Beltane 2020: Your Online Invitation & Order Of Ceremony. Sunday, 3 May

beltane 2020

Welcome.

The following is an outline of this Sunday’s online, video of the Beltane ceremony. And, you’re invited; and at home during lockdown you can participate and join in the liturgy as it happens, or just let in ‘sink’ deep, from your own home, either ‘live’ or as a recording. If you belong to a grove and would normally celebrate this time with them, please (if there is a ‘clash’ of times) give them priority so that everything is done with respect.

The video broadcast will appear on my Facebook site (see here). Please check that now if you’re in doubt about connecting later. If it doesn’t work, if you can’t gain access to my general Facebook site please subscribe/follow, and then try the link again to see if you can gain access then, in readiness for Sunday. [Note: if you can’t gain  full access ie you can’t see previous videos Gf any kind on my facebook site then press the friendship link on my Facebook site, and I’ll accept as soon as I can] then If you still can’t get access to my Facebook page(s), or if there’s any ‘challenges’, please email me, at: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com.

I haven’t found a way to put a docx link here to simplify things so please feel free to print out  the Order of the Ceremony for your own use. Meanwhile, it maybe best to just print out the following liturgy so you can participate, but erase this paragraph and the three above this, before doing so.

BELTANE 2020
Order Of Ceremony

Sunday, 3 May 2020, at 7.30pm (UK time)
Via Facebook video

GRACE GROVE, LONDON

For this ceremony you may need:

• A candle
• Safety matches
• Writing paper (if solo, at home)
• Pen or pencil (if solo, at home)

A CEREMONY FOR BELTANE
Kebius Rite

Intention And Preface
Today our intention is to celebrate the cross quarter day of Beltane – a Gaelic word meaning ‘bright fire’. Beltane is half way between the past spring equinox and the upcoming summer solstice. It is a ‘fire festival; the beginning of summer.

Some may have memories of dancing around the maypole; of seeing someone dressed as the May Queen and even as Lord of the May; of bringing wild flowers into the home; or of making daisy chains; or of lighting a bonfire. Some, may have memories of seeing someone dressed as Jack In The Green, a man covered in a wicker frame and foliage and who represented nature and The Green Man.

So, let our ceremony of the celebration of Beltane, the ‘bright fire’, begin.

Light the Beltane candle

On Rising

Blessed are you Source of All.
In your verdant welcome you spring from the earth,
and your loveliness heartens us and renews us.

The Source of All is Spirit, and those who worship the Source of All must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, The Book, paraphrase)

Calling The Quarters
Calling the Quarters, as we turn in sequence to face the four cardinal compass points, helps us to become fully present so we can deeply connect to the world around us, and create safe and sacred space for us all, as community.

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the wind.

All: We welcome you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the flame

All: We welcome you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the tides.

All: We welcome you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with the power of the land.

All: We welcome you

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we call upon the Spirit to be with us today.
Come charge this circle with your power.

All: We welcome you.

Call For Peace
The call for peace is an affirmation that there is peace amongst us, our community, now; and that peace is offered to the world though not all embrace this today, but one day will do so.

Is there peace in the East?
All: There is peace in the East.

Is there peace in the South?
All: There is peace in the South.

Is there peace in the West?
All: There is peace in the West.

Is there peace in the North?
All: There is peace in the North.

Throughout the entire land there is peace.

The Ancestors Are Present With Us
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1 pt, The Book)

Praise And Gratitude
Some of the following praises may be used:

Praise to you Gentle Breeze of the Spirit,
for you blow where you will.
I hear the sound of you but
know not where you come from
or where you go.
Let us be aware of your presence
as you breathe across our lives this day
though we can never grasp you.(Tess Ward)

Praise to you, Oh Supplier of air.
The wind rises as a mighty tempest and powers weather systems
and, yet as a gentle breeze, it moves leaves along the path.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Provider of fire.
The fire scorches the earth, from which new life emerges
and, yet as small and humble flame it gives heat and light to all.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Bringer of water.
The great seas maintain the planet’s life-equilibrium
and, yet in our homes it provides our daily, individual and essential needs.
Ebb and flow.

