Beltane! (aka Beltaine, Belltaine, Beltain, Beltine, Bealtaine, Bealteine)
Beltane is a time of fertility, impulsivity, new adventures, balance and love. It is a time when there is a lot of distance between the domestic home and physical farming/rearing livestock so there is much longing for unions and celebration.
For centuries Maypoles have been erected in public areas where the whole community could see them. These poles were decorated with garlands, wreaths of flowers and leaves, and later on ribbons were added and ritual dances incorporated the artful weaving patterns we see around the Maypole. The Maypole has been linked as a symbol of the world tree, being the connection between the Ancestors (the Well) and the Gods and Goddesses (the Fire), a symbol of the earth (the Tree) and a celebration of the children who live upon it. The maypole is also easily a symbol of fertility, given its shape, and the season at hand, celebrations of lovers, both old and new are celebrated with a Maypole dance.
One Celtic Deity highly celebrated this time of year is Belenos!
Belenus (Belenos, Belinus, Bel, Beli Mawr) is a Celtic god of the Sun and light. The name Beltaine means “Fire of Bel” or “Bright Fire” and it is Belenus that often takes the form of the Green Man in other pagan faiths at Beltaine time.
Because of his solar attributes he is connected to fertility and growth. He is also associated with hot springs, and healing. With his smolderingly fire-like characteristics he is also a warm and sensual god at this time of year. It is his union with the Goddess, Mother Earth that creates life for the remainder of spring and through summer.
One of the most common Beltaine practices, were huge cleansing bonfires lit on country sides. Beltaine marks the beginning of the summer season in Ireland and after the Beltaine festivals, farmers would pass their herds between these fires to purify the livestock before bringing them into the new summer pastures. It is thought that the warmth and blessing of Belenus would travel with the livestock after Beltaine.
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