Monday, 1 May 2006

Archive: Bealltainn 2006

Bealltainn was a great success this year, I think. I had quite a full day.

The night before I took the dog for a walk and collected the rowan - just a few branches to put by the back door and a little to go in the compost heap (it was traditional to put a piece in the midden to stop the good folk stealing the prosperity from the house, and that heap is the nearest thing I have, since that’s where all the scraps go). I lit a candle to Bride and then purposefully blew it out and switched everything off before I went to bed - the nearest I could get to extinguishing the fire that’s supposed to burn in the house all year. It all felt almost like Christmas Eve by that point.

I started the next day early, greeting the sun as it came up (although it was cloudy so it just got light, really). After entertaining Tom until his first nap of the day I made the drop bannocks and took one outside to throw bits behind me, giving a piece to the Mighty Ones, a piece to the ancestors, and a piece to the gentry to ask that they watch over my family and loved ones. Being the only one who was up at the time, everything was eerily quiet and I had the weird, heavy feeling that I was being listened to, which doesn’t happen to me often. Even the dog waited until I’d finished before he hoovered up my offerings, which was unusually restrained of him.

Mr Seren, being off work for the bank holiday, also enjoyed the bannocks for his breakfast. During the week I’d gone to a specialist cheese shop in Stratford-upon-Avon to get some sheeps cheese to go with the bannocks, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I chose a solid rather than soft cheese which had been made locally, and it managed to be full of flavour but mild at the same time (I’m not a big fan of strong cheese). I was pleased that none of the bannocks broke, because otherwise I know I would have been paranoid about ‘evil portents.’ (Duh duh DUH).

My neighbour had given us some potted flowers as a thank you for fixing her TV, so I used that as the nearest thing to a May bough as I could get. I hadn’t intended to do one because I have nowhere to put it, so that was a little unplanned. I did decorate the living room with some yellow flowers, though. It was a shame we hadn’t got the fireplace fixed up because it would have been nice to have got it set up as my hearth altar in time, but in the meantime I’ve been using my pond as my focal point because it reminds me of a Bride’s Well. Tom likes watching the fishes, so we went out when it got sunny and he had a good chuckle at them, while I left an offering and skimmed a little of the water to sprinkle over the threshold for health and prosperity in the coming year.

My oven, not being up to much at the moment, did manage to roast a couple of lamb shanks quite passably. I think Mr Seren appreciated that the most (he’s easily pleased). The dog later appreciated gnawing on the bones, while the cats were left to jealously watch him - for once they weren’t brave enough to antagonise him. And then, after Tom had gone to bed I lit another candle to Bride and spent a while in quiet contemplation before having a gloriously long bath. Thoroughly exhausted after such a long day, I went to bed and slept more peacefully than I have since before Tom was born. He didn’t wake up once during the night, and was even happy enough to play in his cot for an hour after he woke up in the morning, giving us a little lie in. I think that was the best part.

Part of me is a little shocked that I managed to actually stick to my plans and do something, rather than think about it a lot and then not bother. I’m still a little shy and embarrassed about doing all this in front of my husband, who isn’t religious in any way, and generally looks bemused at the thought that anyone would still be religious in this day and age. Occasionally he’ll tease me about it, as his way of showing his support and understanding (in a very Man way). This year, as I served up dinner, he wished me a happy Baal’s day. Bless ‘im.