The Curse of the Cuckoo?
Feile Na Bealtaine has come and gone. The festival offered music, art openings, book launches, poetry readings, children's activities, lectures and demonstrations. According to the Celtic calendar, Bealtaine is the time when we emerge from the darkness, all of the inner work we've done throughout the winter ready now to be brought into the light. It's a time to take the lessons, ideas, etc. that we've experienced during the winter months, and step boldly into the light to claim ourselves and our gifts. Fitting that the celebration would offer just that. A chance for artists, musicians, poets, writers, and me to come together and celebrate the light and offer our gifts to the world.
On the morning of the eve of Bealtaine I participated in a nature attunement, meditation and walk. It was an incredible way for me to begin this celebration of the light. Later, I attended a lecture about the various seasons, celebrations, and myths associated with the Celtic calendar. Again, it was not only informative but exciting and affirming as I stepped over the lighted altar on the floor leaving the winter darkness behind, confidently stepping into the light with my own gifts. The day ended with the traditional music, dance and costume around a bonfire, welcoming Bealtaine. The book I'm working on will follow my experiences here outlined by the Celtic calendar, so I won't go into too much detail. Just know that it was an incredible day that reinforced not only the work I've done during the recent darkness but also the need to step into the light with all of the gifts I have to offer. Then I'll be ready to realize it all with the celebration of the harvest in a few months. Such a great way for us all to celebrate the seasons in a deeply connected way.
So, now it's summer or so the calendar suggests. The last few weeks the weather has been absolutely bizarre. And did I mention cold? I actually got out my winter coat and hat for the Bealtaine bonfire. That came after a light jacket in the morning rain and wind. At one point sleet fell and gathered on the ground until the sun came out and everything was calm. Not much later winds howled and dark clouds covered any hint of warmth from the sun. Wild weather.
Then, I learned from a friend it was the Scaraveen, or garbh shion na gcuach. It seems to be a phenomenon experienced in Dingle, or perhaps the whole of County Kerry. From mid-April through mid-May one can expect a return to the cold harshness of winter. In fact, it's likely that each of the seasons would be experienced within a single twenty-four hour period. We have certainly experienced a few of those days. And there seems to be a connection to the return of the cuckoo bird to Ireland in the spring. But what does the weather have to do with the cuckoo bird you ask?
Apparently, the cuckoo is not a very nice bird laying her eggs in the nests of songbirds and once her chicks are hatched she knocks the other chicks out of the nest and allows the songbirds to feed her own young. Legend suggests that the return to harsh, cold winter like weather, is nature's way of exacting retribution for the trouble the cuckoo causes in the bird world. Whether or not the cuckoo bird is the cause of the Scaraveen I don't know but what I do know is it has been the coldest April in decades, and we are now supposed to be seeing a mini heat wave. At the moment, it's warm, humid and well, raining...but it has been COLD.
As you can see it's been a busy time here in Dingle. With visitors coming and going I have been lax in writing, so I hope this quick catch up won't be a disappointment. I'll work on not being weeks between posts...and I hope wherever you are you're enjoying the light of the summer, while standing proudly in all that you have to offer the world, readying to reap the rewards at the harvest.