Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

May Celebrations That Aren’t About Sex

  Hooray, hooray, the first of May
Outdoor fucking begins today!
             —old saw

So, Atheopaganism is a pleasure-positive path. That’s Atheopagan Principle #10: so long as others and the Sacred Earth are respected, we believe that joy and fun and feeling good are our birthrights as humans.

And that includes sex. Not for us, the furtive shame around sexuality that characterizes our Abrahamic brethren and sistren! We seek to be healthy in our boundaries, communications and behaviors, and happy in our enjoyment of our appetites. Sexuality—the ritual by which each of us is created—is Sacred, and it is a Good Thing.


And that’s great, and all, but some of us are either asexual, don’t have a sex partner at the moment, and/or aren’t interested in a solo sexual celebration. May Day is coming and such folk don’t want their celebration centered on sexuality.

If that’s you, this post is for you.

So, how do we celebrate May Day  without the overtly sexual overtones that so often characterize such observances?

To start with, let’s visit themes.

In the context of the cycle of the year*, May Day is about adulthood, and that means not only sexuality but agency, responsibility, and freedom: freedom to make choices and freedom to enjoy pleasures.

So dancing around a May Pole is not out of the question. Toasting the season with May Wine, perhaps with a ripe strawberry in the glass, likewise. Choose—responsibly—pleasures to enjoy and share with your friends. Perhaps serve a multi-course dinner of sensuously delicious food?

Or cut loose and do something that feels freeing and wild! Dancing seems obvious, but what about renting a trampoline? Or going zip-lining?

Or river rafting, or skydiving?

Fires are traditionally associated with celebrating this time of year. Have a bonfire, and dance around that. Later, settle down around the fire, pass around tea or May wine or chocolate, and share between yourselves what freedom means to you–what makes you feel like an adult, and what you are working to create and achieve this year.

You’re a grown-up, with all the rights and privileges pertinent thereto. You have choices, so make them. Choose, for that one day, things that feel good and right to you, and share them with your community.

At a broader level, May Day has historically been celebrated as the International Day of the Worker. So another way of living in your power as an adult is to work to advance the causes of those who struggle and are oppressed. Because power is responsibility.

Celebrate being alive and living in your power as an adult. Feel the green blessing of the unfolding year, the beauty of Life returned to full flower, and know that you are yourself a part of that flowering.

Happy May Day!


* As I celebrate it, I should say. Atheopagans vary widely in how they celebrate the Wheel of the Year.


  1. Thank you. Beltane is always the one Pagan holiday that sticks in my craw because of its focus on (heterosexual, reproductive) sex. I’m totally sex-positive, but as a queer person, I find that some of the attitudes to sexuality and gender that are often implicit in Beltane rituals archaic and off-kilter with our more modern understandnings of gender roles, identities and sexuality. So, for me, I have tended to sit that one out most years, leaving my wheel of the year missing a spoke. But thinking of it as simply a spring/summer festival of life, that I can get behind.

    1. The sexual aspect of Beltane should absolutely be about ALL acts of love and pleasure, not only heterosexual ones.

      Here’s a Beltane post I wrote when my beloved was away, which also includes LGBTQIA people:

      And here’s an entire inclusive wheel of the year (no heterocentricity in my year wheel, thank you very much):

  2. Loving the way you’ve stated “freedom to make choices and freedom to enjoy pleasures.” Beltaine has always felt kind of problematic for me, but this way of approaching redeems it.

  3. I’m in no way asexual, but I think it’s best for all rituals not to get too focused on any one theme. I celebrate sexuality as part of Beltane, even in its heterosexual and gender binary aspects, but I see it more broadly in terms of renewal of life. Fertility also has much wider implications than literal sexual reproduction. For purely mundane reasons, I also tend to see midsummer as a better time for outdoor frolicking in or around ritual. I usually go to Beltane in Wisconsin, and folks, it still gets damn cold in those hills at the opening of May!

    Let each person celebrate as they will.

  4. In our community, we certainly revel in sex positive (in all forms and iterations) celebrations, but our Fertility rite is also focused on creativity and passion in our various fields or avocations, building a business or creating art is as fertility minded as creating a living child.

    May all, pun intended, find the fertility to grow that which they need in their lives this season.

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