Yesterday, the last day of April, I was fortunate enough to take part in a Beltane celebration. My friend Gerit and her partner Brigitte organized an herb walk, after which we would build a fire and cook a soup with wild herbs. I took my friend Tini along, and we both brought our dogs. It was a nice group of people, about 13 of us, and we set out into the green, listening along the way as Gerit and Brigitte taught us about various plants and herbs.
We were told about the Celts, about their way of dividing the year into eight parts. We were told that the herbs were strongest at the full moon, and it was true...the woodruff picked on the full moon smelled the sweetest and strongest. We picked leaves, rubbed them between our fingers, smelled them, tasted them. Spicy, mild, bitter, sour. Then we headed to the outdoor kitchen, where a fire was burning and a soup pot was waiting. Our witches cauldron.
There were herbs to be washed and diced. Some people peeled potatoes, some spoke of witches and fairy tales, others wrote down spells or wishes that they wanted to send up to the gods on the smoke. I chopped onions and ate bread.
Once the pot was hot, the onions were tossed in and stirred with an ingenius handmade tool: a fork dug into the end of a long stick.
We gathered around the fire as the sun sank; there were benches and tree stumps to sit on...I lay a blanket on the ground and the dogs curled up around me. Gerit told us old stories of witches, the Celts, Beltane, and poisonous plants used in a salve smeared on witches feet to make them fly.
As I looked around at the faces in the firelight, blue smoke rising, soup bubbling, I felt how good it was, how natural, for a group of people to sit around a fire and tell stories and share a meal. We ate the soup, delicious, with trees around us, and moon and stars above. It was beautiful.
xoxo country girl