May in the Wheel of the Year Pt 3: The Ides of May - By Lucya Starza
May 15 is the Ides of May. On this day the Vestal Virgins of Ancient Rome performed a rite to ensure the supply of water for the coming year. Part of the ceremony performed by the Vestal Virgins to ensure Ancient Rome's water supply involved throwing 24 doll-like mannikins into the River Tiber. These were small effigies made of straw and one idea is that they may have replaced an earlier offering of human sacrifice. These days I wouldn’t recommend throwing anything into a river that might cause pollution or block the flow of a water course, but you could cut 24 tiny person shapes out of something ducks could happily eat. I think lettuce leaves would work, as lettuce is recommended as suitable duck food. You could use a gingerbread person cookie cutter as a template, then go to your local park that allows duck feeding in the watercourses there.
With climate change meaning more years of drought and more years of floods, as well as plastic polluting our seas and rivers, and other environmental and social issues relating to water supply, this could be incorporated into a modern pagan rite to protect our waters. It would also be an auspicious time to look at what we can do to conserve water in our homes and gardens. You could get a water butt if you don’t have one already, or think of other ways to conserve water. You could also take part in a beach or river bank clean-up near where you live, perhaps incorporating that with a lettuce leaf offering. I don’t want to get too preachy, as I know many pagans are already very aware of environmental concerns and doing all they can, but if you feel you want to try to take more positive action, this would be a good time.
According to folklore, rain in May is lucky and important to ensure crops grow and produce a full harvest. An old saying goes: Mist in May, heat in June; Make the Harvest come right soon; another is Water in May; Bread all year.
This is part of a series of posts I’m writing for the Moon Books Blog on the theme of the Wheel of the Year. They will be compiled and edited into a book: Pagan Portals – Rounding the Wheel of the Year. Other books by Lucya Starza in the Pagan Portals series include Candle Magic, Guided Visualisations, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Scrying. Lucya edited the community book Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days.
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