Beltaine

Beltane Correspondences

April, 2011

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldronStones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartzColors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

Beltaine Correspondences

May, 2010

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldronStones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

Beltane Night

May, 2010

From hillside to hillside

Light touching light

She will awake

Hear the drums

On Beltane night

Ribbons dancing

Becoming entwined

Swirling and turning

Under and over

Slowly weaving

Like the flower and the vine

On the horizon

Fires of the nine

Heather so did burn

Sing to the Dawn

Light to purify

One with the Divine


Faeries, Elves, and Other Kin

May, 2010

May Eve:  First Faerie Festival of the Year

To ancient Celts, the first day of May was the first day of summer.  In Irish Gaelic, “Mí Bhealtaine” means “month of May.”  Thus it is that many neo-pagans celebrate Beltane, also known as May Day (among many other names), on May 1st.  However, Beltane may be celebrated on May 11th (“Old May” in Ireland), May 15th (Scotland after the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar) or on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice (which is April 28th in 2010).

May Eve (Beltane) is the first of the three yearly Faerie Realm festivals.  The other two festivals occur on Midsummer’s Eve and November Eve (Samhain).  In ancient Celtics countries, a new day began at sunset, so the “eve” of a day was not “the day before” as we calculate time today.  Thus, “May Eve” and “May Day” occurred on the same “day.”  Ancient Celts also recognized only two seasons of the year:  summer and winter.  As such, Beltane and Samhain are pivotal dates of the calendar year for human folk.

These luminal dates also signal a great change in the Faerie Realm.  From May Eve to November Eve, the Seelie Court reigns supreme.  From November Eve to May Eve, the Unseelie Court holds sway.

The most significant difference between the two Courts is compassion, and the lack thereof.  The Seelie Court exhibits profound compassion for humans, whereas the Unseelie Court is pitiless.  Like the Unseelie Court, however, the Seelie are swift to retaliate for an injury or insult.  They also are not beneath stealing cattle or borrowing whatever they want from humans, which includes using humans for their own purposes (as obscure as those purposes may be).  Even Seelie faeries hold to the saying, “All that’s yours is mine; all that’s mine is my own,” though among themselves stealing is verboten.

As a rule, however, we can rely on Seelie faeries to be helpful and fair in their dealings with us.  Unlike the Unseelie fae, they return the things they borrow, show gratitude for kindnesses we bestow upon them, provide patronage to those who find true love, show delight in music and dancing, and display an appreciation for neatness, order, beauty and fertility.  Since Beltane is a festival of fertility to promote the bountiful crops planted at the beginning of spring, it is entirely appropriate that the Seelie Court emerges on this day to help us celebrate love, lust and life.

As May Eve heralds the reawakening of the Faerie Realm and Seelie Court from winter’s grasp, Midsummer’s Eve celebrates the recovery of their full strength from winter’s travails.  Then on November Eve, the Unseelie Court makes its pass through mortal lands on the Wild Hunt before the hand of winter closes its fist.  As so the wheel of the year turns, even for the fae.

It is on these dates that the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest, when the two worlds intermingle and unite, and wild magic abounds.  These are the times when the fae are most accessible and visible–look through a sprig of rowan twisted into a ring and seek the fae at dusk to better your chances of getting a peek.  However, be forewarned that neither Seelie nor Unseelie fae like to be watched and may consider this an infringement on their privacy for which you might be rebuked.

This is also a favored time for the Queen of Faerie to ride out on her favorite white horse, seeking one of us to venture away with her to the Summerland.  Sit beneath a tree on May Eve and you may see her or hear the sound of her horse’s bells as she rides through the night.  Should you actually meet with her, hide your face and she will pass you by; look at her, however, and her unearthly beauty will ensnare you.  She may then choose you to journey with her to the Summerland where you must not eat, nor drink nor speak for seven years.  At the end of seven years, you may become a tithe to Hell and lose your life, or perhaps be rescued like Tam Lin.  If you’re very fortunate and the Queen grants you a special dispensation, you may gain your freedom, along with the gift of prophecy, like Thomas the Rhymer.  However, eat, drink or speak, and you will never be allowed to leave.

