I can hear her singing from at least twenty paces away.
Her voice is shrill and shivery, the pitch impossibly high; not difficult to hear, just difficult to hold in my body and in my head.
The sound has a tugging quality. It wants to lift me off my feet and up into the sky and there’s a part of me that wants to do just that; to float up there and dance inside her quivering canopy. But I am very much aware of how grounded my feet are beneath me and this makes the tugging even more obvious, even more insistent and for a brief moment I wonder whether I will grow a few inches just from standing in this presence.
I watch her leaves dance, like all beech leaves do, with the same shivering intensity that is carried in her voice. She is joyful, of that there is no doubt, but there is an edge to that joy. Within all that pleasure there is a something more, something sharp and inescapable. As I stand at her foot and gaze upward, spellbound, I wonder if perhaps this song I am hearing is birthing pains.
With new leaves on each branch and twig, forcing themselves out into the wide world, she is opening and stretching and creating non-stop; and on this day – this Beltane day – that growing energy must be at a peak and she has no choice but to release some of it.
So she sings.
And for a time I sing with her; standing beside her glorious trunk, letting my heart vibrate with the quivering high notes of her soprano. I can not hope to match it but I can swoop along beside it, sharing my own joy and fragility. She drops her register a few times, joining me at a lower octave and then we smile and sway our hips and roll together our earthiness, our creativity and our pleasure.
When I can take it no more, when I am full of her green and silver laughter and her glorious bluegrey light, I take a step away and slip out of the song. For a moment then I appreciate her beauty and say thank you. As I walk away I can hear her song continuing and have to fight to contain my laughter… but I do nothing about my broad Beltane smile.
Today is Beltane and although Walk The Wheel won’t celebrate until Saturday I have found ways to celebrate for myself over the past few days. Yesterday I took myself out into the hills for a simple ceremony of my own. It was a wonderful experience with very little by way of tools; but when you’re surrounded by moorland and fresh air and reservoirs you want for very little anyway. There was ribbon to bind my wishes and rose petals to give thanks. It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours engaging with the Land and acknowledging the turning season.
Since then I’ve found myself very receptive to a seasonal shift in energy over the last 24 hours. Now, whether this shift is actually in me or in the Land itself I honestly don’t know but I don’t think that’s too important. What is important is that, having performed a ceremony in honour of that seasonal change, I now feel awakened to its effects and can attest to some rather wonderful experiences as a result.
Beltane has always been my favourite festival on the Wheel for a variety of reasons. One is the Green Man, a folk figure;who is welcomed and honoured at this time. I’ll speak more about him in my upcoming Beltane Musings but it is his cheerful and playful energy that draw me to him the most. I find it terribly infectious and it seems to ooze out from everything around this time. All the green growing plants and trees, grasses and leaves, the blue sky, the bright sun, even the rainy grey skies seem to shed drops of rain that sparkle and stir with a spark of excitement, a vibrant energy.
Walking home today, surrounded by the green, I was overcome with the need to smile and laugh and celebrate. Admittedly singing with trees can do that to you. But there’s something else too: I have this feeling that I’m in on some great secret, a secret I am sharing with the natural world. It’s not a secret that is hidden from anyone. It’s the kind of secret that is out there, in the open, accessible to everyone… if they want to see it. Thanks to my working yesterday and my awareness of the Wheel I’ve demonstrated I want to see it, so I do and it is glorious!
My wish is that more people might open their eyes and hearts to these secrets of the seasons; secrets that we speak of all the time in folk tales and folk traditions but that are often not connected to or taken seriously in modern life. Yet they are still as valid and still as vibrant as they have ever been.
The whole world is alive with bright, Beltane energy today! And so am I! I hope you are too.
3) by Joe Wright, found at onlandscape.co.uk