Our Beltane Gathering this year took place on a day of vernal greenery cloaked in damp warm mist. We explored the themes of sacred marriage, sexual union, summer, May queens, fertility, lovers, Flora and the spellbound moments at dawn and dusk when the the Otherworld seems almost with us. Just as, in the Christian calendar, we are approaching the mystical festivals of Whitsun and Ascension. Our themes seem to perfectly match the soft, wet, weather, neither one thing nor another, shrouding everything in mystery and glory.
Our story was the deep and epic tale of Psyche and Eros, which is more ancient than the Greek and Roman versions we have recorded, and contains within it the germ of many of our familiar wonder-tales: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Pandora can all be glimpsed in a myth that is also a women’s quest and initiation story and wends its path from girlhood to motherhood via cliff-top marriages to Death, foretold by Pythia, the Delphic oracle; the Lovers’ secret palace; the steep slopes of Olympus and a trial in the Underworld.
It is a story that has intrigued mythologists and psychologists alike and looks at the cycles of elation and despair that we experience on our way to a maturity that is being crowned a goddess, soul and body united, immortal.
And being crowned as a goddess or May Queen was the central image of our craft activities in which we made hedgerow May crowns and then in pairs and threes offered massages and foot baths to the enthroned May Queen so that we might each have our own experience of being honoured in this way.
Meditation took us to the realms of loving ourselves and in a simple ceremony, we read poems and lit candles on the altar of Love – poems celebrating the many many different forms that love can take.
There was much laughter and wonderful sacred harp music from Abigail, which beguiled and bewitched us into realms beyond the ordinary. The Wisdom Pot was filled with politics, personal stories, rage, reason, humour, healing, silence, serenity, sadness, eccentricity and all manner of eclectic offerings, making for a rich collaborative mix which resonated around the whole circle.
It was a subtle and powerful Beltane this year – many women had strong feelings to share and potent poems to read around the circle. The weather offered us a sanctuary in which to take time to sink down into the mysteries, layer upon layer of love in its many forms swirling around us.