When the Seelie fae awaken from their winter repose, like any creature released from a dull existence they are carefree and full of mischief.  The two things they’ll be after the most is a piece of your ritual Beltane fire and all your fresh butter.  To protect yourself from faerie pranks, place rowan branches around your windows and doors, and have the youngest member of the family gather primroses on May Eve and throw them at the door of your home.

To receive a Seelie faerie blessing, leave offerings of festival bread and drink on your doorsteps and at crossroads.  Some traditional festival breads include:

  • Celtic:  A sweet dough made with sweetmeat (a candied root, such as ginger or sea holly) and spices.
  • Scotland:  Bonnach Bealtain, heavy, flat cakes of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a round or oval shape, then cooked on a griddle; i.e., bannock and when cut into wedges, scone.  Made with nine knobs, it is an offering to the fox, the eagle and the “hooded crow” that they should not do harm to the fields and flocks.  The hooded crow is the manifestation of the Cailleach, also known as the Queen of winter.  The cake is glazed with a thin batter of “whipped egg, milk, cream and a little oatmeal.”
  • Wales:  Bara Brith, literally “speckled bread” that can be either a yeast bread enriched with dried fruit (raisins, currants and candied peel) or something more like a fruitcake made with self-rising flour without yeast.
  • Ireland:  Báirín Breac, a yeasted bread with sultanas and raisins added.
  • Brittany:  Morlaix Brioche, a speckled bread like the Bara Brith of Wales.

Prepare the bread on May eve without the use of either steel or iron.  Also, leave any food left over from your Beltane festivities as an offering to the fae, just as we leave crops not harvested by Samhain in the fields as their due.

As you study faeries, myths and folklore, you will find that the number seven is highly significant:

  • Thomas the Rhymer stayed with the Faerie Queen for seven years
  • The Faerie Queen must pay a tithe to Hell every seven years
  • Servitude lasts for seven years
  • The Pleiades is known as the seven sisters
  • The sacrifice of the seven-year King
  • Curses last for seven years
  • The seventh son of a seventh son has the gift of true seeing

Our ancestors believed there were seven planets; the Egyptians had seven original and higher gods; the Phœnicians seven kabiris; the Persians, seven sacred horses of Mithra; the Parsees, seven angels opposed by seven demons, and seven celestial abodes paralleled by seven lower regions. The seven gods were often represented as one seven-headed deity. The whole of heaven was subject to the seven planets; hence, in nearly all the old religious systems we find seven heavens.

It is no great wonder, then, that every seven years on May Eve, the faeries gather to fight among themselves for the rights to our upcoming harvest.  The winning faction takes the best ears of grain for themselves for the next seven years.

Throughout the centuries, the ancient Celts noted which springtime herbs and flowers were attractive to the Good Folk and which afforded protection:

Attracts

  • Carnation:  Red ones will draw faeries that enjoy healing animals.
  • Clover:  Not only do bees go wild over this diminutive ground cover, faeries love it, too.
  • Cowslip:  Spring faeries will happily come to live in any garden containing this herb.
  • Dandelion:  The fae use the dandelion to make beverages, just as humans do (i.e., dandelion wine).
  • Foxglove*:  A favorite of earth elementals and gives faeries the power of flight.
  • Hawthorn:  Sacred to faeries, especially the Queen of the Seelie Court.  Faeries that may help or hinder often live in hawthorns, so they are best left undisturbed (i.e., uncut and unmoved).  Try tying wishing ribbons to a hawthorn so friendly faeries can help them come true.  Be sure to leave an offering or libation if you do.
  • Heliotrope*:  Enjoyed by fire elementals.
  • Hollyhock*:  A faerie favorite, particularly the pink variety.
  • Lilac:  The gentle scent draws faeries and wards off evil spirits.
  • Lobelia*:  Helps to attract winged faeries.
  • Mushrooms*:  Often used by faeries to mark the boundaries of their sacred circles or portals to the Faerie Realm.
  • Pansy:  Attracts parades of trooping faeries.
  • Primrose:  Although the fae like this flower, it has the power to repel them from human habitations. It may also give faeries their power of invisibility.
  • Sassafras:  Enjoyed by air elementals.
  • Shamrock:  A form of clover adored by all Celtic faeries.

