Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

Calan Mai 2009

by Aethnen - May 4th, 2009.
Filed under: Past Rituals. Tagged as: , , , , , , .

Well! Our Calan Mai/Beltaine ritual day this year was certainly a full one. We all gathered together at Alison’s house in the Nantlle Valley for about 11/11:30 AM, getting everything set up and settled before we convened up in her lovely-atmosphered summer house with the Calan Mai altar, to briefly discuss some business before properly starting the day.

The Grove has decided on our two charities for this year: Freshfields and Coed Cymru. We will be collecting donations for them at every ritual event. This ritual we collected £4.50! Gill also asked everyone how their spiritual gardens were getting on.

We then briefly discussed Calan Mai before heading outside to start the ritual proceedings. There were bells and windchimes hanging in the trees, so all day there were lovely tinkling sounds as the wind blew through. Gareth started us off with some wonderful Chi Qong exercises, balancing and moving our energy about and bringing us all together. Then Alison taught us a little bit of Mongolian chanting/throat-singing using vowels and the chakras, and when we all came together it sounded pretty good!!!

Finally, standing in a circle, Jenn gave everyone ribbons of pink, purple and red to wear on their wrists. These not only looked good and brought the energies together again but also felt very festive as people danced, the ribbons swayed and blew too! It was great too that everyone wore reds, purple and pinks! Then Jenn took may water and a little hawthorn branch and blessed the space between us with the water and blessed each of us as we then began the task of unwinding the May Pole! It was a bit tricky at first, but then as people got used to it, it got better! At each of the four quarters, while the May Pole was being unwound, one of the grove members would stop and greet the directions before continuing with the May Pole. It worked very well and was lovely as Ros played her harmonica. There was an air of simple joys and old times that seemed to (for me) fill the little spot.

Finally, it was time to find out who would be the May King and Queen. Drawing lots, Caryl was chosen as the May Queen and Holger found himself the May/Hawthorn King!!! Gareth drew his lot and found out that he was the Blackthorn King! So we divided up into teams of 7 people … and in traditional style, we had the Battle of Hawthorn versus Blackthorn. The Hawthorn side was armed with birch branches and fern leaves–for they represented the resilient powers of Summer. The Hawthorn King of course had a beautiful Hawthorn staff. The Blackthorn side was given lots of old grass, dead thistles and branches, etc to fight with for they were the powers of Winter. The Blackthorn King was given a blackthorn branch (with thorns still on it!) and a shield covered in cotton wool (snow) and dead grasses, rushes, etc to represent Winter. Then at Jenn’s signal, the two sides went at it for an epic battle!!! Grass, leaves and branches went flying everywhere as general scuffing and one-on-one fighting broke out. The Hawthorn and Blackthorn Kings struggled in the midst of it, taking to the ground to wrestle it out. But the poor Blackthorn King was outdone this time and the forces of Summer and the Whitethorn/Hawthorn triumped! Holger was crowned the May King and he and his May Queen led everyone down for a celebratory feasting lunch!

For lunch we had delicious tomato soup (thank you Gill) with oat cakes (thank you Lynne), oaty breads, a beautiful and absolutely amazing flower salad (thank you Ros and Eileen). Gill also provided dark chocolate covered flapjacks which went down a treat.

After sating our hunger (for as Eleri said, it’s hungry work!) … we headed outside to sit in the warm (verging on hot) sunshine to digest our foods and listen to our budding bard, Holger recount the tale of Taliesin. This was not the oft-told story of how Gwion Bach became Taliesin, but the rarer account of Taliesin being found by Elfin and in turn him rescuing him from the haughty hands of Maelgwyn Gwynedd. Holger did a WONDERFUL job with his bells and singing bringing the story to life … as well as bringing others into it by having them read little bits of it at the appropriate times. This was a good story too! Of course, it was appropriate because Taliesin was found by Elfin on May Eve.

Then after that, we got on our feet for Caryl, who led us in a hoot of a mummer’s play. Well scripted, we were all involved and given parts, from birds, a brook, Mother Earth, St George and the Dragon, Robin Hood and Maid Marion, trees, Pan, Jack-in-the-Green, and the May King and Queen. With such a cast of fun characters, you can just imagine what antics we got up to, courtesy of Caryl’s rhymed directions! haha!

