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Friday, 1 May 2009

May Processions

May Processions were a major feature of my childhood. How many Saturday afternoons, while playing out conquering enemies and slaying dragons, was I suddenly called in and put into a pretty dress to walk in the procession! Never being May Queen or even a train bearer, and being dragged from the garden, I hated it! And yet, the essence of what it was about was so beautiful. The hymn that was sung as we walked was very lovely:

Bring flowers of the rarest,
Bring blossoms the farest,
From garden and woodland
And hillside and dale.
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Flower of the vale.

Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the angels and Queen of the May...

Something in the words of that resonated with the sense of the gardens, the earth - something that went back to a time before children were forcibly put into white dresses and had to be 'holy'. It was something to do with the natural holiness and innocence of childhood.

Many years later, walking in processions in Lourdes, it began to make sense. Lourdes is so closely associated with Nature. The River Gave, the mountains, the mystical scenery combine with the loveliness of people being kind to one another and seeking their soul's home. Witches, who celebrate Beltane today, have the same understanding. Pagans and Druids knew it. It's something in our blood, I think! The scents of May come directly from the Life that is in all of us - the sense of our own annual rebirth and renewal; the sense of Mother Nature and the Beauty of the Divine creation and expression.

Whatever happened to May processions? Did they just walk away one day like the disappearing children in the 'Pied Piper' ?

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