Essentially Beltane by Stephanie Mathivet
I love the time of Flora. It reminds me of the song ‘Nymphs and Shepherds’ – Mancunians will know about the history of this involving local school children in the 1930s. It gives a real feeling to the joy of this time of Beltane in which we take that time out to enjoy the start of summer, when we feel the rising power of nature and her fertility at this time. Celebrating Rhiannon, Goddess of our sensuality and sexuality, is not a time of hedonic self-indulgence – although it can have some of that too – but is a time of the reclamation of our bodies and the wresting of our sacred sexuality from the harm that patriarchy has inflicted upon us. The second wave feminists said, ‘The personal is political’ and the depth of this personal liberation for women and men cannot be underestimated.
Returning to Flora we come to the flowers of June which are used in Aromatherapy as powerful essential oils and absolutes. Walking in parkland at this time, the air is perfumed with the blossom of the lime tree – known as Linden. As an absolute, the oil is expensive, but nonetheless has a beautiful aroma that transports you into mystical realms, so helps with meditation and relaxation, as it helps with reducing stress and promoting peace. It makes for a really effective facial oil for that very reason. The Jasmine shrub blossoms at this time too giving us another intensely fragrant absolute which has a variety of uses, including that of being a powerful aphrodisiac as well as being effective for skin conditions. Carnation, another exotic absolute is also an aphrodisiac, seductively intoxicating in its rich sweet scent. It is an expensive oil that is not widely used in aromatherapy, but valuable in perfumery.
It is Rose oil, both the Damascena essential oil and the deep Rose absolute, known as the Queen of oils, that really comes into her own during the Beltane season. Rose has the reputation of having great affinity with a woman’s body, helping with everything from menstrual problems to menopause. It is also aphrodisiac and promotes a sense of sensuous well-being. I like to think of Rose oil also as a mothering oil as it reaches the heart, the loving heart and the hurt or broken heart in need of nurturing and healing. For this reason, it is a most helpful oil where there has been injurious sexual experience of child abuse or rape, domestic violence or any experience of violation to the female body including the pain suffered through suppression of sexuality and gender identity. I feel that Rose oil is a gift from Rhiannon to heal the feminine in all of us, but most of all those whose lived experiences as women has known the pain and suffering endured in a patriarchal world. To be enrapt in the heart essence of Rose is to experience the healing love of the plant, of nature, of the Goddess no less.
But the spirit of Beltane also has a lighter mode and what better expression in the light fresh aroma of Geranium, balancer of mood, emotion and bodily process that blends well with any of the above mentioned absolutes, but on her own, Geranium reminds is that Beltane is Flora’s holiday, a time to be happy and in the words of the song’s author, William Turner.
‘Lightly we tread o’er all the ground
With music, with dancing and with poetry.
Then we trip round with merry sound,
And pass the day in jollity.’
Our workshop exploring the oils of this season, ‘Essentially Beltane’ will take place on the 2nd May from 2-4pm in the Rhiannon Room, Goddess House, Glastonbury. £5.