I have learned much while researching Beltane. Beltane begins at moonrise on April 30th. It is the beginning of the Mother's (Goddess) Rule. It was an early agricultural festival. In acient times this day was marked by great bonfires and turning the herd out to wild pastures for the first time. The cattle were driven in between the Belfires to protect them from ills and to ensure fertility. Beltane marks the beginning of great fertility. This is the time that the Goddess becomes pregnant with child from the God. Many rituals were performed to promote fertility. Some older couples even removed their wedding rings and those restrictions associated with them for this one night! Some traditions included: hanging rowen cross' to stop enchantments from fairies, sprinkling water from sacred wells on people and animals, choosing a May Queen and King from the younger people and then singing door to door carrying flowers or the May tree soliciting donations for Merrymaking in! return for the "blessing of May," and staying up all night dancing among the crops. The astrological date of Beltane is May 5th. It is believed that the date of Beltane was not adjusted when the calendar was recalculated. Some traditional arts of this season include weaving and plaiting, for the joining of two substances to create a third is the basis of Beltane representing the union of the Goddess and the God to create a new life. Tradional foods include anything from the dairy and bannock cakes made from milk, eggs, and oatmeal. May wine may also be served. It is made by steeping strawberries and woodruff. I have just begun to study Wicca but I will make an offering to the Goddess on Beltane. I am going to make a sachet of flowers and place it on the peach tree in my backyard. At this point in my studies I feel that this is enough.
Beltane is also known as May Day. May is named after Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, and later identified as the most beautiful of seven sisters, the Pleiades. She was also the mother of Hermes, god of magic.
By Celtic reckoning the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30th, because the celts alway figured their days from sundown to sundown. Some May day customs include:
-walking the circuit of one's property
-repairing fences and boundary markers
-processions of chimney sweeps and milk maids
-feasting, music, drinking
-and maidens bathing their faces in the dew of moring to retain their youthful beauty.
Puritans reacted with horror to most of the may day rites, even making maypoles illegal in 1644. They especially attempted to suppress the greenwood marriages to young men and woman, who spent the entire night in the forest, staying out to great the May sunrise, and bringing back flowers and garlands to decorate the village in the next moring.
So May Day was a time to have a break from all chores and have fun. The woman usually got pregent during this night. And alot of times the father was not the man she had married. But this was not held against them in anyway. As Lerner and Lowe wrote:
It's May! It's May! The lusty month of May!...
Those dreary vows that ev'ry one takes,
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes!
The lusty month of May.
Foods traditionally came from the dairy, dishes such as marigold custard (if anyone wants the recipe just email me) and vinalla ice cream.
What I am doing this year is going to Beltane in the Park. Over 100 people will be there for singing, dancing, and having a feast, amoung other stuff. Only we are having it on May 7th.
The Wiccan Sabbat, Beltane
Beltane is the one of the eight Sabbats that marks the symbolic death of winter and the symbolic birth of spring. It is the time where the young God turns into a man and desires the Goddess, they fall in love and the Goddess becomes pregnant by the God. It is a time to gather flowers and dance around a maypole. The dance around the maypole in a circle strengthens the magick by raising a "cone of power" The flowers represent the Goddess while the maypole represents the God. Some traditions include:
1. Gathering morning dew from grass and wildflowers to use in good-luck potions and spells.
2. A Beltane bonfire started with nine pieces of wood by nine men from nine different trees.
3. Bathing in the morning dew for good-luck.
4. The practice of various methods of divination.
5. Re-enactment of Lady Godiva's lagendary naked ride through the streets of Coventry, England.
6. Pilgramages to sacred wells to partake of healing waters or make offerings.
Some foods associated with Beltane come from dairy, custards, vanilla ice cream or oatmeal cakes. Also ,fresh fruit. This Beltane, I was in the mountains of Colorado, where I happen to find the perfect stick for my wand that I plan to decorate. I walked in nature, watched the deer and elk shake their winter coats and run in the new spring air.
Beltaine is a time of rejoice. We celebrate the Goddess and her impregnation by the God and the new beginning it represents. During this time people celebrates in different ways as many in here have mentioned. There's no right or wrong way to celebrate this period of joy as there's no rule to express happiness. However, people sometimes celebrate this without even knowing its significance. I was raised Catholic but for some reason we had this "ritual" with my aunt to go to the backyard during the first rain of May and just dance around and laugh while the rain was falling on us. I don't think she knew why we did it and as a child all I knew it was fun.. Now,I'm so happy to know the logic behind it which makes me appreciate that happy memory even more. This year I couldn't dance since now I live in an apartment but I was on the balcony watching the rain and just thinking of those happy times and experiencing that wonderful smell of wet soil. Beltaine is (to me) one of the most enjoyable -and fun- celebrations we have!!
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