Sunday, 26 April 2009

Change and Calan Mai

It has been a while. During such time I have been doing some thinking amongst other things. One of the decisions made – and partly influenced by a friends blog title – is to change the title of this one to Aelwyd Fochon. My own hearth, my own group of one is dedicated to him and as such I think it important he is recognised. Especially so as he appears to have retired for the warmer months.

Which leads nicely on to Calan Mai, Beltan, Bealteanne or whatever you wish to call it. This was a festival of importance to people way back when in agricultural communities, for some it meant the time when the livestock went up to summer pastures or when things began to warm up and it went from a time or surviving the worst to making plans to begin the process of surviving the next winter. What does it mean to me today? I certainly don't live in a rural or agricultural community any more so what does it mean to me?

Quite simply put, it is the beginning of summer. The time when the sun is back and back in force. The past week here has been gloriously sunny, so much so that I cant recall when I last let the bright sun on me or felt it warm me like it does now. It is really odd but it feels like the sun has been missing or at least shrouded in some veil which has now been lifted. This is a new sensation for me; the sun has in a very real sense been away for months but is now back and it is this which I am to celebrate. It is a time to celebrate the warmth, light and heat which is returning to us (though I prefer the sun as it is now; bright, warm but with a coolness to the air left over from the earlier spring, I really don't like scorching hot summers) and we mark the transition from one very definite part of the year into another be honouring and welcoming back the summer and all it entails and offers us.

This is a time of liminality (if such a word exists) between the cool and damp spring and the hot and dry (ideally) summer, we are standing on a precipice and at any time now we will plunge headlong into pollen filled afternoons, rain showers on hot tarmac and BBQ scents wafting the air. Perhaps this liminality was a reason Calan Mai or May Eve was noted as being a time of otherworldly activity in Welsh folklore. Perhaps not.

May 1st provides a handy peg stuck into the wall upon which to hang our may celebrations. Though to suggest that the time of transition falls on that date is foolish – it simply doesn't the turning year isn't digital, it is analogue, a spectrum of colours and sounds and sensations bleeding into each other like a Dulux colour chart. We mark it with the May, the hawthorn blossom which sweeps across the landscape with the changing season turning it from browns and fresh greens into a white mantle laden world of warming. Sometimes this mantle is set down earlier and some times later; blossoming being a result in changing daylight and warmth, yet when the tipping point is reached the blossoms start to flood the hedgerows.

This is now the time of Belenus for me. Mokkonos has gone for a nap for the time being, some dark and chilled cave beyond dusk where he will rest for the time being only to re-emerge when the days have gotten fat and long and the air chilled. Then he will stride back over the landscape breathing his frosty breath and crushing the land beneath his black feet. For now thought it is the shiny and brilliant Bel that is with us. The hot and handy god of activity, of growth and production and preparation. The one to whom I owe a debt of thanks and to whom I will soon be asking more favours.

So, for now, to Bel; his heat, his strength and his hands. Have a wonderful Beltane.

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