Revolutionary May Day – sowing seeds of resistance and other witchy ideas

I wish you a revolutionary May Day, Beltane, or Workers’ Day!

May 1st is the pagan holiday Beltane as well as International Workers’ Day so why not try to merge both and add some activism to our witchcraft or some magickal vibes to our syndicalist celebrations?

Framed postcards picturing a squat and a march that fit May Day protests – I bought them at Queer Zine Fest London a decade ago…

May Day activism

Let’s first take a look at the origins of International Workers’ Day (IWD). The date for IWD – also known as May Day and Labour Day – was chosen because May 1st 1886 marked the start of a general strike to fight for the eight-hour workday. Police killed one of the striking workers and injured several more after which a rally was organised on Haymarket Square in Chicago in support of the striking workers. During this rally there was a bomb attack, which led to an internationally-publicised trial – known as the Haymarket affair. Eight anarchists were convicted for the bombing and sentenced to death penalty or life-long prison sentences despite lack of evidence of their guilt. This caused further social unrest and protests. The trial was criticised and a few years later the surviving defendents were pardonned. To remember these important events for working-class history and continue the campaign for the eight-hour workday, a tradition of international demonstrations started in 1890. Today, for example, there is an anarchist demonstration in Brussels.

I think dates like these which pay tribute to historical milestones, celebrate activists from the past, or continue social justice campaigns are important holidays. I personally would like to pay more attention to them than to traditional commercialised (christian) holidays. But so often their origins have been forgotten or they aren’t seen as profitable (luckily though).

Some things we could do to celebrate IWD include:

  • attending or organising a protest where you live
  • going on strike
  • using your art skills for some (legal) street-art
  • blogging or writing a zine about IWD and why it’s still relevant
  • reading a book or zine about social justice, anarchism, or syndicalist activism
  • learning about class privilege
  • listening to (or playing) some music with a political message
  • drawing inspiration from so-called weeds that pop up and grow in concrete cracks, in between pavement tiles, and next to roads and are a symbol for resilience

DIY holidays

A few weeks ago I attended a virtual event by SASS Witch Con about inventing and celebrating our own (Pagan) holy days and witchifying existing holidays. I would like to think of magickal ways to celebrate IWD as well as for example International Women’s Day (March 8th), International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (May 17th), Transgender Day of Remembrance (May 17th), and International Day against Violence against Women (November 25th).

In my city, since some time in the mid 1990s, the latter has been transformed into Hexennacht – not to be confused with Walpurgis Night on April 30th, although that one could merge feminist and witchy vibes as well. Hexennacht stands for “Witches’ Night” and is a nightly protest to addresses gendered violence, inspired by the Take Back the Night marches that have been happening since the 1970s. During those protests, participants dress up as witches, often referring to the witch hunts in their protest signs. Being together at night, chanting and shouting, taking back public space, reclaiming our bodies and cities, sharing experiences of violence with each other and offering support… this IS direct action as well as a community ritual.

I’m sure you can think of some new holidays or existing ones you’d like to change DIY-style too!

Witchy Workers’ Day ideas

Back to May Day or Beltane now, here are some ideas for witchy and revolutionary things to do today:

  • rethinking protests as rituals for a revolution
  • designing magickal street-art spells
  • sharing resources, from food and seeds to skills and information
  • gardening (whether indoors or outdoors) as well as guerrilla gardening f.e. in public parks
  • exploring activist-themed tarot or oracle decks or making your own
  • inventing a New Moon / May Day tarot or oracle spread with questions relating to social change and workers’ struggles
  • creating a shaker jar spell for prosperity and abundance for yourself and/or your community (see above)
  • using tools, symbols, or ingredients in your rituals/cooking/crafts/artwork/outfits/activism such as seeds, beetroot (for the red colour), dandelions, daisies, the sun, yarn and ribbons, anarchy symbols on patches or buttons, anarcha-punk songs, activist slogans on clothes, protest socks…
  • drinking some self-brewed lemon(balm) (ice) tea
  • building a (temporary) outdoors altar f.e. on a tree stump in a park (thanks Kelly-Ann Maddox for the idea)
  • decorating your home or altar with May 1st colours and objects relating to syndicalism, springtime, and/or seeds (of resistance)

My May Day altar

This bring me to my own altar(s) and home decorations which I like to update on witchy holidays. As usual, I included hand-made objects and gifts from friends and family including a pro-choice print by Asia Bordowa, a zine-themed postcard by Chocs et Ennui, soaps by Wayfaring Moon Apothecaries, a big pink candle from Dominique, locally sourced stones from Evie, a lavender felt flower and Lavender Witch frame by Gudrun, book art triptych with a key by Fake Breakdown Crafts, a cat box and bunny decoration from Jojo, a Donita Sparks broche by MandApunk, embroidered artwork and mix CDs by Dark Habits, a colourful frame from Nele, an “All Cats Are Beautiful” broche by Rose Butch, a flower sticker by True Zine Marin, an oracle card from Tessa, a sigil witch badge from Wesley, activist patches by Yori Gagarim, and a porcelain bunny bell from my mom. ❤ ❤ ❤

The colours my synesthesia associates with May (or the Dutch word “mei”) and Beltane are mainly (baby) pink as well as some yellow, white, and (leaf) green – all quite flowery colours. Because of May 1st, I tried to incorporate some red as well as black, the anarcha-syndicalist colours, but mainly it turned out very bright pink! 🙂

Read about what altars mean to me and the items I display in this blogpost. I’m still learning about the meanings and possibilities of altars because I’m very new to it even though I probably always had unconscious altars with meaningful objects.

Here’s a home altar I just set up in another room, again with gifts and hand-made items from friends and family including a Baby Fire print by Chocs et Ennui, a mini dried-garden-in-a-jar and cleansing stick by Gudrun, bunny figurines and solar house from my mom, and a cat from Sindy (I might paint the cat some day but for now it fits with these earth colours).

By the way, keep wearing your face mask! That’s both witchy and activist too!

About rebelsister

fem!n!st!
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1 Response to Revolutionary May Day – sowing seeds of resistance and other witchy ideas

  1. Pingback: Queer witchery for IDAHOT | DIY feminist zines + comix

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