Author: Darling, Michael
Last Friday, the members of Deity, the Occidental College Pagan and Wiccan Support Group, held a celebration in Sycamore Glen of the Feast of Beltane. Beltane is a Pagan holiday celebrating fertility and the arrival of summer. In older times, this festival occurred around the time that crops would be planted, and it originates from praying for a bountiful harvest in the autumn.
“The festival is one of eight major festivals of the Wiccan year, one at each solstice and equinox and one at the midpoint between each of those,” Club President Daniel McGillivray (sophomore) said. “Technically, this should be on May 1, but that’s a reading day.”
The celebration began with club members in traditional ritual garb, Tarot readings by Lauren Grokett (sophomore) and a dinner of homemade chicken pot pies. After dinner, the formal celebration began with McGillvray blowing on a horn and the lighting of a small ceremonial fire. Shortly before sunset, club members and guests took part in a maypole dance.After night fell, events took a more serious tone with a formal Beltane ritual. During this ritual, the club members gathered around a chalked circle and invited the gods to join them through representations of the elements water, wind, earth and fire. Individual and group prayers for bounteous lives and other wishes for Beltane soon followed. At the end of the ceremony the club members thanked the gods for joining them. After performing the ritual, everyone was invited to participate in broom jumping, a traditional fertility ritual. The broom jumping took the place of the traditional Betane fertility ritual of leaping over a bonfire.
McGillivary discussed the mission of the club, explaining that it was formed as a way to celebrate their faith. “It’s different from others,” he said. “The club was founded for celebration and education, to dispel myths about Pagan faiths. There is the whole witch stigma.”
The club is planning to expand their membership and visibility on campus next year.
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