Last Wednesday on Mid-summer's Eve we went to Kit Hill, just East of Callington in Cornwall to watch the Cornish ceremony of the mid-summer fires.
Once at the top of the hill, which in part is an Iron Age burial mound, we were treated to 360 degree views of stunning scenery with Bodmin Moor to the West, Dartmoor to the East and the Tamar Estury to the South.
Many people had make the long trek up the hill (although there was a mini bus available) and were treated to an eclectic group of musicians whilst waiting for the ceremony to begin. At last the Master of ceremonies began his speech as the fire was lit, albeit the words have been Christianised (no doubt in times past our ancestors would have made reference to the Old Gods) and was said first in Cornish and then in English.
'According to the custom of our forefathers in days of old, behold us making our mid-summer bonfire this night in the middle of summer. Now set the pyre, at once on fire, let flame aspire in God's high name.'
The Lady of the Flowers Replies:
'In one bunch together bound flowers for burning here are found, both good and ill thousandfold let good seed spring, wicked seeds fast withering. Let this fire kill!'
TheMaster of Ceremonies then has the last word:
'Now cast the flowers!'
At this point the flowers were thrown into the fire. This was followed by several rousing Cornish songs and the evening was finally rounded off by fire twirlers, whose display looked stunning in the growing darkness as it was eleven o clock by this time.
We decided against taking the mini bus down the hill and walked the half mile or so under a waxing gibbous moon which gently lit our path and the countryside below.
It was lovely to take part in something which united the small Cornish community in which it was held but more than that, it was the feeling that we were reaching out and touching the hands of the ancestors as millennia melted away.