Beltane is an extra-special time of year for me. Along with it’s opposite on the Wheel of the Year, Samhain, Beltane is one of the two highest Holy Days in my Craft Tradition (Feycraft).
Each year for Beltane, I go completely off-grid. I go out to a wonderful place called Our Haven, a nature sanctuary in the area of French Lick, Indiana. For four or five days (depending on how much time I can get off work), I have no contact with the constraints of societal bullshit. My Coven and I enjoy time away from everything and everyone, spending our days and nights with those of like-mind (other Pagans and Witches).
Each night there is a bonfire. Each night, it gets progressively bigger. On the last night (May’s Eve) is the largest of the bonfires. A smaller fire is sometimes lit from this one, and it is jumped over by participants for cleansing and protection.
There is always an amazing labyrinth put together by a Sister of the Craft. She is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. (Though this bears no relevance, she and I are both Hufflepuffs.) Floating lanterns or “sky lights” are lit and are allowed to float off into the sky, carrying prayers of love and need up to the Ancestors. (I view the stars as our ancestors, and they are reflected in the Underworld, but that’s a whole other article, probably.)
Most of the nights, we dance around the bonfire. We drum, chant, rattle. Often, someone brings a Didgeridoo, which goes wonderfully with the drumming.
Though the Coven and I work mainly with Irish-Celtic deities, we are not “forbidden” from working with deities and spirits outside of the Feycraft Tradition. Which means that my Pan, my earliest Patron, is always at the ready to dance and whirl the night away in a drunken frenzy on the night of May’s Eve.
There’s also a Maypole. If I’m not mistaken, we dance the Maypole the day before the main bonfire is lit.
I always say I’m going to take pictures. I always have my phone with me to take them. But in general, it stays behind in the tent or locked in the car. I intend to take pictures, but I never do. Mostly because I forget about all technology while I’m off-grid for that four or five days. My real intent is to reconnect with the Land, with my Self, and with the Gods.
This will be my third Beltane at Our Haven. I’ve thought about going somewhere else just to change it up a little. Festivals are everywhere this time of year. But, the Land has claimed me. It’s Home. It would hurt my heart a little not to attend Beltane at Our Haven.
They hold other festivals, as well. Midsummer is usually fairly popular. And I know they host a Samhain festival, as well. But I’m too chicken to go to the Samhain festival – I don’t do well in cold weather, and the end of October, in these parts, is usually pretty chilly.
I know. I sound like an ad for Our Haven. But, if you’ve never been there, know that people do come from all over the United States, to attend Beltane. I’ve met some of the most amazing people there. And you owe it to yourself, if you possibly can, to attend just once. I guarantee you’ll fall in mad love with the people and the Land. I’ll probably have a post-Beltane entry when I return.