Blessed Beltain

Traditional Maypole Dancing
Blessed Beltain - Blessings of love, fire, fertility and passion to you all! 
Beltain or Beltane is celebrated on 30th April - May Eve, often when bonfires are lit and/or 1st May. Traditionally Beltain celebrated the union of the Goddess and the God, their glorious fertility over the coming months seen in the green leafy finery budding and delicate flowers blossoming across the land. A time for animals to mate and for us to revel in our sexuality - the traditional custom of dancing round the Maypole a cheekily phallic symbol of the male form adorned with flowery and leafy garlands representing the female form, the entwining of ribbons around it by 'maidens' revelling in the act! Reflecting the changes in the land around us, this was a time for courtship, with couples sloping off into the woods at the Beltain fires and a flurry of hand fastings or marriages a few months later when the signs of ensuing fertility had come to light! 
It's been suggested that Beltain is named for the Celtic God Bel and the fires 
Glorious Hampshire - Our Setting for
Beltain Celebrations
were a way of marking and celebrating the coming months of sun and the prospect of a good harvest - like so many of the traditional sabbats reflecting the needs and hopes of the farming calendar throughout the year, no doubt these flourished and grew as we became early farmers at the mercy of the elements, Mother Nature and the Goddesses and Gods of the land. Cattle were driven between the fires to protect them from harm and boughs of Rowan were hung over the fire to protect the home and hearth from any form of enchantment and the 'evil eye.'

The Maiden has grown into a young woman, ready to leave childhood behind, full of sensuous longing, yearning for the fulfillment of love, ripe to explore and enjoy her sexuality. What a glorious time!
This time of year has long been a special time
The Wicker Man
for me and one of my oldest friends, my beloved Lu, a very brave women who apart from my first week in the maternity unit, has literally known me and been my friend for the whole of my life! As older adults, we've always marked Beltain somehow, usually by getting up ridiculously early to visit the local stones at Kits Coty, wash our faces in the May Day dew to retain our youthful looks (you'd never know we were 76 and 81 now would you?!) and to prance about with local Morris Dancing groups! Not totally sure why this sabbat is so specifically ours, the only explanation I can think of is that we grew up together, our children have grown up together, 5 generations of our families have been happily entwined over half a century and we are blessed to have each other as a constant reminder of home, childhood and love.

My Request to The Goddess To Be
Taken Up In The Flames

This year I asked if she was game for a Beltain adventure, as long as it doesn't involve climbing hills was the reply! No hill climbing policy in situ, we headed off to Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire, a drive of about an hour and a half from us. Alerted to this by some lovely drumming friends from the fabulous Pentacle Drummers, we found reconstructed Stone Age, Iron Age, Saxon and Roman Buildings and farms, displays of crafts, workshops, reenactments and a wicker man over 30 feet high, that took a month to construct that would later be burnt as an offering to the Gods and Goddesses for fertility and a fruitful harvest. 
After taking part several times in an awesome shamanic drumming circle  in a 'stone age' round house  (we were well away with that!) maypole dancing and experiencing food samples that would have been around at the time, learning that you can get fresh water mussels (and then I found one today!) we headed over to the amazing construction pictured above, added and tied our individual requests and prayers to the wicker man to be sent to the Goddess and God through the flames later that evening. A after quick sampling of the local cider - a mere mouthful
Goddess of Grain - Of Course!
for me as driver, we explored the 'Iron Age' buildings and  both felt at home with their structure, decorations inside and the basic spinning wheels, the actual use of metal becoming vividly apparent and obvious, so much more than we could have possibly learned from a text book or in a class room, seriously take your children there!

Interestingly neither of us felt at home at all in the Saxon House, but enjoyed the Roman Villa, these are based on actual local findings, I found this beautiful painted mural there, of course it's a depiction of a Goddess of Corn/Wheat/Grain! Just goes to reinforce that She is ever present in all cultures, all beliefs and all things. 
More drumming, singing, dancing and eating  - all sorts, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free and drinking ensued, before as dusk approached we all
Fiery Finale..
headed over to the site of the wicker man for the finale of the day. Amidst more earthy and resonating drumming, which you could feel stir the crowd, the torch processed to the wicker man. A lucky raffle winner lit the man shaped bonfire and we all whooped and cheered as the fire took hold, decorating the night sky with flames and sparks in such a primal way. We could see cars lights slowing and stopping in the distance to witness the spectacle. The wind roared and there were showers of sparks that glowed as they flew over the field. What a sight! I can completely understand why our ancestors would have been in awe, captivated by the spectacle - just as we were with our 21st century understanding of the world. We found ourselves worrying about whether or not the direction of the wind would mean that our requests would not go up in the fire, a mild superstition or fantasy compared to the total belief and hope in the way it burned that may have been felt 2000 plus years ago, primal as it sounds it mattered! A completely amazing day and experience.

Have a Blessed Beltain BB x x


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