April

Mar 30th, 2013 | By | Category: Annette George

“The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again.”
– Mathilde Blind, April Rain 

April showers, well its the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions April to me. A time of blustery weather, winter putting up a fight as spring battles to establish itself. When you can open your window after one of its famous showers and inhale the sweet smell of the raindrops on the soil. When new leaves are stretched out to take advantage of the life giving rain and the brief spells of primrose yellow sunshine. 

April sees buds on trees, spring flowers in all their glory, lambs gambolling around fresh green fields, all those idyllic scenes from childhood. I remember going out with the school looking for “sticky buds” from the horse chestnut tree, and bringing them back to class. Also we had to write down the different signs of spring being evident. We were lucky our teachers liked to get us out of the classroom as much as possible, wellies and anoraks on. Rain back then did not stop play. Being a wee village school we had a housing estate on one side, and fields on all the others. Nature and the wheel of the year were very important in our lessons. We had a lot of farms around the village and being surrounded by so many open spaces and so much wildlife we were encouraged to be outside come rain or shine. 

In those days before huge supermarkets we were told where our food came from, crops and animals in the fields. We grew broad beans in jam jars and cress in empty margarine tubs on pieces of blotting paper. We knew where our food came from as we saw it and the seasons happening right outside the classroom window. 

Boys would go hunting for frogs spawn and tadpoles in spring and many a jar was bought in proudly but those lads who had a knack for finding such things. I was always very envious as my mother wouldn’t let me near the pond or streams to go collect my own. 

These lessons seem to have been dropped now, I don’t even remember my own daughter’s school focusing so much on nature when she was young, and back then we were living in Cornwall. 

March has been a month of extreme weather, and as I write this in the last few days before April I wonder what the coming month will bring. The Spring which I spoke of earlier may have been stopped in its tracks in some places because of the snow, and many lambs may not have made it due to the cold. This time last year we had been sat in the garden in the sunshine and my hubby even got sunburnt. To see him stood out there now, with gloves, hat, jumper, cardigan and coat on you wouldn’t believe the difference. 

We didn’t have the fire lit this time last year, and yet here we are, in the semi darkness huddled round the fire with its crackling, sparking logs, watching the flames dance and the shadows loom as our faces become pink and our eyes grow heavy. Spring seems a long way from here. 

And yet at the end of April is Beltane’s Eve in the Northern Hemisphere and Samhain’s Eve in the Southern. Here in the UK the celebrations being when the moon rises on the evening of Beltane’s eve, 30th April. It marks the end of winter. I remember reading that at midnight Cailleach Bhuer, the old hag of winter, leaves her staff under a holly tree and she is returned to stone for six months until Halloween. This year she will go with a roar not a whimper.

Also in times gone by it was then Celtic Druids would light the great Belfire’s, made up of nine different woods, oak, apple, ash, birch, hawthorn, willow, holly, hazel and alder. It signified the end of the winter and the return of warmer weather. The cattle and other farm animals were driven out of their winter barns and between two big Belfires so that the smoke from flames could cleanse and bless them with fertility as they were released back into the fields. 

Love and fertility are a huge feature of Beltane. Many handfasting’s will be held now. It was traditionally thought of as a time when the God and Goddess held their woodland wedding, this was her last appearance as the maiden goddess. Although my hubby and I were married in a Church some eight years ago, I have been looking into handfasting’s. I like that both partners approach it as equals, no one is given away. Also that they make their promises to each other and although a Priest or Priestess may be on hand the couple are in control of the ceremony. I often think our wedding was like that. I walked myself up the aisle and my hubby and I said and did what we wanted within the short ceremony. Perhaps even back then I knew that one day my religious path would soon take a different turn. The chapel we chose for our wedding was in the woods, with no power and had to be lit by candles. You could only fit about twenty people in it, and on our special day, a few days before Yule, it snowed, it was just magical. 

As the mother of a teenage daughter who has no lean to one religion or another I often wonder how her wedding, if indeed there is one, will take form. 

How will you celebrate your Beltane? I intend to have a fire outside if the weather permits on Beltane’s Eve. Then, the following day, maybe visit Clootie Well, a sacred spring in the woods and if you are unwell you can go and soak a piece of cloth and say a prayer and tie the cloth to a nearby tree. As the cloth decays your prayer is heard and your healing is complete. I always leave an offering at the well, usually a shell, flower, or stone from my garden.

 I like to bring spring flowers inside at this time of the year, but the weather has been so dreadful the flowers are quite behind. I expect I will buy some daffodils and decorate my Altar with them. I’ll also light a bright red candle and keep it burning on the altar all day. 

If I were back in Padstow in Cornwall I would of course attend the ‘Obby Oss on May 1st, it’s an ancient fertility ceremony that involves the decorating of the village with spring flowers, music from sunrise to sunset, dancing and plenty of merriment. But more of that next month. 

So m’dears, however you plan to spend your April, I hope the weather is kind to you and remember whenever you go out, take a brolly.

14 Comments to “April”

  1. Ellie says:

    I await a Handfasting with my Hubby to be, we may well pick Beltane next year to do it, I was born at Beltane too so it seems fitting to join with my soulmate then.. it feels more like January than Spring but your words bring hope of sunshine soon.. Blessings to you.. xxx

    • Highland Hedgewitch says:

      Ellie m’dear your handfasting at Beltane would be so very special, to be with your soul mate and have so many ties to that festival will just add to the magic you two can create.

      You’re right about the weather poor Spring, I wonder what kind of a knock on it will have throughout the rest of the year.

      Bright blessings to you and your soul mate xx

  2. joanna varnadoe says:

    may your spring arrive soon my friend!

    • Highland Hedgewitch says:

      Joanna m’dear its arrived today! I sat out in the sun for an hour and it was wonderful. The bird song filled the air and I felt the best I’ve felt in weeks!

      Bright blessings to you x

  3. L. Young says:

    This is wonderful! I feel Spring here too!

    • Highland Hedgewitch says:

      I’m so glad you’re feeling spring, its been a long time coming. Today really felt like it had arrived.

      Thanks for visiting the blog, hope to see you here again.

  4. Kat Deacon says:

    Hubby and I had a lovely May wedding complete with Morris Dancers – certainly one to remember 🙂 Loving your blog!

    • Highland Hedgewitch says:

      Kat, wow, Morris Dancers! You were lucky, where about’s did you get married if you don’t mind my asking?

      Glad you enjoyed the blog. I’m glad to say Spring was here yesterday and today, and about time too.

  5. Lin says:

    As always, beautiful, gentle words helping us to see & appreciate what is happening around us.

  6. katy says:

    beautiful, as always xxx

    • Highland Hedgewitch says:

      Katy thanks for stopping by and for your kind comment.

      Hope Spring has found you this weekend. x

  7. Dawn Everly says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard of Beltane! I learn so much from you! The best part is, your beautiful words bring magic into my life and into the lives of so many others! I love your blog posts!!!

    • Highland Hedgewitch says:

      Dawn bright blessings to you, so pleased to have you hear. There is so much information online about Beltane, its one of my favourite sabbats. Though living in Cornwall for many years and being part of the Obby Oss celebrations was always fun come rain or shine.

      Thank you for your lovely comments, I hope you continue to enjoy the blog x

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