Celtic Beltane: The Festival of Fire and Fertility on May 1st
With the arrival of May the 1st, in many parts of the planet, the Celtic tradition celebrates the beginning of Beltane (sometimes also known as Beltaine or Beilteine), which is the third of the four great celebrations of the Celtic Year. It marks the end of the dark season and the beginning of the light season.
What is Celtic Beltane, the celebration on the 1st or May?
Beltane is one of the main events of the Pagan tradition and is celebrated on the night of April 30th to May 1st. Among other names, we can also refer to it as the First of May, the Eve of May Day, Walpurgis Night or the Old Bhealtinn, among others. Originally, it was carried out during the first blooming of the hawthorn.
Beltane is the Celtic festival of fire and fertility, of light. It symbolizes the meeting of the god Belenos and the goddess Belisama, the brilliant pair of Gallic gods that represented youth, sun and fire. Legend has it that after mating with the Mother Earth Goddess and fertilizing her, Belenos died to be reborn as the goddess's son.
Thus, we could define Beltane as a ritual celebration marked for May 1st in honour of the renewal of the radiant light, the victory of the day. It welcomes a period of the year with more sun, which will last until Samonios. This festival originated in Ireland, but also in Gaul. At present, Beltane is a date marked in the calendar of followers of the Wicca movement
The Beltane Fire
As previously mentioned, Beltane is the Celtic festival of fire and fertility. According to tradition, the druids created it for its magic and enchantments. The Beltane Fire is a powerful fire, sacred and strong, and the one who lights it is a person of power.
Beltane marks a break in the year, we go from the dark season to the clear and bright season; it is a change of life, certain daily activities begin, such as the resumption of hunting, conquering, the beginning of agrarian and rural work for farmers and breeders
Within that transition, May 1st is also the time chosen for the rites of passage between the cold and warm periods, between darkness and light, between symbolic psychic death and spiritual rebirth.
Beltane: how this magical day is celebrated
Along with Samhain, Beltane is the period when the boundary between the physical and the spiritual world is blurred. While Samhain lasted, the dead and other ghosts crossed the veil, while in Beltane it was the fairies, the elves and other creatures who crossed it.
The tradition dictates, as if it were a ritual, that on the day of Beltane one rises with the Sun to pick flowers, green branches (a symbol of the Goddess) to be used as ritual decoration or to decorate oneself.
Another custom of Beltane was to burn oak branches and jump over them, which granted protection against epidemics until the following year, especially for cattle.
People danced to celebrate the return of the sun, nature that was fertile and alive, hopes and wishes that had become a reality, and carried torches to encourage the Sun to continue its ascent by heating the Earth. The Beltane fires have purifying and fertilizing virtues.
It is not insignificant that in the calendar, May 1st continues to be marked as an important day: in Europe, this day is celebrated as Labour Day, which also symbolizes prosperity and in ancient times, it was customary on this day to plant a tree, something that began to become in a symbol celebrating the union or encounter of God and the Goddess in England. When Christianizing the Beltane, May 1st was assigned to Saint Joseph the Worker.
Why Beltane is the Festival of Fertility
Beltane is a fertility festival that highlights the evident rebirth of nature. The power of elemental spirits (fairies, elves, gnomes, undines, salamanders) becomes more important and reaches its peak during the Summer Solstice festival. The main aspect of the Goddess at this moment is that of the woman, wet, attractive and luminous.
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The festival of Beltane calls to maintain sexual encounters in full nature, in the forest, because the stimulating spring energy sharpens the senses. It is said that children who are conceived on the night of May 1st will feel how loved and cherished they are. And for prevention, if you do not want to have more children, you better use good contraceptives if you want to have carnal encounters in Beltane!
This period of time is also useful for any individual to analyse their sex life, how they live it and how they would like to live it, maintaining their self-esteem, manifesting for everyone all that sexuality means to us.
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Rituals to perform in Beltane
If you want to celebrate Beltane, you must become aware of your own light and spread it, projecting your energy to help others. Visit people in need or sick, elderly people who live alone. Play with children, gather your friends and transmit the joy of living.
In the morning, go out to greet the Sun, from your window, or outdoors if possible. If it is in your hand, collect dew from the dawn. Wetting your face with it will help you stay young.
If you make protective amulets, such as coloured ribbons, or protective ropes, they will serve as a shield throughout the year. You can hang ribbons in the trees wishing good fortune on your loved ones.
Go to the forest, prepare a tray with fruits, seeds, nuts, and leave it there to serve as food for smaller animals, as well as for the spirits of nature such as the undines, elves or salamanders.
If you can, fill your life with happy colours: white, green, pink, yellow, red. Create garlands of flowers, like daisies. Wild spring flowers, such as violets, are also useful.
Make sure your diet does not lack honey, milk, strawberries and oats. You can also include almonds, asparagus, nettles, lettuce, carrots and any other seasonal products.