Walpergis Night- May Eve is April 30th; May 1st is May Day.
Many Pagans get together to show solidarity with each other and our ancestors by building bonfires, and dancing around May Poles.
Some remember that, as at Samhain, the veil is thin at this point in the yearly cycle, and it’s easier for our ancestors to visit this side. In Ancient Rome the Lemuria was held for three days in May. The family ancestors would be welcomed and fed, but then at the end (on the 13th) they would be sent away by tossing beans around the house and saying: “I send these; with these beans I redeem me and mine” (Haec ego mitto; his redimo meque meosque fabis.) nine times.
As with live relatives, sometimes we are glad to have them, sometimes we are glad to have them leave. While the benevolent dead became Manes or household spirits, the malevolent dead became lemures, spirits who would harm the living. These are the ones they wanted to banish.
In Northern Europe towns would erect May Poles and dance around them, and we still recreate the old ways- the dancing, the plays, with the hobby horse and Greenman. We welcome the coming growing season and the cycle of change, while at the same time, trying to connect with the past.
We no longer drive our cattle between two bonfires (or at least I don’t know anyone who does, there may be some who do), but we do recognize the need to purify as well as celebrate, to break with those parts of the past we want to let go, while holding onto the ones we love. Change usually includes choice, and sometimes taking responsibility for those choices is the hardest part of change. So let’s celebrate when we can, and enjoy the company of others who know what a magickal time this is!