Praise to you, Oh Giver of earth.
The earth provides vast fields for the seed, from which nourishment grows,
and, yet it is a reminder of the great circle of life, and death, and new life.
Ebb and flow.
(Tadhg Jonathan)

O most noble greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendour upon the wheel of the Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn.
You glow like the incandescence of the sun.
(Hildegard of Bingen, English version by Jerry Dybdal and Matthew Fox)

Most High, all powerful, Source of All,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.
Praised be you, though all your creatures,
through Brother Sun,
through Sister Moon and the stars,
through Brother Wind,
through Sister Water
through Brother Fire,
through Sister Mother Earth.
(Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Sun, except/adapted)

Praise to you Maker of the Summerland,
who sends the sunshine, bringing ease and light.
Praise for the outside days with doors and windows open,
neighbours’ music, children playing…
when the birds sing out the pleasure of ordinary all through the day.
For loving all under the sun, praise to you.
(Tess Ward, except)

The Work: Beltane (adapted for home/distant participation)
The Great Circle moves on, and as the Earth turns around the Sun so we celebrate Beltane. It is a day when farm animals would have been be released into the fields, and was the time associated with the fecundity of nature, of fertility, growth and maturity, and Of new ideas.

Do take a few minutes to think deeply, silently of all that we have to be thankful for at this time of Beltane, and for all that we wish to bring to fruition – these can be our wishes and dreams, our goals or projects, or a prayer for ourselves and others, for nature etc. If at home, solo, you might like to write your thoughts on paper. Music can be played here for two to three minutes.


Various Prayers of Request

Some of the following prayers may be used:

Life-force of God, you make the sap to rise,
the swelling of bud to burst the sheath.
May we let the fruits of your Spirit grow in us this day.
Spirit of love abide in our ears as we listen to stories different to our own.
Spirit of joy beam in our eyes as we meet the gaze of another.
Spirit of peace breathe through our attitude.
Spirit of kindness blow through the words we speak.
Spirit of patience breeze across our frustration before we say or act.
Spirit of faithfulness guard us when we’re tempted to stray.
Spirit of generosity spill over in all we think or do or say.
Spirit of gentleness be fragrant in all our dealings with the world.
Spirit of self-control do no limit, but channel the abundance of your fruits
as we partake in your transforming ways blowing through this day/time.
(Tess Ward, adapted)

Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving,
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see,
our lips to praise,
and our hands to share.
May our feet tread lightly on the path we tread
and our footsteps be worthy of following
for they lead to You.
(Unknown)

Earth teach us freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach us regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach us to forget ourselves
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach us to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
(Ute prayer, adapted)

In our waking, be blessing us,
in our journeying, be keeping us,
in our working, be helping us,
in our sleeping, be watching us,
in our living, be guiding us,
in our dying, be receiving us.
(Unknown)

Creator of All, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it.
Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures.
Help us to become instruments of a new creation,
Founded on the covenant of your love.
(The Cry of the Earth, adapted).

Relevant Words
Some of the following sentences may be used here:

We too can begin a new life, one that brings satisfaction and enrichment, whether this is by singing, dancing, running through the waves, walking barefoot on the grass… Perhaps your dreams are greater than this, or perhaps more conservative, but whatever they are, Beltane is a wonderful time for expressing who you truly are. (Carole Carlton)

Ah! my heart is weary waiting, Waiting for the May: Waiting for the pleasant rambles, where the fragrant hawthorn brambles, with the woodbine alternating, scent the dewy way; Ah! my heart is weary waiting, waiting for the May. (Denise Florence McCarthy)

If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe… (Evelyn Waugh)

Smell the sea, and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly. (Van Morrison)

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. (John Steinbeck)

We are all part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew of the meadow, the body heat of the pony and humankind – all belong to the same family.
(Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, Attributed, adapted)


Closing The Quarters

Facing East
Guardian of the East, Oh Ancient One of the air,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing South
Guardian of the South, Oh Ancient One of the fire,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing West
Guardian of the West, Oh Ancient One of the waters,
we thank you for your presence with us today.

All: We thank you.

Facing North
Guardian of the North, Oh Ancient One of the earth,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All: We thank you.

From the centre, perhaps adopting the orans posture
Guardian of all, Oh Ancient of Days,
we thank you for your presence with us today..

All: We thank you.

Final Blessing

As we close the ceremony the work here is finished, and yet it still goes on in our mind, body and spirit, as we revel in nature’s bounty and the One behind It All.

