Monday May Day Reads (Double-entendre implied)

Happy Beltane Sky Dancers!

I lived in a small Iowa town when I was a young child.  One of my favorite things was making May Day Baskets and filling them with hand-picked flowers and small candies. We used to get the wallpaper books the store was about to toss to create the “basket.”  Picking newly blossomed violets was the best ever since they were my favorite color!  Although, depositing them on the stoop, ringing the doorbell, and running to hide was terrific fun too. It was only less fun when one of my neighbors tried to crown the May Queen (in this case, the Virgin Mary) on my very high slide.  Mother ran her off and announced we’d have none of that here. Mother preferred the unco-opted version of the old pagan holiday, so pretending to be fairies or goddesses was okay.

I rather like this explanation of May Day. 

Flora from a Roman mural at Pompeii

‘Lewd men and light women…’

Some primal instinct to bring garlands and greenery in to the city, to dance and make music, featured in Oxford’s Maytime celebrations long before choirs sang the Hymnus Eucharisticus from Magdalen Tower. Indeed, that instinct to welcome the summer with green, carnival gaiety even predates any records of morris dancing.

The Magdalen tradition is only documented from 1695 when the great diarist of Oxford, Anthony Wood, first recorded the ritual as an invocation to the summer: ‘the choral ministers of this House do, according to an ancient custom, salute Flora every year on the first of May, at four in the morning, with vocal music of several parts. Which having been sometimes well performed, hath given great content to the neighbourhood and auditors underneath’.

There is no mention of the Hymnus; nor any suggestion by Wood that church music was sung at all. Rather, May Day was greeted with secular part songs dedicated to Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers.

Beltane is the Gaelic version of May Day and is celebrated with bonfires to celebrate the transition from Spring to Summer. The bonfires are dedicated to the Gaelic god Bel of Fire.  If you read about the traditional celebrations, you can see why the Puritans were so after the holiday, and the Romans were so vested in changing into a holiday more styled in its Christian traditions.

Poster by the artist Walter Crane. In 1890 May Day was celebrated as International Workers’ Day, a day of protests in support of an 8-hour working day. It has remained a special day for campaigning in the labour movement.

Mayday is a distress signal based on the phonetic equivalent of “M’aidez,” which is the French for “Help me.” It originated sometime in the 1920s in a London Airport. It’s been used as the supreme distress signal for flights ever since.  Perhaps we must use it when the Republicans try to crash and burn our democracy, constitutional rights, and economy. May Day is also International Labor Day.  May Day is my kind of holiday.

As a long-time supporter and activist for the ERA, it was sad to see Senate Republicans block a vote for it. The sticking points used to be backasswards red states, but now it’s from all those embedded anti-democratic forces in government. This is from the Anchorage Daily News. “After failed Senate vote, Murkowski says the Equal Rights Amendment remains ‘long overdue’.”

The U.S. Senate this week failed to pass a resolution to remove barriers to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, 100 years since the amendment was first proposed in Congress. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who led the effort to pass the measure, expressed disappointment after the vote.

“It is just long overdue,” Murkowski said of the ERA in an interview Thursday. “The simple fact that we do not have embedded in our Constitution equal protections for women under the law is, I think, wrong and needs to be addressed.”

Murkowski spearheaded a resolution to advance the Equal Rights Amendment with Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. She is a rare Republican advocate for ratifying the ERA, which would codify equal rights for women in the U.S. Constitution and ban discrimination based on sex.

Her support for the amendment sets Murkowski apart from most members of her party, some of whom have fretted that the ERA could open up abortion availability and transgender women’s access to spaces like locker rooms. Other Republicans raised concerns about the precedent Murkowski’s resolution would set for the constitutional amendment process.

A painting of two people dancing around a Maypole to celebrate Beltane.

Oh, these stories should raise a Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!  World’s oldest democracy crashing! This is from the AP.  “Hospitals that denied emergency abortion broke the law, feds say.” This was written by Amanda Seitz.

Two hospitals that refused to provide an emergency abortion to a pregnant woman who was experiencing premature labor put her life in jeopardy and violated federal law, a first-of-its-kind investigation by the federal government has found.

The findings, revealed in documents obtained by The Associated Press, are a warning to hospitals around the country as they struggle to reconcile dozens of new state laws that ban or severely restrict abortion with a federal mandate for doctors to provide abortions when a woman’s health is at risk. The competing edicts have been rolled out since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion last year.

But federal law, which requires doctors to treat patients in emergency situations, trumps those state laws, the nation’s top health official said in a statement.

