May 1st is Beltane. It’s a joyous celebration of Spring, complete with flowers, ribbons and fire.
And yes, it’s a fertility holiday, too.
It’s not just about that.
Beltane is a fire holiday that celebrates not only the creation of new life, but the creation of prosperity. In the old days, people would light the Beltane bonfires in celebration of the sun returning in full force to help everything grow. Couples would hold hands and jump the flames to show their commitment to one another, with those that jumped the flames at their highest, without letting go of each other’s hands, bringing good luck to their relationship for the years to come. Usually, the eldest couple in the village would wait till the end of the night, when the fire had dimmed to just coals, and holding hands, they’d step over the remaining fire calmly. This was the culmination of the night, and afterwards, everyone would take some of the leftover coals home to light their hearthfires, knowing that they contained all that hope and love that had been infused into it by the people that leapt the flames.
The villagers would also bring their cattle, and drive them past the bonfires, to bring fertility to their herds, and luck to their farms.
Beltane is about the earth breaking open, to release the magick of the seeds that had lain just under the surface, and growing into the crops, flowers and grass that was necessary for life.
It’s about the breaking open of all sorts of magick, that’s lain fallow over the winter, waiting for its moment to come forth and spill good luck and prosperity over those that wish for it. It’s about the fulfillment of hopes and dreams, and seeing the beginning of new and wonderful things in your life, after waiting through the darker times, and working for this new start.
And then, there’s the maypole.
Young maidens and young men were typically chosen to dance around the maypole, weaving the ribbons round it in a certain pattern.
It was designed to bring the young people together, allowing them to meet one another in a supervised setting, giving the parents a chance to find “good matches” for their children in the future. It was also about “weaving the magick” to the earth, through the wooden pole stuck into the ground, making it stay in one place, to “hold” the magick and good luck in one place, ensuring the prosperity of the villagers for the whole year.
This Beltane, some friends and I are finishing a ritual that we began at Ostara. Eggs were cleaned out, decorated, and a slip of paper containing our hopes and wishes were placed inside of them, and sealed with tissue and wax. In this way, we were “planting” our dreams, giving the magick time to grow within. At Beltane, we will crush the eggs in our ritual, releasing the magick into reality, and burning the slips of paper to deliver our dreams to the God and Goddess, in the hopes that they will be received and fulfilled for us.
No one speaks about their wishes that were written, safeguarding the magick with silence. I know, though, that the magick has already begun. Speaking with one of the others, as well as my own experiences, tells me that this is so.
And on Sunday….. everything will become the reality that I’ve been wishing for.
So Mote It Be.