One of the final blessings may be used:

May the blessing of the red sun as it sinks below the horizon be yours.
May the blessing of orange, the colour of flame and hearth be yours.
May the blessing of the wild, green earth and all life be yours.
May the blessing of the blue sea and wind which calls forth waves upon it be yours.
May the blessing of indigo, the twilight colour of change and coolness be yours.
May the blessing of violet, the colour of majesty and might be yours.
And may all the colourful blessings of the God + Of The Rainbow be upon you and yours, now and always
(Tadhg Jonathan, The Rainbow Blessing)

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak to mind your life.
(John O’Donohue)

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
deep peace of the flowing air to you,
deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
deep peace of the shining stars to you,
deep peace of the Son of peace + to you (and yours), forever.
(Unknown. Early Scottish)

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Old Celtic Traveller’s blessing)

Extinguish the Beltane candle

Copyright © 2020 Tadhg Jonathan Gardner. All rights reserved. Email: tadhgtemp@googlemail.com

Beltane: Fire And ‘An Geadh-Glas’, The Wild Goose: Some Thoughts

20190427 FIRE AND AN GEADH-GLAS THE WILD GOOSE

Beltane, that most wonderful time of the year and awesome festival, is almost upon us.

At Beltane, we open ourselves to the Source of All, and give thanks for youth, vitality, new life, fecundity and empowerment. Summer is here.

We too are remnants of the First Fire that ever since lights the heavens as well as the tiny fires that warm our brief lives. Our planet remembers this original heat deep within its core, as we do in our fashion.’ Peter London in ‘Drawing Closer To Nature.

It is the time of new beginnings. However old we are, this time of the year makes us feel young again, and at Beltane many will jump over the fires of vitality and youth and allow that life-force to enliven and heal them. Others. May, symbolically, use a candle, but nonetheless take part in that joyful celebration in groups and by themselves.

Commonly held on 1 May (or the closest Saturday or Sunday), it’s called ‘Calen Mai’ in Wales, that us, the ‘first day of May’.

Beltane is a fire festival.

And, for some, it is an opportunity to rekindle the Beltane bonfire ritual. This ritual goes back to early Ireland when the community would light a giant bonfire during the event and share burning logs with which to light their home. Similarly in Germany, during Beltane, German Pagans and others celebrate Walpurgisnacht, when a giant bonfire is lit, and celebrations take place much like May Day: dancing, ritual, bonfires, maypole dancing, drinking mead. Beltane is a good time for hand-fasting.

‘The day will come when after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for…. [the Source of All]… the energies of love. Then for the second time in history of the world [humankind[ will have discovered fire’. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I like to link Beltane with Pentecost Sunday (or Whitsunday), 9 June 2019. The New beginnings, empowerment, new hope, and fire of Beltane naturally lead onto my love of Pentecost Sunday.

There, some two thousand years ago a small group of rather insecure and confused men and women met in secret. Huddled together, afraid for their lives, this timid, disparate group would have all but disappeared into obscurity, except for an outpouring.

Suddenly the room, where that group had assembled, was ablaze with light and the noise of a mighty wind filled the place. Fire descended from heaven, we are told, and alighted on each person. To many, this was the birth of the early church is all its innocence and simplicity. It was certainly the start, a new beginning, a time of new hope and empowerment for this group and what followed, and the fiery metaphor could not be missed.

Yes, Pentecost Sunday is the Church’s very own fire festival.

It’s a time when we open ourselves to the Source of All, and give thanks for new life and new hope, for vitality, fecundity and empowerment. Whatever is the animating force of the universe – present in us and every living creature, and in water, wind, earth/rock and fire – this Living force was made manifest on that first Pentecost Sunday and continues to pervade all, today.

Abba (Father) Lot came to Abba Joseph (two desert monks) and said, ‘Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation, and contemplative silence, and according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what should I so?

The elder [monk]  rose up early and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said, ‘Why not become fire?’

The Church refers to this Force as the Holy Spirit. One other occasion this Spirit was said to descend like and dove, and literalist artists over the centuries have pained it as an actual dove. But, it’s a metaphor. Why, to the ancient Christian Celts the Spirit, this Personal, animating Force was known as ‘an geadh-glas’, the wild goose (or grey goose).

