With a burst of sunshine and colour, the festival of Beltane is upon us!
Those stubborn cold months have FINALLY released their grip and warmer climes are at last bringing our land to abundance.
One happy benefit of the delayed Spring this year has been a rare opportunity to enjoy Spring AND Summer flowers adorning our gardens and parks side by side. It's added even more magic to Nature! Daffodils and snowdrops are dancing with tulips and bluebells in our local woods...it's such a lovely sight, you can almost hear the music of their waltz!
And it's not only flowers who are dancing with the arrival of Beltane!
Old 'Jack in the Green' has cast aside his winter coat and is getting ready to dance his merry Summer jig. So too are the Morris Men...pulling on their colourful tatters and ankle bells eager to call forth sunshine to warm our spirits.
A whole wealth of rural traditions surrounding the Green Man are celebrated during Beltane....it's a time for everyone to come together and enjoy the great outdoors. Festivities, music, food and friendship...all to welcome the youthful season and have fun.
Symbolically, Beltane marks the union of the God and Goddess.
As the lovers meet, their fruitful passion will carry our year on till they hand fast at Midsummer...our next turn of the Wheel. And joining the Goddess and God, and all creatures in Nature, our own human passions are stirring too. It's a time for romance, creativity and artfulness. Time to walk the woods, splash in the sea, paint a picture or write a poem. Whatever you do and however you express your joy at Beltane...ENJOY IT!!
(Just to remind everyone...if you're having difficulty reading text on this page, please left click and hold at the start of the block of text you'd like to read, and drag the cursor across the text to highlight it.)
Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It's a fire festival that celebrates the arrival of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.
Other festivities involved fire... which was thought to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. Cattle were often passed between two fires and the properties of the flame and the smoke were seen to ensure the fertility of the herd.
Today Pagans believe that at Beltane the God achieves the strength and maturity to court and become lover to the Goddess. So although what happens in the fields has lost its significance for most Pagans today, the creation of fertility is still an important issue.
Emma Restall Orr, a modern day Druid, speaks of the 'fertility of our personal creativity'. (Spirits of the Sacred Grove, pub. Thorsons, 1998, pg.110). She is referring to the need for active and creative lives. We need fertile minds for our work, our families and our interests.
Fire is still the most important element of most Beltane celebrations and there are many traditions associated with it. It is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalise. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year.
Although Beltane is the most overtly sexual festival, Pagans rarely use sex in their rituals although rituals often imply sex and fertility. The tradition of dancing round the maypole contains sexual imagery and is still very popular with modern Pagans.
The largest Beltane celebrations in the UK are held in Edinburgh. Fires are lit at night and festivities carry on until dawn. All around the UK fires are lit and private celebrations are held amongst covens and groves (groups of Pagans) to mark the start of the summer.
For the rest of Breaca's article on Beltane, including the various associations and correspondences associated with this Sabbat, see here
See here for a transcript of one of Celtic Moon's early Beltane Rituals
For Information on this weekend's May Day Celebrations in Rochester & Hastings, Click the links below:
Whatever you are doing to Celebrate Beltane and the Pagan start of Summer, I truly hope it is Blessed with Love & Light!
If you happen to be at Rochester Sweep's Fest on Monday 6th May and you spot any of our Circle members there, be sure to say hail & blessed be!