The ancient festival of Beltane has always been special to me. As I child, I was caught by its magic when my grandfather first read me the story of ‘Borrobil‘, where two children walk between the Beltane fires and are whisked away into a land of myth, magic and the obligatory dragon.
For years afterwards, every time the number seventy-seven bus passed the conical hill on the way to town, we would talk about Beltane. I learned its legends and traditions, and more than any other of the festivals of the turning of the year, this one is close to my heart, rooted, as it is, in fond memories.
Over the years, I have celebrated Beltane in many ways and in many places. I have danced around a Maypole, weaving the ribbons in the pattern of life. Joined a spiral dance in the streets of Oxford. Seen the Maypole rise beneath Glastonbury Tor and watched the red and white dragons take to the streets.
I have laughed with friends, given and received sprigs of lily of the valley as is the tradition in France and worn a wreath of May blossom. But perhaps the most magical May Days involved my sons. The first dawn my youngest son ever saw was a Beltane sunrise… and there was real Beltane magic when Nick and I walked up an ancient barrow together and he danced in the summer.
This year, I am not going to be quite so lucky.While many of my friends are gathering with the priestesses of Avalon or carrying Maypoles, I have, instead, an early start at work followed by a hospital appointment. And that’s okay.
Around my neck, I wear the red and white dragons. Beneath my feet, the earth is bursting with life as the first day of the ancient summer season is counted. The blackthorn hedges wear a wedding gown of white and the hawthorns bear the crown of May.
I wish you all blessings at Beltane.