I once heard a sermon that had me ‘curling up’ with fremdschämen. [Fremdschämen is German term which describes the process of being vicariously embarrassed by someone else, especially when that other person is unaware that they have just embarrassed themselves]. I was embarrassed for the minister as he declared that those simple Celts had no awareness of a dove but knew all about wild geese in those windswept northern islands of Britain. Oh, how he had missed the point, I thought. It’s easy for us all to do that – as we gaze back at historical events wearing  ‘twenty-first spectacles’ it’s easy to assume and ‘get the wrong end of the stick’.

My feeling of fremdschämen sprung from the fact that those ancient Celts knew about doves, and knew about wild geese, and wanted to change the metaphor to something they could see daily in their environment, something they could relate to, and be reminded of as they went about their business. ‘An geadh-glas’, the wild goose, to them was a wonderful metaphor for this animating Personal Life force – wild, flying wherever it wanted, strong and powerful, and full of surprises. A wild goose ‘fitted the bill’ wonderfully in that environment. These ancients knew much more than we give them credit for.

Stole NEW IMG_3202

The Wild Goose Stole

And so, in some Churches, at this time, you will see walls and tables festooned with the colour red (red for fire, a fire festival), bedecked with dove symbolism, and in some, yes, in a few you will see ‘an geadh-glas’, the wild goose (animating Life-Force). And, it’s at this time – and you know I love ritual and symbolism – that I will enjoy wearing the red, ‘an geadh-glas’, the wild goose stole at some rituals and services at this time. Though it’s quite versatile and can be worn at other events and festivals. [As regards the stole, think of it as a (clerical) scarf where the two ends drape at the front of your body].

Wearing the wild goose stole, then, is an opportunity to remind people, graphically, metaphorically, as they look on (and a reminder to me, too), that this is a fire festival, and the wild goose is a metaphor for the embodiment of new life, new hope and new beginning, of Life itself.

And, this, very neatly brings us back to Beltane, that wonderful fire festival of empowerment.

May you and those whom you love have a wonderfully rich Beltane and/or Pentecost Sunday fire festival and celebration, and be blessed with new starts, new beginnings and empowered by the Fire-Giver, the Source of All, Tadhg.

20190427 FIRE AND AN GEADH-GLAS THE WILD GOOSE

Summertime & The Livin’ Is Easy: With Beltane In Mind: 1 May 2018

20180429 SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVING IS EASY WITH BELTANE IN MINDThe start of summer is almost upon us. I know for many in the UK, the question might be ‘Was that Spring?’ But, it’s true, summer is almost upon us (in the northern hemisphere).

On 1 May our hearts and minds dwell upon May Day, or Calan Mai (as it is known in Wales). Down the centuries it is has always been a sacred day, and in latter centuries it has been a holy day by the Church, but now its celebration is somewhat ‘muted’. Such is modern life where much has become ‘vanilla’, and this seems acceptable to many. But, not you.

To the Celts and latter-day Druids it is known as Beltane, a dynamic day, and is the start of the season of summer, as the circle turns. It is a time for giving thanks and for celebration. It was a time of May Fair days where farmers and traders all gather in towns to sell their wares.

’Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and summer’s lease hath all too short a date.’. William Shakespeare

In previous years in the UK many household fires would be doused and ceremoniously re-lit on Beltane. Special bonfires were kindled on this day. Rituals would be performed to protect people and cattle. Yellow flowers, such as primrose, rowan, hawthorn and gorse would be used to decorate houses, and would be especially placed at doorways and over windows.

Even today, in the UK some villages celebrate with fairs, Morris-dancers etc, and I remember at school (not that many years ago) seeing the May Pole in use. In some villages Jack-In-Green and others would march through the village, a representation of the Green Man, a symbol of fertility (whose face appears in some Churches throughout the UK and elsewhere).

[For a recounting of my green angel/green man dream of some years ago, please see here.]

The traditional name for 1 May for those in Ireland, Isle of Man, and Scotland etc translate as ‘bright day’ or ‘shining fire’.

Sweet May hath come to love us.
Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;
And through the blue heavens above us
the very clouds move on.

(Heinrich Heine)

Ah fire. In days of old some would jump through the fire. Didn’t we do that as children, young men, as a dare, just for fun, for the thrill? Or was that just me? To latter day Celts ‘jumping through the fire’ meant purification and protection. [But, please don’t try this yourself]. Some would walk around the fire or bonfire sun-wise (or deosil, pronounced ‘joss-all (though pronunciations vary)), that is clockwise. In so doing they would send out well-wishes as they walked, or prayers for nature, the greening of the country, for food and a future good harvest.

