From The Stories of the Months and Days
By Reginald C. Couzens, 1923 (Excerpted)
CHAPTER V – May–The Month of Maia
This month is named after the goddess Maia, to whom the Romans sacrificed on the first day of the month. Maia was one of the Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Atlas, the father of the Pleiades, was a giant who lived in Africa and held up the sky on his shoulders.
The sisters were all transformed into pigeons that they might escape from the great hunter Orion, and flying up into the sky were changed into seven stars, which form the constellation known as the Pleiades. On any clear night you may see these stars clustered closely together, but they are not very bright, one of them being very faint indeed. A story says all but one were married to gods, and that when they became stars the one who had married a mortal did not shine so brightly as her sisters.
Maia was the Goddess of the Plains and mother of Mercury, the messenger of the gods. In order that he might perform his duties as messenger more swiftly, Mercury was given by Jupiter wings for his feet, and a winged cap for his head. He is said to have invented the lyre, or harp, and to have given it to the Sun-god Apollo, who gave him in return a magic wand called Caduceus, which had the power of making enemies become friends. Mercury, in order to test its power, put it between two fighting snakes, and they at once wound themselves round it. Mercury ordered them to stay on the wand, and, in statues and pictures, the god is nearly always holding in his hand this wand with the snakes twisted round it. Mercury was not only the messenger of the gods, but was also the God of Rain and Wind, and the protector of travellers, shepherds, and thieves. Festivals were held every year in Rome in his honour during the month of May.
The Angles and Saxons seemed to have called this month of May “Tri-milchi”. [Tri-moloch, Tri-malik]