Protects

  • Bluebell:  If bluebells ring in your garden, malevolent faeries are near and you need to leave quickly.
  • Dill:  The fresh plant has a scent faeries dislike. In the Mediterranean area, dill weed placed under an infant’s bed will prevent the child being snatched by faeries and replaced with a changeling.
  • Gorse:  Repels virtually all faerie life.
  • Lilac:  The gentle scent draws faeries and wards off evil spirits.
  • Mistletoe*:  Especially good for protecting against and repelling faeries, but can also attract unpleasant tree faeries.
  • Morning Glory*:  Repels unwanted night faeries.
  • Primrose:  Although the fae like this flower, it has the power to repel them from human habitations. It may also give faeries their power of invisibility.
  • Rosemary:  The fresh plant protects from baneful faeries. In Mexico, mothers place this herb under their beds, in baby’s cribs and in windows for protection.  To protect a couple from faeries with bad intentions and ensure happiness in their first year of marriage, the bride and groom should carry this herb during their wedding ceremony.

*These plants are poisonous and are to be cultivated only with great caution.  They should never be grown where children or pets are present.

Here is a simple ritual that anyone can do with a minimum of fuss:

In a woodland clearing or meadow, or any other naturally secluded and preserved spot where you can sense the fae, spread a clean green cloth. On it place small cakes** and flowers, especially primroses, in a circle. In addition to the flowers listed above, other flowers that you may want to consider are roses, violets, apple and orange blossoms, daisies, columbine, jasmine, and daffodils.  Sit quietly until you feel the magic of the fae around you and then ask for a boon or blessing, using your own words or the following:

    The Maid of Spring has busy been
    To coax forth life both lush and green
    As all await the evening when
    Ye ride forth, great Seelie Faerie Queen
    The veil between our two worlds thins
    Our magic mingles, wild and tame
    Tis now that Summer’s bounty begins
    Blessed by thee, and Beltane’s flame
    I ask only one boon of thee
    In doing is the payment worth
    To share our purpose equally
    Protect and nurture Mother Earth
    In celebration of the May
    I leave these offerings for thee
    And fare thee well until the day
    Midsummer Eve it turns to be

    Written by Kat Cranston, 2010

Leave your small cake and floral offerings and walk around the green cloth three times deosil (i.e., clockwise).  Then slowly walk the path back to your home in silence, listening for the sound of laughter and bells.  Return the next day to retrieve your belongings and look for any signs or gifts the Seelie Faerie Queen may have left for you.

**See festival breads above.

Faerie blessings and blessed be.

Bibliography and Works Cited/Recommended Reading:

  • Aubin, C., “Beltane-Holiday Details and History,” WitchVox, April 2000, http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=2765
  • Bennett, Nancy, “A Fairy Spell for Beltane,”Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac 2006, Llewellyn Publications, 2005, p. 92
  • Blavatsky, H.P., “The Number Seven,” Theosophical articles: Reprinted from the Theosophist, Lucifer and Other Nineteenth-Century Journals, June 1880, http://www.blavatsky.org/blavatsky/arts/NumberSeven.htm
  • Briggs, Katharine, An Encyclopedia of Faeries, Pantheon , 1976
  • Franklin, Anna, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies, Paper Tiger, 2002
  • Franklin, Anna, Working With Fairies: Magick, Spells, Potions & recipes to Attract & See Them, New Page , 2005, p. 95
  • McCoy, Edain, A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk: Reclaiming Our Working Relationship with Invisible Helpers, Llewellyn Publications, 2002, p. 72
  • McCoy, Edain, “Flowers, Herbs, and the Faeries of May,” Llewellyn’s 1995 Magical Almanac, Llewellyn Publications, 1994, pp. 88-92
  • McCoy, Edain, Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring, Llewellyn Publications, 2002, p. 71
  • McCoy, Edain, Sabbats: A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways, Llewellyn Publications, 2001, p. 126

