In some pagan traditions, particularly Wiccan, the Beltane celebration held on May 1st is reflective of the long-standing battle between the May Queen and her counterpart, Grandmother Winter or the White Queen. Other traditions reflect the dueling holidays, six months apart on the wheel of the year is between the Oak and Holly Kings.
Maiden, The Mother and Crone
During celebrations, a young girl or maiden takes the role of the May Queen. In literature and history, the May Queen is most often associated with Lady Marian, Queen Guinevere and Flora, a Celtic goddess of flowers also associated with the fairy. Each of these figures represents the promise of new life, the gift of potential motherhood and the fertility of the land.
The May Queen presides over the coming of summer when the goddess enters her mother phase and the land blossoms. Many fertility rites were associated with the Beltane ritual from couples jumping the fire were blessed by the Maiden to become fruitful with child. The May Queen is often introduced to the Oak King at the Beltane, where she will take him as a husband, providing further evidence of her transition to motherhood celebrated in the summer festivals as the fertile earth begins to show its bounty.
The May Queen's rule lasts until Samhain or October 31st. At Samhain, the maiden and mother give way to the crone, she who rules over the barren lands, dark skies and the winter storms. The Crone is wisdom, experience and a tough hand to guide through the harshness of winter when she will pass the crown back to the maiden reborn.
The Month of May
In modern civilizations, the month of May remains celebrated as the basket of warmth between the first spring rains and the heat of summer. May is a mild time when farmers plant, houses open up, flowers bloom and the promise of life is ripe in the air.