The 11th Beltaine Wickerman on Escapades Island

Fantasy Faire has a habit of being on during the first of May, which ends up pushing the Escapades Island traditional Wickerman Experience back a week.

So it was that the 11th Beltaine Wickerman festival kicked off last saturday. I’m still surprised how many come to this simple 2 hours experience of holding a torch and walking up a virtual hill to watch a virtual wickerman burn and fall apart.

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There was nothing new about it, nothing different, but then i guess thats the lasting appeal. It’s always the same, it feels like tradition for as much as a tradition in a virtual world can be.

This year for the first time the event was filmed. I don’t know if this will cause the year to be cursed but if you would like to watch what a Virtual World tradition looks like, check out Richardus Haymakers awesome video of this years Beltaine Wickerman.

The 10th Beltaine Wickerman on Escapades Island

The Wickerman at Beltaine is the oldest tradition I’m involved with in Second Life. Each year friends old and new parade up the mountain side to light and burn the great wickerman. We first did this for fun with a small group of new friends, little did we know 10 years later we’d still be doing it in Virtual Space.

It’s a simple experience that new friends look upon with wonder while old friends look forward to with glee. While i spend most of it making sure everything falls apart in order i do enjoy logging out and heading to the SLfeed to check out what snapshots were posted capturing the different views of the same event.

Here are a selection of images taken by friends from yesterdays event.

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“See to your left and then to your right.

we all share this moment this night.

Honour those who have joined us this past year, and remember those who are no longer standing amongst us here.

Watch the Wickerman burn, and let your heart rejoice at springs return.

Beltaine blessings to each and everyone, and hear us cry…

BELTAINE, BELTAINE, BELTAINE!!!”

The 9th Burning of the Beltaine Wickerman.

BT0During Fantasy Faire opening weekend it was also the Escapades annual burning of the Wickerman which has occurred in Second Life every beginning of May for the past 8 years. Annual events like this are a great way to gage performance and stability of the grid. This year nothing went wrong, and for me at least there was no lag even though we had more people than ever turn up for the Parade up the mountain side to where the Wickerman waited. Performance and technology aside, the Beltaine experience is a spiritual one. No matter where in the world and what religious baggage your culture has, In Second Life on top of Escapades mountain it’s all about the immersive memories shared with your friends there on the night. It’s a simple experience where you just have to be there with others and watch as the wickerman burns and slowly falls apart while hearing emotive music and the sounds of cheers. I think its that simplicity that allows people to become so in the moment and come away with such a striking a memorable experience. Once the parade of torch bearers arrived on top of the volcanic hill the group met Dogstar who gave a few words before setting the wireman ablaze.

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Greetings visitors, it is time for your appointment with the wickerman.

I am Dogstar lessa Sidhe of the seelie court of the Island and i welcome all.

We stand together this day once again.  Look to your left… look to your right…

No matter who you are or where you truly are, we all share this moment this night. 

This is the moment we think of those who are no longer here to share this moment.

This is the moment we appreciate those who stand beside us and share this moment.

Give way the cold, let the thaw begin, As Winter transforms to Spring again. 

Let all creatures of cold slumber rise, And feathers on wings fill the skies.

The wicker man is set upon high, burnt to send wishes to the sky,

Beltaine brings the passion to grow, to reap the benefits of seeds we sow. 

Beltaine blessings to each and everyone, and hear us cry BELTAINE!! BELTAINE!!  BELTAINE!!

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It was great seeing snapshots on SLfeed after the experience, seeing everyones different perspectives showed how similar everyones experience of the event was. I don’t film this because it’s something you have to experience. Below are some snapshots taken by those who took part in the 9th Beltaine Wikerman.

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Escapades Beltaine Wickerman 2013

It’s become a greatly anticipated event to those who have experienced it before and each year the crowd grows in numbers.

I’d say this year it was double the size of last year and thanks to the SLfeed we even had people pop up who just randomly caught a post promoting the event minutes before it started.

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This was the 8th Beltaine wickerman on the island and the basic premiss hasn’t changed at all. We all meet on the beach, hold burning torches and march up the hill to the wicker man then listen to a speech about saying good bye to the past and welcoming the summer months.

Each year i try to add something new and this time i created some antler hats and warrior painted tattoos to give it a more feral feeling.

I dont think the events pagan origins are what draws the crowd,  its the intense immersive experience. The parade, the fire, the music the setting sun and the words spoken in the ritual are all packed into a condensed 30 minutes. There is no room to step back from it or you risk missing something so instead you are drawn deep into it.

The event also draws upon friendships and camaraderie. Dogstar the Fae’s speech is all about remembering those who have been lost in the previous year, and encourages those present to appreciate the ones stood beside them now as friends experiencing the same thing. This makes the whole event personal.

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When you logout of SL and your memory is one of colour, sound and friends rather than chat boxes, crashing and missing prims then you’ve truely had an experience and thats why i think so many love the Wickerman event.

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I never document this event in video, it’s one where ive decided you must experience it for yourself.

Take care of each other over these summer months 🙂

BELTAINE, BELTAINE BELTAINE!

The Escapades Beltane Wickerman 2012 #SL

Once again the Goonies & friends gathered on Escapades Island to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of Spring heralding the start of the Summer Months. It’s an odd time of the year and in a way this feels more like a new year than that forced celebration in January. The Beltaine Wickerman is more personal celebration in Second Life and many look forward to it as it symbolises their connection to SL.

photos taken by Yti, Nat &Teddy

The event  calls for reflection of the past year and of looking forward to the future, something that had more relevance this year. Not only has Second Life been through massive changes during the last year but many of my friends including myself lost very important friends and family.

While some fellow SL users have gone off on their own paths, they still took time to come and amongst friends on Escapades Mountain. There where also great new friends who have arrived during the past year and enjoyed the atmosphere of their first ever Beltaine Wickerman.

 

dance with me, my darling
as the winds of change arrive
and wipes so very clean
the frozen slate of time.

the wind is but the brush
the colors ever-changing.
can’t you hear the rush
of spring flowers blooming?

gone now is the winter chill
representing more than you know.
whatever comes is what will…
say farewell to falling snow!

by ~Audra~

 

Standing with all the people on the Mountain watching the Wickerman Burn and collapse, it was clear to me SL is far from dead or dying.