The Sensual Bealtaine World

This is where I usually gush about my favourite time of the year.

The “luminous weeks” from May to July, the sleepless nights of light and balmy air filled with the seductive scent of blossoms and the burgeoning life of spring. It’s always been utterly intoxicating to me.

Before I continue, I’d like to explain this a little, because to non-pagans or even pagans who aren’t as sensitive to the rhythms of nature (or whose path simply didn’t involve spending decades sharpening their senses, bathing in moonlight and making love to the earth), it might seem like it’s “all about sex”. And don’t get me wrong, it’s without a doubt the sexiest time of the year, pure ecstasy in a lover’s embrace, but that’s because it’s all about sensuality, those sharpened senses of mine that somehow respond to things like luminous nights and soft grass and crashing waves over rocks, that get drunk on the elements. Don’t get me started on what the moon does to me.

And this year, I don’t quite know what I’ll do:

  • There’s this whole thing with social distancing. I’m so touch-deprived it’s not even funny. Again, it’s not all about sex (although that’s of course off the agenda too, seeing as I live on my own), it’s about touching, hugging, breathing in friends, falling about laughing… Zoom and messages are an increasingly stale replacement.
  • 15 years ago, after 13 moons of intense preparation, I spent Walpurgisnacht celebrating and then sleeping in the woods and got up at the crack of dawn to dedicate myself to the powers that be (not governments. The actual ones). I’d planned to spend this anniversary in the same place, near Vienna. You know what became of that.
  • There’s another, more subtle thing. You know how people say they’re “between jobs” or “between relationships”? Well, I’m between mythologies. I’ve been inexplicably sad at times, violently so and completely out of the blue over these past few days. Nothing to worry about, by the way, it’s simply emotions; my point is, I can distinctly feel my gods withdrawing from me. They bear me no ill-will; they simply can’t follow me here. They’re bound to this soggy island almost 2k km North-West of here, where my soul is also. The waves of sadness come whenever I sense this. I’m mourning.

There’s a great German term for being very, very alone: mutterseelenallein. No German speaker ever thinks of its meaning when they use this expression, but literally it says “mothers’-souls-alone”. This is what I feel right now spiritually, like the souls of all the ancestors and the spirits and the deities have left, and I’m alone.

I’ve been starting to read up on Southern Slavic, particularly Croatian mythology recently. There’s not much to go on, at least not in English, but there are some folk tales and mythological creatures I think I’ll be able to relate to very well (those who don’t mind a long read, bookmark this). I simply haven’t had much opportunity yet to get to places where I could start making contact. It’ll come with time, I’m sure, but in the meantime, I’ll have a strangely up-rooted Bealtaine because I can assure you, all my Bealtaine feelings and the absolutely explosive energy which translates into an inability to concentrate or stay still, is very much present with me this year, just like every year.

So, it’s not a bad thing, I’ll just need to learn more and actually communicate with… them. These things can’t be forced, but they’ll happen, I’m certain. I may be foreign here, but I’ve felt strangely at home from the first moment I arrived in Croatia, like I just slotted into the energy here. So I’m optimistic that this will work out in time. It’s the exact opposite to the time I visited Nova Scotia, which I then considered as a place to live: The spirits of the land weren’t hostile or unwelcoming there, but they were completely alien to me, almost like my DNA was incompatible. Beautiful as it is there, it’s not my home. Here, it’s a different story.

I still intend to celebrate the Hel out of Bealtaine Eve and the following few weeks. Virtual hugs are very much welcome – seeing as there can’t be physical ones – but please understand, I’m not down or anything, just perceiving what’s going on and experiencing it. No filter, so to speak. I’m actually quite happy most of the time.

Have a beautiful Bealtaine! I’ll try and get outside, although the weather is pretty wet and supposed to stay that way for the rest of the week. In fact, there have been thunderstorms on and off for the past five hours or so. I thought it was over, but it’s just started again. Might be time to leave the house and meet Perun.

Photo by Francisco Negroni. For more info click here.

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A “Wartime” Adventure

Cuddling a very muddy Kiki

I made it home.

