Among the elements represented at Beltane, Fire is the most immediately visible. The Neid Fire, the Bower hearth, every torchbearer, every fire sculpture, the Arch, Bonfire, Fire Point. It is by fire that the hill is mapped and navigated.
Spectacle and common emotional experience are, for the large part, why we enact community festivals like these. Fire, like food, is shared by its nature. If Beltane is about celebrating the turn of the wheel and the coming of summer, then it is fire which clears the winter away, everything that we no longer need, and gathers the tribe to the hearth. It transforms and transcends. It is our least trusted symbiote. The unattended and neglected burns itself out. It is not fire’s nature to burn, it is ours.
Fire offers access to the energy of chaos, that unstructured raw energy, where things are fluid and easy to enter. As the fire spins, so the world of our imaginations fires up too and we are caught in the dance of it, the simple easy rawness of it. It heats keenly and it speaks to our sensations, inspiring awe with its burning, and excitement with its spark and glow.
Fire is our most primordial of energies. It gives us warmth for shelter, the heat to cook our food on, the spark to play with, the glow to see the night by, the place to gather and hear tell our tales, whilst being our dealth and life – its blazing chaos breaking down the universe over time and fusing, forging new life. Some might celebrate Fire’s chaotic essense with the call: “Faster! with less control!”
(written by Daniel Connell and Marsh, Blue)
Featured image by Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.