BY NADIA GERASSIMENKO
Mookychick, an intersectional feminist alternative lifestyle magazine, has started an event in 2017 that is nothing short of miraculous and empowering to all the witches and non-witches of the world: May Day Magic. The co-founder and editor of Mookychick Magda Knight explained to me what May Day Magic is and how we can all participate in this magical crowning ritual every May 1st.
What is the May Day Magic event? When did it start? When does it happen? How does it happen?
May Day Magic is a worldwide symbolic crowning ritual that occurs every May 1st. It was first started by Mookychick in 2017 as an annual event that magic workers could participate in anywhere in the world, regardless of finances, faith, location or ability. It's empowering to know that one is working magic for positive outcomes - for oneself, and also for others.
In folk tradition, May Day (May 1st) is the date on which a maiden is chosen from the local community, adorned in white with a crown, and selected to lead the May Day celebration parade as the May Queen. The practice is long-lived, with 16th century diarist Henry Machyn writing of a May parade attended by the "lade of the Maye." Some Pagan beliefs include the concept of a maiden May Queen rising each Beltane to do battle with the crone Queen of Winter. Wouldn't it be lovely if, for all May Day celebrations, there was more than one May Queen? And what if they didn't have to be a gender-restrictive Queen? It would be wonderful for everyone to shake off Winter's heavy chains by bestowing another with a magical crown to fortify them for the year ahead - and to receive just such a crown in return.
Every May 1st, one can perform the May Day Magic ritual to spiritually crown another and receive a crown in return in three steps. One simply creates a magical space, symbolically crowns another, and closes the space. There are so many ways to achieve this. It can take craft skills, or a finger drawn in the air, or a thought or incantation or song. There is no such thing as having too few or too many people in the circle, or not receiving a crown if you give one, or being too late because of time zones, or making a 'lesser' crown because you had less time or energy to spare. When you join the circle, you have taken part. You have done the work. And you have been anointed by another to fortify you for the year ahead and recognise all the good work you have done in return.
You can find the full details with an example ritual and frequently asked questions on Mookychick's May Day Magic Ritual page, along with examples of crowns others have made and ways they've interpreted the ritual.
Do you have to be a witch to participate in the crowning ritual? Can folks from the LGBTQIA+ community and people with disabilities participate?
It's very easy to use 'witch' as a shortcut word, but no, you absolutely do not have to ascribe to any particular belief system. Your own path of faith and practice is both personal and valid. If anything, you must only believe that working magic has worth.
The ritual intends to be fully inclusive to all people from the LGBTQIA+ community, and was devised with input from people of a range of genders. It is temptingly easy to always refer to a 'May Queen' as the term is so embedded in folklore, but this ritual ceremony makes no mention of gender in the example rite it describes. You are not crowning another as a May Queen. Similarly, you will not be crowned as a May Queen (although you are naturally most welcome to name yourself as such). It matters only that you will be symbolically crowned in May, not that you are labelled a Queen!
Mookychick's May Day Magic ritual has at its core an ethos that you can prepare a crown and perform the opening and closing of a ritual your way. We present an example rite to offer structure, but it aims to serve purely as inspiration and support. We reached out to the mooky community for help and advice in devising an example ritual that might work for many, particularly where health and ability were concerned. But you can do it your way. For example, someone with limited ability in their hands and arms may prefer not to draw a circle with a finger, while someone with ADHD may not want to focus on drawing a circle of power in their mind. We are always grateful for feedback to help us improve our May Day Magic recommendations, descriptions and structure to help them be accessible to all.
Why is this an important event? What do you hope to accomplish with it? How has it helped others so far?
We have made efforts to create a ritual that can bond and empower magic workers wherever they live in the world, and whatever their circumstances might be. We are thinking of geography, timings, personal circumstances, health, finance, level of magical experience, gender, orientation, faith and more...this circle need not exclude anyone who wishes to share in a worldwide magical crowning. We created an event we would personally love to take part in!
An event like this helps us connect with our craft, and also, in a very non-invasive way, with each other - gently, yet powerfully. When it comes to connecting with our craft, some of us don't practise magic as often as we would like. It may be months, or years, between workings. But magic is always there for us. This annual ritual can serve as an entry point back into magical workings, or as a firm date to add to your magic calendar. You can feel replete in the knowledge that every May 1st you can do something magical to support yourself and others - and others will be doing it too.
