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Beltane Correspondences

April 1st, 2018

Beltane

 

(Hexenringe limited edition fairy ring screen print on handmade paper, by artist April Llewellyn of April H L Etsy shop.)

 

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.

Beltane and May Celebrations

Merry Meet

Beltane is April 30th – May 1st in the Western Hemisphere. This is one of the 8 Sabbats of the year. This is said to be the beginning of Spring. The Goddess throws off her maiden robes and takes on the robes of the Mother, with her Consort and mate, the Green Man standing by her side. It is also said to be the celebration of Persephone returning from the Underworld to her mother in our world, allowing the re-awakening of the land. It is the historically celebrated half-year mark, the counterpoint of Samhain, which is the end of the year, November 1st.

May is named for Maia, the grandmother, the Goddess of death and fertility. Maia scorns marriage, so it is a good idea to put weddings off until June. It is one of the 3 days of the year when the fairies are said to be able to be seen.

Traditionally, this was a major fertility festival. Great bonfires were lit to assist the sun in returning to heat the fields and increase the harvest. To signify their availability, unattached people, young and old, who were seeking a partner wore green during the festival. They would spend Beltane night in the greenwood (forest) with their chosen one. After the evening’s celebrations, the celebrants would return home bearing armloads of May boughs covered in budding flowers, as well as any other blooming flowers they came across. These were all shared with families in the community. As they shared their May bounty, the homes they visited shared the best in food and drink they had. A child born of this festival was considered especially blessed, and to share in the good fortune, the entire community would care for the mother and child. The May Pole was also raised during this celebration and people danced and made merry around it. There is a tradition that if the May Pole dancers wove a perfect pattern with the ribbons hung from the May Pole then the coming harvest would be an excellent one. But, if the ribbons became entangled during the dancing then the upcoming harvest was not expected to be as bountiful as it could be. The May Pole dancers trained and practiced to try to ensure their weaving of the ribbons did not tangle.

The Hawthorn was known as the May and bringing May blossoms into the home was considered very unlucky. This could have been due to the increasing Christian influence. Bringing Mayflowers into the home could reveal the Pagan beliefs of the family and put the entire household at risk for persecution. Another theory as to the unluckiness of bringing May flowers into the home is said to refer to the Beltane night celebrations, and the flowers in the home could reference the unattached not finding a partner that eve.

If you are lucky enough to have a May bush; beneath it is a wonderful place to lie back and contemplate the coming growing season. You can gather the beautiful flowers and weave them into a circlet to wear, or to give to your ladylove. If you have a Goddess statue you may want to make a circlet for her as well.

Another traditional activity for this eve is lighting the Beltane fire. Young lovers would jump through the smoke and low flames to bring luck to their union. Farmers led their herds and flocks through the smoke from the fires for increased productivity in the coming season. Pregnant women are said to have stepped over the coals to help with an easy and successful birth. Small children, and even infants, were carried across the coals and through the smoke for luck and health throughout the year.

If you don’t have access to a May Day celebration, you can light a small fire and add green boughs to it to encourage the smoke. Jumping through the flames and smoke (with any long skirts kept out of the flames) can be done to celebrate the new season and to bring luck to your endeavors. If a bonfire is not possible, due to apartment living, living with non-Pagans, etc, you can also do the ‘jumping through the flame’ ritual using candles or even tea light candles. Please be careful and hold any long skirts or other pieces of clothing that might catch fire out of the way, and make sure to have the candles placed on non-flammable material, in case you knock them over.

Flowers can also be gathered for May baskets. Filling your home with the newest blooms will help brighten your day as well as bring the joy of the coming together of the Goddess and her Consort, the Green Man, into your world. May baskets make wonderful gifts for shut-ins and elderly friends and neighbors.

A wonderful, and very simple spell for this day is an increase spell. Take 5 new, shiny, and cleansed pennies. Place them under your front steps, heads up. Then say the following, or something you come up with on your own:

Penny Penny, Shining Bright
Bring to my door what I need that is right
Guide my steps to help me find
Help for my home and peace of mind
As I will so mote it be.

While this spell does not specify money or property, it asks for what you ‘need’ to be brought to you, and for your steps to be guided as well. If you don’t have traditional ‘front steps’ you can place the pennies under your front doormat or even plant them, face up, in a flower bed near your front door. This little spell has helped me when I thought there was nothing I could do to meet my home or my families needs. I hope it helps you as well.

Here is a poem by Sir Thomas Malory, written for the May celebrations of the time.

The month of May was come,

when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom,
and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring
forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that

is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds.
For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.
Sir Thomas Malory, 1485

Blessed Be and brightest blessings.

***

author bio:

Blessed Be
Lady Ana
[email protected]

Lady Ana can be found deep in the bible belt, peeking out of her broom closet occasionally when her cats deign to give her the all clear.

Belenus – Celtic God of Beltane

In Celtic mythology the Sun God Belenus worshipped in Britannia, Gaul, Italy, Northern Spain and Austria. Belenus has had shrines erected in his behalf from Aquileia (on the Adriatic) to England (Kirkby Lonsdale). Associated with healing and heat, the meaning of his name is Henbane God or the Shinning one.

