Bealtaine is my favorite high day in the light half of the year. It’s such a fun experience so full of laughter, music, dance, color, and, of course, new life! As a pregnant lady, I experienced the holiday at a slightly different “frequency.” The day was still about fertility to me, and I was very much aware of the potential for creation and lusty trysts in the forest, but I was also aware of the growing life already present. This time last week, the leaves were just emerging from their buds. The sounds of baby birds were already audible from a cranny in my apartment’s roof. Seeds have already sprouted. Although the May Queen often seems to be a maiden in some celebrations, I truly felt the part and have for the last week. I’ve found myself wearing dresses and skirts, donning flowers, and bringing smiles to peoples’ faces as I went about as an example of new life in action.
My baby wasn’t the only thing flourishing at our Bealtaine rite – Northern Rivers Protogrove is alive and well! Once more, we gathered at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center. They graciously allowed us to plant a Maypole into their property and expressed a desire that it remain there for the summer. Two members donated the 4×4 and others joined in with donations of labor to dig the hole, create the ribbons, and provide music as we danced. Everyone, including some new folks, added their energies to the Maypole as they attached their ribbons. Only a few of us had ever danced the Maypole before, so it was clumsy and imperfect – but I had stressed at the beginning that Maypoles seldom are perfect unless you’ve had a lot of experience or rehearse it until all joy vanishes. I would rather our Maypole be an imperfect ring of giggles and pure joy than a lockstep obligation. Having a member play the bag pipes while we danced was also amazing and made up for all the hiccups! Our goal for next year is to personalize the Maypole with engravings and wood stain.
The ritual went well. We continue to improve as a group and grow together in experience, love, and piety. I included an art project in the rite – idols of the deities of the occasion, Medb and Angus. I was happy to play with dollmaking once more and contribute to the visual atmosphere of our ritual. They also provided a focus as offerings were poured or placed below them.
Dinner was a delectable potluck of Spanish rice, taco pasta salad, taco dip, soup, lemon bread, corn muffins, churros, brownies, stew, and tea. We ended the night in high spirits and with closer bonds.
I’m very much looking forward to our next High Day Rite – the Summer Solstice! It will be the first ritual that I personally don’t lead as I take a step to the side and allow some of the full members to write the liturgy. I know they’re ready, and a visiting ADF bard is planning to attend and help with the musical aspects! This allows me to relax as I near my due date. Second, it shows me just how dedicated and passionate the others are about honoring the Old Ways, bringing open Druidic rites to the North Country, and keeping Northern Rivers going no matter what! I’m very proud of our little group.
~ By Grey Catsidhe, protogrove organizer