Beltane, then is one of the four fire festivals marked the turning of the seasons. Two of the fire festivals, Samhain and Beltane, were considered to be male, and Imbolc and Lughnasadh were female. Each was celebrated for three days – before, during and after the actual day.

Oh, the summer night,
has a smile of light
and she sits on a sapphire throne.

(Barry Cornwall)

So, how will you celebrate Beltane, this year?

There is no time to plan, but maybe that’s a positive thing. Enjoy what you’re doing even if you’re working that day. Find time to pause and meditate upon nature, its bounty and give thanks – even slowing down and purposefully eating part of your lunch is ideal. Maybe light a candle and send out a well-wish, light, love, gratitude or say a prayer for a few minutes? Such events need not be long or complex. How about sharing a bottle of fruit juice, wine or a mineral water with a friend in the cool of the evening that day? Maybe, pouring out the first small amount on the earth as a sign of thankfulness, a libation to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves. Or saying a few heartfelt words or words written by others, see below.

I am sure you can find some form of short and profound celebration to usher in this wonderful season of summer, Beltane.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Beltane, Tadhg

 

Appendix:

Bless, O threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse, my children.
Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession,
Bless the kine* and crops, the flocks and corn,
From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.

[The Beltane Blessing (part), Carmina Gadelica
(*old word for cows)

Or

Praise to you, [Whitsun] fire,
leaping and sweeping through this unjust world of mankind,
purifying with a passionate Spirit,
and warming us like that fiery orb above us.
Your fiery power rising upon each of us, blesses us,
and alights on us, declaring we are not alone.
You whisper that we are one.
Blessed are you [Whitsun] fire,
desiring life in all its fullness for the whole earth.

[Adapted, but based on a prayer by Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel Of The Year]

Cosmic Fire [Within]: A Poem & Liturgy For Beltane.

20170425 COSMIC FIRE WITHIN POEMBeltane, celebrated on 1 May, is fast approaching.

The wheel turns, as the Earth continues to circle the sun. As it turns, and east is represented by the element of the wind (and we’re moving away from that), then due south is represented by fire, and we’re moving toward that.

Due south, the time of the summer solstice is the height of that season and element, so Beltane is south-east. Not quite east, not quite south. It’s a ‘moving into’ time’, as we move south-ward. In Wales and Ireland, and other Celtic countries Beltane is the beginning of summer, or at least the summer season represented by fire (even if, weather-wise, it doesn’t quite feel that way), and so many – perhaps yourself – will light candles and bonfires to welcome the wonderful event of Beltane, and usher in a new season.

Beltane is the time for dancing around maypoles (a popular event at primary school, but maybe not so now). It is the season of maturing life and deep found love, and the time of making vows, handfastings and other commitments. In Wales, Beltane is also known as Calan Mai. I’m afraid those words, themselves, don’t have a deep meaning, and they just mean the first day of May. However, the event itself is very significant and is a wonderful time of celebration.

My encouragement to you, then, is the celebrate the event in large ways or small, but to celebrate it is some significant way (that is unique to you).

With Beltane and fire in mind, here’s a poem, a Beltane liturgy that may be of use. It will form part of my Beltane celebrations.

Cosmic Fire [Within]

Before time itself,
when matter was but a dream in the Divine mind,
in the cosmic explosive crucible
of the furthest reaches of space,
fire roared.

Before life was formed,
when cosmic radiation coalesced
into a myriad of starry forms,
as the universe expanded,
fire grew.

Before humanity arose,
when the universe was oh-so-young and innocent,
the Source of All
planned that you should be here, and
fire moved.

Before this present time,
before you even knew that you are ‘you’,
energy was planted in all the elements.
Visible only to those who have eyes to see.
Fire hid.

From the very start,
it was ordained, that one place for the element of fire
to reside, to enliven and to empower,
was deep in the very core of humanity’s being, in your
heart.

Praise be to you Brother Sun, Sister fire.
Visible and invisible are you.
Felt and yet unknown.
Through you we can shine like a myriad stars in the sky.
A return to the beginning.