At Lunar Beltane each year, Scorpio full moon, we have a gathering at the White Spring, from dusk to dawn, For the Love of It!
This year a friend of ours was hand-fasted on top of Glastonbury Tor in the afternoon, so sadly I would miss the reception and celebration afterwards at Paddington Farm, but I was delighted to be able to offer a blessing at The White Spring before taking the bridal party up the Tor for the hand-fasting ceremony.
At around 1pm, the couple came and took some time in the peaceful courtyard whilst their family and friends arrived. When we went inside for the blessing the handmaidens had to lift the bride’s dress so it didn’t sit in the water. I welcomed everyone and offered an elemental blessing, using the water, incense, candle flame and stone.
Phoenix is a long time friend and rainbow brother, so it was very special for me to offer this blessing to their union. We stood at a portal to the otherworld and invited the blessings of the spirits of Avalon.
Then we all joined hands and lifted our hearts in celebration and support of this union. After much cheering, we went outside and prepared for the ascent up the Tor. Taurus would be leading the men around to the egg-stone and up a steep incline to the top, whilst the bridal party would use the path from the bottom of Wellhouse Lane. Taurus blew his horn and the men set off. The rest of us waited about 15 minutes before leaving to give them time to go around. We climbed, pausing to catch our breath and look at the path below. It was sweet to look back and see the trail of people following the bride up the hill.
We arrived to a huge circle of people. A beautiful handfasting ceremony followed, Lyn (the ceremonialist) was fabulous, and the characters who spoke for each direction were perfect for the energy that they were expressing. We all turned outwards to express the love of these two people, and the love in our hearts out to the world. It was all so beautiful; a powerful tribal feeling, but I couldn’t linger too long; I had to get on.
We had already worked out the format for the evening ceremony, but we had soup to cook, ingredients to get together and equipment to load into the van. Max had got everything together when I arrived back from the Tor, so I had a chance to sit and have a cup of tea.
We arrived with plenty of time for Max and I to unload the wood, set up the tables, get the soup hot and prepare the chai. When we got there we found a large group of people from Slovakia – they had previously asked to book the place and I had told them that it wasn’t possible because of this celebration, so they decided to come along and support. And that they did! Before we knew it there were about twenty people offering to help unload the wood, light the candles and do anything else we asked of them to, it was great! We set up in record time. Many hands …
This meant that there was plenty of time for them to hold a short ceremony inside before we began. Each of them had brought a large peace candle with them and they all lit them and stood in the central chamber. All of their faces were aglow and the building was really bright. After I had slightly freaked out in my head about the candle wax dripping everywhere (and resolved it), I saw how beautiful it was. I could not understand what they were saying and singing, but I could feel the energy. They sang until we were ready to start the ceremony.
We lit the fire outside, talked of Brigid and the nurturing flame, and invited everyone to join us inside. Max and I climbed behind the central pool. This is a perfect place to do public ceremony from; the pool has a lateral wave that helps the acoustics in the building and projects your voice. It also lends inspiration and power to the words. We opened the circle, with Max inviting the blessings and honouring the four directions whilst I dramatically represented each of them with the incense, candle flame, water and a large rock. I then called to the spirits of above, below and within. We asked that each guard, guide and protect all who visit here, living or otherwise.
We invited everyone to lend their energy to the creation of a powerful orb of light, feeling the energy by clapping our hands until they tingle, then intensifying that energy to make it bigger so that we may co-create a wonderful sphere to keep us all safe and held throughout the whole night. Then we said a prayer to the water.
We shared food and drank spiced apple juice. A few people came and asked whether we would be heating up the water tonight, we had done this three years previous and (I think) because it is 2012, people assumed we would do the same. Perhaps we will do it again before the year is out but not tonight. Several people bathed in the cold waters and so many people expressed to me how the building felt more alive, more joyful.
