May 1st not only marks the “Day of Work” and since a couple of years “The Global Love Day” but it is also called the “Beltane Day”. In Irish mythology, it is the beginning of the summer. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Aos Sí. Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on October 31 Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the druids of the community would create a need-fire on top of a hill on this day and drive the village’s cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck (Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn in Scottish Gaelic, ‘Between two fires of Beltane’). This term is also found in Irish and is used as a turn of phrase to describe a situation which is difficult to escape from. In Scotland, boughs of juniper were sometimes thrown on the fires to add an additional element of purification and blessing to the smoke. People would also pass between the two fires to purify themselves. English mystic by Tor Jormungandr Webster composed a poem for this day accompanied by the photo of a very special old tree. This is reputed to be the joint largest common oak (quercus robur) in the country, the other being the Bowthorpe oak in Lincolnshire, both just over 40 ft in girth. This tree is in remarkably good condition considering how old it is thought to be – possibly as many as 800 years. The tree stand in the Fredville Park, near Canterbury, a private property.
Oh tree, ancient tree, you have always been there for me,
The way you hold the space of our nature so still,
The way you tell us our history without judging,
In times of sadness and in times of joy, you have always filled my heart,
You have seen through my limits and proven to me my strength,
You have been my dearest friend, being breath in breathless emotions,
Bringing breeze through your leaves, when life seems so still,
Bringing roots to lofty ideas and Branching out when i need to be held.
Thank you Oh tree I owe you my life, as you so willing give yours.