Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Beltane Party, 2014

Beltane Fire Dancer
In the last post, I mentioned some of the artists on my private Facebook page that celebrate Beltane and make Beltane-related art. If you are new to my blog see the previous post HERE

Do you wonder what a Beltane festival or party is? Go here to the Wikipedia article on it. In short, it is a Gaelic festival about the arrival of Spring typically celebrated on May Day (or a weekend before or after, for those who work M - F). 

Since I know a lot of people who love to celebrate these events, I get invited to a lot Beltane rituals, parties and art-happenings. The fire dancer above was at one of the ones I attended. You can't see her costume, but she wore boots, a mini skirt with bright metallic-like spangles and a headdress with horns. There were at least 10 drummers there to keep her on beat. At this particular event there were about four fire dancers and one fire-eater.

Some people showed up in costume: there were women with a bouquet of flowers around their head, other folks with horns and leaves on their heads and heavily tattooed, some were wearing the Celtic tree of Life somewhere on their person, some re-enactors came with full body chainmaille and impressive ornate swords, some people came with Irish capes and some people didn't dress up at all. In other years I have gone, some people showed up with Green Man masks and regalia and some came with faerie costuming. I was disappointed they weren't there this time. This year there were more tee-shirts, jeans and beer than other years, possibly because there were a lot of young rock bands in the barn on the property (or maybe it was the cold night: who wants to cover up a nice costume with blankets or a coat?).

Some Beltane festivals have Maypole dancing as well, but that kind of event usually takes place in the day time. It also features women with long dresses and flowers in their hair as this picture will confirm. I have also done quite a bit of Maypole dancing throughout the years to celebrate Beltane.

Almost all of the Beltane festivals I have been to feature a bonfire where people dance to drums. For these pictures, these bonfires had just been lit, so there were no dancers yet. There were 3 bonfires in all. A large medieval-like catapult was used to throw a minimal fire into a large pile of wood (i.e. to light the bonfire). 

Here are some pictures of the bonfires:

I liked this photo of a boy in profile:

Here are some more pictures of the fire dancers:

Beltane is also about sitting around fire pits, socializing (the picture is blurry because it was after sundown, a few minutes before the sky turned pitch black):

It is also about eating, drinking and being merry. In this case I was more interested in what was going on behind the people eating, which is why they aren't particularly featured:

Which brings me to a situation where more explanation is probably due. This Beltane party was held at a friend's studio (and grounds). He is a sculptor and there are sculptures everywhere, on everything imaginable. I'd love to tell you who made all of these beautiful pieces (and he very much deserves the credit), but since they are on his private property, I won't, but it makes for an even more enchanting Beltane experience.   

Here is one of his sculptures that has been offered a beer by some of the guests in the background (again, it was taken after sundown, so it is amazing I got any photo at all):

Here is one of the roads (this particular road led to the party, which is why there are lanterns placed along it). In the dark, the lanterns illuminate the faces of the sculptures. It is really a cool effect when you're tired and you are stumbling your way back to your car. Every road should be lined with sculptures to help you on your journey through life:

Some of the statues along that road:

Here is gypsy-type caravan he made complete with a relief sculpture above the door:

Even the wood-stacking shelter gets some sculpture:

How about a tree? Super fuzzy photo -- but you get the idea...

Even a cart that he made gets the treatment:

Here is another one of his carts (just because I liked it). One of his sculptures you can see in the background of the photo:

Here is one last one I took (before I couldn't take any more pictures of anything except fire):

Perhaps another year I can get some Beltane photos that aren't challenged by a quickly setting sun!

I hope you've enjoyed going down Beltane lane with me.

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