Also known as May
Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It
celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess
manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and
Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole
itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors
are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility,
sensuality, and delight.
Prepare a May basket
by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need
of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Form a wreath of
freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating
joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors. Dance the Maypole and feel yourself
balancing the Divine Female and Male within. On May Eve, bless your garden
in the old way by making love with your lover in it. Make a wish as you jump
a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Welcome in the May at dawn with
singing and dancing.
The Return of the Sun...
is an anglicization of the Irish "Bealtaine" or the Scottish "Bealtuinn."
While "tene" clearly means "fire," nobody really knows whether Bel
refers to Belenus, a pastoral god of the Gauls, or is from "bel," simply
meaning "brilliant." It might even derive from "bil tene" or "lucky
fire" because to jump between two Beltane fires was sure to bring good
fortune, health to your livestock, and prosperity.
When the Druids and their successors raised
the Beltane fires on hilltops throughout the British Isles
on May Eve, they were performing a real act of magic, for the fires were
lit in order to bring the sun’s light
down to earth. In Scotland, every fire in the household was
extinguished, and the great fires were lit from
the need-fire which was kindled by 3 times 3 dancers using wood from
the nine sacred trees. When the wood
burst into flames, it proclaimed the triumph of the light over the dark
half of the year.
Then the whole hillside came alive as people
thrust brands into the newly roaring flames and whirled them
about their heads in imitation of the circling of the sun. If any one
there was planning a long journey or
dangerous undertaking, they leaped backwards and forwards three times
through the fire for luck. As the fire sunk low,
the girls jumped across it to procure good husbands; pregnant women
stepped through it to ensure
an easy birth, and children were also carried across the smoldering
ashes. When the fire died down,
the embers were thrown among the sprouting crops to protect them, while
each household carried some back
to kindle a new fire in their hearth. When the sun rose that dawn, those
who had stayed up to watch it
might see it whirl three times upon the horizon before leaping up in all
its summer glory.
...The Rites of Spring
was a time of fertility and unbridled merrymaking,
when young and old would spend the night
making love in the Greenwood. In the morning, they would return to the
village bearing huge budding boughs
of hawthorn (the mayflower-tree) and other spring flowers with which to bedeck
themselves, their families,
and their houses. They would process back home, stopping at each house
to leave flowers, and enjoy
the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. In every village,
the maypole—usually a birch or ash pole—
was raised, and dancing and feasting began. Festivities were led by the
May Queen and her consort, the King who was sometimes Jack-in-the-Green, or the Green Man, the old
god of the wildwood. They were
borne in state
through the village in a cart covered with flowers and
enthroned in a leafy arbor as the divine couple
whose unity symbolized the sacred marriage of earth and sun.
TO CELEBRATE BELTANE TODAY...
Arise at dawn and wash in the morning dew: the
woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful;
the man who washes his hands will be skilled
with knots and nets.
If you live near water, make a garland or
posy of spring flowers and cast it into stream, lake or river to bless
the water spirits.
Prepare a May basket by filling it with
flowers and goodwill, then give it to one in need of caring, such as a
shut-in or elderly friend.
Beltane is one of the three "spirit-nights" of the year when the faeries
can be seen.
dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through
it, and you may see them.
Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle
flame for good luck—but make sure you tie up long skirts first!
Make a May bowl —wine or punch in which the
flowers of sweet woodruff or other fragrant blossoms are soaked—and
drink with the one you love.