Beltane is on its way! May 1st is Beltane, a Gaelic and Celtic holiday that falls on the mid-point between the vernal equinox and summer solstice, and sits opposite Samhain on the Wheel of the Year. Like Samhain, it’s considered a liminal time, when the veil between the worlds is thin and the supernatural walks among us (though in the form of fairies rather than ghosts).
Beltane traditions include the May Pole (a phallic symbol if ever there was one), bonfires, and the sacred wedding of the Green Man to the May Queen. At an archetypal level, the marriage of the May Queen and Green Man may represent a marriage of the Anima Mundi and the Spiritus Mundi – the female and male aspects of the World Soul.
The May Queen was a living representative of the Roman goddess, Flora [Tweet this!], a natural outgrowth of the ancient three-day Roman feast of flowers, Floriala, which reached its apex on May 1st, and was marked by uninhibited sexuality. Like the Empress card in Tarot, Beltane is a holiday ripe with potential, reflecting the earth’s reproductive energy as buds burst forth. In the middle ages, “greenwood marriages” took place between Lovers who spent Beltane Eve in the forest, returning with flowers and garlands to decorate their homes with on the first May morning. Rites representing the sacred marriage, or Hieros Gamos, between heaven and earth to bring fertility remain a key component of this holiday.
The idea of this sacred marriage between above and below, heaven and earth, is also reflected in the Beltane tradition of lighting bonfires [Tweet this!], which represent bringing the Sun’s light down to earth. “Beltane” translates to “bright” or “brilliant fire.” Women jumped across these low fires to manifest fertility, and carried their children across the fire’s embers to ensure their good health. Ashes from the fires were then thrown onto the crops for protection and fertilization.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss is the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective.