Blessed Beltane - Happy May Day
Two years ago, we spent the latter part of April in Ireland and visited the Beltany Stone Circle in County Donegal. You can hear all about that trip in my blog post from May of 2016. I would be very happy to be back again to celebrate May Day at Beltany today. You might not know that Beltane is another name for May Day. This stone circle is a very special place, particularly on this day when it is perfectly oriented toward the sun. (We will never know the answer to how this feat of engineering was accomplished 5000 years ago.)
May Day is a cross quarter day, meaning it falls half way between the spring equinox (Ostara) and the summer solstices (Litha or Midsummer). It’s one of the eight holidays on the wheel of the year that is the basis of the celebrations of the fictional characters in my Circle of Nine series (and a good many real people past and present.)
In 2014, in one of my early blog posts I wrote about this circle and a little bit about how the holiday is celebrated. I wanted to give you more details today and found a very informative article by Christina Aubin.
She explains that “Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counterpart, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.” She describes how the veil between the two worlds is thinnest at these two times of the year. “It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of 'no time'."
She also talks about something that I came across while doing research for my series and is one reason why I chose the Tuatha de Danaan (one of the four mythological founding tribes of Ireland) as the ancestors for my fictional characters. “Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland.”
This year in particular, we are so glad to say goodbye to what has felt like a very long winter. And the recent lovely weather we’ve been having is a great balm to our winter-weary souls. “We need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out for the renewal of summer jubilation.”
So how do people typically celebrate May Day or Beltane? You might remember creating May baskets of flowers when you were younger. Indeed, gathering and exchanging greens and flowers is still a common custom among pagans. There are also bonfires lit in celebration as well as maypoles with long ribbons to be danced around. On a personal level in celebration, you might begin gardening or enjoy a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or better yet give someone a surprise gift of flowers. Wisconsin’s own Circle Sanctuary has an article that explains all of the traditions and meanings behind them. Including a very detailed list about how to use flowers as a central part of your Beltane celebrations.
Here’s a bouquet I received today from my small-town grocery store. (They pick a name randomly for the free bouquets each week!) It was a lovely way to start my Monday--just one day before May Day!
Blessed Beltane to you!