from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 1 May 2011

a Beltane blog (inc poem)

cernunnos the horned god (gundestrup cauldron)

It's Beltane, May 1st. In the Celtic calendar the cross-quarters dates – those sitting midway between the equinoxes and the solstices – are as significant as the quarter dates. These four fire festivals, occurring on February 2nd (Imbolc), May 1st (Beltane), August 1st (Lughnasadh) and November 1st (Samhain), are also threshold times.

Beltane is of course dedicated to Bel, the Celtic sun god, 'Shining One'; and is also associated with Cernunnos, the horned god of the Mother Goddess. It occurs to me to wonder whether there is an etymological connection with Abellio, the fertility god of apple trees, and whom I mention in my blog posted close to Imbolc, in early February. 

Lugh on August 1st is also a fire god, the fires at maximum waxing point in terms of the early harvest. I have no evidence for this other than a general hunch based on a long study of myth and archetype, and I don't have the time right now to research it, but it occurs to me that the period of time from November 1st to April 30th, and including Imbolc, February 2nd (incidentally all these festivals begin the evening before) is the time of the Goddess (that is, the receptive feminine principle), and 'overseen' by goddesses rather than gods (representing the active masculine principle); so we have Cailleach, the crone (another aspect of the Triple Goddess associated too with Ceridwen) presiding over Samhain, and Bride/Bridget over Imbolc. During this time we, like the earth in the Celtic Northern Hemisphere, turn away from brightness and extraversion, and make the Underworld journey into the feminine realm ready to be reborn with the returning of the light. Now, however, is the time to light the Beltane fires (well, last night really), jump through them, and continue the growth begun at Eostre with the symbolic fertility rites.

Another thing worth mentioning is that Beltane is the old Celtic midsummer of the year begun on November 1st.

The Somerset Levels, West Of Glastonbury
Beltane (reprise)


Not a leaf moves; not a bird calls.
            I don’t know how long
we stare at each other.
            We don’t know how long we have.
There is a drumbeat passes
from cell to cell
             a hot wind hopscotching
                        over the synapses.

Then again driving the Summer Country
                        with its tides of blossom
                                    – may, cherry, apple

towards dusk
            where couples wind the Tor’s mazey way

and swans pair on the marshes

­– Bel rolling his fiery disc
                        down to join the Atlantic

and me on the road again
                                    and a flood of green
                                                in the fields


– wanting to speed
            to squeeze the last millimetre
                                    from the engine, the day

to reach the water before night does


the horses of winter and summer
                        battling it out

            then the horned stag
leaping the ditch and across in front of the car
            where I slew and slow

collect myself again

                        ­– and then another


I remember your hands


listen – somewhere there is a question
                        knocking      and knocking.

silence your heart
            and listen
            with all of yourself.


winds and moons that drive you to madness
            and love
                        which is always a form of madness.


            I stand in the stream’s conversation
bruised wild carrot and water mint
                        wild watercress peppery on my tongue
                                    the astringency of wood sorrel

buzzard lifting off from the broadcast drift of windflower and bluebell
            something squeaking in vain
                                                Bel is back in the watered sky

– and look, on the path, a glow-worm
            drab in the haze of daylight
                                    recharging its cells
            for its small terrestrial shining
                        its pinprick contribution
            to the sum of light in the world


            This will go on
                                    wherever you are
            wherever or whatever I am
                        or am not.

Roselle Angwin (May 2005)

A version of this poem appears this month, May 2011, in Bardo, my new collection from Shearsman


  1. Nice creations. I love the way of describing the way of description. Loved the post. Thanks a lot.

  2. That's a kind comment! Thank you.


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