“Fortunately, this patient survived. But she never should have gone through the terrifying ordeal she experienced in the first place,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “We want her, and every patient out there like her, to know that we will do everything we can to protect their lives and health, and to investigate and enforce the law to the fullest extent of our legal authority, in accordance with orders from the courts.”

Artist Cicely Mary Barker, A Little Book of Old Rhymes – A May Day Rhyme.

So, what better way to stop Federal Agencies from protecting us than to send a lawsuit that would cripple them to the current Supreme Court?  This is written by Robert Barnes for the Washington Post. “Supreme Court accepts case that challenges authority of federal agencies. Conservatives have long wanted to overturn the precedent known as the Chevron doctrine.”

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would take up a case that could do away with a decades-old precedent that tells judges to defer to federal agencies when interpreting ambiguous federal laws, a deference long targeted by conservatives concerned about the power of the administrative state.

As the Supreme Court has become more conservative, the justices have grown less likely to defer to federal agencies under the 1984 precedent in Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council. But lower courts are bound to rely on the precedent because the Supreme Court has never officially renounced it.

A split panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit used the Chevron doctrine in deciding the case the Supreme Court added to its docket Monday: whether the government can force herring fishermen off the coast of New England to fund a program that provides federal monitors for their operations. The program is overseen by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Two fishing companies told the court in their petition that the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires vessel owners to make room on board for federal monitors, without requiring the owners to pay those monitors.

“But without any express statutory authorization, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has decided to go one very large step further and require petitioners to pay the salaries of government-mandated monitors who take up valuable space on their vessels and oversee their operations,” the petitions state.

Carlotta Marie Bonnecaze (1887)

Well, at least a few are speaking out against linking Christianity with White Christian Nationalism. “Pro-Trump pastors rebuked for ‘overt embrace of white Christian nationalism.’ Mainstream Christian leaders criticize Pastors for Trump for distorting religious teachings and endangering democracy.  This is from The Guardian.  Now if they’d only ask for the protection of all minority communities and women.

A far-right religious group with ties to Donald Trump loyalists Roger Stone and retired Army Lt Gen Michael Flynn is planning events with pastors in swing-state churches in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to spur more evangelical backing for the former US president’s 2024 campaign.

But the group, Pastors for Trump, is drawing sharp rebukes from mainstream Christian leaders for being extremist, distorting Christian teachings and endangering American democracy by fueling the spread of Christian nationalism.

The Oklahoma-based evangelical pastor and businessman Jackson Lahmeyer leads the fledgling Pastors for Trump organization. Lahmeyer told the Guardian it boasts over 7,000 pastors as members and that he will unveil details about its plans on 11 May at the Trump National Doral in Miami, an event Trump will be invited to attend.

Stone, a self-styled “dirty trickster” whom Trump pardoned after he was convicted of lying to Congress, is slated to join Lahmeyer in speaking on 11 May, according to the pastor. Lahmeyer added he will talk more about his pro Trump group at a ReAwaken America evangelical gathering on 12 and 13 May at the Doral.

Lahmeyer said the pastors group intends to sponsor a “freedom tour” with evening church meetings in key swing states this summer, an effort that could help Trump win more backing from this key Republican voting bloc, which could prove crucial to his winning the GOP nomination again.

Lahmeyer described the genesis of Pastors for Trump in dark and apocalyptic rhetoric that has echoes of Trump’s own bombast.

“We’re going down a very evil path in this country,” he said. “Our economy is being destroyed. It’s China, the deep state and globalists.

“China interfered in our 2020 elections,” he added. “This is biblical, what’s happening. This is a spiritual battle.’

But those ominous beliefs have drawn sharp criticism.

“This kind of overt embrace of white Christian nationalism continues to pose a growing threat to the witness of the church and the health of our democracy,” said Adam Russell Taylor, the president of the Christian social justice group Sojourners.

One last read, and I’m off to grade case studies. This is also from WAPO. “Why are Americans shooting strangers and neighbors? ‘It all goes back to fear.’” Did I mention grading case studies means I can stay inside? I’m getting more fond of holing up inside than ever!

Across the country this month, at least four men have opened fire on someone who’d stumbled upon their space, resulting in one death, two injuries and a car pocked with bullet holes. The apparent acts of snap-aggression have reinvigorated the debate around the prevalence of “stand your ground” laws in the United States and a pressing question: Why are people so quick to pull the trigger on strangers?

Why did a 65-year-old man kill a 20-year-old woman who had accidentally pulled into his Upstate New York driveway? Why did an 84-year-old man fire two bullets into a 16-year-old boy who had mistakenly knocked on his door in Kansas City? Why did a 43-year-old man in South Florida allegedly shoot at a 19-year-old Instacart delivery driver and his 18-year-old girlfriend who had arrived at the wrong address?

