Beltane Faerie World (FIRE!)

When I went out to build this altar at the end of April I wasn’t even consciously aware of how close to the holiday Beltane it was. Beltane is a Celtic pagan holiday falling on the first of May. It is said when the veils between this world and the fairy world are at their thinnest during this time, allowing for more interactions between humans and the faerie beings.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to build about this day, but it was a nice sunny warm day for a change. As I walked along the path I felt pulled to go in a different direction than usual. I went up a path I had never tried before. I had learned to tune in and trust my instincts when out shrine building. I saw a tree stump where it looked like a tree had recently been cut down. It was out in the middle of a bright sunny open field. I knew this was where my shrine wanted to be! I went out there and quickly got to work enjoying the warmth of the sun on my back. I started singing a song about fire that the Druids often sing together while building a fire. I was blissfully unaware of what I was making or why I was singing about fire. It wasn’t until the shrine was built that I noticed how the dried rose petals looked like fire embers, and the triangle of light hitting the centre of them also could appear to be the shape and image of a fire. I would later remember Beltane, and how it roughly translates to “Bright Fire.” It was on this holiday that cattle would be led through the centre of two large fires to “bless” them for the coming year.

I got lost in creating a tiny landscape along the side of a “ledge” that had been cut into the wood. Placing rocks, shells, petals. I could imagine tiny faeries dancing all around in this little world I was creating. As I constructed, I kept getting an odd sense of being watched. I kept stopping and looking over my shoulder, and into the nearby tree lines. It felt like the woods had eyes and as if more and more of them where turning towards me and my work. By the time I had finished my tiny world I felt I needed to move away from this place swiftly. I decided to keep going along this new path I had discovered, hoping it would meet back with a familiar trail. Feeling sort of dreamy and dazzled by the warm day, I stumbled upon a mound off to my left. It was magical and looked like the faerie mounds I had heard of in fairytales, or seen photos of from the UK. It was complete with a worn down path up it’s centre. I was amazed at this discovery! I happily climbed to the top, smelling the sweet wild thyme and admiring their tiny purple flowers all the way up. When I reached the top, I turned around and looked back. I could see my shrine clearly in the field from there. I felt as though it had actually been a key I needed to build perfectly for admittance into this magical realm. I walked along, humming, and dreaming, and feeling truly blessed like I had been privy to some secrets others had not. I enjoyed the sights and sounds of this newly discovered path as I went along. About fifteen minutes later the path wound around and headed back towards where I had come from. I thought to myself when I go back past that faerie mound I will definitely take a photo of it! Needless to say, I never passed the faerie mound again. In fact it was as if it was never even there. Why am I not surprised?

Fire is a powerful element, and one to build a good relationship with. It has been said that fire is what separates men from beasts. It is said that humankind evolved with fire. Fire gives us light in the darkness, it keeps us warm, and safe from predators. It has always been and still is a place of gathering and creativity. We can all recall the image of Grandparents sitting by the hearth fire on a cold winter’s night telling tales of their youth. Or everyone sitting around a camp fire singing and playing their instruments. It is also traditionally where we have cooked our food. This gives us another reason to all gather round the fire.

Spiritually the element of fire is seen as wild and passionate. It is often seen as an initiator, the first “spark” of something new. An idea, a creating, a plan, whatever it may be fire helps motivate us! We hear this in terms like; “It put a fire under me,” or a “Spark of inspiration,” or “It spread like wild fire!” Fire is also known for it’s cleansing and purifying qualities. When the old needs to be wiped away, the ultimate act of doing so is burning it. Whether it’s burning a field down to make way for new growth, or burning an old journal or item that no longer serves you. Fire has the power to cleanse you. It is worth your while to build a good relationship with fire., because it will burn you if you are disrespectful of it. In Druid training we are encouraged to get to know fire intimately and understand how to approach, respect , build and disassemble it properly. A concept I love from this is that when we build a fire we are building a “home” for the spirit(s) of fire to come live temporarily.

When I’m in tune with the fire I can stick my hand right into it and be fine, and some of my friends and family have made commentary about this. However if I am not focused or in line with the energy of the fire I will get burnt! Tending fire is a very Zen like practice. It’s a lesson in living in the present and being present with a potentially dangerous element. Last summer I did a “fire walk,” which is also known as “walking on hot coals.” It was a beautiful and powerful experience. I was absolutely amazed that none of the participants in this ceremony where injured. The coals were red hot, the fire walk instructors said it was the hottest they had ever seen the coals! A group of us were in ceremony all day together. We built a giant dragon like structure out of logs that would become the fire that would burn down to coals throughout the day and be ready for us to walk on that evening. We sang to it; made prayer bundles to offer it, and said our prayers individually to the fire with the community as our witness. Later that evening, a group of wild, mostly naked individuals danced around the coals howling at the beautiful full moon against the black sky; nearby coyotes joined in our song. It was magical. We chanted as we moved faster and faster around the glowing embers. Each person decided when it was their time to walk by asking internally and respectfully to the spirit of the fire. When we felt called to go, each of us walked across about six feet or so of burning bright red coals, chanting all the while. About mid way across I started to feel the burn a little, especially on my baby toe. I thought about being in labour, and the pure focus of mind it took to get through that level of pain and discomfort. It takes focus: mental concentration to accomplish great feats of the body! I was able to bring my mind back into the moment and make it across. I am convinced we were all in a deep trance state from the chanting and dancing, and this combine with the sacredness of the ceremony leading up to that moment is what kept us all safe from being burnt. A few of us had small blisters, but nothing big. My feet felt hot for a few days afterwards, and I never felt so alive in my life! It was as if colours around me became brighter; the air sweeter. I felt high on life for about a week after that. I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to!

Learn to trust and respect fire and you will have a powerful ally for life.

Published by elizardbitz

My name is Elizabeth, I am an artist, writer, nature lover, and spiritual explorer.

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