Beltane – the fire festival celebrating the arrival of summer. All throughout the UK, last night and today Pagans and non-Pagans alike are joining in the festivities of this special time of the year, with Morris dancing and bonfires, Maypoles and feasting. A long weekend awaits us with a bank holiday Monday, where many pubs will host barbeques and hog roasts, entertainment and more.
After a very long winter, this festival is most welcome. At Imbolc and the Spring Equionox, we quietly ushered in the lengthening days, the gradual shift towards the summer solstice, noticing the ever changing cycles around us. Now it is a time for the first of what I deem the “louder” festivals of summer, where drumming and dancing and cavorting are done with abandon.
Here where I live in Suffolk, it’s not quite time however. I prefer to celebrate Beltane when the May is out; when the hawthorn flowers in the softest shades of pink-tinged white. It will be another week or two yet before these blossoms begin the scent the hedgerows, and bring with them that sense of a definitive coming of summer.
For me, Beltane is also a time when it is finally warm enough to stay outside comfortably, to sit in meditation or to make love under the dappled light of the sun beneath the tender new canopy of leaves deep within the forest. The Goddess is still waking up, slowly, soon to dance freely with the Lord of the Wildwood. It is not yet time to awaken her fully with shouts and drumming and the ecstatic pleasure of ritual love-making – not quite yet.
I can feel the anticipation growing inside me, as I long to reach out towards the sunlight and stretch my soul into the warm air, or to dance in the summer rain. It is coming, it is coming…