May Day! May Day!
Spring is in full bloom! It’s May Eve and the bonfires are ablaze and there is much merriment. The word “Beltaine” literally means ‘bright’ or brilliant fire’, so the fires have been lit.
They’re created from the nine sacred woods, the Willow of the streams, the Hazel of the rocks, the Alder of the marshes, the Birch of the waterfalls, the Rowan of the shade, the Yew of resilience, the Elm of the brae, and the Oak of the sun. The ninth wood is uncertain but was possibly Holly or Ash.
The cattle, who have been confined for the long winter months, are passed between the twin flames for purification and fertility before they are taken out to summer pastures. Those hoping to conceive a child jump over the fire in hope that Bel (Beli, Balar, Belenus) – the god of light and fire – will bless them, heal them and protect them.
Already pregnant women pass through the fire in hope of an easy birth. Girls leaped over it in hope that they will be given a good husband. The old people circled it saying prayers and travelers used it for protection and good luck.
People dance around Maypole (itself a symbol of fertility) dressed in their best outfits. Maypoles were traditionally made from the Hawthorn tree. On May Eve members of the community would tear branches from the Hawthorn tree and decorate their houses as they believed it to be a tree of hope, pleasure, and protection.
The Chief Druid has returned to join in all the merriment and to perform the festive ritual as well as acknowledging the pairing of young couples, though not yet their wedding – which would wait for three months to see if they were well suited.
People played games or rushed off to the forest to make love in the open air. The festival will last 3 days. Beltane was a time of reawakening of the earth and all of her children. A most joyous occasion. Maidens bathed in the dew of Beltane morning believing that their beauty would flourish throughout the year. On a psychological level Beltane marks the time of our adolescence and early man and womanhood.
* Visiting the Botanical Gardens to see all the flowers in bloom.
* Celebrate your sexuality.
* Imagine what it’s like to be the opposite sex.
* You could always light a candle and jump over it – making a wish as you do for good luck.
* Make love in the garden with your lover.
* If you can’t pick fresh flowers – buy some and decoratively put them all around your house.
* On Beltane Eve – roll in the dew or wash your face in pre-dawn dew for good health, luck, and beauty.
*Put some water in a bowl and scry. © Druid Priestess Jyoti Eagles