And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.-- William Shakespeare
Beltane, the counterpart to Samhain, which Pagans and Witches south of the Equator are now celebrating, is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on May 1st. Most commonly it is pronounced “BELL-tayn,” it can also be “BEEL-teen,” “BEEL-tawn-uh,” or “B’YAL-tinn. ” In some traditions, it is celebrated the night of April 30, but as mentioned yesterday, our ancestors generally did not limit their festivities to only one day or night.
The Irish celebrated Sean Bhealtain, “Old May,” and other terms include May Day, Rood Day, Rudemas, or Galan Haf. It is the joyful, lusty celebration of the coming of fair Summer. People throughout the world will set bonfires atop hills, or near the sacred trees, for the name Beltane is derived in reference to the fires of the Sun God Balor, Bel, Beli, Belinus, Belenos, or Balder.
This Sabbat honors the God and Goddess, Lord and Lady, in their Sacred Marriage. Young couples return from their trysts in the woods and meadows, clad in flowers and joyfulness, having enacting the Divine Union, in order to bring fertility and abundance to the land.
Wiccan handfastings are common at Beltane, however the wise grandmothers knew perfectly well that most lusty trysts formed in the merry month of May were not likely to last, so actual marriages were avoided and considered bad luck during this month.
Instead, the smitten couples were encouraged to enjoy their pleasures, but wait at least one lunation before the serious business of marriage. That’s why June is considered a much more favorable time for a lasting union and to this day is the most popular wedding month.
And if a pregnancy resulted after the Beltane revelries, not only was it not a problem, it was a gift! The children of Beltane were beloved by the entire village. The mother was considered blessed and the child was sure to be magical. The boys were usually named Jack, for their “father,” the Jack of the Green.
The powers of the Good Folk are now growing and the boundaries that separate the human world from the Sidhe are thin. The Landing of the Tuatha De Danann in Ireland is recalled today and the mighty Mother-Goddess of the Land, Dana (or Danu, also Danann) is also honored.
If they are in bloom, bring lilacs and hawthorn inside on this day, along with flowers of all kinds to represent the fertility of the earth. All manner of enchantments and offerings should be given to honor the wildlings and Elementals. Celebrations include weaving the web of life around the Maypole and leaping the Beltane fires for luck.
Now we celebrate of the approach of Summer, when the breezes are scented and evenings are getting warm. Beltane is the time of new life! Look around you - baby animals are being born. Plants are growing strong new shoots. Flowers are bloom. The lush green veil has once more cloaked the forests. Here in the woods of northern Durham, our mountain laurels and blackberry bushes will soon turn our hills into a froth of white and the buds of roses are swelling open.
Put all your energy into nurturing your plans and desires at this time. We have from now until the final harvest at Samhain to grow our dreams! By now we are well on our way with the work we will accomplish this year - work in the world and work done upon ourselves. This is a time of self-discovery, love, union and developing your potential for personal growth. May your day be most beautiful, and richly blessed!