Beltaine Impressions

I have always loved Beltaine, one of the Celtic fire festivals – it has the same energies and liminal feeling as Samhain and it marks the start of Summer in South Africa. It is getting light earlier in the mornings, it is generally much warmer and the smell of Imphepho penetrates the air.


“Summer is here!”

The weekend before Beltaine started with a bang! I had to officiate a spiritual wedding for a lovely couple on the Saturday. The carbon paper went up in flames when the wind blew it onto the Cedar incense I like to light when I complete the official documentation. I barely managed to throw it into the sink before everything else caught fire and then the Gazebo was blown away just before we got started with the ceremony.


“Only the clouds bear testimony of the gale force wind!”

The Sunday was spent “well tending” and collecting Imphepho. I am a member of a Brighidine Order and we do beach clean ups or tend to rivers and lakes during every Celtic Fire Festival in Brighde’s name. “Only” two bags of plastic, fishing gut and other stuff was found, but I am sure there will be much more when the wind and the tides change again.



“Well tending = beach clean up”

I am so glad that the Imphepho in my area recovered from last year’s bull dozing.  After having to stretch my dried plants for almost two years, it is growing now all around me in abundance and I have started to gather plants. I use it a lot as an offering during my workings. For me personally, it embodies the genius loci and the ancestors.


“Imphepho is the Zulu and Xhosa name given to a number of herbs in the Helichrysum genus: Helichrysum odoratissimum; H. petiolare; H. nudifolium; H. pedunculatum”

At sunset on Beltaine eve, I lit my Brighde candle for my 24 hours candle vigil and my bonfire. I made offerings to Belenos and Brighde in the form of whiskey and herbs:

“Hail summer, season of light and of life. Blessed are those who stand here today, witness to the ancient rite. To everyone who passes between the flames, whether human or beast, may health and prosperity come!

May the fires bring us fields of ripe corn and fruit in abundance. May the fires bring us streams of white milk, freedom from conquest, fair justice and righteous law, comfort and abundance in every home.

May the fires bring us rivers of fish, forests filled with strong woods, great abundance of clean water, ornaments of silver and gold, rich soil, sheep with fine fleece, fat pigs and healthy cattle. May every disease and unhappiness be purged from those who walk here, in the name of Belenos and Belisama!”

Copyright 1999, Ellen Evert Hopman


“Beltaine Bonfire”

There is nothing better than sitting next to a massive bonfire and play the frame drum. The wind died down to almost nothing after another day of gale force wind just in time for the fire. The ritual left me with being utterly at peace with myself and the world and the very exciting feeling of great and new things to come.

This was confirmed by the Ogham card I drew that night:


“Uillend (Honeysuckle)” is the third Forfeda and the twenty-third letter of the Ogham. It is usually ascribed to the Honeysuckle which is also known as the Woodbine. Liz and Colin Murray said that the Honeysuckle represented hidden secrets. “Whereas the ivy is concerned with the search for self, the Honeysuckle shows the way in which to achieve this – the special dance or step that leads into the labyrinth of inner knowledge”. The Celtic Tree Oracle.




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