Families Go Wild Beltane Bonfire!
This week is the beginning of May, halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, when the Gaelic festival Beltane is celebrated. Nowadays celebrated mostly by neopagans and Wiccans, it is the perfect time for all of us to take the opportunity to connect to and appreciate the seasons and the natural world.
May 4th also happens to be International Respect for Chickens Day, which inspired the first part of our session today. We went to visit the chickens in the farmyard, and fed them some kale. We also greeted them with the traditional greeting of the day - ‘May the fourth be with you’.
Once we had paid our respects to the chickens, and thanked them for the many eggs and much joy they have brought us, we went for a walk around the farm to collect some flowers and plants, smelling, tasting, appreciating, and learning about them along the way. We collected Epimedium flowers, Calendula petals, Hawthorn flowers and leaves, Borage flowers, Mustard flowers, Herb Robert, Saltbush and Rose petals. We also collected two types of Mint to make some herbal tea. We then cut lengths of willow, which we formed into crowns, and decorated with ribbon and the flowers we found.
We washed the mint leaves and calendula in cold water, and then poured hot water over them to make our tea. Whilst we were letting it brew, we started to light our Beltane Bonfire! Having a fire is always a great way to celebrate, and in this case, we were lighting the fire to represent the coming of summer sun, and to chase away the winter! We started the fire by lighting scrunched up newspaper, over which we had placed small pieces of wood. Once they had lit, we slowly added bigger and bigger pieces til we had a big fire going!
Today was also the opportunity to share a sweet treat together, so of course we made s’mores over the fire! We held our marshmallows over the fire til they were perfectly gooey and warm, and smooshed them in a sandwich with chocolate buttons and digestive biscuits. Yum! We also enjoyed drinking our fresh mint tea.
Our fire kept us warm, even though there was some rain, and even some hail! Towards the end of our session, we wrote wishes for the coming on year on paper, and offered them to the fire. We enjoyed watching them burn, and we hope they come true!
Despite the changing weather, we had a lovely time together by the fire. It felt like we experienced all the seasons in one! Here’s to a successful growing season, and the joy of warmer and longer days!