I must have been fifty years old when I remembered it. The pole was at least three times my height when I was eight, and had six or eight ribbons attached to the top, long enough to touch the ground. And I remembered little baskets too. They must have held candy or fruit. I was sure children held the baskets—and I would have been one of them.
Most important, I was sure that each of the children held a ribbon and danced in a circle around the pole. But I couldn’t see the children or the dancing. In my mind, I could see the pole and the ribbons, the newly green grass and the perfect spring day. It was magical. But where were the dancing children?
That they had grown older just as I had was no answer at all. I wanted to see them—and myself—in the magical dance.
Remembering the Maypole now—and that decades later recollection—I think of how religious my family was when I was eight. The Maypole was probably quite alien, an invasion of German Paganism into the Dutch Calvinist environment of my home and church.
I have learned that one interpretation of the maypole was that it symbolized the axis mundi or the earth tree—the secret force at the center of all life. I wonder if the unsaved Germans danced to something we Calvinists had thoroughly missed.
I don’t have answers to my questions. That’s okay. But I fervently wish that I could see in my mind’s eye the children dancing around the Maypole.
(This piece is #2 in my series “Scenes Lit upon in the Great Cosmic Dance.”
Read #1 here “Practice Counting“)