Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Beltane!

TODAY ON TUES TIDBITS WITH B.J. SCOTT. WE DISCUSS THE CELEBRATION OF BELTANE. Beltane is the ancient Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and on the Isle of Man. It falls on May 1st, and is one of four significant dates in the Gaelic callender. The name originates from the Celtic god, Bel - the 'bright one', and the Gaelic word 'teine' meaning fire, giving the name 'bealttainn', meaning 'bright fire'. This is the beginning of the 'lighted half' of the year when the Sun begins to set later in the evening and the hawthorn blossoms. To our ancestors Beltane was the coming of summer and fertility.
The Celts leapt over Beltane fires - for fertility and purification. Bonfires are lit on Beltane Eve on hills, moors, mountains and places of political significance. Livestock were driven through paths lined by fires as a means of cleansing, protection, to promote fertility and enhase milk yield. Those attending the festivals followed the animals between the fires and danced around them, hoping for the same protective results. Juniper bows were often tossed into the fires to cleanse and bless the smoke. Young men circled the Beltaine fires holding Rowan branches to bring protection against evil - its bright berries suggested fire. Beltane is a time of partnerships and fertility. New couples proclaim their love for each other on this day. It is also the ideal day to start new projects. Handfasting is the ancient Pagan and Celtic ceremony marked the taking of a partner - this involves a commitment to perform an annual review of relationship. The couple's hands are ritually bound together to symbolize their union. Some people choose to use a ribbon that they have both signed. Between Beltane and the Summer Solstice is the most popular time for handfastings Going 'A-Maying' meant staying out all night to gather flowering hawthorn, watching the sunrise and making love in the woods. This was called a 'greenwood marriage'.
The maypole, a phallic pole planted deep in the earth representing the potency and fecundity of the God, its unwinding ribbons symbolized the unwinding of the spiral of life and the union of male and female - the Goddess and God. It is usually topped by a ring of flowers to represent the fertile Goddess. Beltane cakes or bannocks oatcakes coated with a baked on custard made of cream, eggs and butter - were cooked over open fires and anyone who chose a misshapen piece or a piece with a black spot was likely to suffer bad luck in the coming months. They were also offered to the spirits who protect the livestock, by facing the Beltane fire and casting them over their shoulders. Beltane and its opposite, Samhain (Oct 31) were terminal dates in Medieval culture. Both being associated with spirits from the 'other world' roaming the earth.


Meggan Connors said...

Great post, BJ!

B.J. Scott said...

Thanks Meggan

Always great to see you.

Ann Montclair said...

Happy Beltane day to all! My secretary said this little ditty: "Hooray, Hooray, it's the first of May, outdoor_____ begins today." You can fill in the blank however you see fit. :)

B.J. Scott said...

Cute ditty and filling in the blank is the most fun.

Thanks for stopping in Ann

Rose said...

LoveLoveLove Beltane!! My most favorite Pagan holiday.

Secret: my twins were conceived on Beltane 17 years ago. Now THAT'S the way to celebrate this holiday! ;-)

Thanks for the great post, BJ!

Shiela Stewart said...

Wow, this is facinating. I had no idea. Thanks for enlightening me. :)

B.J. Scott said...

Hi Rose

Thanks for coming in. They say it is the day for fertility so you have living proof ;)

Thanks for stopping by