Aphrodite, Paganism, Ritual, Spiritual Growth

Beltane 2023 – Embodiment and The New Normal

Today (May 5th, 2023) is astronomical Beltane in the Northern Hemisphere! Beltane is my favorite holiday, and I really celebrate the whole season leading up to and after Beltane – several weeks of celebration! Love and pleasure are big themes for Aphrodite, so I honor Her in my Beltane rituals as well. 

This post is part of the ritual I led for my Pagan group last Sunday, but it is also a reflection on tides of energy and the practice of embodiment, and is applicable well beyond this particular Beltane season.

O Radiant Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Compassion, we call to you to join us in our Beltane rite. Throughout the trials and roller coaster of the pandemic, you have held us in your love, helped us through grief and anger, reminded us of our own worth, and shown us hope. Great Goddess, as we navigate the times ahead, remind us of the love in our hearts, of laughter and joy, of reverence and mirth. Blessed Aphrodite, Hail and Welcome!

The New Normal

This Beltane is when I feel like we are finally starting to figure out what our new normal will be. And it will be a NEW normal. The world is not the same as it was before the pandemic. We are not the same people that we were before the pandemic. The world has changed in major ways and so have we. We have gone through stages of panic, times of survival mode, cycles of grief and joy, and most of all, times of hope. Some of those hopes were never realized (like back in 2020 when we thought the pandemic would be over in two months), and it is important that we honor that, and give ourselves space to grieve for those lost hopes if we need to. 

Some things in our lives may never be the same again. Some of that may be by choice, and some of it may be by force. Some things may take a long time to return, and that is okay, too.

In emerging from the survival mode of the pandemic, we can make more conscious choices about our lives – what we want, who we spend time with, and what we put our energy toward. If you’re like me, you may not have the same energy reserves that you felt like you had prior to the pandemic. And that’s okay. Even if the world is rapidly rushing towards “normal”, that doesn’t mean you have to be. Take your time and be gentle with yourself. Honor your feelings. Really tune in to what feels good and what doesn’t. Listen to your body when it tells you it needs rest. It may need more rest than before. I know mine does.

You may find  yourself needing to set firmer boundaries. You may need a “do nothing” day every weekend. You may need to do an audit of the things in your life and see where you really want to spend your energy. Find what brings you joy, and prioritize those things!

The world is going to continue to change, and we have very little control over that. But we can control how we react to that change, the activities we fill our lives with, the connections we make with other people, and how we spend our time. We can be conscious in how we move forward in our lives, what activities and people we add back in, and what we don’t.


The saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” but somehow, despite knowing this, we still sometimes beat ourselves up about needing self-care. We feel guilt or shame around it, or think that we only deserve self-care after accomplishing something. Think about a car – When your car is running low on gas, do you ask yourself if your car deserves the gas before stopping at a gas station? No!! That sounds silly and a bit ridiculous, right? You are just like a car – You need fuel to keep going! Self-care is doing more of what fuels you and doing less of what drains your energy. This second part is important, too – You can’t fill a leaky bucket. And if your brain automatically jumps to “But I don’t have time for self-care, my family/job/whatever needs me” – Remember that you can’t give what you don’t have, and whatever needs you likely isn’t getting what they need from you if you aren’t fueled. 

I invite you to prioritize self-care and self-compassion as you are crafting your new normal. Beltane is about love, joy, and pleasure. It is about fully embracing life. It’s about finding the sacredness in the everyday, celebrating the big and small moments, and treating yourself and others with kindness and empathy. We can’t do any of these things if we aren’t fueled ourselves. 

Beltane and Embodiment

Beltane is a magickal, liminal time. As the holiday opposite Samhain, Beltane is also a time when the veil between the worlds is thin – but instead of looking to the past as we do at Samhain, at Beltane we look toward the future. We see the great field of possibilities, of things yet to come into being. 

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. Samhain honors the transition from body to spirit. At Beltane, we honor bringing the spirit fully into the body, finding joy and pleasure in our everyday experiences, through love and magick. 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. 

