Monday, 1 May 2017

A Poem for Beltane

I have written previously about International Workers Day's origins, it's emergence from working class struggle,  but today I look at it's pagan root's.
Beltane is a Fire Festival. The word 'Beltane' originates from the Celtic God 'Bel', meaning 'the bright one' and the Gaelic word 'teine' meaning fire. Together they make 'Bright Fire', or 'Goodly Fire' and traditionally bonfires were lit to honor the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun's light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. It is the transition from spring to summer. Beltane is a celebration of the potency of the earth and the forces of nature. This is the beginning of the most active part of the year and the beginning of summer. All of life is rising, birdsong fills the air and growth is everywhere.
Beltane is the last of three fertility festivals. The other two being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second main Celtic festival of the year (Its counter part being Samhain). They divide the year into it’s two primary seasons, Winter (Dark) and Summer (light). As Samhain honors death, Beltane honors life. In Pagan times, Beltane Fires were lit to encourage the sun’s warmth.,On Beltane Eve all fires were extinguished and then lit again on Beltane day. The fire celebrated the return of life and the fruitfulness of the Earth. It was believed that these fires could heal, protect and purify anyone who jumped over their flames. The ancient Celts marked the coming summer with feasts and rituals that honored fertility and the beginning of open pasturing, such as driving cattle between two bonfires,a custom that was believed to magically shield the animals from disease before they were led into summer pastures.
This is a day when the light half of the year is waxing and everything is growing and blooming. It is the last of the Spring Fertility festivals and a time to prepare for the warmer months ahead. The May Queen as well as the Roman Goddess Flora were ways to represent the Divine Feminine aspect of this day. Flora was regarded as one of most ancient goddesses of Roman religion. A goddess of  flowers, vegetation and fertility. The Divine Masculine emerges as The May King or “Jack in the Green.”
This tradition was celebrated throughout Europe  but the church and state did not take kindly to these celebrations, especially during times of popular rebellion. Mayday and the Maypole were outlawed in the 1600's. Yet the tradition still carried on in many rural areas and the trade societies still celebrated Mayday until the 18th Century. The Maypole the popular and familiar image of May Day and Beltane was a phallic pole, often made from birch, was inserted into the Earth representing the potency of the God. The ring of flowers at the top of the Maypole represents the fertile Goddess. Its many coloured ribbons and the ensuing weaving dance symbolise the spiral of Life and the union of the Goddess and God, the union between Earth and Sky, a marriage between the masculine and feminine aspects of life..This union has merrily been re-enacted by humans throughout the centuries. For this is the night of the Greenwood Marriage. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action.,the rituals surrounding Beltane like dancing around May poles, courting rituals, honoring the blossoming of flowers and greening of trees, symbolize the energy of new growth and fertility evident in the natural world during this season. Beltane is also a time of  transition and purification, a time to reflect on where we are in the cycle of life, a liberating occasion  to rekindle what is inside as we celebrate the season's splendour.
Personally today I miss someone deeply, a precious love who loved this time of the year, I would have been sitting with her today, time too is precious. I wish a happy May Day and Beltane to all. .

A Poem for Beltane

Caught between the twilight of spring and summer
Among apple blossom and bluebell's corridor,
We give a nod of respect to the old ways
Hail Beltane, time now to leap the fire,
Jumping flames,time to throw away inhibition
Passion  released as we dance round and round,
Feasting on colour ,in celebration of all shades of life
Emerging triumphant out of the depths of death and dreaming,
The goddess awakening, abundant, joyful, and benevolent
There is beauty in the world, so much power lies in the land,
Bringing joy to cancel out sorrow, to lift us with change
Sacred elements of air, fire, water, earth and spirit,
Let Beltane's warmth in and feel magic unfold
Forget the cares, that worries often bring,
May your songs soar into the night
Your dancing be full of life and strength,
Earth mother opening up to the fertility god
Queen of may and jack o'green laying on the grass,
Sap rising with the embrace of longing
With love in hearts, people bonding,
Petals unfurling releasing the scent of unity
Seeds are sown, rich and poor join in  revelry
All night fires will spiral, hilltops glimmer
Far above the stars shine and shimmer,
Towards the brightening horizon of dreams
Let the blessings of the season be to you and yours..

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