After this, we settled down to have the Ritual Cake (a yummy yummy parkin thank you Elaine) and Ritual Drink (lemon balm brewed with honey, thank you Gill) to refresh ourselves before proceeding with the more thoughtful, meditative part of the afternoon.

Lynne then led us in a tree meditation where we found a tree in our minds that spoke to us and she brought us close to it, observing it and experiencing it. When we came back then, she handed out paper and provided colouring pens/pencils/crayons and she had us all draw the tree we saw! What a wonderful idea! And the trees everyone came up with, from the most basic to the most detailed were truly astounding and insightful into each other and the group.

Jenn then led a longer part, first about the power of Blessing, reading bits from John O’Donohue’s book “Benedictus” before handing out paper again. Everyone then wrote their own blessing and going round to each person, looked one another in the eyes and shared their blessings. This was also meaningful and felt like an opening of the heart to the rest of the group.

Then we settled down as she introduced the Buddhist idea of Metta or Lovingkindness before leading us in a Metta meditation where we first blessed ourselves and then gradually worked through parents, partners, loved ones, friends, teachers, coworkers, energies and spirits around us, animals and living things, world leaders and workers, enemies and those who are perpetuating hurt, all the way to the earth herself, the solar system, the universe! This was a very grounding and healing meditation.

Then Jenn briefly discussed with us John O’Donohue’s idea of the Anam Cara or Soul Friend before leading a short discussion on soul friendship. She also pointed out that if anyone in the group felt drawn to other people in the grove, to approach them and perhaps try to have a sort of anam cara relationship, sharing and discussing spiritual things together. This idea was received by some and others didn’t feel drawn towards it.

Finally, folks were starting to get a bit antsy so we headed back up to the May Pole and circle to light our Beltaine Fire. Each person had one or two pieces of wood and after offering something to the grove (either song, poem, or wise thought) placed their wood on the fire. We had some really beautiful Welsh songs thanks to Gareth and Elaine, Holger, and Eleri … and Keith sang us an old Quaker favourite! There were a few poems read too, all evocative and beautiful.

Then we began to wind up the May Pole, weaving in and out and at the same time farewelling the directions. The mood this time was more festive and celebratory and everyone did a very good job! Ros played her harmonica again with Jenn clanging on little bellydancing cymbals and running round setting all the bells and windchimes to ring out! Keith had worn his Morris dancing leg bells and they sounded wonderful as everyone danced around the May Pole!

We then each took a running leap over the Beltaine fire with another blessing of May water before Jenn went round and gave out ‘sweet blessings‘ with honey over the third eye or lips or nose, etc.

To then release the energy of the day and ground again, Gareth led us in a couple simple Chi Qong exercises before with shouts, we headed down to Alison’s house for a huge spread of food! Wow!

Everyone brought plenty of food for our Feast which was perfect and we had all sorts of things to choose from and each dish was delicious. We had fun talking, eating and getting to know one another better before it finally came time to start packing up and leaving.

The day finally came to an end but it was certainly a good ritual day and it was so because of all the good people we had with us, despite a number of our beloved grove members missing because of previous engagements/arrangements.

A big thank you to everyone who came and contributed and especially a thank you to our new people (there were 4 new faces) as well as a happy welcome. We hope that you’ll join us again some time!

So my blessing for you all: May this Summer be sweet and kind to you!

2 Responses to Calan Mai 2009

  1. Well, if the summer is going to be as sweet and kind as everyone was for our Beltane celebrations then it should be a good one! May I sing a praise to everyone who participated, including our newcomers who fitted in so well?

    A good feast of Beltane it was,
    made good by all of you,
    who came and sang and danced around
    the king of all maypoles!

    Bright blessings of summer to all,

  2. May I just remind people again that we have oue photo gallery which I, for my part, try and keep more or less up-to-date. So if you would like to remind yourselves of our ‘adventures’ arrange a password with the Administrator (Dafydd) and then go and open up the world of Cylch Blodeuwedd in pictures, whenever you want!

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