May Day is upon us! It is time to prepare ourselves for the bounty of the Summer season. But where did the traditions of May Day originate? It comes from the ancient festival of Beltane which can be traced back to the ancient Celts and translates to “fire of Bel”.
Bel, or Belenos, is the Celtic Sun god, “god of light”, and “the shining god”. His magic was associated with regeneration and healing. He was depicted on a horse drawn chariot, as he rode the Sun across the sky throwing bolts of lightning. His influence became well known across Europe, with representations of his likeness being found in the Scottish Highlands down to Spain and Italy.
The celebration of Beltane is the halfway point between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice acknowledged on May 1. To learn how astrology affects the solstices and equinoxes of the year click here. It welcomes the revival of the Sun’s powerful energy and is honored with bonfires to strengthen its return. This dedication supports the restoration of life, fruitful crops, and healthy cattle.
This is the union of the Sun god with the fertility energy of the Goddess.
The initiation of Beltane would include the extinguishing of all household hearths/fireplaces. Instead, bonfires would be lit in the fields of the village. Cattle would be decorated with brightly colored flowers, typically yellow and white, and lined up between the fires in a row. The smoke from the fires was used to purify the air and signify protection for the cattle and crops.
Maypoles are tall wooden poles that were erected and garnished with multicolored ribbons, flowers, and leaves. Individuals would hold one end of the ribbon dancing in a circle around the maypole weaving the ribbons into a pattern. This is the symbolized the unity of the masculine and feminine divine, as well as for the community.
Participants would celebrate with music and dancing. Individuals dancing around the fires and jumping over them a traditional indication for Beltane. Baked goods were prepared as offerings to Belenos for his fire and light returning its warmth to the Earth once again.
Households participating in the festival would relight their hearths with the wood from the celebration’s bonfires.
There are ways that we can celebrate this fire festival each May welcoming the Sun’s life giving energy. This is a time for igniting the fire within ourselves and connecting with the fertility of life.
- Fire: honor this time of year with its traditional symbol - fire. Yellow, white, and green candles can be lit on your altar. If you have the means you can light a fire in your backyard. Always light and extinguish fires responsibly.
- Flowers: Pick flowers and fruit to decorate your home or sacred space. Plant seeds or seedlings in your own garden to represent the fertility of Beltane. Draw pictures of flowers with your children to symbolize the bounty of Summer!
- Fairies: Summer is a time of magic and connecting to nature. Create a fairy garden and leave offerings of sweets and baked goods recognizing this magical realm in our homes and all around us.
- Dance: Listen to energizing music to let the vibration of sound rush through your body and energy field. This is a beautiful way to express yourself through motion and connect with the Goddess.
- Maypole: Create your own Maypole with a tree branch, ribbons, and flowers to signify the fertility energy of the Goddess and the Green Man.
To learn more about an interactive workshop for you and your child(ren) click here.
Written by Angels Oasis resident reader and The Angel Astrologer Renee Masse