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.
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