Beltane 2013 - Stanton Drew, Uffington, Glastonbury, Avebury and Priston

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Beltane in 2013. 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 for me on 27 April with a visit to Stanton Drew to be with the Dobunni Grove for their Beltane event. The next day I travelled to Uffington for the Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. I visited Glastonbury in the evening on 30 April for the Beltane event at the Goddess Hall. I was back again the next morning to climb the Tor for sunrise and to be with the Glastonbury Order of Druids. This was immediately followed by a fire and maypole at Chalice Well, with their normal meditation following at midday. At the same time the town's community Beltane event was getting underway at Market Cross. On 4 May I travelled to Avebury for a very busy Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri. Returning the next day for the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri. I had to leave this early to get back down to Glastonbury for a private event in the Goddess Temple. The final event of the season involved a walk down to Priston for the village's annual Mayday event. As well as this I held the space in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple on several occasions during this period. The report starts, though, with a spectacular set of sun photos from throughout the season.

Sun Photos (From 16 Apr 2013)

The following photos were taken in my village in the days before and following Beltane. The sun timings are for the nearby city of Bristol.

Sunset on 16 Apr 2013, the day with 3m 48s more light than the previous day, 6h 5m 12s light gained & 2h 40m 58s to gain. 69.41% to the light

Sunset on 18 Apr 2013, the day with 3m 47s more light than the previous day, 6h 12m 46s light gained & 2h 33m 24s to gain. 70.85% to the light

Sunset on 19 Apr 2013, the day with 3m 46s more light than the previous day, 6h 16m 32s light gained & 2h 29m 38s to gain. 71.56% to the light

Sunset on 20 Apr 2013, the day with 3m 45s more light than the previous day, 6h 20m 17s light gained & 2h 25m 53s to gain. 72.27% to the light

Sunset on 27 Apr 2013, the day with 3m 36s more light than the previous day, 6h 45m 58s light gained & 2h 0m 12s to gain. 77.16% to the light

Sunset on 29 Apr 2013, the day with 3m 34s more light than the previous day, 6h 53m 7s light gained & 1h 53m 3s to gain. 78.51% to the light

Sunrise on 30 Apr 2013, my day has 3m 32s more light than the previous day, 6h 56m 39s light gained & 1h 49m 31s to gain. 79.19% to the light

Perfect Beltane sunrise viewed from Glastonbury Tor (1 May 2013). My day has 3m 31s more light than the previous day, 7h 0m 10s light gained & 1h 46m 0s to gain. 79.85% to the light

Sunset on 1 May 2013, the day with 3m 31s more light than the previous day, 7h 0m 10s light gained & 1h 46m 0s to gain. 79.85% to the light. The end of a perfect Beltane Day.

Sunrise on 2 May 2013, my day has 3m 29s more light than the previous day, 7h 3m 39s light gained & 1h 42m 31s to gain. 80.52% to the light

Sunset on 2 May 2013, the day with 3m 29s more light than the previous day, 7h 3m 39s light gained & 1h 42m 31s to gain. 80.52% to the light

Sunset on 5 May 2013, the day with 3m 24s more light than the previous day, 7h 13m 55s light gained & 1h 32m 15s to gain. 82.47% to the light

Sunrise on 6 May 2013, my day has 3m 22s more light than the previous day, 7h 17m 17s light gained & 1h 28m 53s to gain. 83.11% to the light

Sunset on 6 May 2013, the day with 3m 22s more light than the previous day, 7h 17m 17s light gained & 1h 28m 53s to gain. 83.11% to the light

Sunset on 8 May 2013, the day with 3m 17s more light than the previous day, 7h 23m 53s light gained & 1h 22m 17s to gain. 84.36% to the light

Sunset on 11 May 2013, the day with 3m 10s more light than the previous day, 7h 33m 31s light gained & 1h 12m 39s to gain. 86.19% to the light

Sunset on 13 May 2013, the day with 3m 5s more light than the previous day, 7h 39m 44s light gained & 1h 6m 26s to gain. 87.37% to the light

Sunset on 15 May 2013, the day with 3m 0s more light than the previous day, 7h 45m 46s light gained & 1h 0m 24s to gain. 88.52% to the light

Sunset on 18 May 2013, the day with 2m 50s more light than the previous day, 7h 54m 25s light gained & 0h 51m 45s to gain. 90.16% to the light

Sunset on 19 May 2013, the day with 2m 47s more light than the previous day, 7h 57m 12s light gained & 0h 48m 58s to gain. 90.69% to the light

Sunset on 22 May 2013, the day with 2m 36s more light than the previous day, 8h 5m 11s light gained & 0h 40m 59s to gain. 92.21% to the light

Sunset on 23 May 2013, the day with 2m 32s more light than the previous day, 8h 7m 43s light gained & 0h 38m 27s to gain. 92.69% to the light