After the second cancelled flight (the one I wrote about last week), I phoned Croatian Airlines and was lucky to get one of those people on the phone who don’t just shrug and give up. It took about half an hour, and then I was booked on a flight that she guaranteed me wouldn’t get cancelled.

The only trouble was, the flight was once again out of Frankfurt, so I had to find a train and get across the border. The night train was cancelled, so I spent Monday night sleepless in the most uncomfortable seat – not even the back was adjustable – and made it across the border because luckily, I have a German passport.

Changing trains in Munich and later on waiting at the airport was a PITA with no shops open. It was 2 degrees and I sat there shivering on a cold plastic seat for two hours. At least the airport was warm. When the time came to check in, I was told only Croatian citizens were allowed to fly. I explained that EU citizens who are residents in Croatia could, too, and after a lot of back and forth, they allowed me on the flight.

Across the snowy Alpine peaks

In Zagreb, the whole experience became a lot more heartwarming, if no less complicated. I still don’t have a Croatian ID – everything is closed here, too – although I do have permanent residency now. Fortunately, they found me in the system at passport control. Then I wandered around the completely deserted terminal and spent about an hour talking to police, the information desk, and the car rental who all disagreed on what the correct procedure was – rental car, taxi, what else? There’s a 14-day mandatory self-isolation after entering the country, and driving between cities is only allowed with a special permit these days, which I don’t have. Fun.

In the end, they told me to just wing it. I got into the rental car and drove, grinning from ear to ear because even in pandemic times, Croatia is as beautiful as ever, the weather was gorgeous, and the penny dropped more and more that I was actually going home. As expected, I was stopped by a police patrol before I reached Rijeka, and explained that I’d just arrived from abroad and was on my way to 14 days of quarantine. The officer asked where I live, and I said: “Rijeka. Well, Viškovo, really.” -“You live in Viškovo?” -“Yes.” -“Me, too!” Turns out he lives all of two streets away from me. We proceeded to assure each other that Viškovo is the best possible place to live, and then he sent me on my way.

I adore the people here. If you were wondering why I feel so at home in this country, there you go.

When I first glimpsed Kvarner Bay, I almost lost it again, just like that first time months ago. Once again, I had in front of me the deepest blue sea with sunlight sparkling on the water and the mountain panorama. Jaw-droppingly beautiful. I left the rental car at the drop-off station in Rijeka, from where Andy – the saint – picked me up, face mask and all, and drove me home. He’d also bought a boatload of groceries for me, so I won’t have to worry about starving any time soon.

After 26 hours of travel, 0 hours of sleep, and lots of drama, I was finally at home. It truly felt like I’d been crossing enemy countries in a war!

Behold the most-kissed piano in the world:

The next morning, I developed a cough and shivers.

I phoned the epidemologist (which is mandatory upon arriving in Croatia), who ordered a test. I got an appointment an hour afterwards and was told the result would arrive the next day.

Now I’m a fairly rational person. I’m not one of those people who imagine they have all sorts of illnesses they’ve heard about, and neither was I particularly fearful of COVID-19. But I have to admit, that day was surreal. I sat down and thought through, to the end, what would happen if a) I did have it and b) be amongst the few percentages of severe cases (which would be more likely for me, with my damaged lungs). This isn’t morbid, by the way – I live alone in a foreign country, so I need to take precautions. I reviewed my “testament”, made sure my emergency contacts are up to date, and then went to dance for a few minutes and practice the piano, in spite of feeling really ill.

By evening, I had developed more symptoms and suspected that I just had a severe cold, because COVID-19 doesn’t usually come with these. But it was still a relief when I got the call the next morning, confirming that the test had come back negative. Phew! The cough is just a cough. Still, great timing for coming down with one, two days after going out into public spaces, trains, planes, public restrooms…!

So all’s well, and now I’m just very very grateful. It’s so good to be home. I don’t mind this quarantine at all. I sit in the grass outside cuddling Kiki, I work, play WoW, practice, study… or just rest, as I’m still sick. But I’m happy. And I’m not going to go anywhere (except grocery shopping) until this is over.

I hope you’re all coping well. Be gentle with yourselves and each other, and most of all, be safe and stay healthy!

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