Sunday, 9 May 2010


This is the Beltaine page in my "Year in the life" journal. For those who don't follow a pagan path, I've added a brief description of the festivities. The background image is the Bel fire and maypole from this weekend.

Friday. Leave at 9am, arrive Scotland 8pm. Sit down to a meal of home made goodies, then wander down to the bottom of the garden and sit around a small fire with wine, next to the stream and catch up with everybody's going's on.

Saturday. Rolling breakfast in the kitchen as people wander in and out, then most folks head out to St Andrews for the day. Those of us who remain dig the fire-pit, chop wood and erect the maypole. When the others return, garlands are made, the green man is dressed and then there's more socialising before wandering to bed.

Sunday. Woken up to the delicate(!) strains of Jethro Tull's "Beltaine" being played at full belt, followed by Chrissie Hynd's "Hymn to her" and other suitable songs. Stagger out of the van and realise it's still dark. Everybody gathers in the house and is given a quick run through of the celebration, as well as picking principal characters, then it's out into the pre-dawn light.
We separate into two sides, winter & summer, and take up opposing positions. The Winter Queen proclaims her reign, the Summer Queen challenges her and battle commences. Summer wins and power is handed over for the next 6 months. The Summer Queen lights the Bel fire and then leads everybody in a spiral dance to the maypole, where we dance in the May.
At this point the Green Man appears and chases the women, who try to avoid his touch while trying to pinch a little of his greenery. Eventually he falls exhausted and the ladies head off to the small fire in the garden and after rescuing the Green Man from his costume the men join them for the passing of the Beltaine cup (Hawthorn wine this year).
By now the Bel fire is burning nicely and the men take it in turns to leap the fire, as do most of the ladies. Once everybody has finished, some daft brave souls head off to the beach for an early morning dip, some head back to bed and the rest congregate in the kitchen for another ongoing breakfast.
The rest of the day is spent relaxing with some folks drifting off home at various points in the day. At some stage in the day the two sheep receive their annual shearing, with a couple of us catching and holding them while our hosts shear them.
After the evening meal and a dip in the hot tub, it's usually an earlyish night, ready for the drive home.

Monday. Up early and a last breakfast, followed by the drive home - although this year I detoured via Whitby for a day or two.

It's a fantastic weekend, full of friendship and totally stress free.


  1. I love your Green Man Nigel (and my husband would also - he knows a lot about that sort of thing)...your trip sounds lovely...are you Scottish? My grandparents were from Saltcoats (Ayr) and we still have many relatives there...such a gorgeous day I will return to visit!

  2. Nancy, I'm English/Welsh but I love Scotland and have many friends up there. It's a wonderful country, with wonderful people. Who knows, maybe one day I'll go and live there :)