Sunset on 25 May 2013, the day with 2m 24s more light than the previous day, 8h 12m 35s light gained & 0h 33m 35s to gain. 93.62% to the light

Sunset on 26 May 2013, the day with 2m 20s more light than the previous day, 8h 14m 55s light gained & 0h 31m 15s to gain. 94.06% to the light

Dobunni Grove at Stanton Drew (27 Apr 2013)

On this day the Dobunni Grove and friends gathered at the North East Circle at Stanton Drew. At around 11:00 the group was called to the nearby old tree for an introduction to the event and the season by Nina. Everyone then got in a line and processed through the adjacent avenue and back into the circle, with individuals stopping to honour the sun. Once the circle was formed up, Ostara welcomed everyone and asked for the Call For Peace to be made at the quarters by Russell. The circle was also blessed by fire and water. Each of the quarters was then opened. The group also linked hands to perform three tones of the Awen. Everyone in the group was asked to say what Beltane meant to them. Going around the circle clockwise, people shouted out a single word. After this everyone had to select one of the quarters for the next activity. I chose West with Nina and we planned and presented a short play on the birth of Taliesin. All four quarters then did their short presentations on the meaning of Beltane. After this the circle reconvened and we linked hands to perform the Druid Vow. I then did part of my Beltane poem before the quarters were closed once again. With many then heading off to the newly refurbished Druids’ Arms.

Gathering near the Avenue

Forming up inside the North East Circle

The Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse (28 Apr 2013)

Sunday 28 April saw a small group gathering 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. It was relatively cool but the sun was out for much of the time we were there. Things eventually got underway at 12:30 and the group processed through the field at the east of the car park, to be within sight of the monument. Rainbow welcomed everyone to the event and asked for offerings to be placed in the centre. I did the Call For Peace, Trish welcomed in the ancestors and I called in Rhiannon. The quarters were opened by Justine on North, Trish on East, Rainbow on South and Neil on West. Rainbow accessed the three worlds of land, ocean and sky, each time going around the circle for everyone to say one word about what inspired them about each. Hands were linked and the Awen toned three times, followed by the Druid Vow.

Everyone had a chance to tie a ribbon on to a silver birch stick. Plus a chance to say what inspired them about Beltane. This was then held up to show the ribbons blowing in the breeze. The lanterns were lit and the group drummed in the season of summer. The lanterns were then used to mark the gateway to summer. Each of us passed through to the other side with our arrival marked by further drumming. Back in the circle it was time for Justine and Neil to bless the cakes and mead. I debuted my new Rhiannon poem and there was also drumming. As in previous years I distributed some song sheets and led the group in a version of the Hal An Tow song. With that it was time to thank the ancestors and Rhiannon, close access to the three worlds and close the circle, before processing back to the car park.

Montage of the complete event

Getting ready in the car park

Setting off

Across the fields to the site of the Gorsedd

Trish opens the South Quarter

Justine ties a ribbon

Neil ties a second ribbon

Trish enters summer

Blessing the mead

Blessing the cakes

Drumming in the summer

Trish closes the South Quarter

Heaing back to the car park

Emily tries out her new camera on Matthew (Photo: Emily Jane Faulkes)

Beltane at the Goddess Hall (30 Apr 2013)

Beltane is probably the most popular season in the Goddess Community, because of the high number of visitors from other countries. Half an hour before the start there was already a considerable queue down the street. The first part of the event was held inside the Goddess Hall. Even with the side doors open, it wasn’t really possible to get every single person inside. Georgina welcomed everyone and the eight-point wheel was opened in a variety of languages. Heloise performed a seasonal song and this was followed by sacred dancing in the centre. Everyone was then asked to get a partner and dance around the outside of the building, ending out in the front garden with the maypole. People were soon dancing around the pole and riding on hobbyhorses. Later there was a fire in a small cauldron that lovers could jump over. I performed my new Rhiannon poem to some small groups, including Angie, Jess and their friends. The eight-point wheel was closed outside at the end of the dancing. Overall a wonderful event.

Montage of the complete event

Queuing to get in the Goddess Hall

Setting up the maypole

Out come the hobbyhorses

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Angie gets on her hobbyhorse

More dancing

More dancing

More dancing

Jumping the Beltane Fire

Closing the eight directions of the wheel

Matthew with Jess

The Glastonbury Order of Druids on Glastonbury Tor (1 May 2013)

People began to ascend the Tor from about 04:30. I met Donna at the first seat and then met Rollo further up. Once at the top Rollo got everyone to form a large circle around his cauldron. He welcomed everyone to the event and explained that Cam Valley Morris would be performing at the end of the circle. Rollo carried out his directional peace blessing and then followed with a talk about the meaning of the Druid Mantra. He got the group to practice using the mantra, before using it for tasks such as peace in the Middle East and finding safe energy sources. He then led the group in a seasonal invocation, before calling in Susan for another. They both then blessed the cauldron of flowers while the group toned the mantra again. Rollo performed other poems and songs and asked for the group to join in by call and response. With the Morris dancing about to begin, Rollo closed the quarters again and thanked everyone for coming. There was then three cheers for Beltane. The group was treated to the most spectacular Beltane sunrise for years. On this day the sun shines directly down the Michael Line. I met Donna again on the way down the Tor and stopped for another chat.