Experts blame a cocktail of factors: the easy availability of guns, misconceptions around stand-your-ground laws, the marketing of firearms for self-defense — and a growing sense among Americans, particularly Republicans, that safety in their backyard is deteriorating.

Since 2020, the share of Republicans who said that crime is rising in their community has jumped from 38 percent to 73 percent, according to the latest Gallup numbers from last fall. Among Democrats, that same concern climbed only 5 percentage points to 42 percent, marking the widest partisan perception gap since the polling firm first asked the question a half-century ago.

Reality is more complicated. A Washington Post crime analysis of 80 major police departments’ records found that reported violence across the country in 2022 was lower than the five-year average.

The difference between the Wiccan myths of Beltane and Republican Myths is that Republican Myths kill people (Mayday, Mayday, Mayday).

So, have a great May Day!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

30 Comments on “Monday May Day Reads (Double-entendre implied)”

  1. dakinikat says:

    And from Musk Land, where there is no such thing as Musk Rat Love:

    Twitter will let media publishers charge per article starting in May

    Full-time Twitter CEO and part-time Tesla enthusiast Elon Musk said on Saturday that users of his social media platform will be able to avoid media subscriptions and pay per article starting “next month.” Musk says that Twitter’s forthcoming “one-click” service “should be a major win-win for both media orgs & the public” by allowing media companies to charge a higher per article price to readers who wouldn’t necessarily pay a full subscription rate.

    Musk didn’t say what percentage Twitter would pocket for itself or what conditions media publishers would need to abide by.

    Can we just all quit it now?

  2. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      Why isn’t John Eastman in Jail?

    • quixote says:

      Why is Jackson recused? The Alitos, Thomases, and Robertses don’t recuse even when they’re on the direct bribe line of people before the Court. ??

    • roofingbird says:

      Every big construction site I ever worked on had to pay for trade inspectors, concrete, welding, roofing, below grade, etc. Every owner of the project had to add funds for state inspectors, fire and safety, hvac, hospital gases, etc. It’s the cost of the job. Yes the cost goes up every year, and climate change is moving fish into new locations. I get that it’s a hard job. Strangling inspection or doesn’t change the root problem, not enough fish, completion from enormous sea trawlers, new locations and climate change.

      We went though this same kind of pain when Georgia Pacific moved most operations out of the PNW to Georgia. Old growth was depleted and lumberjacks were starving.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    May baskets were a tradition in North Dakota, where my parents grew up. We did it in Kansas when I was a kid. We left our homemade baskets at neighbors’ doors, rang the doorbell and then hid to see their reactions. But when we moved to Ohio, no one had heard of doing this.

    • Mary Brown says:

      I had not heard of leaving May baskets until I moved to Omaha. Growing up, we were of the crowning a statue of the Virgin Mary persuasion.

      • dakinikat says:

        I think it must be a middle-of-the-country thing? Probably, all of us Scotch-Irish-Anglo sorts that were far enough north to be of a bother to the Romans so the old ways stuck.

  4. Great post Kat…

    Tonight is the Met Gala

    Let’s see what people come up with…

  5. Also tonight, from the makers of veep:

    The White House Plumbers

  6. roofingbird says:

    I have no expertise in this subject. However, my favorite Irish You tuber says that Bealtane or Bealtaine is the first day of summer, as it midway between solstice and equinox. From a gardeners viewpoint, at least in the north, it does seem that this is when spring has sprung and summer planting is beginning.

    • NW Luna says:

      Yes, that agrees with naming the summer solstice in June as Midsummer’s Day. In some Celtic folk tales there’s a saying “The first of May, the first of May! Outdoor loving begins today!” as part of the Beltane celebration was staying out all night outside with your lover. This had to be before mosquito season I think.

      Here’s another neopagan Beltane song, based on a Rudyard Kipling poem which int urn was based on folk tales. (Oak, ash, and thorn were considered to have special meanings and powers in Celtic culture.)

      Oh, do not tell the Priest of our arts,
      For he would call it sin;
      But we have been out in the woods all night,
      A-conjuring Summer in!
      We bring you good news by word of mouth-
      Good news for cattle and corn–
      Now is the Sun come up from the South,
      With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

      Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn,
      All of a Beltane morn!
      Surely we sing of no little thing,
      In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. Beata says:

    Traditional old Irish song for Bealtaine: “Thugamar Fein An Samhradh Linn” (We Brought the Summer With Us)

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. dakinikat says:

  12. dakinikat says:

    Gordon Lightfoot has moved on …

    Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Folk Singer, Dies at 84