The ritual has been designed so that your global location need not hinder you from taking part. The 1st of May is the 1st of May wherever YOU are, and the circle created by all those taking part is flexible enough to allow for time zones. Your dawn ritual may be someone else's magical circle drawn in a nightclub or in an office bathroom during a lunch break, but none of you will be breaking the circle, for you have all taken part on May 1st.
In addition, witches and magic workers can feel isolated by their geographical environment. If you're growing up in the Bible belt, you may find it a challenge to find like minds to work with. A worldwide ritual ensures that you have a chance to perform a truly positive magical working with others. You are invited. You are welcomed. You are not judged or doubted. Whoever you are, you are taking part, and you are not alone.
So far, we've been overwhelmed and delighted with the creativity and positivity surrounding our inaugural May Day Magic ritual in 2017. Take a look at the #MayDayMagic hashtag and you'll see some of the incredible variety in approaches. Flower crowns, incense crowns, sparkler crowns, stone and crystal and candle crowns...it's breathtaking.
Participants have been sharing their experience via Twitter (@maydaymagick / #maydaymagic) and the closed Facebook group. The overwhelming response has been one of positivity, connection with one's craft, and a sense of connection with others.
Our key goal for the future is to enjoy and share May Day Magic every year, and we are always delighted to listen to our gorgeous community of magical folk who walk their own way to ensure May Day Magic is something they feel proud to shape, nurture and participate in.
Tell us about your most memorable experience during May Day Magic.
I wanted to make an incense crown last year, and met some wonderful friends to celebrate May Day at the huge May Day celebrations in Hastings. We got to the top of a vast windy hill, with absolutely no hope of lighting any incense sticks! We followed a hedge along the hill and there was a tiny doorway in it, a gap in the green growth, and on the other side we found enough shelter from the wind to make a magical crown. In spite of the wind, the crown was made. My friends provided windbreaks with their hands and it was all a wonderfully merry affair, entirely befitting of messy cider-quaffing May Day celebrations.
But if I stopped the story there, the story would be half-done. Yes, I *did* make the crown, and I could feel it working. But I had also felt rushed and uncentred because of the wind. The May Day Magic rules of acceptance applied to everyone - including me. I knew that. I'd done enough. I'd lovingly shaped and witnessed a beautiful crown being sent to its final destination. And yet...
I wanted to do just a little more. Something to release the quietness in me as well as a more dynamic energy. So that evening, all alone, I went out in the darkness and performed the ritual once more. This time, I was enveloped with a great sense of clarity and peace. I felt part of an invisible circle stretching beyond the horizon. I could almost feel another generous person's crown being placed on my head, and fitting neatly.
The May Day ritual is there to work for you. *Your* way. My way last year was...in two parts. This year, I will be making a floral crown with spring flowers from my garden. I look forward to the celebration.
Blurb your most recent and upcoming projects!
Mookychick.co.uk will be opening its doors to new section editors soon, which will be very exciting. On a personal front, I've embarked on writing a new modern gothic novel and will also have an upcoming short story featured on the VERY wonderful For Books' Sake as their weekend read. EAT YOUR BLOODY HEART OUT DOT COM considers what could happen if you combined food blogging with Bridget Jones and the Ninth Gate, because it's high time that was addressed. In addition, I finished making my first-ever horror game, Dolores and the Cave, which was recently played at an Interactive Fiction event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Nothing bad ever happened in a cave, Dolores...
Magda Knight is the founding editor of feminist alternative lifestyle site Mookychick.co.uk. Her heart belongs to coffee, gin, beasts, attics, woody perfumes and anything with a noon shadow, although not necessarily in that order. Her short stories for adults, young adults and children have been published in a number of anthologies and publications including Derby Shorts (For Books' Sake), Carnage: After the End (Siren's Call Publications), Into The Woods (Hic Dragones), The End Was Not the End (Seventh Star Press) and the British comic 2000AD. Two of her unpublished YA novels were longlisted for the Mslexia Children's Book Awards in 2012. Her most recent unpublished YA novel, Star Burn, was shortlisted for the Commonword Diversity Writing for Children Prize in 2016 and an excerpt is due to be published in the Commonword Paper Mirrors anthology in 2018.
Nadia Gerassimenko is the managing editor at Luna Luna Magazine by day, and a moonchild and poet by night. Nadia self-published her first poetry collection "Moonchild Dreams" (2015).