Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," on the way to gay May! Hooray!
Beltaine is one of the primary holidays in honor of the bored deities of the Celtic pantheon. Properly done, it's a merry time of thanksgiving for the renewal of life and a time to spring into action, to get things done while the sun shines.
My Druid Grove, Coille dhe Darach Dhubh ("Grove of the Black Oak") holds its ceremonies in a lovely parkland west of Philadelphia. The park has 16 picnic grounds. We always meet at Area 14, where there's a broad field on one side and woods on the other.
Today we met for Beltaine, and it appeared that our Ritual would be disturbed by a group of rowdy young fellows who were embarking on a barbecue. So we moved deeper into the woods. Which seems to me to be a very Druidic thing to do.
About 200 yards from our usual Ritual site, we found a little clearing. Around this clearing are numerous birches that have been carved with initials, hearts, this and that -- you know how it is with those smooth-barked trees. People will hack at them, you just can't stop it.
Should Druids find tree graffiti alarming? Naaah. Seems like it hasn't harmed the trees, so why get huffy about it?
One of our members floated a little farther afield and found a younger birch with very small, meticulously-crafted carving. The message on the tree said:
Hmmm. Bunch of Druids wandering around in the woods stumble upon a tree with exquisite carving, and a riddle at that. Let's take a leap of faith, shall we?
It's a faerie portal. Find the right tree, and the right key, and you'll slip through the veil that separates people and faeries.
Of course there are many ways to part the veil. Next weekend the faeries will be celebrated lavishly at the Spoutwood Fairy Festival. But faeries can be anywhere. They especially like to be among people who respect them and entertain them.
After our Rituals conclude, we members of Coille dhe Darach Dubh like to do a round-robin toast, using sparkling cider. We pass the cup and offer a toast, and the person who drinks the last of it must pay a forfeit.
Today the forfeit fell upon Michael, he who had found the faerie portal. Michael brought his guitar. The forfeit was that he had to play and sing. But not just any song. He had to play and sing the silliest songs in his repertoire.
Michael promptly performed the forfeit brilliantly. He had the rest of us howling with some quite inventive stuff. Out crept the resident faeries, and they greatly appreciated the witty performance. I believe that these faeries have followed me home in anticipation of next week's festival.
I've spent a lot of time in the woods, and I've seen probably hundreds of birches with carvings on them. Never have I seen anything like this tree and its cunning riddle. What's even more remarkable is that you can't read the riddle if you stand too close to the tree. You have to move back and study it.
So I say to the faeries:
Which is your TREE
What is your key
Is my key
Travel to it