You are sitting in a small meadow, waiting with many others for the Beltane ritual to begin. Your feet are bare in the grass, a soft, green carpet, and you run your soles over the smoothness. A grasshopper bounds away from your intruding paw, and you render it an amused apology. The sun is fine and warm, a welcome thing after the cool, wet days of April. The air smells fresh and clean, full of the droning of bees and chirping of birds as the liveliness of spring emerges.
Across the green, the drummers gather, chatting animatedly, readying their instruments to add music to the day. A consensus is reached, and the big, deep voice of the djun djuns booms out, setting the pace. Djembes and ashikos quickly follow, adding rhythm and counterpoint. Shakers are taken up and make the music more full. Someone begins to play a lively tune on a flute, picking up on the drummers’ beat. Several people, men and women both, begin to dance; their movements are graceful and energetic. Feet stomp, skirts swirl, and arms wave in joyous abandon.
The music is entrancing, and you find yourself drifting. The murmur of voices creates a drone that relaxes you further, and you ease yourself back on the grass. Your breathing deepens, and your back conforms to the contours of the soft ground beneath you. You close your eyes and see the red of the sweet May sun behind your lids. Your heart twins the beat of the deep drums, and you slide away into dreaming.
You open your eyes to find yourself lying in a different meadow, the drumming a distant sound. You sit up and look around you. Tiny yellow butterflies chase one another over the waving grasses and birds sing in the nearby trees. No one else is present, and you feel the desire to return to your own meadow and the drumming. But as you get up, two people emerge from the trees, a man and a woman; she in a gown of pale blue with a crown of ivy, he in deep green with oak leaves twined in his hair. They smile at you and beckon you forward, and you join them at the center of the green.
“Welcome are you on this Beltane day,” the Lady says to you, the blue in her eyes intensified by the color of her dress. “You are come at a special time, and glad are we that you shall witness this rite.”
“Indeed, welcome,” says the Lord, reaching out to grasp your shoulder and giving it a friendly squeeze. “This is the day that my Lady and I join as one, to further the turning of the Wheel.”
You feel quite honored to be a witness to such a special occasion, and you step back a bit to give them space.
The Lord turns to face his Lady, and the love between them is nearly palpable. The glow of affection in their eyes radiates beyond their bodies and includes you in the love. He takes her hands in his, and begins to speak.
“Greatest of my heart, the Wheel has turned yet again to Beltane, and on this day, once more I ask you to join me in the never-ending dance of life, death, and rebirth.”
Her voice is like a bell, clear, and full of emotion. “My Beloved, we have walked this road together for ages uncountable, and shall walk on together for eternity.”
“My love for you is immeasurable,” he says. “Brighter than the sun, richer than the most beautiful music, deeper than space; this is what I feel for you.”
She replies, “As infinite as grains of sand are the days I shall love you. Unmovable as a mountain is my faith in our love, and pure as the crystal waters that flow deep in the belly of the earth.”
“I would give my life for you,” he offers her.
“And I for you,” she says.
“Will you again handfast to me, my love? Will you once more join your path with mine, that we may share all that the future brings?” asks the Lord.
“With all of my heart, I accept your hand, sweet husband,” she replies. “Never shall I part from you, not even in death.”
They embrace and share a long kiss. You drop your eyes to give them a private moment, and when you look again, they have turned their faces toward you. The Lady speaks.
“Here you have seen us pledge ourselves, one to the other, as we do here at every Beltane. Since time began, we have made this yearly promise, that the land shall be fertile and life shall continue.”
“We are seed and soil, fruit and tree,” says the Lord. “We are the warming sun and the nourishing rains. Without our love, surely would the earth perish and all life cease.”
“You, too, are part of this cycle,” the Lady says to you. “By your actions are others affected, and by your love do they heal and grow and flourish. Temper all of your actions with compassion and answer anger and adversity with love.”
She strokes your hair lovingly and the dream begins to fade. But the feeling of being touched lingers and grows. You come back to yourself, open one eye, and find that a dear friend is sitting beside you, petting your head.
“It’s time for ritual, sleepyhead” she says fondly, and stands, holding out a hand to help you up. You rise and join the forming circle as the leader calls out a Beltane greeting to all.