Fitting, perhaps, for the Beltane weekend, that the final mile of my Collie walk was graced with this turning of the earth of the river path to reveal the most beautiful ochre-gold of sunset across the ground.

Shortly after, we crossed the old bridge. Tess went down to the water to drink, photo-bombing my carefully framed attempt at a ‘Constable shot’.

It was then I realised that we’d had two of the ‘alchemical’ elements, Earth and Water. Never really about the literal words, these are ‘trigger symbols’ for psychological and energetic states. This quaternary of four elements is important to anyone who delves into humanity’s emotional and mental origins. They are rightly prized at all major points of the solar year, and the May Day (Beltane) festivals are key to the return of the Sun.

I set off, again, wondering if there could possibly be equally good photo opportunities of the other two ‘elements’. I need not have worried. The Beltane fairy-folk were obviously present to guide my steps…

Leaving the river behind, we climbed up through the rapidly darkening meadow to the towpath of the former Preston-Kendal canal. I felt a brush of faint warmth at my back and turned to see the western horizon ablaze. Sunsets don’t always photograph well with phone cameras, but this one did…

(Above: I had my perfect Alchemical Fire)

Through the small wood, then back into the open meadow to the edge of the village. I was still missing an experience and an image that corresponded with alchemical air… and then I remembered that, at the start of the walk, I had stopped to set the camera at ground level in order to capture a dandelion seed head in a way that mirrored its spherical shape with the distance sun. At the time, I had just put the iPhone back into my pocket.

Now, at the end of the walk, I had chance to see what I had recorded. Sure enough, there was as good an image for alchemical air as you could wish for.

My journey was complete. I hope your May Day was filled with the delights of this special time, when, in the ancient calendars, the spring gave way to summer

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

22 Comments on “A May Day walk with the elements

    • Yes, Robbie. We forget how beautiful these humble ‘weeds’ can be. Also, they have survived a huge length of time on the Earth!


  1. Beautiful. I love dandelions–I don’t know why people are always trying to erase them from their lawns. Luckily they roam free in the parks. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

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