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Beltane: (Bealtaine, May Eve, Valpurgis) - April 30th/May 1st

Incense: Lilac, Frankincense

 

Decorations: Maypole, Flowers, Ribbons

 

Colours: Green

 

The Fire Festival of Beltane

 

This festival is also known as Beltane, the Celtic May Day. 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 is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. The rituals were held to promote fertility. The cattle were driven between the Belfires to protect them from ills. 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 (the house fire being symbolic of the luck of the house).

 

This is a holiday of Union--both between the Goddess and the God and between man and woman. Handfastings (Pagan marriages) 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. Celebrations include braiding of one's hair (to honour the union of man and woman and Goddess and God), circling the Maypole for fertility and jumping the Beltane fire for luck. Beltane is one of the Major Sabbats of the Wiccan religion. We celebrate sexuality (something we see as holy and intrinsic to us as holy beings), we celebrate life and the unity which fosters it. The myths of Beltane state that the young God has blossomed into manhood, and the Goddess takes him on as her lover. Together, they learn the secrets of the sexual and the sensual, and through their union, all life begins.

 

Beltane is the season of maturing life and deep found love. This is the time of vows, handfastings and commitment. 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.

 

beltane_banner.jpg

 

 

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. The Welsh goddess Creiddylad is connected with Beltane, often called the May Queen, she was a Goddess of summer flowers and love.

 

May Day

May Day has long been marked with feasts and rituals. May poles, supremely phallic symbols, were the focal point of old English village rituals. Many people arose at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens, using them to decorate the village Maypoles.

 

The May Queen (and often King) is chosen from among the young people, and they go singing from door to door throughout the town carrying flowers or the May tree, soliciting donations for merrymaking in return for the "blessing of May". This is symbolic of bestowing and sharing of the new creative power that is stirring in the world. As the kids go from door to door, the May Bride often sings to the effect that those who give will get of nature's bounty through the year.

 

In parts of France, some jilted youth will lie in a field on May Day and pretend to sleep. If any village girl is willing to marry him, she goes and wakes him with a kiss; the pair then goes to the village inn together and lead the dance which announces their engagement. The boy is called "the betrothed of May."

 

 

http://www.thewhiteg...ear/beltane.asp

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May Day. Ancient Rites that survived.

 

Celts had several festivities such as Beltane which was the last and largest of the spring festivals, falling on April 30th or May 1st (its name come from “Bealtaine” in old Gaelic, which means “fire of Bel” the Celtic god of light); the other festivals were Ostara (now Easter), the Summer Solstice and Samhain.

 

Beltane, as a custom survived in various parts of Europe, such as France, Germany and England. It included setting up a village May-pole. It involved dancing and great sexual frolics around this gigantic phallic symbol which represented gods phallus in Mother Earth. After dancing around the Maypole celebrants would retire to the open fields where they would have sex with anyone and everyone in the plowed fields in order to insure the fertility of the land and prosperous yield of crops3.

 

Napier 6 concluded that the English May feasts are a survival of Roman Floralia, introduced by Rome into Britain and imposed on the original Celt population, which kept it and nutured it after the fall of Rome. He also says that during the middle ages, they "were not free from some of the indecencies of the Floralia". Judging by the dates, May Day also coincides with Faunalia, so a mixed origin of different fertility rites can be assigned to this Celtic celebration.

 

For these reasons of sexual license, the Christian Church opposed May festivals and the sexual freedom it promoted: Phillip Stubes, an English Puritan writer said (Anatomie of Abuses - 1583):

 

"What clipping, what culling, what kissing and bussing, what smooching and slobbering one of another, what filthy groping and unclean handling is not practiced in the dances."

 

Regarding free sex in the fields, says Stubbes:

 

"Against May, Whitsonday, or other time, all the yung men and maides, olde men and wives, run gadding over night to the woods, groves, hils, and mountains, where they spend all the night in plesant pastimes; ... and in the morning they return... there is a great Lord present amongst them, as superintendent and Lord over their pastimes and sportes, namely, Sathan, prince of hel. ... I have heard it credibly reported (and that viva voce) by men of great gravitie and reputation, that of fortie, threescore, or a hundred maides going to the wood over night, there have scaresly the third part of them returned home againe undefiled."4. Another Puritan wrote that men "doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst maidens, to set bowes, in so muche, as I have hearde of tenne maidens whiche went to set May, and nine of them came home with childe" 7.

 

But all good things come to an end, and the sixteenth century saw the end of May freedom. The Puritans in England made the Maypoles illegal in 1644. They also attempted to suppress the greenwood marriages of young men and women who spent the entire night in the forest. The practice continued for some time, but eventually died out.

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