Welcome, May! It’s Beltane, one of the major sabbats in the Wheel of the Year. The Ancient Celts did not celebrate the solstices and the equinoxes; they held their fire festivals at the cross-quarter days. Beltane (May 1) and Samhain (October 31) marked the bright half and the dark half of the year.
At Highway to Hel on Patheos.com, Galina Krasskova says, “Beltane is about deciding what kind of person we would like to be when the harvest is done.” In “A Meditation on Beltane.” Krasskova gets to the heart of the sabbat:
At its core, Beltane is about planting. At Ostara we honored the readiness of the land to receive the seed; at Beltane we actually plant those seeds, be they literal or metaphorical. At Ostara we celebrated the potential fertility of the land, at Beltane we revel in its actuality.
This is kind of where the sex part of things comes in. Beltane is about life, growth, and all the messiness of unrestrained passion. It’s about the joining of seed to soil, body to body, physicality to physicality, and the potential joining of sperm to egg. It’s about bringing forth new life, new possibilities, new reasons to celebrate one’s traditions.
The Celts believed that the veils between the worlds were at their thinnest during Beltane and Samhain. At Samhain Pagans commune with their ancestors, their Beloved Dead, but at Beltane we weave crowns of flowers and don our fairy wings. We drink mead and eat sweet cakes and hope to dance with the Fae. Here’s a charming film I found on YouTube. The poetry could be clearer, but the images are spot-on! (Watch it full screen.)
Beltane and Samhain are two points on the same plane. At Samhain we embrace our Mighty Dead, but we also let our inner children run wild and dress ourselves as witches, princesses, bards, warriors, and devils. At Beltane we revel in new spring, the fertility of the land, and the glamour of the Fae, but many of us remember lost love.
At Views from the Cyberhenge, Phaedra Bonwitz shares a different “Beltane Meditation.” This is her first Beltane since her husband
Isaac died last summer.
When I talked to my mother about being a widow (dad died in 2005 at the age of 83) she said the firsts of anything were the hardest. The first birthday, the first Yule, the first New Year’s Eve, our wedding anniversary, that first, awful Samhain, yeah, they were hard. But this is my first Beltane as a widow.
I’ve been single on Beltane before. Then, Beltane was joyful and free and full of possibilities. Then, I was younger. And thinner and not so grey. And there was Isaac, somewhere on the edges of possibility (Isaac was a “could it be possible?” for me from almost the time I understood Beltane.)
Even if we stand in alone and chilled in the dark green shade of this joyous season, it’s good to remember that Love does not end. It penetrates the Veils between the World, and even lovers who are now parted may dance again in the Summerlands.
Filed under: Wheel of the Year and