Over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling into the energy of the spring celebrations. The air is warming, the days are now noticeably a lot longer, we have gone into daylight savings and it’s been time for change. I’ve enjoyed the energy of the season at festivals with the Pagan community, dancing the Maypole and crowning our Beltane King and Queen. I’ve also enjoyed celebrating through simply shifting how life is lived and what activities I am drawn to that are in alignment with the energy of the season.
In the wheel of the year I created for the Northern Beaches, I called this time of year Barkfall, as it’s the time when the bark on many of the eucalyptus and angophoras starts to peel off and shed. Now as I have been living in the Blue Mountains for the last year and a half I am having to rethink the symbolism for this time of the year. It still has a shedding energy about it – I feel a need to clean the house, to prioritise my clothing, take items to the charity store and get going with the gardening. There’s a sense of wanting more movement and activity, but also getting rid of things I don’t need anymore.
The bark here in the mountains doesn’t shed for a few more weeks. I’ve got my eye on an angophora grove in Wentworth Falls to check the timing! Here’s a photo of the shedding that’s happening down the hill. This is what I’m looking out for. Interestingly, even though the barkfall hasn’t started yet, the sense of shedding actually is still present. This year the appearance of cicadas and their shells on trees came with a dramatic and abundant beginning. The kids were collecting the shells by the bucketful and running around with them all stuck to their t-shirts like “cicada badges”. These are discarded shells I mean, not the creatures, though they are interested in the creatures too.
I love the idea of including the symbolism of the cicada for Beltane. They represent awakening, letting go of what’s no longer needed, and also the flight towards love, song and joy, living in the moment. What a perfect symbol of what Beltane is about! Beltane is traditionally a festival of love, creativity, romance and fertility. Other shedding symbols could include the leaves that also drop from the trees with the increase in heat. An increase in the need to do gardening is relevant too – there is simultaneously an abundance of growth and a need to cull and cut back what we no longer need.
Another symbol of the season I’ve noticed here is the blooming of the waratahs. These beautiful flowers don’t grow on the Northern Beaches, so having them grow here is a real treat for me. There are stories about their sacredness to the Aboriginal people. One book called D’harawal Dreaming Stories by Frances Bodkin includes a story of how the white waratah became red. It’s a sad story, but the lessons are about the sovereignty of women, the tragedy of love gone wrong, and the connection to spirit that can be found with the white waratah and with bees. I find it interesting to look at the Aboriginal stories when they are available as they can tell us a lot about the timing and interrelatedness of plant, animal and human activities. It is interesting that the story focuses on lust and desire and warns against forcing another against their will, when Beltane is considered a time of love and sex. Perhaps this is a healthy warning and a story that could be told when we notice the waratah blooming at this time of year.
It has been a year and a half now that we have been living in the mountains. With each turn of the year I keep notes on changes I’ve seen, what’s blooming, what animals are around, what activities we are doing, so that I can work on developing a wheel of the year for here too. It’s a very slow process. I think I will have a better idea after having seen the wheel turn three times. I will continue sharing my thoughts on it here so that you can follow along.
If you’d like to learn more about how to create your own wheel of the year, and to use the wisdom of the Druidry traditions to connect to the land where you live, you can get a copy of my book Australian Druidry at many good retailers. I use Book Depository as they offer free shipping worldwide. I hope you enjoy the journey!