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Musings of a Hereditary Witch

Memories of Beltaine 2000

For Beltaine 2000, I invited my students and their significant others to participate in ritual on my family’s land. Everyone was asked to bring a potluck dish and 5 yards of 1 inch ribbon in a color that represented a wish. In making preparations I also had everyone sign a ‘hold harmless’ document, required by my family.

The morning of ritual we met at my home. The ladies were dressed up, some with floral wreaths, flowers or ribbons in their hair and the men dressed casually in jeans or shorts. We busied ourselves with packing the large cast-iron cauldron, kindling, flowers, food; the ribbons for the Maypole and the Maypole it’s self. I have a 9 foot free standing Maypole that my ex-husband made. It’s all wood and comes apart in 4 sections (the base and 3 sections for the pole done in a post and sleeve construction). I have to say, he did a very nice job and it’s withstood many dances.

The day was warming up quickly as it does here in California at this time of year. Old growth oaks stretched over the one lane road dappling us in faery light as we drove to the ritual site. Upon crossing the bridge, the trees give way on the left to an open expanse of property. We had arrived. We parked along the road and began unloading everything.

There is a lovely round plateau (about 50 feet in diameter) for performing ritual that is about 75 yards in from the main road; it is also quite visible to the main road. To get there we had to walk down an uneven path and cross a running creek. For me it was a case of hiking up my skirts and walking through about six inches of icy water. For the rest it was more about balancing on the rocks to not get their feet wet. Once on the other side, it was up a steep incline to the plateau.

Blankets and ice chests were laid out in the shade under the trees. The men and some of the women were busy getting the Maypole assembled and decorated. A fire was built in the cauldron. Soon the soft sound of Celtic music was drifting in the air around the Maypole.

Before ritual began, I called to our family Land Guardian (by name) and announced our intentions for the afternoon. She graciously gave her blessing. Having her blessing we could now begin our ritual. We opened ritual and acknowledge those things in accordance with the tradition I teach.

We had a rousing dance around the Maypole with lots of laughter and shouts. Cars on the road would slow down or stop to watch and we would wave and continue our dance. The varying colors of ribbon creating a beautiful woven tapestry down the pole. Once we could go no further, we all fell to the ground laughing.

Now it was time to make wishes and jump the Bel-fire. Some of the couples jumped together and the few who couldn’t jump circled the fire making their wishes. It soon became a competition of who could jump the highest over the flames.

Food and drink was much welcomed after all of the activity. We ate, told stories and lounged around. Some of the couples took this time to wander into the woods. It is Beltaine after all.

We closed our ritual, but before leaving we left offerings of fruit and honey in a hollow at the base of an oak for the Land Guardian.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and memorable Beltaine!

Blessings on your Hearth & Home