The night before Beltane is known as Walpurgis Night, Hexennacht, or Witch’s Night…
…a time when witches ride upon broomsticks and black cats, meeting in secret to celebrate the thinning of the veil between worlds and the concomitant rise in their witchy powers.
In paintings of Walpurgis Night and Beltane, women are often shown dancing round a fire with ecstatic abandon, released from an ever-watchful patriarchal gaze, if only for one night.
It’s a time to remember what it feels like to be utterly free within oneself, to come into the fullness of your being, not whittling it down to a societally acceptable sliver.
If there’s one thing all Beltane imagery has in common it’s the vividness of the emotional energy, practically dripping off the canvas.
This isn’t a night of steely, rational restraint.
It’s a time to feel, deeply and with every cell of your body.
In our daily lives, when we come to fear and avoid our emotional experience, the ego becomes brittle, ever watchful for potential outbursts.
This emotional energy doesn’t simply disappear, though; it bottles and builds, fueling an eventual, predictable explosion.
Sometimes that explosion takes the form of an argument, but it can just as easily erupt as:
a bout of ravaging self-doubt
compulsive exercising (or compulsive anything)
devouring news stories that outrage us
…and other ways of blowing off steam without having to really feel the original feeling.
This can further the ego’s fear of emotions, and it tightens down its control even more, not realizing that this rigid control is precisely what perpetuates the inevitable backlash.
If we learn how to welcome our emotions as they arise, we learn to trust the psyche’s innate intelligence, which knows how to return us to equilibrium without repressing our life force.
Rather than trying to achieve the ego’s illusion of remaining consistently even keel, no matter what, we allow ourselves to feel what we feel, when we feel it.
The energy not spent trying to ward off our emotions can now be channelled into having the strength to stay present with them.
That thinning of the veil I mentioned earlier?
We can think of this as the blurring of the boundary between conscious and unconscious, which is what our emotions usher us into relationship with.
Far from sapping our power, the emotions bring us up close and personal with it.
The following practice is one that you can initiate during the powerful energetic current of Walpurgis Night and Beltane, when the cosmic veils are thinning, with the hopes that it will feel so liberating, so intoxicatingly alive, you’ll want to continue it well beyond this night.
The practice centers around one of the most common resistances to feeling our emotions: the false belief that if we feel a certain way, we must need to do something about it.
One way this shows up for me is finding myself missing someone who is no longer in my life, and for very good reasons, reasons that support my mental health.
It’s easy to mistake these feelings as a sign that I need to rekindle the relationship…but this then brings a flood of anxiety at the remembrance of all the unhealthy patterns that I don’t wish to revisit, and around and around it goes.
Eventually, it occurred to me to just feel the emotion of missing.
In one instance, I actually sat down on my home office floor and let myself sob for a few minutes, and then, unexpectedly, the emotions began to ebb of their own accord, leaving behind a sense of clarity and calm.
The letter that just moments before I was anxiously debating whether or not to write–it now felt like a non-issue.
I didn’t need a letter, I didn’t need to rekindle things; I just needed to feel.
So this Beltane, when your power is at its height, can you practice feeling what you feel, gently detaching from any ego narratives about what you “should” do?
Trust that, if you stay present, letting emotional energy course through you, it will naturally ebb, leaving behind, like the tide revealing shells and other deep-sea treasures, the gifts of clarity and insight.
Your emotions are a throughway to intuitive wisdom…
…but we need to dance around their fire until the heat dissipates, suspending the linear, patriarchal agenda to hurry up and “figure it all out,” just for tonight.
Just long enough to experience that thinning of the veil, where all is made clear, and we feel whole unto ourselves.
(Featured image by Luis Ricardo Falero.)