Saturday, May 15, 2010

3 The hooves and the fire

Saturday May 1, 2010:

The sun is out! The world is washed clean. Everything shines. It’s a lovely spring morning.

We walk under the acid green canopy of new oak leaves through the trees. Dark holly stands amongst them. Our feet step lightly upon the soft forest floor.

We cast and call, invoke and invite. We are here to acknowledge the sweet desire that dances with wild delight and at the greening time to dance the dance of life.

Aphrodite steps softly upon the forest floor. In her footsteps, flowers spring up. The birds in the trees sing, their silver song arching above our heads. Our hearts are filled with the love that nurtures and respects all.

In the beat of the drum, Herne stalks through the trees and all the animals of the forest creep from their hiding place to follow him. Gently, he surveys the green wood with satisfaction.


“First I speak for those of us come to this feast damaged by what has been done to trample Aphrodite’s gifts into the sand, behind the mask of sexual passion, hides abusive power, and disrespect for life. I name some of that pain. I banish it now!", says my sister priestess.

She continues: When the powerful and the priests still fail to hear the tears of the children torn apart in their name:”
Together she and I say: “Aphrodite rages, Herne stamps his mighty foot, Ardhanarishwara the androgynous blazes, the spirits of the land and the wild ones howl.”

“In lands locked in war and violence, when women’s and children’s bodies are treated as things to be claimed and torn:
Aphrodite rages, Herne stamps his mighty foot, Ardhanarishwara the androgynous blazes, the spirits of the land and the wild ones howl.

Wherever bodies are for sale in unsafe or disease-ridden places, because there is no other way for women or children to survive, or because they were trapped or live in fear of violence:
Aphrodite rages, Herne stamps his mighty foot, Ardhanarishwara the androgynous blazes, the spirits of the land and the wild ones howl.

At all the exchanges, too many to name here, that use so-called sexuality to dishonour human bodies, and the bodies of other living things, in some of our own histories and the lives we see around us:

Aphrodite rages, Herne stamps his mighty foot, Ardhanarishwara the androgynous blazes, the spirits of the land and the wild ones howl.

In the name of life, love and honour, I claim their sacred anger, and I banish the pain and destruction of these things.” (Words by PB)

I hold a piece of paper to the flame. The heat snaps at my fingers. I drop it into the greedy fire in the banishing cauldron, and let go of the empty place and the reason why it was created and with it, my rage.

The air is filled with the acrid smell of burning paper. The smoke wafts away on the wind, along with all that we no longer want.

Hoofs pound the earth in the voice of the drum. And I say as I beat the skin

“I call to the white horse that runs throughout the country, the white horse that is half woman half horse, seen out of the corner of an eye in the shadows under the trees and then gone again. Hear her hooves beating upon the green sword. Hear her neigh of joy as she canters forth. See her, head held high, her main or is it her hair flowing in the wind as she gallops across the country. Hear her now, "Epona, Epona, Epona, let me ride with thee!"

And I run with her. I dance with her, we stream out from under the dappled coolness of the woods into open country, our manes flying in the wind. I dance my desires into life, my dreams into fruition. I cook my
wishes with the heat of my sweat as I run with her under the Beltane sun. I resolve to fill the gap left by what I banished.!

One by one, we jump the Beltane fire. It smoulders smokily. Beside it, our decoy fire, (tea lights in a shiny silver bowl) sits innocently.

We sing and dance, moving in and out of our circle with our May ribbons, weaving an intricate plat of hopes and desires, for ourselves, our community and the world.

And just as we are finishing, from out of the wood comes striding three fire fighters! They amble up to us curiously, come to see what all the smoke is about. We stop dancing and smile foolishly at them.

My companion’s point to our “fire” the innocent bowl of tea lights and the harmless gently puffing little fat bellied cauldron.

“It’s a £400 fine for lighting a fire in the wood”, says one of them.

“What fire?” we say, wide eyed an innocent. The fire-fighters laugh and wish us an enjoyable rest of ritual. They remark that it is a nice day for a walk in the woods and stroll back through the trees from whence they came.

The day is still warm. Though the sun has now gone in, the air is fresh and green. We drink sweetly fragrant berry juice and pass round delicious biscuits, fruit and truffles as we feast in thanks giving for the growing greenness of the land and the cooking of our desires.

Above our heads the birds sing on, as they gaze westwards to the glow that is where the sun hides. And I swear I hear a gentle crunching of twigs under hoof and the soft whinny of a horse just outside the grove of oak and holly in which we stand.

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