What a long Beltane season it has been. Glastonbury has been alive with vibrancy and energy.
It began with weeks of preparations; Before I can even think about the seasonal altar at The White Spring we gather with an informal group of Glastonbury residents. From Spring Equinox onwards we all begin to weave and craft the town celebrations. In a relatively short time we do manage, by some miracle, to plan and create wonderful community celebration for townsfolk and visitors of all faiths and backgrounds to join in with …. More about that in the next blog.
The run up to Mayday / Beltane can be hectic; there is so much going on …
At the April Dark moon, we had set the seasonal altar and were ready for the week running up to April 1st. However, the weather turned, we had rain, and more rain … floods, high winds! It was beginning to look like some of the Beltane events could easily be a washout.
Each year, Max and I host a Beltane firewalk at the end of April. Firewalking is beautiful in the rain, but not so great in a flood or gale. We had to change our venue at the last minute and fortunately found a field that wasn’t waterlogged.
It is a wonderful and empowering thing to do and it perfectly compliments the work we do at the White Spring. Particularly potent at Beltane, firewalking has become a tradition for us at this time of year. There were 18 firewalkers, including my own son. He has been around a lot of firewalking events, has seen me teach on many occasions, yet at 16 years old this would be his first time participating.
We all gathered around to light the fire. This is no ordinary fire! This fire is lit with a 7 year flame, and built with sacred intent. Whenever I can, I use the Brigid flame that I keep at The White Spring and on my shrine at home to light the firewalks.
The group were fabulous, we had a lot of fun preparing for the walk before all of us, everyone, went outside and walked the coals. After the build up, after feeling the nervous energy in the room when people arrive, after the focused teaching and raising of energy; after all this comes the celebration as people cross the coals; it is liberating, free, reality shifting … a dance begins; a celebration of life and a realisation that amazing things really are possible.
And, it didn’t rain!
I have done this workshop with hundreds of people, but on this night I got to see my son take part! It is incredible to see people walk the coals time and time again, but for me to witness my own son and knowing what it means to him on a deeper level, was something entirely different. I was quite overwhelmed at the end of it all. As elated as I was, I would need to sleep; I had to be up and ready the next morning to open the White Spring for two groups.
The first group arrived to find the wellhouse lit beautifully, and me standing in the central pool! This is an immense thing to do after a night of firewalking, it is like the tempering of the sword. Like when a blacksmith fires up a bit of metal, he hammers it into shape and plunges it into cold water! It is such a powerful sensation to stand in that water after doing something so incredible.
I got out of the pool and dried my feet whilst the group got settled in and set up, then stayed with them as they chanted and sang. I sat by the front door, so as not to intrude, and I listened. It was really good to just sit and be at peace in the place after all the heightened energy of the night before.
The next group we had booked in had been at the firewalk, and instead of the calm and serene feeling from the first group, this group were excitable, energised and still buzzing from the night (even those who had just come to watch their friends!) They all took off their shoes and put their feet in the water – one of them said it was almost as difficult as the firewalk because the water was so very cold. They soon got used to it and were walking all around the place barefoot. Their first time firewalking and their first time at The White Spring. They had an awesome weekend!
Beltane waits for no man, or woman … so onward. After the two groups were gone, it was up to Bushey Coombe at midday to meet the women of Glastonbury to prepare the hole for the Maypole – so I collected some water, a trowel, shovel and most importantly strawberries and chocolate to share. It had been blowing a gale the night before and some of the trees in the lane had come down. It was grey and windy, a bit wet still and the grass was soaked. After shifting a broken tree limb from the road on Wellhouse Lane, I arrived at the end of the lane leading to the coombe. I got the tools and the treats to the site, and two other women arrived. The three of us bailed out the hole from last year, which had filled with water, and dug a little deeper. We decorated the hole with flowers, made our offerings to the land and shared water, treats and love. We said a prayer for all of our sisters, and brothers, and made a wish that all those who are looking for love find their heart’s desire. The rain only just held off, and the wind blew away the cobwebs. There were less women than in previous years, but the job was done.
We thought of the men, who had gone to collect the maypole ready for the celebrations on the 1st. We knew that they had gone to Wearyal Hill to collect it, and they had to carry it through town to the Assembly rooms.The rain did hold off for us, but as soon as we were done, the heavens opened and it poured.
With the maypole planting preparations done, Max and I returned home to get ready for Tuesday’s Beltane Celebrations in town. On the Monday, we needed to build a bower for the May Queen and Summer King, and attend a walkthrough for the ceremony on Bushey Coombe. I didn’t need to be there so I decided to take a bit of time out to walk the land. It is important to connect with the land when you are involved in this kind of work – my time spent communing with the land is very special and it connects me to the forces of nature in a deep way.
I felt quite relaxed about the whole thing, although it was busy, I felt very calm in the midst of seeming chaos. The big day was approaching, and hundreds of people would come to the Springs as part of the celebrations.
On Monday night I went to bed wishing for good weather – and the next morning, we went to make sure the White Spring was ready to light up quickly and recieve lots of visitors. Well, it wasn’t!
More about that in the next blog!