Montage of the complete event

With Rollo ascending Glastonbury Tor

Rollo welcomes everyone to the event

Sounding the horn

Rollo calls for peace in the West

Rollo leads the group in an invocation

Rollo and Susan bless the flowers

Rollo reads a poem

Rollo closes the East Quarter

Watching the spectacular sunrise

Watching the spectacular sunrise

The Cam Valley Morris Men

The Cam Valley Morris Men

The Cam Valley Morris Men

With Donna Brooke part way up Glastonbury Tor

Beltane at Chalice Well (1 May 2013)

Next it was over to Chalice Well where people were gathering in the cress field for a fire. A large group gathered around the unlit fire as well as on the sloping sides of the field. Natasha welcomed everyone to the event and four celebrants helped with opening the quarters. All those present were encouraged to take part in the sharing activities, including an attempt to pass energy around the entire group. Ark brought out a flame to light the torches in each of the quarters. The celebrants then lit the fire and it was soon burning well. The group closed around the fire before moving out to allow the quarters to be closed once again. A smaller fire was present at the side for people to jump over, another traditional Beltane activity. The maypole was carried down to the main lawn, although it was not used for almost another hour. Once the dancing was underway the ribbons began to work their way down, covering most of the maypole. The large group also moved in here, to touch the charged pole. Natasha returned at midday for the normal meditation around the wellhead, followed by public contributions and then the conversation cafe down on the lower lawn.

Montage of the complete event

Natasha welcomes everyone to the event

John opens the West Quarter

Brian opens the North Quarter

Ark brings a light to each of the quarters

All of the quarters now light the fire

The group closes around the fire

The group closes around the fire

The fire now burns bright

The fire now burns bright

Closing the North Quarter

Daniel and Ronnie jump the smaller fire

Jumping the smaller fire

Jumping the smaller fire

Jumping the smaller fire

Jumping the smaller fire

The maypole is carried down to the lower lawn

Setting up the maypole

Getting ready to dance around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Closing in around the maypole at the end of the dance

With Ainara during the morning at Chalice Well

At the wellhead for the midday meditation

Glastonbury Community Beltane Event (1 May 2013)

The Glastonbury Community Beltane Event was happening at the same time as the lunchtime activities at Chalice Well.

Montage 1 (Montage by Matthew with all photos by mikesey)

Montage 2 (Montage by Matthew with all photos by mikesey)

Montage 3 (Montage by Matthew with all photos by mikesey)

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (4 May 2013)

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri took place on Saturday 4 May. The group met at the Red Lion and processed to the Sun Circle. Willth welcomed everyone to the event and started with the Call For Peace. He then asked for each of the four quarters to be opened. Terry took East, with Rie on South, me on West and Em on North. Willth then connected to the ancestors and the three worlds. The group linked hands and performed three tones of the Druid Mantra, followed by the Druid Vow. Terry followed with the Druid Prayer. Terry then spoke aspects of the season. Willth then got everyone to do a further three tones of the Druid Mantra for Ghyll's healing. Robyn y Glas played the first of his songs and I went next with the first performance at Avebury of my Rhiannon poem. Jim did one of his songs and the Sisters of the Stones read some words from each quarter.

Willth blessed the bread and mead and started their circulation around the circle from the East. While this was going on the group got a performance from Shadowlight Sounds. Gordon then came in to perform a song just prior to the bardic challenge. Robyn y Glas went first with his new song and then Jim then followed with his. Willth collected opinions from around the circle while Shadowlight Sounds did another performance. Willth offered both challengers some mead before announcing that Jim would return as the Chaired Bard of Caer Abiri after an absence of five years. Mark performed a new poem and Gary came in to talk about the Hadron Collider. Robyn y Glas was thanked for his five year term and he said how he would now have the chance to attend other events. Jim then came on to perform his first song back in the role.

It was then time for me to nominate the new King for a Day and Fool for a Year. I performed 40 lines of my list poetry, teasing the audience that the moment was not very far away and that it could be anyone. I then used my dowsing rods to select the person who would hold the title for the next year and a day. Joe was stood directly above the Mary Line and so the rods nominated him. He put on the hat that goes with the role and everyone applauded. Willth then began to wind things down on what had been one of the longest Free and Open Gorsedds for years. He thanked the spirits that had graced the circle and asked for the quarters to be closed. The gorsedd was now over and people headed back to the Red Lion.