It has been said the Belenus may be in fact the same deity as the God Belatu- Cadros from the Roman Empire period and thusly identified with Apollo. His companion is Belisama. Belenus’s name has appeared on inscriptions, concentrated primarily in Cisalpine Gaul and Aquileia, however, these inscriptions have also been found in Noricum and Gallia Narbonensis as well as other distant lands.

Beltane/May Day

Over the years Beltane has been known by many names, in contemporary Irish it is known as Lá Bealtaine, in Scots Gaelic it is known as Bealtiunn, the Welsh know it as the Calends of May (Galan-Mai) and on the Isle of Man (Manx) as Laa Boaldyn, Laán Tourey (Day of Summer) or Shenn da Boaddyn. Beltane is the start of the Summer Half of the Celtic year but what ever the name it is a festival of absolute joy.

A Large number of mythological Celtic events are associated with this day, balancing out it is opposite Samhain. The first people and co-creators of Ireland first landed on the island on Beltane. 300 years to the day later the inhabitants returned to their Other Worldly plane. It was on Beltane that the Tuatha De Danann invaded Ireland. On May Eve Pwyll and Rhiannon’s (the rulers of the Welsh Otherworld) son Pryderi was lost and later found by Teirnyon Twryf Vliant on another May’s Eve after which he was later returned to Pwyll and Rhiannon. The majority of these events concern the forces of darkness being defeated by light

Modern Day Beltane Festivals

One of the major sabbats today is the primeval Celtic fire festival. The Celtic fire festival is the time to observe the unification of the Sun God and the young Goddess, the time when winters darkness copiously retreats and life once more returns to the earth. Like Samhain, during Beltane the shroud between this world and other worldly realms is at its thinnest, in times of yore this was viewed as a time of impending mischief or danger from seditious spirits. Thusly, during Beltane it was a time to mollify these spirits and to begin preparing for the soil in hopes of a good harvest later in the year.

The May Pole

the May Pole represents the impregnation of the Earth Goddess by the Sun God, in the traditional May Pole dance, weaving the ribbons, joins two elements to form the third which represents life at its creation. The fire of Beltane lit in a pit or cauldron represents passions fire. Traditionally, one will jump over the fire for luck or fertility in the upcoming growing season. It is said that a woman will be exceedingly blessed if she becomes pregnant on Beltane. Men wear circlets of green while the women don blossom of circlets.

Excerpt from A Tree Song

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight, or he would call it a sin;

But we have been out in the woods all night, A-conjuring Summer in!

~ Rudyard Kipling

Bibliography and Works Cited

Kipling, R. (A. D. 1200). A Tree Song. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/kipling_ind.html

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 Books, 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 Books, 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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times: Beltaine 2017

BeltaineRitual

Bright Blessings!

I write this on April 21. It’s in the sixties here in Central Ohio, and my radishes and peas are coming up nicely. Big plans are in place to add manure to soil for our tomatoes, summer zucchini, cucumbers, and bell peppers.

Aside from that, people who have literally been hibernating save for the mandatory work, and errands, are slowly reappearing into creation. Outdoor gatherings and festival season is nearly here, and invitations are being sent left and right.

Every year here, this time of year is the same.

And every year, it is about Samhain time the hibernation begins.

Past articles I’ve written discussed the blessing of people and herds that were done at Beltaine time. The lingering “winter negativity” is blessed away, and there is much rejoicing about bursting forth into the Summer grounds. Gardens and fields, if they haven’t already been blessed, are, and while some focus on swimsuit bodies, Pagans tend to focus on camping, out-of-town Sabbats, and fire pits in the back yard whilst grooving with nature.

I find it interesting modern people follow the same patterns the ancestors did, and even non-Pagans do this. While we live in a climate controlled, and insulated world, the seasons still control how our bodies feel, directly influencing all that we do. Even if we don’t follow an Earth based tradition, we are still children of the Earth.

For us in Ohio, just before Beltaine, a Witchcraft Museum is set to open thanks to the man who brought Wicca to the United States, Raymond Buckland. I could write all about this, but you are better off seeing the Wild Hunt article about it. Here is the link!

http://wildhunt.org/2017/04/reboot-of-buckland-museum-set-for-apr-29.html

Beltaine is a fitting time for this opening, and while it’s not specifically a
“Beltainy” topic, I wanted to make sure to include information about it to spread the word.

As to Beltaine, I’ve written about what is done in days past and how modern Pagans revive that through my own experiences. Here is last year’s Beltaine article, for example.

http://paganpages.org/content/2016/04/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-18/

The bonfires, ritual blessings, and fertility rites are done in as many different ways as there are people celebrating. Generally, it is the Irish and Scottish festivities we look to for inspiration in modern times.

This year, I’d like to explore what is done in Wales.

Calen Mai

Like their other Celtic cousins in Ireland and Scotland, the Beltaine festivities mark the beginning of the Summer season, and the return of the animals to Summer grazing grounds. They also did the purification and blessing fires. They call May Day Calen Mai or Calen Haf.

