Saturday, 23 April 2011
Festival of Fertility and Union
The name originates from the Celtic god, Bel - the 'bright one', and the Gaelic word 'teine' meaning fire, giving the name 'bealttainn', meaning 'bright fire'.
This is the beginning of the light half of the year when the Sun begins to set later in the evening . To our ancestors Beltane was the coming of summer and fertility. The fields are sown, the crops are growing, and in the cycle of the farming year, although there is always some work to be done, there is now a little time to relax and enjoy things for a while before the next surge of activity at harvest time. So, it is a time for rejoicing. It is a time for sharing. It is a time for new beginnings - which may well include courtship and marriage, but can also refer to any field of human endeavour.
It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year. It accompanies the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. The rituals were held to promote fertility. Animals were transferred from winter pens to summer pastures, and were driven between the Beltane fires to cleanse them of evil spirits and to bring fertility and a good milk yield. The Celts leapt over Beltane fires - for fertility and purification.Contact with the fire was interpreted as symbolic contact with the sun. In early Celtic times, the druids kindled the Beltane fires with specific incantations. Later the Christian church took over the Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. The rowan branch is hung over the house fire on May Day to preserve the fire itself from bewitchment .
This is a holiday of Union both between the Goddess and the God and between man and woman. Handfastings are traditional at this time. It is a time of fertility and harvest, the time for reaping the wealth from the seeds that we have sown. We celebrate sexuality, we celebrate life and the unity which fosters it.
The Lord and his Lady, having reached maturity, come together in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to celebrate the joy of their union. This is a time to celebrate the coming together of the masculine and feminine creative energies. Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desired the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms and unite.
The flowers and greenery symbolise the Goddess and the Maypole represents the God. Beltane marks the return of vitality and passion of summer. Another common focal point of the Beltane rituals is the cauldron, which represents the Goddess.
It is a time to ask yourself what will you focus on? What can you change to make life better? What can you do to spread goodwill? Let the energy of Beltane carry you closer to your goals.
Beltane activities could include watching the sun rise, have a camp out, sit around a fire with friends, jump the Beltane fire leaving behind anything that is holding you back, make and walk a spiral or labyrinth and of course dance around the maypole!
Deity: Aphrodite, Artemis, Bast, Diana, Flora, Lady of the Greenwood, May Queen, Prithvi, Rhea, Venus, Bel, Green Man, Herne, Horned God, Jack in the Green, May King, Pan
Colours: Sky blue, light green, lavender, orange, pink, peach, red, turquoise, white, yellow
Gemstones: Sapphires, bloodstones, emeralds, orange carnelians and rose quartz.
Herbs: Almond, angelica, ash trees, birch trees, bluebells, cinquefoil, daisies, frankincense, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, marigolds, primroses, rosemary, roses, satyrion root, woodruff and yellow cowslip.