Of all of the fire festivals this seems to pass me by without writing about it.
Maybe this is because the signs of transition between Spring to Summer are here and suddenly there’s a lot to do. That is certainly the situation with me this year.
The true time of Beltaine
Most people identify Beltaine with being on May 1st, aligning it to the Roman calendar but in pre-Christian times this was the midpoint between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. This year this will be Monday May 5th, or to be precise 12:55 pm GMT when the Sun passes 15 degrees Taurus. To align with ancient times the sunrise and sunset of this day would be of celebration.
Most people reading this will probably have a lot more to add, but this year i will keep this article to the basics of Beltaine.
This is a fertility fire festival time, not only a time of mating but a time of creativity too. Around ireland there were sacred places, well they are still there, where couple would meet. At some of these ancient sites there are signs of two circles, almost like a figure of eight, with a central mound, sometimes with remains of an ancient standing stone raising from it.
I am sure the ritual of sea birds were imitated at this time
Both male and female birds walk around in opposite circles in a kind of dance where a sense of bonding is sought. When the spirit connects them the birds become mating partners and if they breed successfully stay mated for life.
In ancient times, boys and girls did the same, circling their individual circles until the spirit connected them to meet where the circle joins. On the mound, the standing stone would have a hole. If both boy and girl put their fingers through the hole together they were bonded to mate. If their mating bore a child the following February, Imbolc, time of Brigid, Bhride, Bride, they would be bonded for life. If no birth came, they were free to mate and find new partners the following Beltaine.
Following the bonding was the ritual of passing between the two fires. Then this ritual was applied to increasing the fertility of more than man such as the passing through of cattle. After all it is the middle of the Taurus season too.
Today all kinds of beautiful rituals have evolved, the maypole, the Morris dancers, the May Queen and the one I like best are the various flower dance rituals. This is time when flowers are abundant in Ireland. Primroses are about to bow goodbye for the year, while bluebells and hawthorn May flowers are starting to appear, along with the rowan blossom, rowan and hawthorn flowers of protection.
Beltaine is worthy for now
A modern thought of this time I feel is worthy is taking the essence of fertility and creativity into other areas, especially for older people who have bred and raised their children. This is a wonderful time to sow the seeds for the creativity of the arts and crafts, a wonderful path for the expression of passion.
This is my favourite time of the year, from now until Litha, Midsummer, which is June 22nd this year if you want to keep right within the universal sidereal time calendar. A time of warm sun, fresh flowers, colourful birds, clear views, longer days and lovely air. Its truly a “feel good” time.
And my own celebration
Tough choices. I am off to Donegal to pick up some flag stones for our cottage restoration. Weather forecast is awful but should it be ok, I’ll detour to the huge Beltany stone circle near Raphoe in Co. Donegal.
On Sunday, Lough Rynn Castle near Mohill in Co. Leitrim features a concert by Janet Harbison and the Belfast Harp Orchestra.
Monday, with a wonderful forecast, its on tour along the new Turlough O’Carolan Way, and I will share experiences of this journey on a later blog.
Meanwhile, here’s wishing you love and blessings of inspiration that will fire your creativity through this new wonderful summer
John of Celtic Ways