May the Force be with you; may the road rise up to meet you; may we meet again; may you live in interesting times; may the best person win; may you stay forever young at heart; may your feet be ever swift, may you have a strong foundation—when the winds of change shift…
Though the above are metaphors & lyrics land snippets, every saying is sincere. May gives us big clown shoes to fill, beautiful blossoms, bees, and if we’ve lucky, lusty thrills. Mae West knew this; so does thick, creamy mayonnaise; and dark, decadent, phallic tubed Maybelline mascara …ole May!
If a month ever said PLAY, that month would be May. You exude a musky perfume; you’re a touchy feely, scratch n sniff kind of month. May twitches like a rabbit’s nose, and depending on where you live, it can exude an obscene phone call scent memory or a leather n lace new car, new earth fragrance.
You smell swell May. Your floral fabulousness pings my heartstrings and teases tinglings elsewhere… precipitating midbrain madness. This is the month when floral petals become currency. There’s a swelling of joy, mirth, profound curiosity, and a terrible tenderness. My neocortex lights up like a pin ball wizard’s, bouncing off my senses in a way utterly difficult to describe, though I’ll try.
May is a blossom bold, though it doesn’t see, taste, touch, or hear a thing. And yet, it turns on, raises its face to the sun, and activates olfactory nerves. As bawdy bard Tom Robbins wrote in Jitterbug Perfume, ‘…flowers have always embraced IT, gathering info all day, processing it at night via photosynthesis. One day, we’ll be able to do it too,’ not just by dreaming (Tom says this is the mind having fun), but by spraying our thoughts, becoming fe fi foe smell mentalists. Would that mean our noses might need to grow, like Cyrano or Pinocchio; or would just our neo cortexes olfactory brain enlarge?
Robbins suggests our cold, crass reptilian brain needs to be slain, our sense of smell heightened and lightened, and reminds ‘smells evoke memories.’ He says myths were about us ‘dispatching with symbolic swords our reptile consciousness.’ Now we have light sabers (may the force…) emitting ozone aromas, but still we grapple with mammal consciousness—black/white—live/die—good/bad, slap/slander.
Is May part of our mammalian brain, and must make way for something newer, a perfumed enlightenment, a way to lighten up and smell well 24/7? Might this lead to our brains producing a glowing mystical honey nectar, made of melodious smells, empathetic energies, and a hint of lewd light? Scientists say a new technology, Far UVC Light, could be installed in ceiling fixtures and used to inactivate airborne pathogens and viruses. Would this incentivize or infuriate the masses? Would it attract honey bees or pesky mayflies?
Do you feel a sense of uninhibited urgency in May? Vera Brittain did when she wrote ‘I thought spring would last forever, for I was young and in love, filled with May fever…’ I confess to playing hooky from school, from work, from life in previous May’s. I confess to emulating you, though never once did I ask for permission. Mother May I is a child’s game, played after skipping and singing ‘the flowers that bloom in May, tra la, will not stay, tra la…’
What if May wasn’t merely a month, but an entire season of seductions, salicious settings, and festive fetes? It would contain a mixtape of rock ballads and anthems—everything from the Beatles ‘dirty, no good Maggie Mae who they’ve taken away…’ to Rod Stewart’s homage to an older Maggie ‘mother of a lover that wore him out’ and ‘indoctrinated him into manhood? We get a peek at what he saw, how‘the morning sun showed her age’ and she ‘stole’ his soul. May’s mixtape must be easy to dance to and possess an element of chant-ability. If May doesn’t rock your world, it should at least paper scissors it.
May (Beltane) festivals are carried out with great licentiousness; the pole is festooned with flowers & herbs, bound round with dyed ribbons, and planted firmly into the ground. There is much mad dancing, feasting, and cavorting… Hawaii plays along, making May 1 ‘get a lei’ day.’ Those who overindulge have been known to shout ‘may day, may day…‘
I still carry a few May Day wanton warrior scars. For months after, I would murmur ‘mea culpa;’ as it was entirely my doing, my fault. Today, we say ‘my bad.’ Today, I’m more likely to recite ditties by Herrick and Longfellow: “The maypoles up, pass round the cup…gather ye rosebuds while ye may…” and Mai-den, read’st this simple rhyme, enjoy thy youth, it will not stay; enjoy the fragrance of thy prime, for it’s not always May!”
