking about the spark of life.  There is a sacred moment, somewhere between potentiality and actuality, when things spark into existence.  It's the moment when a vague understanding crystallizes into an idea, or when a seed has taken in all the moisture it needed and cracks open to germinate.  It's a powerful and sacred moment of creation.  This is the energy of Beltane.  I invite you to take a moment and think about something in your life that you want to move out of the "some day" category and move into your life in a present and real way.  <Given a moment to consider>  Okay, now we are going to sing a simple chant about change and I invite you to join us as you are willing and able.  Feel free to play with the gender in the chant to your own liking and comfort level. <We sang the chant, they were awesome, then we ended it>  Thank you all.

*She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes.