Towards the Blessings of Beltane
By Eric Maddern
Spring Equinox: catkins are hanging, daffodils swaying, primroses peeping. The buds are ever so slightly swelling. It’s started. Spring is in the air. Sure, we’ll still have gales and even snowstorms, but life is returning at last – as it always does. Over the next six weeks we’ll see ferns unfurl, blossom bloom, buds burst and fresh leaves adorning the trees. Beauty will be reborn. Week by week this burgeoning will accelerate until it comes to a climax at the very end of April on Beltane Eve. This April night and May Day has, in these climes, always been a sacred time. It is joyous and loving and sexy. It promises fecundity. It is to be revelled in and celebrated.
In the Land of the Cymry, Beltane Eve has been associated with potent and magical acts. Perhaps most famously the Birth of Taliesin, the Bard in a Bag, who was fished out of the Dyfi estuary on an auspicious May Eve. In that moment inspiration was born. A poetic, cosmic consciousness flowered in the world. Taliesin became a legendary figure to whom later poets of this land would aspire. He symbolises creative genius.
Another Welsh demigod associated with Eryri and the coming of spring is Mabon son of Modron, the Great Son of the Great Mother. According to legend he was interred and invoked in the upper Nantlle Valley. He’s an ancient figure in British mythology; the only one who, by riding the white horse with the dark mane (symbolising the goddess), could overcome the forces of darkness (the Chief Giant and Most Savage Boar) and release Olwen, the Spirit of Spring.
The magnificence of Eryri (Snowdonia) has always drawn people. They are the most rugged and spectacular mountains for hundreds of miles in any direction. In antiquity Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) must have been regarded as sacred. People would have travelled there from afar. The place they’d have gathered was Dinas Emrys, a hollow hill at the foot of the Giant’s Tomb. In this sacred womb over a period of 1500 years, people made ceremony and took counsel with each other. According to Welsh legend in this place dragons were born and the young Merlin made a prophecy remembered to this day. One of his many memorable lines is: ‘the healing maiden will return, her footsteps bursting into flame’. Though Dinas Emrys has been abandoned now for many centuries, it still has a sacred ancestral atmosphere.
Down at the foot of the other side of the mountain, hidden in the cwm of Afon Fachwen, the Little White River, and surrounded by gnarly oaks and slender ash, is Cae Mabon, a post-modern, mythopoetic, handmade, druid-like village. Mabon’s spirit lives on at Cae Mabon. Modron, his mother, is honoured there. People come to it from near and far for celebration and spiritual nourishment. It’s a natural spa for profound soul food. It can be an opening into other worlds.
SO, put all these things together: the Burgeoning of Beltane, Releasing the Spirit of Spring, the Birth of Inspiration, Honouring the Earth Mother Goddess, Merlin’s Prophetic Dragon Power, Cae Mabon Village … Add in a Twist of Tantra… And a night wild camping at Dinas Emrys, the Eternal Citadel… and you have the makings of something pretty damn good.
All these things will come together in a celebration at Cae Mabon at the end of April. We will revel in the burgeoning beauty of Beltane, awaken creative inspiration in ourselves and tune into love and the Goddess. We will create a ceremony at Cae Mabon breathing in and expressing the potent energies of this mythic moment. And at Dinas Emrys itself we will tune into dragons and Merlin and breathe out healing energy into the world.
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