Anita Ekberg as a Dolce Vita mermaid, complete with ebony fins.
In my adult life I truly don’t remember such a lovely—or well-earned—spring as the one we’re having. For years New York City has gone from brutally cold to brutally hot with nary a window of mild weather. But we’ve enjoyed nearly a month of it already after our treacherously long winter: the rain is big and headstrong and creatively inspiring; the sun makes a French movie out of a trip to the corner deli. And the thrilling, still-temperate nights render us all a big Fellini blonde splashing in a fountain. Officially I am pleased. Unofficially I am ecstatic.
Of all the months in the year, this is the one that belongs to Mary and the archetype of the divine mother—and that’s exactly what our city, our country, our planet needs right now. I always feel both Mary Mother and Mary of Magdalene are more misunderstood than any other abiding symbol in our culture. Rather than “whore” or “virgin,” the two represent to me a beautifully still and compassionate energy: wise, receptive and regenerative. As a friend reminded me recently, May is another name for the Mother Goddess, Maia or Maya; in Northern Europe she was called Maj or Mai, the Maiden. And today, May Day–or Beltrane, as it is sometimes known–is the Celtic festival of fertility. This is when transformational powers are released, allowing us to break free of old patterns and renew our commitment with the earth and the deepest parts of ourselves. It is now that we should take off our shoes and wiggle our feet in the soil, any soil. Or just go outside and breathe as deeply and quietly as possible. Don’t make a wish, don’t set goals, don’t try to will anything into being. Just be willing. Just be. Breathe in that amazing beauty all around us. Tap into the big, peony-scented energy. It’ll take you all the way to May 31st—which, no joke, is the Feast of St. Mary.