I was privileged to take part in a Beltane ceremony a few days ago with Peter Pracownik and Nicola-Clare Lydon at their lovely home near Tintagel in Cornwall. The ceremony was to be one of those everyone welcome, easily accessible Pagan affairs. A section of their large garden, overlooking the rugged Cornish coastline had been prepared; the Bel fire was lit and the kids climbing frame had been transformed, through the skilful use of ribbons and poles, into a playful pentagram guarding the Southern watchtower. Around 30 people were present, some from as far away as the Mendip hills and Bristol but the majority were folk from the north shore of the Devon/Cornwall border.
This style of open, highly accessible ritual is worlds away from the more ‘hardcore’ experimental ritual that I often choose to write about. But one should never underestimate the power of these ceremonies. To begin with I was struck by just how many Pagan types turned up. The site for the ritual was glorious and the heavy rains of April had abated for the day. Chatting to people present I found out that there is quite a little community forming in regions such as these. Where job opportunities are few, a culture of barter is emerging out of necessity, and not just within the Pagan ghetto. It was also apparent from the discussions I overheard that many of these people were living at least part of their year in the woods, on small parcels of land, and using these areas to produce food and other resources. Without any apparent need to be part of a formal organisation, a network of sustainable mutual support appears to be growing.
As we stood in the circle and people had time to say something, that there were some heart-felt and powerful statements being made. It’s always a good reminder (especially for someone like me who is used to doing ceremony with very experienced practitioners) that ritual is a basic human process. You don’t need to be steeped in the culture of occultism to make sense of, or have a profoundly transformative experience in the magick circle. People laughed, they cried, they spoke of pain and of hope. By the time we’d gone round the circle everyone had contributed something and I was left feeling inspired by much of what I’d heard. So I’d like to offer my thanks for Peter and Nicola and indeed all those people who take it upon themselves to create open Pagan ritual spaces. These events are profoundly important for many people and serve as anchors for an emerging community of support, tolerance and
mutual aid. Thank you all.
Peter and Nichola’s artwork can be seen here:.