To celebrate Bealtaine, Northern Rivers joined up with our hosts at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center for full day of spirituality, fellowship, and fun. We began with their annual Labyrinth Walk. It was a meditative experience as we walked through their permanent labyrinth behind the Yoga Center building. A man drummed and a woman played a crystal bowl. It was very relaxing and truly puts you “in the now.” Even the children in attendance participated. They were very quiet and seemed to sense the solemnity.
Later, after a lunch break, setting up, and a business meeting, we lead more guests through a somewhat chaotic Maypole. In retrospect, we should have spent more time practicing and demonstrating. One can take it for granted that adults sometimes need more direction! All the same, it was fun. We laughed at ourselves and the messy Maypole we created. The kids really enjoyed it too, and engaging our little ones is really important to us.
During our ritual, we honored An Dagda and Boann. We celebrated their mating, for in Irish lore, the good union between a king and the land are what brings prosperity to the people. An Dagda is associated with abundance, and Boann, through her association with cows, also feels to be more in tune with fertility than one of An Dagda’s other partners, An Morrigan. We spoke words of praise, sang, and gave offerings of whiskey, herbal tea, and the handfasting cords pictured above. Everyone put their gratitude into it before we tied it to the Maypole. We also gave a big, handmade wreath decorated with remnants from the Maypole ribbons. Cori fashioned the wreathed, and it’s always humbling when someone crafts something to go into the bonfire.
For the magical working, we engaged in an old tradition from Ireland and Scotland – jumping the Bealtaine bonfire! When our fire was low, some brave souls jumped the fire pit while everyone clapped and chanted. The rest of us who weren’t as sure-footed jumped or steped over three candles in a lantern. It’s always amusing to see who will and won’t jump the bonfire.
Grey read the omen using the Druid Animal Oracle cards. The Nature Spirits gave us the raven. They seemed to remind us that, while we are experiencing a season of growth and life, death is an inevitable part of the process. We should not take the life of the green half of the year for granted. The Ancestors sent us the bull, a symbol of abundance. It was fitting given the theme of Bealtaine and the deities of the rite. The Ancestors, associated with the land due to where they are buried, are believed to have some influence over the fertility of the land. They seem to promise us a good harvest, and perhaps wealth in other areas. The Gods and Goddesses gave us the ram. At the time, the seer’s intuition zeroed in on the ram’s ability to climb mountains. It felt a bit like a warning – watch where you step so that you can reach your goals. Later, she reviewed the symbolism of the ram and found that they can be associated with achievement. If we keep focused and pay attention to our actions, we could achieve some wonderful things!
After our ritual, we feasted on a variety of dishes! There was chili, Puerto Rican rice, curried chickpeas with tomatoes and onions, tamale pie, cinnamon and sugar plantains, pickled beets, bread, crackers and cheese, a German fruit pudding, cupcakes, fairy cakes, brownies, fruit punch, and a beautiful May Bowl featuring fresh dandelions and violets.
Everyone left with dirty feet and red skin from so much time outdoors, but there was such joy in our hearts! It was wonderful to see old and new friends, to return to the fire pit and stone circle after such a long winter, and commune with the Kindreds. As we left, we hailed the setting sun. Truly, we were blessed with a gorgeous day.