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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Keefer

Have a Blessed Beltane!


Or, as you may have grown up calling it…May Day! One of the 8 pagan sabbats, Beltane is opposite of Samhain and the other sabbat during which it is said the veil between the human world and the spirit world is the thinnest. This makes it a wonderful time to honor those who have walked through the human world before us. One of the ways to do this is to write a note to your ancestors or loved ones who have passed over and ceremonial burn the note in a Beltane bonfire and let the ashes flutter on the wind, carrying your message to the spirit world.


Also known as Cétshamhain in Irish mythology, it is translated to be first of summer, Beltane is the marker for the beginning of summer. During this time, rituals were performed to protect the livestock which had been recently sent to pasture, encourage growth, and to protect the crops and people through the growing season.


There were usually great feasts during which some of the food and drink was reserved for the aos si or the faeries and spirit people. Bonfires were lit in the belief that the ashes and smoke had protective powers, so the people participating would dance around them and leap over them to take advantage of those powers.


Beltane dew was said to bring beauty and youthfulness, so some would go out at the first light of dawn and wash themselves in the dew. The windows and doors of homes were decorated with yellow flowers and ribbons, with yellow being the color of Beltane. Generally, those flowers were primrose, hawthorn, and marsh marigold.


Additionally, in parts of Ireland, the people would make a May bush they decorated with flowers, ribbons, shells, and rushlights. This responsibility would fall upon the oldest member of the household and the bush or tree would remain up until May 31. It is said this is where the practice of creating a May pole transpired.


Beltane festivals have somewhat diminished since the early 20th century; however, we are seeing a renewed interest in recent years. Most of the major ones are in Scotland, Ireland and the UK…but I’ll be attending one on Friday night…better late than not at all!




Let me end with a traditional Scottish Beltane blessing…

 

Bless, O Threefold true and bountiful,

Myself, my spouse and my children,

My tender children and their beloved mother at their head,

On the fragrant plain, at the gay mountain sheiling,

On the fragrant plain, at the gay mountain sheiling.

 

Everything within my dwelling or in my possession,

All kine and crops, all flocks and corn,

From Hallow Eve to Beltane Eve,

With goodly progress and gentle blessing,

From sea to sea, and every river mouth,

From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.

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