Montage of the complete event (Photo of Matthew by Druid of the Hill Photography)

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Processing to the Sun Circle

Forming up inside the Sun Circle

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Willth calls for peace in the South

Em opens the North Quarter

Willth welcomes in the ancestors

Terry talks about aspects of the season

Robyn y Glas plays the first of his songs

Matthew performs his Rhiannon poem (Photo: Druid of the Hill Photography)

Jim performs his first song

The Sisters of the Stones read some words from each quarter

Willth blesses the mead

Willth blesses the cake

A performance from Shadowlight Sounds

Gordon performs a song

Robyn y Glas plays his song as part of the Bardic Challenge

Jim plays his song as part of the Bardic Challenge

Another performance from Shadowlight Sounds

Mead for the two challengers

Willth announces that Jim has won

Jim hears of his win

Mark performs a poem

Gary talks about the Hadron Collider

Jim performs his first song back in his role as Bard of Avebury

Robyn y Glas is thanked for his five year term as Bard of Avebury

Matthew announces that a new King for a Day/Fool for a Year needs to be appointed (Photo: Trish Conniffe)

The dowsing rods seek out the victim (Photo: Trish Conniffe)

Joe is King for a Day/Fool for a Year and Matthew retrieves the hat (Photo: Trish Conniffe)

Joe as King for a Day/Fool for a Year

Joe as King for a Day/Fool for a Year

Willth thanks the ancestors and closes down the other worlds

Rie closes the South Quarter

Willth declares the event over

Heading back to the Red Lion

The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri (5 May 2013)

The Beltane ritual of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on Sunday 5 May. The group formed up at the National Trust Cafe. Morgan welcomed everyone and roles were nominated. The silent procession to the Entrance Stones then began. Patricia took on the role of Avebury Guardian and led the group, ending by sitting in the Goddess Seat. Morgan led a few minutes of drumming to allow everyone to tune into the site. She was first to ask for permission to enter the stones. I went next and was followed by most other people in the group with their offerings. The Guardian granted permission and myself and Steve the Stag formed an archway with staffs for everyone to process through to the Ring Stone.

Morgan welcomed everyone again and things began with the Round of Amergin, where everyone says “I Am” and the archetype they represent. I joined Morgan for the Call For Peace in English and Welsh from North clockwise, with the rest of the group confirming. Finishing with a call to the three worlds. The four quarters were then opened, with Linda on North, Rainbow on East, Me on South and Mark on West. With Beltane as Rhiannon’s time, a horse skull was present on the Ring Stone to represent her white steed. Three Beltane Goddesses were represented in the centre and everyone was invited to dance with them. There was a strong horse theme at this point. Various people made statements about horses and I did my Rhiannon poem at this point. The poem includes a verse about Rhiannon’s Apple of Wisdom. With Patricia also embodying Rhiannon, she came to me with an apple to bite into.

There was another opportunity for people to receive the Awen and join the Gorsedd. Quite a few people stepped into the centre and the rest of the group closed in around them. Morgan read through the script and the group toned the Awen three times around them. The new initiates then took their place back in the circle. The photos end at this point as I had to leave the event early. The group linked hands to perform the Druid Vow. Then it was time to bless the bread and mead and distribute them around the circle. Bardic performances were next, including Jim in his role as the new Chaired Bard. With that the quarters were closed anti-clockwise from North. Morgan then asked everyone to add their voice to the Avebury landscape.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Setting up at the Goddess Seat

Drumming at the Goddess Seat

Offerings are made to the Avebury Guardian

Listening to the Guardian

Forming up around the Ring Stone

Setting up the altar

A horse skull to represent Rhiannon's white steed

Morgan welcomes everyone

Mark opens the West Quarter

Three representations of Beltane Goddesses

Dancing with the Goddesses

Inspiration comes to Jack

Thoughts on horses from Wylde Hunter

Thoughts from Phil

Preparing for the bardic initiation

Priston May Day Celebrations (6 May 2013)

Priston held its traditional May Day event on 6 May. This was very well organised and provided displays from the Priston Jubilee Morris and Somerset Morris sides as well as the debut of the Priston Morris Minors. There was also maypole dancing, music from the Midsomer Norton and Radstock Silver Band, food stalls, games and races. Below are two montages that summarise the event, as well as individual pictures of the first Morris section plus the maypole dancing.

Montage 1

Montage 2

Priston Jubilee Morris

Priston Jubilee Morris

Priston Jubilee Morris

Priston Jubilee Morris

Priston Jubilee Morris

Priston Jubilee Morris

The Priston Morris Minors

The Priston Morris Minors

The Priston Morris Minors receive their prizes

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole

Dancing around the maypole


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Page last updated: 27 May 2013