WHAT A BELTANE WE HAD!
It’s the time of the great burgeoning, when buds become leaves in a two-week unfurling miracle. Blossom is everywhere, sap is rising, love is in the air. Beltane is a festival of light, joy, beauty and wonder. It’s a time when the veil is thin between humans and the world of nature spirits and faeries. Magic abounds… We were determined to celebrate it to the full.
In Cymric myth Beltane Eve is a potent date. Many are the stories where something extraordinary happens on that very night: the dragons' scream that sent everyone mad; the birth of Pryderi, with the pony and claw; the naming of the bard Taliesin after he was cut from the bag on the banks of the Dyfi River…
So on Beltane Eve we gathered round the fire by the Treehouse and the tales were told: of ancient plagues and grappling dragons; of stirring of the brew and the chase of transformation. We heard Taliesin’s poetry, Merlin’s Prophecy and a beautiful song in Welsh.
On Beltane itself, May 1st, we gathered mid-afternoon, thirty or forty of us, neighbours and friends, many wearing garlands of spring flowers in their hair. We started with a couple of traditional Welsh circle dances and got into them with gusto. There was lots of stepping and skipping, swinging and swapping. And laughter. It was great fun.
Afterwards we heard wise words from Glennie Kindred about the Beltane time and traditions. Then followed a wondrous parade of song, improvised performance and prayer. After a couple of hours we were ready to eat. Everyone had brought a pot-luck dish and miraculously a feast appeared on the long table in the barn. A big pot of nettle and ramson soup was especially popular.
As dusk fell we set off from the Roundhouse fire on a torchlit procession into the woods. We began at the Faerie Queen by the river and heard a telling of the story of Blodeuedd, the Flower Maiden. In the Faery Circle we had a sweet song, some ‘love potion’ was passed around and Jack led us in a game of reciprocal trust with 30 people sitting on each other’s laps. Upstream by Mabon’s Point we heard how Mabon overcame the forces of darkness (the Savage Boar and the Chief Giant), thereby releasing Olwen, the Spirit of Spring. Further up river we gathered in the dark around Modron with, by now, four or five flares. Prayers were made, offerings given and a Goddess song sung.
Our final shrine was at the pool of the Magickal Childe. Suddenly there s/he was, sitting on the moss over a spring that comes from under a great boulder. After a thumbnail sketch of the Childe’s story s/he was rocked in a mother’s arms and sung a beautiful Welsh lullaby.
The whole experience was, as someone later said, ‘lush’!.