Beltane 2009 - Uffington White Horse, Glastonbury, Stonehenge, Avebury, Priston and The White Spring

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Beltane in 2009. Beltane occurs on 1 May and is technically the first day of summer, with the sun at the three quarter high point, with the next stop on the wheel being the sun's high point at the Solstice and then the decline down to Yule. Beltane is the time of lighter days, blossom, the flowering hawthorn, animals going out again and maypoles. The season started early with the Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse on 26 April. On 1 May it was an 03:30 rise and then a trip down to Glastonbury Tor with the Glastonbury Order of Druids. Next it was into Chalice Well for the Beltane Fire and jumping over the smaller fire. Then it was a race to get to Stonehenge for the second modern era Beltane event there. The next day it was on to Avebury for the handfasting of Jenny and Steve, the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri and the first Junior Gorsedd of Caer Abiri. On the Bank Holiday Monday it was down to the village of Priston for its traditional event. And on 8 May it was back down to Glastonbury for its Beltane Full Moon event.

Page Updates

10 May 2009 - White Spring/Full Moon section added at end
15 May 2009 - Four mikesey photos added to the Glastonbury Tor section

The Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse - 26 Apr 2009

On Sunday 26 April a small group gathered in the car park of the Uffington White Horse at the Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire border for the Beltane Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. The weather was good for the duration of the event. Just after midday the group processed through the field at the east of the car park, to be within sight of the monument. On this day the running of the event was being passed from Kestrel to Rainbow. The ancestors were welcomed in and quarter callers appointed. Willth then performed the call for peace. Rainbow accessed the three worlds of land, ocean and sky, each time going around the circle for everyone to say what inspired them about each. The group was also asked to state what the season of Beltane meant to them. And to name an ancestor who had inspired them. There was also an opportunity to say prayers for those in need of healing.

People had been asked to bring drums to the event. These were used to drum in the summer. Two poles containing tee lights marked the entrance point to summer and each of us passed through, accepting a grape and asparagus stick from Rainbow. Next came the opportunity for people to step forward for a bardic initiation into the Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. Three people took up the offer, moving to the centre, facing outwards with linked hands. Kestrel performed the rite and then asked the outer circle to tone the Awen three times. With the rite complete the new initiates re-joined the main circle. Everyone then joined hands to recite the Druids' Vow, led by Willth. There were also three additional awens. Following this it was time to bless the bread and mead. Rainbow brought around the bread and Kestrel the mead. I gave my Beltane poem its first reading of the season. Other contributions included Kestrel with a poem and Neil and Justine Faulkes with a Beltane song. Kestrel also did a song and Neil accompanied on guitar and others on percussion, including young Sebastian. With that it was time to thank the ancestors and close the quarters before processing back to the car park.

Montage of the complete event

The Faulkes get ready

Emily makes sure the parents are ready for the event

Almost ready to go

The procession begins

The procession begins

Across the fields to the site of the Gorsedd

Across the fields to the site of the Gorsedd

The famous White Horse

The sheep show an interest

On the way back

The Glastonbury Order of Druids on Glastonbury Tor - 1 May 2009

The Glastonbury Order of Druids and friends gathered before dawn at the White Spring in Wellhouse Lane. At the appointed time the group processed down the lane and started the Tor climb, drumming and sounding horns along the way. The procession arrived on top of the Tor to find other members of the public waiting for them. Rollo introduced the event and then asked Taloch to lead by drumming and reciting the ‘Not I Nor Thee’. Rollo then performed the call for peace, followed by Donna entering the circle to read the ‘mother of all fruitfulness’ invocation. Rollo advised the circle about a different way of using the Druid Mantra, as first attempted at the Spring Equinox at Stonehenge. This involved moving to the left and right with rapid continuous reciting of the mantra. It was then time for Rollo to do a tribute for the recently departed John Michell. The circle was closed after this as the morris men were ready to begin their performance. Following this a large crowd remained on the Tor. There were various bardic performances, including Tim Hall singing the Hal An Tow and other seasonal songs plus me giving my Beltane poem another read. Elsewhere, drummers continued to beat until the sun had risen above the thick band of low cloud. A spectacular sunrise was then apparent, with the sun making the Awen symbol in every photo I took as I descended the Tor. Five videos are shown below.





