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Beltane: Wheel of the Year

1st May 2024

Beltane

The festival of Beltane is celebrated on May Day, the 1st of May, and it sits around halfway between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Beltane seems to have its origins as the Gaelic May Day festival, widely celebrated in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland.

The beginning of May was the time that cattle were traditionally moved onto the summer pastures, and before going onto the fresh fields they would have been driven between two magically purifying bonfires. It was hoped that this would protect the animals from disease, ensure the fertility of the herd and offer protection from enchantment by witches and faeries who were thought to be abroad on the May Eve. Similar to Samhain, the belief was that the veil between the worlds was thinnest at this time.

Purifying Bonfires

Homes and barns would be decorated with yellow blossoms to symbolise the fires lit to purify and protect, and the fire in the hearth would be extinguished before being re-lit from the Beltane bonfires.

The dew gathered on the May morn was believed to have the power to enhance the beauty of any lady who bathed her face in it and could bestow youthfulness upon her.

As Christianity spread across the Celtic lands, the festival became adapted to include visiting Holy Wells and putting garlands of flowers and greenery, ribbons, and shells around them.

May Day

In more modern times, the celebration of May Day has become associated with Summer just beginning, nature at the peak of its loveliness with bright green leaves on the trees and flowers in the hedgerows. It is customary to bring flowers into the house, create a floral wreath to wear in the hair, and make a May basket filled with flowers to give to a friend for health and good fortune.

In villages and towns across the land, maypoles were erected and festooned with ribbons of different colours, and folk danced around the maypole, weaving intricate patterns in the ribbons. These dances were accompanied by music and feasting to bring in the new growth and fertility of the season, on this first day of Summer. Indeed, you might remember dancing around the maypole as a child since this tradition was still commonly practiced until quite recently.

Beltane Flowers

Since the essence of May Day is to acknowledge the arrival of Summer and the flowers and fresh growth around us, it’s nice to bring in the flowers of May to our homes. Perhaps just create a corner of a room that is filled with greenery and flowers and a green or a yellow candle, some ribbons, and shells. Enjoy the bright colours and the scent of the May blossom and allow yourself to feel renewed and accept the energy of the Summer that is just beginning.

If there’s still some work to be done on a project you have been working on, this is an ideal time to complete the task. The vibrant energy of early Summer brings enthusiasm for completion, and the resolve to get the job done.

Taking our cue from Mother Nature we can bring fulfilment and joy forward into the summer months. I hope that your Summer will be one of creative energies and realisation of your hopes and dreams.

Written by, Vanessa – PIN: 3900

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