What Rides the Wind on May Eve

This week the merry month of May begins, and while most people are familiar with May Day and the fact that the beginning of May marks the halfway point in the season, not many are as familiar with May Eve, a date which stands exactly opposite Halloween. May Eve is Tuesday, April 30th, and according to poet William Butler Yeats, we do well to beware this night in the turn of the season.

If we count the days between spring equinox and summer solstice, we may not land on May 1st as the exact midpoint. Still, it was always held that the season turned here, and the turning was an act of the divine. It was as if a veil was lifted at such times, to release built-up mischief. So there are always formulae for protection ~ like sprinkling flower petals over the doorstep to ward off evil spirits.

In his play The Land of Hearts Desire, a reference to his home in County Sligo, Yeats describes that on May Eve, if young brides are not protected, they can be carried off by the faerie folk into an eternal neverland. In addition to blessing their thresholds with the flower petals, families were warned to give neither milk nor fire to any who come calling.

In Yeats’ play, a young bride sits languishing in a corner, dreaming herself away from her harsh mother-in-law, her husband, the stern priest.

Come faeries, take me out of this dull world,

For I would ride with you upon the wind,

Run on the top of the disheveled tide,

And dance upon the mountain like a flame! 

It’s a great read for Tuesday night, April 30, 2024, under waning gibbous Moon as we move closer to summer.

~Merry Mary

This episode aired on Interlochen Public Radio Monday, April 29, 2024 and can be heard on podcasts wherever you listen.