(Videos: mikesey)

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Montage of the complete event

Setting off from the White Spring

Sounding the horn on the way up the Tor

Continuing the climb

A rest at the half way point

Rollo's cauldron of flowers

Rollo points to where the sun will hopefully appear

Taloch prepares to drum the 'Not I Nor Thee'

Rollo asks for peace in the south

Donna does the ‘mother of all fruitfulness’ invocation

Rollo explains the new use of the druid mantra

The traditional Glastonbury Tor Morris Dance

The traditional Glastonbury Tor Morris Dance

The traditional Glastonbury Tor Morris Dance

Waiting for the delayed sun

Waiting for the delayed sun

The sun begins to appear through the thick cloud

The sun begins to appear through the thick cloud

The sun begins to appear through the thick cloud

The sun is now fully exposed

The sun is now fully exposed

Tim Hall performs the Hal An Tow in front of the rising sun

Matthew performs his Beltane poem with Tibetan bowl (Photo: mikesey)

Matthew performs his Beltane poem with Tibetan bowl (Photo: mikesey)

Matthew talks to elder bard Tim Hall (Photo: mikesey)

Matthew talks to elder bard Tim Hall (Photo: mikesey)

The rising sun shows off the Mists of Avalon

Rollo descends the Tor with the sun making the Awen symbol next to him

Descending the Tor with the sun making the Awen symbol

Descending the Tor with the sun making the Awen symbol

Descending the Tor with the sun making the Awen symbol

Beltane at Chalice Well - 1 May 2009

It was then straight into Chalice Well for their traditional Beltane event. Although the event started on time, it took a long time for the fire to be lit and I had to be away by 08:30 in order to get to Stonehenge for 10:00. So I only just managed to photograph a bit of the fire and a little of the jumping over the smaller fire. There was to be a lot more to this event, including a maypole.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at Chalice Well

Meeting up at Chalice Well

Natasha introduces the event

Spiralling around the fire

Spiralling around the fire

Spiralling around the fire

The spiral is complete

Unwinding the spiral

Unwinding the spiral

Lighting the main fire

The fire begins to take hold

The fire is now well underway

The fire is now well underway

Preparing to jump the Beltane Fire

Jumping the Beltane Fire

Jumping the Beltane Fire

Jumping the Beltane Fire

Beltane at Stonehenge - 1 May 2009

This was the second of the modern era Beltane events at Stonehenge. I arrived to the sound of the Pentacle Drummers warming up in the car park. At 10:00 we all got into a line and processed through the main entrance and into the monument field, circling the stones clockwise and then forming a circle in the west, near to the path. All to the beat of the Pentacle Drummers. Frank welcomed everyone in the circle, as well as those watching on the path. He introduced the maypole and Little Jaz the May Queen and advised what would be happening in the next hour. He then asked for the Pentacle Drummers to play some more and this was accompanied by some excellent dancing from Kelly 'Spirit Dance'. Made up as the green man, Jim the Bard then debuted a new song. It was now time to open the directions with the ‘Not I Nor Thee’. All the women present were then asked to move to the centre. They were requested to circle the stones with the maypole, stopping to charge it with energy at each quarter point. Once the women had returned, the maypole was set up in the centre of the circle. John the Harpist was then asked to step forward to add some of his beautiful music to the occasion. Frank then announced that John was to be inducted as a Bard into the Stonehenge Druids and everyone agreed. It was then time for the handfasting of Claire and Jayson, accompanied by more harp music from John. The couple’s hands were tied together and there was a kiss and exchange of rings prior to taking the leap of faith over a druid staff. The handfasting was followed by several poems and a song from the Wicker Man performed by Jim, with the women present being encouraged to dance around. He then followed with a fertility song, with most of the women being less keen to join in! At this point 100 roses were given out to the tourists who were watching the proceedings from the path. It was then back to more fantastic drumming from the Pentacle Drummers, before the May Queen was asked to send out the fertility energy from the maypole to the whole of Albion. With that the event was complete and so the quarters were closed again. The group then got back into a line, ready to process out of the monument field, again to the drumbeat of the Pentacle Drummers. The group stopped at Arthur’s protest and drumming continued. Arthur updated some people on his situation - just two days before he was due to be evicted from the Drove by the council.

