May Day. Walpurgis Night. Beltane. Whatever your observance of this day happens to be, they are all an early acknowledgement of the approaching Summer. We have had quite a bit of ‘April Showers’ on the marsh. The temperatures have been topping out in the upper-70’s, with an occasional day that hits the 80 degree mark. As someone who prefers the muted colors and cooler temperatures of the darker half of the year, I am not particularly looking forward to Summer’s heat and the accompanying heaviness of our southern humidity. However, I do appreciate the color that returns to Gaia in the warmer months.
Beltane is the last of the three Spring fertility festivals. Per the pagan Wheel of the Year, it signals the start to the light half of the year (the dark half starting on Samhain). Much like its darker opposite, Beltane is a time when the veils between worlds are at their thinnest. It is a time to honor those who have passed, and to celebrate new life. The new life that starts to grow and blossom around us from the dormant and dead wake left by the ‘sleepy’ side of the year. It is the celebration of the god and goddess having their nuptials, and many others celebrating their weddings, ‘hand-fastings’, or ‘broomstick jumps’, as well.
Historically, the ‘Tein-eigen’ (need fire) would be lit, and the jumping would begin. Jumps through the smoke rising from the fire for cleansing, and protection. For fertility. Couples would jump to show their commitment to one another. Farm animals of all types would be driven through the thick smoke to make them fertile, and keep them free of sickness. Then when all was said and done, flaming embers would be taken by each celebrant to light their home fire…a fire to signal new beginnings. Today, Beltane is a fire (and fertility) festival, a bonfire being at the center of celebrations the world over. The symbolic fire honors the Sun, and the Celtic god Bel, so that the community will be protected and the future harvests will be nurtured.
Midsummer. Summer Solstice. The official start to Summer kicking into high gear is June 20th (in my neck of the woods). We still have over a month before things get intense, and I know that intense they well be. Intense heat. Intense humidity. Even now, the Oak King prepares himself for his imminent, and inevitable, yearly battle with the Holly King at Midsummer. As planned, the Oak King will be victorious in his defeat of the Holly King. Until Yule, that is. Then they clash again, and the Holly King will reign once more.
What follows are some images of various elements that are representative of Beltane, and the return of thriving flora and fauna to our northern hemisphere. Whatever your preferences in celebrating Summer’s approach, wishing you the happiest of months ahead.
|(The May Queen in a Scottish Beltane celebration; stone representation of the Green Man)|
|(Left: Birch trees; Center: Rowan wood chips; Right: Acorns)|
|(Flowers in the center picture above: Hawthorn blossoms)|
|(Fruits from top to bottom: Peaches, Cherries, Mango, Pomegranate)|
|(Left to right: Watermelon Tourmaline, Emerald, Rose Quartz, Garnet)|