Beltane, Maypoles and Labyrinths

Maypole Mayhem may morph to magical moments

I discovered our maypole in the basement at the Unitarian Church, and haven’t looked back! Here’s a good article about the connections between Beltane (May Day), Maypole Dancing and Labyrinth Walking/Dancing.

The view looking up as the weaving began.

Here are some photos of us dancing outdoors on Sunday, April 16, 2017. What fun!

The Maypole in the centre courtyard at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver–ready for dancing. It was windy, so although we didn’t light candles, we used them to hold down the scarves on the table top.

Thanks to Anne Catherine and Andre for facilitating dances around the Maypole (technically “Aprilpole”) and on our garden labyrinth. Wonderful to have these cross-Canada connections.

We did more Maypole dancing on Tuesday May 2 7 – 9 pm and on Sunday morning April 30. For people who have never danced (or even watched) maypole dancing, a key concept is: Once you start, you always continue in the same direction.

At the evening circle dance, we went through a sequence that helps people get the basics before trying their hands– and feet– at weaving.

I emphasized our circle dance mantra: There are no wrong steps only variations and encouraged people to do whatever they liked with their feet: skipping; waltzing; just walking! I think that helped them pay attention to their hands where wrong “steps” can become a bit of a problem.

I selected appropriate music (May Song; Lady of the Season’s Laughter; Huron Beltane Fire Dance; We are the Weavers; We are the Web) and then either played it twice or spliced it in the middle with a pause to mark the unwinding part.

  1. Barber pole: We started by just all going in the same direction all together. And then unwound.

2. Then half the people went into the centre. Those people went clockwise while the outer circle went counterclockwise.

It helps to start with people facing a partner and then ask the people facing in one direction to step in. Tell them, they’ll be staying in the centre for this dance. No weaving yet! And then we unwound.

3. Finally we did the weave/plait pattern. and unwound.

People were pretty pleased with themselves. It’s easier than it looks to unwind. Even if there were a few errors — over instead of under — you just look up and can see whether your next move is over or under.

Before unwinding, I joked, “If we did the weaving perfectly, we should be able to do the unweaving perfectly.” Everyone laughed as they knew it wasn’t perfect!

4. THEN I asked the group if they were willing to try an experiment. I adapted “Bells of Norwich”. Basically instead of going back and forth for the first two patterns, you continue on and weave as you go. Half the group going clockwise and half counter-clockwise. We stop weaving and form a circle, at the part where we “ring out” by rocking forward and back and then in our own little circle turning around to “all shall be well again”.  Because it’s a familiar–and much loved–dance, people really got into it. Not sure it would work as well if people didn’t already know the standard dance, although it probably doesn’t matter if they’re doing the right steps, just so long as we’re all ringing out together and turning together.

Tread Gently with the animals in the centre.

Our circle dance mentor Corinne remarked that other dances could be adapted to do around the maypole. I’ll look forward to hearing if you do that. Next year!

The Source (Mummers’ Dance) by Loreena McKennitt

And in case you’re enthusiastic but have “missed” May…  In Scandinavian traditions they dance around a tree or pole for midsummer (summer solstice), so the re can be Junepoles as well as Maypoles and Aprilpoles!

Then at GLAD on Thursday, May 18 11 am – 1 pm we painted the base of the maypole. The black PVC pipe has white markings on it–rather institutional. So I think brown like bark and then flowers on the top of the table. We’re considering whether duct tape or ribbon might be better than paint, so it doesn’t rub off on the ribbon.

Dancing the Labyrinth

On April 16, 2017, (Easter Sunday) sixteen people danced the pilgrim step (3 forward; 1 back) to music of Greensleeves on our double processional labyrinth: eight people starting from each end.

It’s the most number of people who have been on the labyrinth at any one time.

I hope to change that on Worldwide Labyrinth Day May 6: Walk as One at One.

Interested in labyrinth walking/dancing or maypole dancing? Contact me at if you’re interested.

I have more information about labyrinths at my art website – There’s a page and also posts, so just search “labyrinth” and you should find lots of images and information.


Tread Gently with children and others in centre being deer, fish, birds and phoenix!


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