Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day, Beltane

'Welcome, with your lovely greenwood choir,
summery month of May for which I long.'
From a 14th century Welsh poem

May Day! A glorious golden 1st of May but this photograph shows what was happening last year in May & it certainly won't be this year. The season is so slow that it is reckoned to be 20 days later than last year which is going to have severe knock-on effect on the harvest. Many farmers will struggle to get third cut silage and that will have a serious impact on the fodder supply for next winter.
It may seem a bit mad to be thinking in these terms on such a beautiful day but this is our livelihood and having just gone through a very long winter the prospect of a short summer is worrying.

Here in west Wales the trees are only just beginning to show signs of life and whether it will be the oak or the ash first is anyone's guess at present.

May Day is of course the ancient festival of Beltane when fires are lit to bring the power of the sun to the Earth and was regarded as a blessing from the gods to purify & sanctify the community.
Beltane fires were kindled using nine sacred woods, their names preserved in an old Scottish rhyme, but the ninth will always remain a mystery;

Choose the willow of the stream,
Choose the hazel of the rocks,
Choose the alder of the marshes,
Choose the birch of the waterfalls.
Choose the ash of the shade,
Choose the yew of resilience,
Choose the elm of the brae,
Choose the oak of the sun.

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