Rites and Rituals

May, 2010

Beltaine and the Flower Moon

I step into the forest. I slowly and deeply breathe. Standing still beneath the ancient trees, my senses fill with the magick of Beltaine. In every space, in every moment, new life unfolds before my eyes. The soft breeze grows ever more enchanted as the flora whispers sweet seduction to the birds and the bees. Shafts of Sunshine pierce through the great conifers’ boughs glinting off a myriad of insect wings and delivering fuel to the forest floor. I remain quiet, drifting deeper into Nature, and I begin to see and feel how the energies have changed from Ostara. It seems only a few days ago that the birds sounded so excited and frantic. Just yesterday, the river rushed by so wild and untamed, overfilled with the chaos of Spring’s fight against Winter’s hold. Today I noticed the river is steady yet calmer and I slowly realize that once again my mundane understanding of time has blinded me to all but the most noticeable of shifts upon the Wheel. The tumultuous days of early Spring have indeed passed and I can perceive a much clearer, focused purpose begin to emerge. It is a design held sacred at the heart of all things, reflected over and over through large and small alike. Time, place and energy have sown themselves more tightly together weaving the opening act of the tapestry to become Summer and Fall’s bounty. When I hold my place and allow my eyes to adjust, I am rewarded with a more meaningful insight into the energies’ flow. Just as the river gathers its strength from the countless brooks and streams in order to carry energy from the mountain to the ocean, so too does the forest gather from the diminutive toward the grand in ever more visible ambition. It is here, in the midst of Beltaine’s essence, that I am truly able to witness the first tangible evidence of the fruition of Imbolc’s dream and Ostara’s promise. It is here, at this moment, the 1st of May, we choose to sacredly acknowledge the magick of the union between all that is Goddess and all that is God. As I stir from my tranquil state and continue on the path through the forest, I am now keenly aware of all the varied manifestations now physically existing where once was but thought, dreams or desire.  They are all aspects of the Goddess, of the God, and of the energies joined, ever present in each season upon the Wheel. They are remembering in the Fall and resting in Winter’s hold. They dream in the Spring and rejoice in Summer’s splendor. Always though, are the magick and the wonder present for each of us to touch, should we be patient enough to look. Such are my thoughts as I make my way to the river’s edge and sit down by the stone fire ring I stacked earlier. I watch the last remnants of day slip into twilight while the swallows sweep over the river chasing down a hatch of caddis flies. Soon the bats will join them before taking over the duty of patrolling the night sky. With the Sun disappearing into the place where the trees and the river fade to become one, I light my Beltaine Fire, turning my thoughts to the Flower Moon. Some full moon names require one to think a little deeper in order to discern relevant meaning. I do not have to look any further though than to my walk through the forest to grasp a connection to this month’s full moon. There were flowers and blossoms everywhere. Even the night air is rich with their fragrance, subtly reminding me of the magick afoot. The last of my fire’s flames fall into embers, and I realize that it is time for me to head back. After extinguishing the embers with sand, I start back up the path through the forest. I can not help but smile as I think about my day celebrating Beltaine and dreaming of the Flower Moon. As I  slowly make my way upon the path, breathing deeply and embracing the rich, vibrant energy, I begin to sing,……

”From Earth, from Water,…by Fire and Air

To know, to be silent, to will and to dare

To believe, to be secret, to create and to care

To teach, to heal, to always be aware…”

Beltaine Information

April, 2010

Beltaine, also called May Day by many Christians. This Sabbat celebrates the fertility and union of the Horned God and the Goddess. At this time, life is renewing itself. Birds and animals are mating. In the fields, newly planted seeds are beginning to grow. Great fires are lit honoring the fertility God Belenos. Some leap the fires to show the exuberance of the season.

