Monday, May 4, 2015

This Week on the Celtic Calendar: Beltane

This year's Beltane fire.
On the Celtic calendar, May 1 is the celebration of Beltane, the first day of summer.  In the pastoral world of the Celtic peoples of long ago, the first day of May (or thereabouts) marked the transition from budding spring to blossoming summer.  The rituals surrounding Beltane--dancing around May poles, courting rituals, honoring the blossoming of flowers and greening of trees-- symbolize the energy of new growth and fertility evident in the natural world during this season.

Beltane is also a time of transition and purification.  Households would douse their individual fires and relight them from a common bonfire, lit on the evening of the celebration.  Livestock were often driven through a path between two bonfires in order to ensure fruitful breeding seasons.   Sometimes oatcakes or bags of flour were shared around the communal fire to ensure a good harvest.  

While most of us no longer dance around be-ribboned poles or sit around bonfires on May 1, Beltane does offer us an opportunity to reflect on where we are in the cycle of life:   new growth, fertility, or transition and purification.  For more suggestions for spiritual practices for the season, click here ..