We held our Beltane Ceremony on the 27th April, which seems an awfully long time ago now! Unfortunately a lot of our regulars couldn’t make it on the day –we missed you guys! – but we had a good turn out of nine, three of which had come to the Grove for the very first time.
Bracken had prepared the ritual, which was to be an exploration of the Sacred Masculine/Feminine within us all. I had been designated to be in charge of the twin fires which I found a hoot, as I have a sort of hate/hate relationship with fire. On the morning of the ritual I spent an hour and a half driving round looking for a fire log as instructed, but couldn’t find any in the shops locally. In desperation I invested in a packet of firelighters and hoped the sunny weather would mean there would be plenty of dry sticks about.
The rite started off as usual, one of our new people, Badger, had been designated as south/fire bearer and mysteriously turned up with a rather long stick. When it was time to consecrate the circle, he lit the wadding at the end and lo, it became the Flaming Brand of the Setantii, another myth to add to the Grove story cycle. It was tremendously exciting to be blessed such a huge flame whooshing over your head, rather than the usual candle in a lantern!
After the Opening we split into two groups, those who wished to explore their Sacred Feminine, and those who wanted to explore their Sacred Masculine. We were all sent off do a walking meditation whilst looking for objects to decorate the respective altars. After the excitement of finding the burnt altar last ritual, we had yet another surprise this time, Gio found the original ‘original’ altar in the undergrowth, completely whole and untorched and so, just as we needed two altars, voila, they appeared. Stoatie sat on the feminine altar and Pan Stoatie on the masculine. After another meditation and sharing, around our decorated altars, we processed round the circle to do the same at the opposite one. It was interesting to speculate why the objects had been chosen for the ‘other’ altar.
After this it was time to light the fires and jump through. I had gathered far too much wood just to be on the safe side. I’m pleased to say that the fires lit pretty well, as you would expect given the use of firelighters! It still exacted it’s usual payment though, by managing to burn my finger nails yet again.
After the Ceremony we had our first proper picnic of the year. Gio baked two wonderful loaves of focaccia bread which tasted fantastic as usual and Badger fetched a delicious home made apple pie. I will really have to make a bit of an effort and try and make something myself for Alban Hefin. There were no squirrels this time but we were joined by a pair of mallard ducks who happily waddled around us looking for a hand out.
It was a wonderfully warm day, the first where the sun had any heat in it really, and I’m glad to say that it presaged the start of the summer weather. It was strange to have a Beltane rite with no hawthorn blossom at all. Usually we have huge frothy sprays, which I make into head dresses and wreaths. Last year I really struggled to find just one tree with a couple of sprays of almost opening flowers, but this year there wasn’t even any with flower buds showing. Still it seems things are getting back on track at last, so here’s to the summer!