A few women from the singing group were there, so we sang some chants and lots of people joined in with us. An elder bard of Glastonbury arrived and treated us to some wonderful seasonal songs by the fire, Jack in the Green, Hal an tow, Cuckoo… excellent songs that are now becoming familiar to me. The (holders of the roles of) May Queen and Summer King at the town celebrations arrived, invisible and unnoticed. The Queen bathed in the central pool, looking just like a pre-Raphaelite painting. Then the drumming …
Oh the drumming, it has been a bit of an issue in the past; medicine drums are pretty okay, but it really is quite loud in the building when djembes are played, and usually 10 minutes or so is enough. A previous keeper of the Spring who had a love of drumming had arrived with a djembe and asked if he could drum for a bit. When he began in the Brigid bower, I felt inspired to just dance, and I mean really dance! I surrendered to the beat and encouraged some of the Slovakian women to join me – and it went on! The bower was filled with dancing women, then the drums would die down and the women would leave to make room for another group of women to dance inside the bower. It was quite incredible, and I let it go on a little longer than I would usually (it was Beltane after all, and the energy was really rising). It was such a powerful moment and the building seemed to love it. On the opposite side of the building, men were gathered, all getting ready to bathe in the pool; they all jumped in together making a huge splash! How fantastic!
Just as it was feeling like there had been enough drumming energy, Daygan turned up; what joy! I love it when he plays his mandolin at The White Spring; it is so very magical, stirring up the fae energy; tripping and dancing on light-hearted notes of bliss – I immediately get transported to another realm entirely. I danced at each of the shrines, and let myself go. There often comes a moment at the all night gatherings at the Spring when the spirit of faery shines through so strongly that it is easy to see the fae nature of all the visitors. The light-footed faery dancers, the elven warrior, the gnome like character by the fire, sometimes I look and can see the slight hint of wings or little horns and occasionally I wonder if they have come through the front door, or a portal to the otherworld in the depths of the building. Daygan’s music often evokes that very moment.
Later in the evening, three djembes turned up from a drumming session in the Rifleman’s pub. They began to play after Daygan had finished. I told them that they could play for 10 minutes. I explained that it rattles the building if we have too much drumming. They played, gently at first, and then it got louder and louder. Everyone was loving it, the wellhouse was full of people dancing. But after a while it felt like it needed to stop, so checked in with the shrines to get a feel for how the building was being affected. It had soon became too much – the beats echoed back from the walls and the water until there was no distinguishing of each beat and it was nothing but noise. I approached the drummer with the biggest drum and as I did, saw that he had already understood; he had felt the rattle. The acoustics of the place are great, drumming to raise energy is good for 10 or 15 minutes, but beyond that, it often shakes it up too much.
The drumming stopped and the drummers stayed for some chai. The group from Slovakia had left to climb the Tor and we chatted and sang by the fire. People from the wedding party began to drift by on their way home, and we got to hear stories of the gathering up at the farm. At the moment of full moon we paused for silence, and in the morning we listened to the dawn chorus. The sky was getting lighter.
Then Pok the bard arrived. He chanted inside the building whilst we broke down the coals of the fire. We carried the fire pit, still gently glowing, into the King of the world of Faery shrine and gathered around it in the semi darkness to give our thanks to the energies that had supported us all night. We closed the circle and after Pok had spent a few moments by the coals he came outside and treated us to his wonderfully crafted words. An epic battle involving nubiru and a great earth worm; magic meeting sci-fi to create a sublime rendition of powerful proportions, delivered with unique style and a twinkle in the eye.
Then a man who I shall now remember as King Richard totally blew me away. A kind-hearted man who has been around for a couple of weeks, who by his own admission drinks a bit too much and rambles on a bit, he has slightly scruffy dress and no fixed abode. He stepped up and, like a true Shakespearian actor, quoted a speech from Richard III. Quality!
Everything had been perfect all night long, the scene had changed and shifted throughout the night, from climactic to gentle and back again – it was another amazing Beltane night. Our next ‘For the Love of It’ all night celebration takes place at Samhain, the other side of the wheel awaits us; but first we have a glorious summer to come.