One year ago, my local Pagan group held its first-ever virtual Sabbat – Beltane of 2020. At that time, we were starting to realize the gravity of what the pandemic would bring. Off-handed statements of “It will all be over in a month or two” were starting to fade as COVID-19 took the world by storm.
Fear and misinformation ran rampant. N95 went from medical and construction jargon to an everyday household phrase, and the most coveted of items. The general public had an intense lesson in epidemiology, learning way more about viruses than most probably cared to. People panic-bought pasta, toilet paper, and freezers. The most chronically underpaid people suddenly became essential workers, keeping fridges stocked and mouths fed amidst all the chaos.
I don’t know a single person whose 2020 didn’t royally suck.
It’s interesting to look back now, and see how much has changed, and what hasn’t. Misinformation is still out there, but it seems quieter in 2021 than it was last year. Toilet paper and paper towels are now stocked on grocery store shelves. There’s not just one vaccine, but three, and everyone is now eligible to get one. We should still be social distancing and wearing masks to keep people safe, especially with new reports of more contagious variants. Being in public indoor spaces is still risky, and anything involving a large crowd is still off the table. Rituals continue to be held online over Zoom.
Even though my everyday pandemic life looks very similar to how it was for most of 2020, one difference stands out more than all the others:
We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. For me, it first appeared back in December, when the very first vaccines were approved, but that light was small. It was like a flashlight being held three miles away, and I had to stumble towards it barefoot in the underbrush. Now, I feel like I am on a train going through a mountain. The light is getting bigger every day, and I am hurtling towards it whether I want to or not.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I just wanted things to go back to normal. I hoped and prayed that the pandemic would be over quickly, that I could hug my friends again, that we could get back to some semblance of normal life. Now that this possibility is closer than ever, I find that it is scary, too. I’ve become set in my pandemic ways, entrenched in my fears and patterns. While I am still undeniably excited about post-COVID life, part of it also terrifies me. None of us know what the rules are for this new world, and that can be frightening.
One of the beautiful things about being human is that we can hold both of these things simultaneously.
We can have both joy and grief, fear and courage, anger and compassion. We can honor the trauma of what we have experienced this past year, while also looking toward the future with hope.
Beltane is a liminal time, similar to Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin. At Samhain, we look to the past and honor our ancestors. The space between what is and what was shrinks, and the line between the past and the present blurs.
At Beltane, we look toward the future. The veil is thin, but in a different direction. Instead of communicating with the realm of the ancestors, we can catch glimpses of what may lie ahead in the realm of possibility. The space between what is and what will be diminishes, empowering our magick and bringing us closer to our hopes and desires.
The coming days and the eventual conclusion of the pandemic feel like this to me. We’ve had a year of lessons, reflection, and growth (whether we wanted it or not). It was hard won, and most days it was all we could do to muddle through. But we are stronger for it.
And while the pandemic isn’t over yet, we can begin to look forward. What do we want to do? Who do we want to be? How do we want our life to look on the other end of this mess? In what direction do we want to go?
This Beltane, gaze bravely into the light at the end of the tunnel. Fill your heart with hope. Explore the world of possibilities. Feel that space between you and your desires fade away.
What does it feel like to live in this realm of potentiality, where everything hums with the vibrations of life and growth? Where your path forward consists of an infinite number of trails? Where there is not just one door of opportunity, but twenty? Where everything is moving, growing, spiralling upward?
You feel your pulse begin to quicken in your veins. Images flash before your mind’s eye. You hear something calling to you. What is it? What desire calls out to be made manifest? What whispers to you like a silent prayer? What part of your soul shouts to be set free?
Brightest of blessings to you as you celebrate Beltane this year!