Montage of the complete event

Getting ready in the car park

The Pentacle Drummers warm up in the car park

Claire and Jayson await their handfasting

Processing in to the monument site

Processing in to the monument site

Processing in to the monument site

Circling the stones

Circling the stones

The Pentacle Drummers complete their first round of drumming with dancing from Kelly 'Spirit Dance'

Frank introduces the maypole and May Queen Little Jaz

Kelly 'Spirit Dance' dancing to the sound of the Pentacle Drummers

Kelly 'Spirit Dance' dancing to the sound of the Pentacle Drummers

Jim the Bard performs his new song

Opening the East Quarter

The women congregate in the centre with the maypole

The women circle the stones with the maypole

The women return with the maypole

Setting up the maypole

Setting up the maypole

John the Harpist plays for a short time

John is initiated as a Bard in the Stonehenge Druids

The last photo of Claire and Jayson prior to their handfasting

Claire and Jayson prepare for their handfasting

Frank ties their hands together

Frank ties their hands together

A kiss...

...and an exchange of rings

Claire and Jayson prepare to take the leap of faith

Taking the leap of faith

Jim sings a song from the Wicker Man

Women dance to a song from the Wicker Man

Jim then launches into a fertility song

Kelly 'Spirit Dance' dances again to the beat of the Pentacle Drummers

The May Queen sends out fertility to the land of Albion

Closing the East quarter

Processing out of the monument site

Processing out of the monument site

Processing out of the monument site

Drumming at Arthur's protest site

Arthur talks about the imminent eviction

Old friends and new meet up

The Handfasting of Jenny and Steve at Avebury - 2 May 2009

Running about two hours late, the large party set off from the Red Lion at around 13:00 and headed for the entrance point near the National Trust Cafe. Willth then asked the group to split into two for the God and Goddess walks. The God party took the traditional long route with Steve the bridegroom and the Goddess party taking the shorter route with Jenny the bride. I went with the latter group. I had been asked to hold the group prior to crossing the main road, until the God party could be seen descending down to the entrance stones. With the God party forming up around the Ring Stone, the Goddess party arrived at the entrance stones and Jenny asked permission of Willth to enter the circle. This was granted and the Goddess party joined the Gods. Willth welcomed everyone to the circle and then did the call for peace, before handing over to the nominated callers to open the quarters. Willth then asked Steve and Jenny to step forward separately, asking both whether they were there of their own free will. Willth then asked to see their rings and held these up for everyone to see. Steve and Jenny read their vows to each other before Willth asked them to put their hands together so they could be bound. The mead was then blessed and the happy couple was first to sample it. Juice and a cake were also made available and blessed. It was then time for the leap of faith. Father of the bride Ray stepped forward with his staff. Set way too high as is traditional, the couple ran and jumped as it was lowered. Bard of Avebury Robyn y Glas then stepped forward to sing the couple a song. Ray came back to recite the Druids' Prayer and to give the couple a special stone, saying that he hoped the marriage with be as solid. It was then time for the group to join hands to recite the Druid Vow and to tone the Awen three times. With that the quarters were closed and Willth invited everyone to come up and greet the now handfasted couple.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe

The Goddess party sets off with the bride

The Goddess party on its way with the bride

The Goddess party on its way with the bride

The Goddess party waits for the God party to arrive

The God party eventually arrives

The Goddess party processes to the entrance stones

The bride asks for permission to enter the main circle

Joining the rest of the group

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Calling for peace in the West

