Beltain Fire

My timeline is full of images of love and flowers and frolics and maypoles as many celebrate Beltain.

I want to talk about fire.

In 2005, the Beltain fires chose to burn away everything I was, and most of what I had accumulated until that point – home, marriage, friendships, the lot, all very quickly. That metaphorical bushfire allowed a whole new (very beautiful) forest to grow, but I had to sit in the black wasteland it caused for some time.

Some of what I lost in that fire has not yet been replaced. I still mourn some of it.

Many major life changes for me have happened as Spring returns and I emerge from the dark into clarity and action.

In 1993 I suffered a loss and the worst of winters, and finally put roots down in the UK through the summer that followed, moved forward with my art (and through it my whole life) – and ditched the belief that happiness lay in the arms of another person. That particular emerging from winter taught me that I could always move into the sun. Always.

In 1990 I moved here to the UK, switching Autumn for Spring overnight and leaving a long awaited love 6000 miles behind me.

In 2015 as Keith started chemo and the long process of dying, just as life was springing up all around him – and I began the journey to the person I am now, in many ways unrecognisable from who I was before I walked him right up to the point where nobody could follow.

These waypoints are visible to me like scorch marks on my life’s map as something new begins.

Each year as the wheel turns to this time, I feel that fire. I stand before it now.

Beltain is not just about life and lovemaking – it is the opposite and equal festival to Samhain and is also about death.

It is a clearing away.

It can be powerful and painful and it can burn you – just like the act of love itself.

New life requires that some things must die.

New life requires risk, and loss, and pain. The price of life is blood, mess – and stepping into the fire.

Life is woven through with the greatest Mystery – that all that lives must fall, that all that falls rises again, that nothing is still or unchanging, ever.

Blessed be the fire.
Blessed be the wheel that turns.
Blessed be the change, the chaos and the constant motion that is life.

Beltain blessings to my friends in the North, Samhain blessings to those in the South

Kindness as strength

One thing that could change everything:

Treat the people who are kind to you with respect.

We’re too good at taking advantage of kind people and behaving more honourably towards those who bully and intimidate us. We punish people for being kind and gentle.

Let’s tear that down, shall we?

Let’s nurture kindness and let it grow.

I’m in a process of ongoing dismantling of my own poor treatment of gentler humans, and of finding a way to be strong and kind at the same time. I am nowhere near discovering how to do that, in fact I am right now at the stage where I am just painfully aware of where this isn’t working for me in my life, my work and my relationships. It feels like it is worth doing the work to move through this and find another way, though.

I’m not about to stop caring about people and behaving compassionately, so I need to find a way to be that way without projecting weakness.

We don’t have enough role models of gentle leaders. We need those.

The personal and the public

Activists and spiritual people: take note of how leaders behave in personal relationships.

Folks who habitually use and abuse those close to them, people who don’t value the love others give them, people who don’t respect those who love them aren’t going to be socially conscious or spiritually aware people, no matter how they appear so.

People who behave in radically differently in private to their public image are false – no exceptions.

Close relationships and love hold vast potential for cruelty and are a brilliant indicator of true character.

Before you believe somebody is amazing, check how happy their partner, kid or closest friend is!

I’m not talking about ‘rough patches’ here, or ‘imperfect’ families, but sustained lack of care and compassion from a person for close friends, lovers and family. Especially if they aren’t doing any work to correct the problem. I’ll briefly mention that outwardly ‘ideal’ relationships and families are also a red flag. Look for loving, yet messy, real life stuff!

If somebody is a spiritual or community leader and their personal relationships are abused or neglected, then it is very likely they have chosen these fields for recognition, unquestioned power, access to vulnerable people, work addiction or as a smokescreen – or all or more than one of these reasons.

Whether a person is a good partner, a good friend, a good parent, a good sibling etc *matters*.

It tells you about their larger character and their motivations for the Work.

Patriarchy has created a lie of private and personal life being separate, mainly so that men could still feel they were good people, even as they sucked the life out of their wives, mothers, sisters and their women friends and relations.

Let’s start to challenge that lie.