The festivities kick off the night before, on May Eve, with the lighting of the bonfires.

Outdoor gatherings, are of course the order! A “fight” between Winter and Summer is staged, with actors performing the parts. Of course, Summer wins, and a May King and Queen can then be crowned. Human representations of the forces of Nature seem to be the rule no matter where May Day festivities are.

It is divination, especially, to see who you are destined to marry, that was part of the May Day festivities. It was believed that extra thinness of the veil between ours and the Otherworld would make messages from the spirits all the more distinctive.

Hawthorn is gathered to decorate the outside of the home to represent new life and growth- but the hawthorn blossoms are not taken inside, as that would be bad luck. Both hawthorn and birch were seen as auspicious for May Day, and in some cases, the Maypole itself was specifically made of birch.

Besides Maypole Dancing, folk dancing , including Morris Dancing goes on. I had not realized the rich history Morris Dancing has in the UK. It was first mentioned in writings at least six hundred years ago, and while some say their groups are modern revivals, other groups claim lineage for generations. The costumes and pageantry hearken back to pre-Christian Pagan times when masked dancers drove away the bad, and brought in all good blessings. I will mention the city UI live in has our own troupe of Morris dancers. They are called The Olentangy Motley Morris and Rapper Dance Team. Men, women, and children partake of this. While some Morris groups are men only, others include women and kids as well.

A video of modern day Morris dancers is here.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqVpXe5_GUQ

 

 

Some girls go out in the morning, and wash their faces with the dew. This is supposed to make them especially beautiful the whole year long.

Aside from these things, like any festival, there is music, food, fellowship, and good times. After a long, cold Winter, it is always nice to get out, and enjoy the weather and the good folk you are near!

Beltaine Working

This year, I suggest keeping it even more simple than I usually do, and having a day of a form of divination following a short offering for the spirits.

As it is believed Beltaine is one of the times the veil is thin, and messages from the Otherworld are stronger, it’s a good time to listen.

My opinion on divination is not a popular one. I believe being able to do so is a gift, not a skill learned. No matter how many classes you take, how many divination tools you buy, and how much you practice, if you don’t have the gift of prophecy, your readings will not be accurate.

However, receiving messages from ancestors and spirits is something we can all do, regardless of our gifts. So, instead of Beltaine divination, I’ll suggest Beltaine communication with the ancestors to receive messages.

Some have actual ancestor altars, and some don’t.

If you have an ancestor altar, all you need to do is give gifts and ask for messages, and omens about your future from your personal ancestors right at your very own altar. Just like always.

If you don’t, you can set up an altar for this at any time. Simply put any pictures of deceased loved ones, and gifts of food, drink, or something they would like, be it a trinket, a lit candle or incense, or even playing music they liked. If you have belongings of theirs, make sure to include those. You are setting up an energy center to focus your communications with them. It will act as a place to draw them, and for you to go for that communication. It becomes a meeting place of sorts! While spirits don’t just communicate with you AT the altar, it’s an excellent way to establish initial communication, and a work center for yourself.

You can ask specific questions, and then wait for signs.

Communication with spirits is not always as cut and dried as it is with the living. Remember, they do not have bodies, and thus, communicate differently sometimes than they would have when they were alive. So, while you may ask a specific question, sometimes, your answer from them will be less easily interpreted. Of course, for some people, the messages are loud and clear! In the event they are not, it may take some interpreting, or waiting for the meaning to come to you.

A friend of mine always knows when he sees butterflies, that is a certain ancestor speaking to him. My lucky number happens to be 666. Whenever I see that, I know my spirits are telling me I am on the right track. For some, like my mother, a dream of the dead meant she knew she would soon hear from the living. In her case, it meant she would hear from a certain family member she seldom heard from. A message from an ancestor may be that you “see them in passing“ out of the corner of your eye, then you turn to do a double take, and they will have vanished. It means they are near.

There are times the messages don’t come immediately, and creep in days, weeks, or even months later, and at the most unexpected of times! For example, after my mother’s passing, an angelic spirit visited me, and was very warm, and wanted me to let her into my personal aura. I did not recognize her, and refused, of course. It took a few visits for me to realize this was my mother in her new form. She was not anything like the individual she has been while alive, and was popping in from her new world.

Set up your altar indoors or outdoors. One method of leaving offering is, of course, to leave it outside for the critters to accept. This can be especially effective if say, your departed loved one was a bird watcher. Leave birdseed. If your loved one used to go feed the ducks, go do that. If your loved one was in animal rescue, then either make a donation in their name, or go ahead and rescue an animal in their honor. If they are like me, and love to garden, plant something as a gift for them. It is a gift you will continue to tend and nurture, and can act as both offering, and “altar” of sorts where you establish contact with them.

Then, wait for their messages or answers.

It is always best, however, when establishing contact for the first time, to do so without asking questions or guidance. For a while, just talk to them. Over time, the communication will grow stronger, and you can begin asking.

However you decide to celebrate Beltaine, be it with or without divination, dancing, communication with ancestors, or gatherings, may you be blessed with new growth, and good beginnings.

Blessed Beltaine.

Blessed Be

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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