May 1 is also the founding date (1776) of Weishaupt’s Illuminati, Tauras the Bull day, and Worker’s Day in former Soviet Union. It was the date (1328) when England recognized Scotland as an independent state, and Prussia declared war on Sweden (1715). In 1851, the Great Exhibition opened at London’s Hyde Park Crystal Palace. Ooo la la, the Folies Bergere premiered in Paris on this day in 1869 and ill fated ship Lusitania left NY for Liverpool (1915). Holy smokes, the first Batman comic was released in 1939, and in 1986 Russian news agency Tass tattles about nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl.
My mid-month Kentucky Derby Parties were over the top. Guests came costumed (darling hats, fancy dress, soon to be drunken mess); a plush astro turf carpet was rolled out; and southern horse-pitality was fully extended. We played pin the tail blindfolded and sometimes blindsighted, and placed bets. Recently, I held a combo party—Ken’cinco derb’ Mayo. The theme was ‘taco derby to me;’ needless to say, tequilla and Mint Juleps don’t mix so very well.
Unfortunately, those not full of May’an mirth and glee, may be filled with allergies…Folks not fond of May include Joan de Arc, burned at the stake 5/30/1431; Ann ‘off with her head’ Boleyn, bedded then beheaded May 19, 1531; Napoleon ‘wonder what I’m doing with my hidden hand?’ Bonaparte, who died in exile, St. Helena’s May 5, 1823; Helena P ‘my ideas rewrite history’ Blavatsky, who died in London May 8, 1891; or the passengers of the Lusitania, torpedoed by a German sub 5/7/1918. Then there’s Frank Sinatra’s 5/14/1998 Beverly Hills death. They say he died ‘his way.’
This month ends with a 3 day (last Monday in May) American’esque banker’s holiday memorializing those fallen in battle. It’s been labeled a day of secular sacredness—death, sacrifice, rebirth. It’s also the unofficial beginning of summer. ‘Make hay, for no one knows what comes after May…’ The Mayfly knows this all too well.
Avoid newly budding may-apples. Its bloom is beautiful, its smell hideous, its roots deadly. Other sage advice includes ‘tarry with Barry, Harry, & Larry but don’t marry them in May.’ If April’s Haiku Day wasn’t for you, try penning a whimsical 5 line limerick on May 12, National Limerick Day. ‘There’s a poet who hails not from here; with a penchant for bending the ear; the form he exported—was carefully worded; by grand master minstrel Ed Lear! Or: The limerick packs laughs anatomical; into space that’s quite economical; but the good ones I’ve seen—so seldom are clean; and the clean ones so seldom are comical… And since this is dalience driven May: “There was a young lady of Norway, who hung by her toes in a doorway; she said to her beau—just look at me go; I think I’ve discovered one more way…
May Maia, daughter of Atlas and May’s brightest Pleide, sparkle on you in May, and a luminous flower moon attend you. Mayhap Dame Fortuna shall reward you on May 25. May the metaphor be with you; may the most marvelous early scents of summer cling to you.. May a May-December romance bloom—if that’s your perchance—and last past noon. Go out and play—seize the day—solicit the night—drink your fill of woodruff infused May wine!
Maggie May..what a song. But its feel is perhaps September/October. Beltane was introduced to me by a Marc Bolan lyric. Apparently Irish pagan farmers used to light a corridor of fires through which they and their cattle would walk to purge old illness and emerge ‘clean’ into the new day. Thanks for the summary Jo.
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Bolan’s song a bit reminiscent of v Morrison’s Crazy Love? Indeed, Maggie Mae takes place ‘late Sept & I really should be back in school’ …what I attempted to hone in on was May/Mae and the May-September dynamic…of sorts. We still light the (bel)taine fires and revel, no? ‘Merriment in May, heat in June, births a fruitful harvest moon…. Mai oui?
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That tallies for my three kids…one born in January and two in February!
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And for those late to the party, glad to read this and appreciate the light and the dark side of May, which is my mother’s name. It’s a sweet-smelling time in the countryside, and no book can summon up that feeling of a green and verdant world just about to bust out into June. But in Scotland, we take Beltane all too seriously, and the naked woad-covered men over-celebrating the fire festival are best avoided. May, as the name suggests, is also a time of new possibilities, conditional, perhaps, but with a multiverse of permutations ahead of us. It’s also a time to plan summer frolics, before the grim reality of making a living sets in. In our culture, only a fool celebrates too early…so happy May, or what remains of it, the summer has to start somewhere…