Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, and the second major Celtic festival. Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons: Winter and Summer. Beltane joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in full garb. It is said that if you bathe in the dew of Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year.
Beltane literally means “fire of Bel”. Bel is the known as the bright and shinning one. On the eve of Beltane the Celts build two large fires, created from the nine sacred woods. In the honor of summer they were lit, and the herds were ritually driven between them, to purify and protect the herds. The fires celebrate the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth. Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, dancing the Maypole, leaping over fires, and to “go a maying”.
Beltane marks the handfasting (wedding) of the Goddess and God, the reawakening of the earth’s fertility in its fullest. This is the union between the Great Mother and her Young Horned God. This coupling brings new life on earth. It is the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness.
May is the month of sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of the earth and Her Children. It is the time when we reawaken to the vivid colors, vibrant scents, tingling summer breezes, the rapture of summer after a long dormant winter.
It is customary that Handfastings, for a year and a day, occur at this time. These are the trial marriages, that typically occur between a couple before deciding to embark on life eternal. It was understood by our ancestors that one does not really know another until they live with them, and things change. With this understanding unions were entered upon, first as a test period, and then a further commitment. Always knowing that it is only through the choice of both to remain, can the relationship exist.
Beltane brings our brightest hopes for the future. Hopes of love, prosperity, friendship and peace. As we dance among the glorious scented flowers, feeling the fresh dew covered grass on our feet, our thoughts wander through our lives and love blessing us with their wondrous gifts of ecstasy.