When winter ends…

In the northern hemisphere, it is Beltane, or Cétshamhain, the first of summer, going by the old calendar. It is a time of hope, fertility and of looking forward to a time of plenty; a concept we need to embrace more, perhaps, at this time than in living memory for many.

In other years I have been fortunate to spend May Day with people I love. I have heard the May Day blessing from the top of the Magdalen Tower at dawn and joined the revels that fill the streets of Oxford with music, laughter and magic.

bluebell mayday magic 241

I have shared the day with my son, visiting the bluebell woods and experiencing a moment of pure magic upon an ancient hilltop.

Crowned with May blossom, I have joined the colourful procession, led by the Red and White Dragons, that climbs Glastonbury Tor to raise the Maypole. And long ago, as a maiden child myself, I danced the ribbons and wove the patterns that symbolise the intertwined energies that give life to the land.

This year, many of us will spend the day alone, perhaps far apart from our loved ones. My dawn greeting will be shared only with the dog in a wet and muddy field. There will be no Beltane fire, no revelry, and no Maypole.

But whether or not we make music, we still dance to Nature’s tune. I wear no circlet of May blossom, but my garden is crowned with heavy branches of pale hawthorn flowers. In the branches the birds are building their nests, in the fields young animals taste their first sun of summer as the Beltane blaze lights the touch-paper of the horizon at sunrise. Nature will celebrate beautifully whether or not we can mimic her joy.

Beltane is a point of change in the year, a time when hearthfires that had been kept burning were extinguished and lit anew from the Beltane need-fire, a bonfire divided in two through which people would pass and cattle were driven for both purification and protection from all ills.  Perhaps we too can take this as a time to rekindle the fires of hope, of dreams and, having passed through the darkest days, emerge once more into the light of the sun.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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25 Responses to When winter ends…

  1. Love those old Celtic names


  2. Adele Marie says:

    Happy Beltaine, Sue. May this be the beginning of better times. ❤


  3. Pingback: When winter ends… | Mystical Strings

  4. I’m not familiar with Belatine, Sue. Let us hope it does bring what it promises. Your photo’s are full of happiness. Hope you are well, Stay Safe x


  5. Darlene says:

    Happy Beltaine, Sue. Have a fabulous day!!


  6. V.M.Sang says:

    Happy Beltane. This day has been subverted recently. It is now ‘labour day’ and a bank holiday in France. In the UK we’ve decided to more or less ignore it, instead of celebrating May Day on May 1st, regardless of what day it is (as in France, but it’s still labour day there), we have the holiday on the first Monday of May. Not Beltane.
    When growing up, There used to be May Day celebrations. (Not necessarily on May 1st, but the nearest Saturday) A May Queen had been chosen, and was crowned. (Sometimes with a May King, but not often.) she was accompanied by a number of flower girls who strewed her path to the coronation with flowers. I was a flower girl once, and as a tiny thing of about 5 years old, was a fairy.
    A fete followed with the usual sort of things.
    Now, this seems to have gone. There are no May Queens near here, nor May fetes. Instead, my town has a Carnival in the summer, usually in August, but it’s removed from Beltane and the old ways that tied people to the land and seasons.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      In France there is still the fête du muguet, a small but beautiful reminder of the seasonal ties to the land.
      Sadly, many of our traditions have disappeared over the past few decades. There was always a May Queen when I was a girl too, although the Maypole served as the symbol of the May King.


  7. Jewels says:

    Happy Beltane! 🙂


  8. Jim Borden says:

    Happy Beltane – I like that it is known as the first of summer – my favorite season!


  9. TamrahJo says:

    The ‘bluebell woods’ and ancient hilltop visit’ picture/story is one of my earliest memories of your son and still one of my fave pictures! Was awesome to see it again without diving into the archives!!! 🙂


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