fifth month’s blessing

We have options when it comes to the etymology of May.

In Greek mythology, Maia was the oldest
of the seven Pleiades,
daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione,
and she was, with Zeus, the mother of Hermes.
As a woman who raised another of Zeus’ children
(Arcas, whose mother Callisto
was turned into a bear by Zeus’ jealous wife),
Maia is associated with nurture.

In Roman mythology, Maia was a fertility goddess
and associated with growth.
Her name related in Latin grammar
to the comparative forms of the adjective magnus (great)
through maior (greater—
with maia, the feminine nominative declension)
to maximus (greatest).

While the Roman myths of Maia incorporate
some of the older Greek stories,
the two Maias (Greek and Roman)
are thought to have been independent—
having the same name, but distinct stories—
homonyms, as it were.

The Roman writer Ovid would suggest
that while the month’s name does indeed
come from the comparative forms of the Latin magnus,
it is derived specifically from the plural maiores,
which he claims was used to compare generations
(the greater being the older),
and thus refers to elders or ancestors.

No other month, within any given year,
begins or ends on the same day of the week as does May,
though in the following year,
January will both begin and end
on the same days of the week as does May this year.

So, may May (speaking of homonyms!)
bless you with all the possibility of wishes, hopes and prayers.
May it be for you a month of naming and speaking
wishes, hopes, and prayers.
May May both bless you with and challenge you to extend
compassionate nurture
even amidst the difficulties of life,
circumstance and relationships—
extending love both to those who expect that of you
and to those who might not.
May May represent a healthy growing time—
a time of developing, of improving, of getting ever greater.
May the days of May bring you gifts only your elders can offer you,
stories only your ancestors can tell you,
and both experiences and opportunities
like none other this year
as signs of things to come.


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