A Maypole is erected and bright ribbons are hung on it. The Maypole, a phallic symbol, represents the masculine. The soft colored ribbons are the feminine. The union of the two symbolizes the union of the God and Goddess. This is the time to fertilize your dreams with action. It is legend that children conceived at Beltane were gifted by the Gods. These children became known as Merry-Be-Gots.

The Return of the Sun

Beltaine 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 Beltaine 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 men 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 man there was planning a long journey or dangerous undertaking, he 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.

Beltaine 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 may-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.

Beltaine Correspondences

March, 2010

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

Goddess Cards

May, 2009

Beltane

goddesscards Goddess Cards


The May Queen

For thousands of years, the official beginning of summer on May 1st was celebrated in the joyous fire festival of Beltane. Beltane means “the fires of Bel.”  Celts believed that, at this time, the shining God of the Sun returned to Earth to banish winter and marry the Earth goddess. From this sacred union of god and goddess, fertility and abundance would return to the world, ensuring the survival of the people for another year.

Beltane celebrations reflected these ancient beliefs. A May Queen was selected to represent the virgin goddess. Her consort, the May King, or Green Man, was chosen to unite with her in the sacred marriage of Sun and Earth. (In earlier hunter-gatherer times, Herne, the Horned God, was paired with Diana, the huntress.)

On this joyful day, many participated in fertility rites. May 1st was the only day in the year when couples, married or unmarried, were free to go into the forest and make love with anyone they chose. Happy lovers returned to the village in the morning, laden with flowers they’d gathered to make wreaths for their hair, garlands to hang in the trees, May baskets for loved ones, and decorations for the village Maypole.

Maypole dances also symbolized the union of male and female, god and goddess. Ribbons were woven together round the pole in intricate patterns of red and white as dancers moved through ritual steps.

Great fires of new wood were lit on hills. Couples leaped across the flames three times to affirm their commitment to one another. Cattle were driven between fires on their way to fresh summer pastures. Families walked between the bonfires as well, believing that they, like their animals, would be purified and healed of winter’s ills through exposure to the sacred fire and smoke.

Many of these pagan rites were later absorbed or outlawed by the Church, in an effort to wean people from the “Old Religion.” Some of them survive today, in modern celebrations that still seek to honor life, love, beauty, and the sacred fertility of Mother Earth and all her children.

Beltaine Correspondences

May, 2009

Beltaine
    • Correspondences

  • Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

    Date: May 1

    Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

    Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite, emis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.

    Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron

    Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

    Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

    Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

    Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

    Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

    Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

    Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

    Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

    It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

    Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

    Beltaine, May 1

    May, 2009

    Beltaine, May 1

    Beltaine, also called May Day by many Christians. This Sabbat celebrates the fertility and union of the Horned God and the Goddess. At this time, life is renewing itself. Birds and animals are mating. In the fields, newly planted seeds are beginning to grow. Great fires are lit honoring the fertility God Belenos. Some leap the fires to show the exuberance of the season.

    A Maypole is erected and bright ribbons are hung on it. The Maypole, a phallic symbol, represents the masculine. The soft colored ribbons are the feminine. The union of the two symbolizes the union of the God and Goddess. This is the time to fertilize your dreams with action. It is legend that children conceived at Beltane were gifted by the Gods. These children became known as Merry-Be-Gots.

    The Return of the Sun

    Beltaine 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 Beltaine 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 men 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 man there was planning a long journey or dangerous undertaking, he 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.

    Beltaine 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 may-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.

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