Flirting, Fire, and Full Moons for Beltaine 2012

After business and lunch, the grove set to work.  The men folk went into the forest to find a suitable tree.  Skip knows what to look for.  They poured offerings and thanked the spirit.  Meanwhile the women collected grape vines and wove them into a ring.  Some grovemates wanted to make it look like a star so we collected more sticks and used twine to secure it.  The girls collected flowers to decorate it further.  When the men brought the tree back, a slender but long and sturdy shagbark hickory, we giggled about length and girth.  Realization about what we meant dawned on the older girls who giggled knowingly.  The men held the tree trunk as we slid the wreath up the shaft then secured it with twine.  Skip attached the remains of your Yule tree, explaining to the newcomers our tradition.  Each Yule, Skip harvests the top of a pine tree for the grove festivities.  For Imbolc, we made a wreath using some of the tree and gave it as an offering.  At Beltaine, we add the top to our Maypole.  There it stands until Samhain, when we take the whole thing down, chop it, and put it into the Samhain bonfire.  In this way, we honor the cycles of nature and symbolically spread fertility throughout the land.  For the five years I’ve been attending the grove, this tradition has become very special to me.  It somehow seems more intimate and meaningful than using a pvc pipe, a dowel purchased at the hardware store, or a lamppost.  We attached ribbons made of recycled bedsheets and carefully erected the Maypole, symbol of the sacred phallus of the Gods – Cernunnos, An Dagda, and, to some, the Green Man.

Photo by Weretoad
Photo by Weretoad

Then came the dance.  Barefoot, bedecked in flowers, flowing skirts, face paint, bells, and colorful clothing, we wove the ribbons.  It is always chaotic.  We laugh, rub against each other, sweat, and squeal.  My husband and I always make a point to kiss at least once when we pass.  My hip scarf jingle-jangled as Skip drummed – faster and faster!  Around we went, intoxicated by the fun, the scent of flowers in the air, the growing heat of the sun, and the butterflies chasing each other.  Ladybug had the longest ribbon.  We gave her kisses as a prize except for her little brother who thought it would be disgusting!  Little Eve laughed and said, “More!  More!”  Oh, if only.  We love the Maypole!

Photo by Weretoad
Photo by Weretoad
Photo by Weretoad

Before ritual, we lazed about chatting and enjoying nature.  Candee and Skip found some spearmint on the land for us to taste.  The Fox family played with their daughter and lounged in the grass.  Weretoad tossed a football around.  Young lovers held hands.  Women spoke of babies and life changes.  Weretoad, Skip, and I gathered nine sacred woods for the Beltaine bonfire – oak, fir, ash, grapevine, birch, alder, heather, gorse, and holy.

Photo by Grey Catsidhe
The altar before nightfall .  Photo by Grey Catsidhe
A doll version of Blodeuwedd I’ve been working on as a commission for a friend.  She was a Goddess of the rite so I brought her to soak in the energies.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe

When all was ready, we processed into the ritual area – closer to the house due to dampness and mosquitos.  We hung banners with bonfires so we could symbolically pass between the flames for luck.  Each took a large match and lit the sacred bonfire, consecrating the ritual space together.  We called to and welcomed the Nature spirits, Ancestors, and Gods.  We named the May Queen and King, the Goddess and God of the occasion.  A beautiful, full moon rose above the trees, filling us with inspiration and magic.  We sang around the fire and gave offerings of alcohol, flowers, art, crowns, and bardcraft.  We blessed and welcomed a new tree onto the land – the old tree sacrificed and the new taking its place.

The night ended with feasting and more fellowship before we returned home smelling like the bonfire.

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

4 thoughts on “Flirting, Fire, and Full Moons for Beltaine 2012

  1. I danced my first Maypole this year with my trad, and it was AMAZING! Due to time it ended up being in the dark, but gosh it was still fantastic! Your amazing experience reminds me of my own, although we were a bit fewer in number it was still fantastic. What an amazing life druids and witches lead!

    1. I’m excited for you and your new experiences! My first Maypole was exhilarating… Beltaine is one of my most favorite holidays because of the whimsy, fun, and sensuality associated with it. It’s a real pick-me-up for the spirit after the long winter!

  2. Haha I echo theRedlass! XD

    Seriously though, sounds like you had an awesome time~ ❤

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