But to do this consciously, we need to be able to tune into what we really want. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through embodiment. Our spirit and intuition speak through our bodies, if we learn to truly listen and tune into them.

This is by no means an easy task. Society has trained us to constantly criticize our bodies, always striving for some unattainable perfection. Some people have experienced trauma related to their bodies as a result of a violation of boundaries, injury, or illness. Sometimes these things can cause us to disconnect or disassociate from our bodies, cutting us off from what they want to tell us. If you have any sort of trauma responses around your body, I encourage you to be very gentle with yourself within this practice. It may take time to feel comfortable with these things.

With our bodies, we are trained to search for the pain instead of feeling into the pleasure. I want us to flip this paradigm on its head. I want us to look for joy and pleasure in our bodies instead of dwelling on what is wrong. To do this, we are going to anchor the practice in our bodies so that we can take it into other areas of our life. If you’ve been in meditation or yoga or general New Age circles, you may have done a practice to scan for tension in your body and breathe into it to release it. We aren’t going to do that. We are going to do the opposite – We are going to scan our bodies for pleasure!

Pleasure can be anything that feels good in or on your body. Maybe it’s the softness of your shirt against your skin, the warmth of the sun on your face, the coolness of the wind or a fan on your cheeks, a relaxed muscle in your leg, a pleasant tingle below your shoulder blade. It can be anything! Maybe your head is feeling pleasantly sleepy with afternoon drowsiness. Maybe you feel some openness in your chest or your belly. It could be the gentle tug of gravity keeping you grounded and reminding you of your connection to the earth. It could be the scent of fresh air or a candle, the lingering taste of chocolate from your favorite dessert, or the sense of calm and alignment that come from sitting up straight. Find where that feeling is in your body and focus on it. 

 And if you can’t find something right away, just sit with it for a while – it will come. You may even encounter some resistance to this, and that’s okay. Even though our bodies are how we interface with the world, from an early age we are conditioned with complicated relationships to them. If feelings come up for you, I ask that you honor them and sit with them in gentle compassion.

I invite you to close your eyes now. As we scan our bodies for pleasure, I want you to take deep full breaths. Really feel your lungs expand and contract, and settle into something that feels comfortable for you. Take three deep breaths, and then go at your own pace.

Once you have found that place of pleasure, breathe into it. On your inhale, see if you can expand the feeling of pleasure. If your feeling was the comforting presence of a ring on your finger, see if you can expand that feeling to beyond where the ring touches elsewhere on your finger. As you exhale, focus on expanding that pleasure to the rest of your body. Start small, with just around that area. Inhale, and feel the pleasure expand. Exhale, and gradually let it fill the rest of your body. Feel that sensation move up and down your arms and legs, up and down your spine, through your heart and head. 

And when every bit of you is buzzing with that aliveness, feel into your body to see what you could do to make this moment even more pleasurable. Maybe it is a big stretch! Or moving your shoulders around. Or adjusting how you are standing. Maybe it is making some noise – a big sigh or even a yawn! Maybe humming would feel good. You could massage a sore muscle or even just your own hand. Play around with movement and stillness, and just expand into that joy for the next few minutes. Listen to what your body wants, and then do it!

Moving Forward

Practicing embodiment can really help you to tune into what you truly want – Not what society or the people around you say you should want. Using that knowledge can help you to consciously craft your new normal, take time to rest when you need it, and build a thriving life. You can use the scanning for pleasure practice above to rewire your brain’s relationship to your body. Once you know what a pleasurable Yes feels like, then you can feel into your body and your intuition to make decisions, big or small. Sometimes little things have a big impact. 

O Glorious Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Hope, thank you for your presence with us today. We celebrate your compassion and your kindness, your laughter and your joy, and your sacredness in the everyday. Thank you for helping us to prioritize taking care of ourselves, so that we may live our most vibrant lives. May we carry your love in our hearts always. Hail and Blessed Be!

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