Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bealtaine: Mating With Nature

Transported back in time:


While we were within the Bealtaine City of Anu during a glorious sunny day last week it was like visiting an ancient site equivalent of a Florida, Texas or California beach Spring Break.


It happens a lot, when I visit ancient sites. Its like I am transported back in time and visualize all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. I often return home with these images, go online, and find that many of these images are related to written accounts. Its a wonderful resource for writing poetry, songs, an essay or just a casual blog. Thankfully, I find that most people on our tours have similar experiences and days after they return home I hear about their poems, essays, songs, paintings and crafts all inspired by their visit.


The Mating Dance of the Mature and Wise:


Many of our travellers are wise mature people, often proud grandparents, so the youthful boy meets girl imagery of a mating dance and fertility enhancing Bealtaine site might bring back memories of their hormone racing days past.


I was intending, as I often do, to write an overview of suggestions of what folks may do to celebrate this Celtic festival, a Bealtaine time.


Instead I started thinking about what Bealtaine may be a celebration of for mature wiser people who often still have their wonderful mates, their best friends, of many years but their days of breeding and raising children have perhaps long gone.


What we seem to do, especially women, is return to a mating dance with nature. This often seems similar to the mating dance we had with nature when we were children before we were lured to the mating dances with our opposite gender. Its on this level that I encourage all families with young children to also get pets of a cat and a dog as they are such an important lesson of nature and love along with the lessons of bereavement in their teens when the childhood dog and cat usually passes on.


Relate & Create:  A flow of life ….


We are looking forward to the arrival of a lovely group Australian people who will be arriving in Ireland around Lughnasa, the next celebration, as a common interest amongst them seems to be the creation of crafts inspired by the four Celtic celebrations of Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa.


I was thinking of these people, while at Anu’s City, not because of who they are but of the symbolism of what they do, this being their crafts that are created from inspirations due to their mating with nature. These folks will be visiting Anu’s City on one of their day’s journeys and then travel on with their inspiration from there to Brigit’s Garden where they will pick and use the local reeds to make their Brigid’s crosses to take home with them.


That might seem an odd thing to do at Lughnasa but Lugh, well I believe the spirit of Lugh, is the polar and creative force that mates with Brigid …… but that’s another article that I will probably leave until Lughnasa. Left without explanation that does sound rather occultish and fairy tale, but when I write this in August I am sure you’ll recognize the story in your life, no matter what your faith, “truth”, or science is.


Some small towns are still very alive!


Soon after arriving home from this tour I drove into our local town of Boyle to catch up on grocery shopping and some routine biz. Boyle is still a lovely small town that is still active and functioning so you can do most things there without going to the bigger towns. Shopkeepers and service people there still bend over backwards with honest service and hospitality without pushing up prices, plus parking is still free. Alas, the town’s first traffic lights are about to be switched on though ?!?!


Plastered around Boyle were posters about the upcoming, now on, Bealtaine Festival.  And what is its’ theme?  ……..


Celebrating Creativity In Older Age … 


This festival is part of a united Bealtaine Festival all over Ireland that includes all art forms like theatre, literature, dance, film, storytelling, music, contemporary art, painting and sculpture that is all organized by about 250 leaders drawn from the national arts institutions, regional arts centres, public libraries, local authorities, care centres, active retirement and other community groups around Ireland.

From this point I am going to use the words from the home page of “Older In Ireland” as they describe this wonderfully.

“Bealtaine 2007 takes the phrase Forever Begin as its theme from the last line of the poem Begin by Brendan Kennelly, which he wrote after having heart surgery:


‘something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.’
 


The poem is an encouragement to notice the ‘ swans in the canal’ and to wonder at ‘unknown faces,’ and acknowledges the fascination we can feel at any age at life’s ordinary things and the necessity of being open to ‘Forever Begin’.


The poem seems to sum up the Bealtaine message of exploring our creativity at any age – either beginning something new or starting again to live creatively. The Bealtaine festival offers many opportunities for people to do both; many people go along to a workshop during Bealtaine where they experience creative writing, or paper-making, glass painting or dance for the first time.


Older people are involved at every level but people of all ages can take part. In a society that is focused on youth and glamour, Bealtaine reminds us that creativity is not confined to youth and that growth and creativity happen at every age and stage. “


Its never too late!


So instead of writing an introduction to Bealtaine and things you can do to celebrate I am currently thinking of a message that “its never to late to start, learn and do anything”. 


Though you may now be past sowing the seeds for your children to come its still a wonderful time to sow the seeds through your mating with nature to revive or create new skills for your creations yet to be born and blossom.


I do not have permission to reproduce Brendan Kennelly’s poem “Begin” in full, but these folks have, and you have permission to download it here 


To finish off this page I would like to bend one of Brendan’s famous statements to explain my own mission


“A true guide is not interested in explaining what is present at a site but in you capturing it.”


Brendan’s books are available through his publisher, bloodaxe books


 



 


 


 

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