Opening the East quarter

Willth calls in bridegroom Steve

Willth calls in bride Jenny

Willth shows the rings

Vows are exchanged

The hands are tied in a binding commitment

The hands are tied in a binding commitment

The hands are tied in a binding commitment

The hands are tied in a binding commitment

Blessing the mead

The couple sample the mead

Opening the fruit juice

Blessing the cake

First to sample the cake

The cake goes around the circle

Preparing to take the leap of faith

Jumping to their new life together

The leap of faith is completed successfully

Robyn y Glas performs a song for the couple

Ray recites the Druids' Prayer

Closing the West quarter

The ritual is over and everyone is invited to come and greet the happy couple

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri - 2 May 2009

The Free and Open Gorsedd took place in the Sun Circle following the handfasting. Willth did the call for peace and then four callers opened the quarters. Terry recited the Druids' Prayer and spoke about what had been happening at Avebury during the season of Beltane, noting that there hadn’t been many bardic performances. It was then time for an unusually large number of bardic performances! Robyn y Glas began by leading the group in his new Beltane chant - he had been tasked with writing a series of chants for his second year as Bard of Avebury. I then went on to debut my new life observations poem. I preceded this with a tribute to Elaine Cottell, who had recently died. Elaine had been instrumental in me coming off my asthma drugs, discovering Reiki and leaving a job that was affecting my health. Jim the Bard then came on to talk about recent misunderstandings and issues surrounding the Avebury Bardic Chair. He said he now accepted Robyn y Glas as the bard for the next year and proposed the establishment of an Avebury bardic group. With that he performed the song that he would have used for his challenge in 2009. Jim was accompanied by Gordon on a drum, before Gordon did his own performance with Jim and Robyn y Glas helping him. Neil Faulkes then stepped forward to perform the Beltane song he had debuted with Justine at Uffington White Horse the previous Sunday. Lee then moved into the centre as it was time to hand over the “King for a day, fool for year” title. Much to his surprise, Ray was selected to take on this important duty. Sarah had not been able to make the Avebury event and so she sent along one of her cakes. Willth took this around and it went down very well, being taken around for a second time by special request. This meant that Jim, Gordon and Robyn y Glas had further time to fill with performances. Jim then talked about the recent launch of the British Druid Association. And Andraste followed with news about recent successes at Camp Bling. The Druids' Vow was then recited, followed by three tones of the Druid Mantra. With that it was time to close the quarters and for the event to be declared over.

Montage of the complete event

Matthew fights back against the evil Hat Stealer! (Photo: Lori Aberle)

Forming the circle

Opening the West quarter

Terry talks about the season

Robyn y Glas leads the group in his new Beltane chant

Matthew debuts the life observations poem (Photo: Lori Aberle)

Matthew debuts the life observations poem (Photos: Em Churchill/Lori Aberle/John C)

Jim performs one of his songs

Gordon performs one of his songs

Neil performs his Beltane song

Sarah's cake makes its first pass around the circle

Lee hands over his 'King for a day, fool for a year' role

Ray revels in his new role

Another jamming session

Robyn y Glas fills in as the cake circulates for a second time

Jim talks about the new British Druid Association

Andraste talks about the success at Camp Bling

Closing the West quarter

The Junior Gorsedd of Caer Abiri - 2 May 2009

In the previous circle Terry had said how pleased he was to see so many children present. I had noticed this before and had mentioned to a few people about an idea for a Junior Gorsedd. This was taken on by Tracie King, who did a lot of work to prepare for this fledgling event. It included dancing, information sheets and food and drinks. Well done to Tracie for getting this started. Hopefully this is something that will grow with time, with the children planning for things they can bring to future events.

Pictures from the first Junior Gorsedd

Pictures from the first Junior Gorsedd

Pictures from the first Junior Gorsedd

 

Pictures from the first Junior Gorsedd

Priston Jubilee Morris and Maypoles - 4 May 2009

The village of Priston held its traditional May celebrations on 4 May. This included two displays from Priston Jubilee Morris as well as a maypole used by some well-drilled children.

Beltane Full Moon at The White Spring - 8/9 May 2009

The White Spring held a 24 hour celebration for the Beltane Full Moon starting at 20:00 on 8 May. An opening circle took place inside and drummers, singers and poets were available to entertain the crowd. Minstrel Merlin of the Woods got the entertainment underway in his own inimitable style with several seasonal songs. Tim Hall and friends from the Avalonian Free State Choir were also on hand. Max and Lisa generously offered hot and cold food during the event "for the love of it". And a fire burned outside in the courtyard courtesy of Peter and helpers. On 9 May I took the following full moon photos from my garden at about 23:30. The hazy moon came up from behind a nearby hedge and gradually moved around to hide behind my fir tree.

The White Spring

All is quiet behind the hedge

Something is stirring

Powering is building

The Beltane Full Moon makes an appearance

Rising in power

Almost fully revealed

The hazy Full Moon goes on its way

Drawn to Matthew's fir tree...

...and now hiding behind it.


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Page last updated: 15 May 2009