What does Beltane mean? Here are some ideas from Roberta Ardern, Local Contact for London...
Honouring life - Peak of spring and beginning of summer - Earth energies strongest and most active, bursting with potential fertility. Flora the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen - Oak King, Green Man - sacred marriage. 180° Samhain - veil thinnest work with ancestors - Fire ceremony to honour the sun, encourage the sun’s light to nurture the future harvest and protect the community - light bonfires and candles leave behind what you don’t want in your life.
Traditionally all fires put out and a special fire kindled for Beltane - the need fire. People jumped fire to cleanse, purify and for fertility. Couples jumped to pledge themselves to each other. Animals were driven through the smoke - Great Wedding dress up in green, wear a crown of flowers - Earth at its most fecund sap rising time of conception perhaps a new life/new project - Dress an altar - Dress a tree - Handfasting a year and a day tying a figure of 8 round the couple’s hands with red ribbon/cord - untying - stay by own free will. Jumping the broom stick - threshold - moving from old life to a new one. Hawthorne was not brought into the house except at Beltane. May Baskets. Maypole - phallic - coloured ribbons - Trees - Hawthorn/Birch/Rowan.
Roberta takes us on a photo pilgrimage through Greenwich Park to celebrate the third walk in her series of honouring the quarterday festivals of the year in London...
...starting by the Cutty Sark - tuned into the River - salty water - ebb and flow of life. Intentions of what should be left behind. Walked by the River to Greenwich Park past the children’s boating lake which unfortunately was still dry, and crossed the Meridian Line.
Enjoyed the spring flowers in the border by the Queen’s House, then walked up the avenue of horse chestnut and sycamore trees to the Motherwell Fountain - a Victorian Fountain which once used the spring water in this area, now dry. There are many springs and a reservoir under the Observatory Hill - a White Goddess has been seen on various occasions here.
Carried on to the Romano-Celtic Temple where, in meditation, tuned in to the Roman soldiers.
Decided to choose a tree in this area and enjoy time with it by hugging or sitting/lying on the ground. Walk to the Wilderness - looking for the red and fallow deer who live there - listening to the music, voices coming from the Fair on Blackheath... people having fun.
Walking to the flower garden, found a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the colour and perfume of the many blooms. The Beltane Meditation was to meet Cernannos, the horned god in his aspect as the Green Man, who takes us to meet the Goddess in the form of Flora. Lighting a row of tea-lights – jumped the candles. Walking past the avenue of cherry trees, connect with our ancestors once more at the tumuli to thank them before heading back down the hill into Greenwich.
Roberta Ardern, May, 2021