Beltane is a Celtic and Gaelic period of festival that marks a cross-quarter day between the Spring and Summer Solstice. Guided by the appearance of the Moon but generally celebrated a few days either side of 1st May which we now know as May Day.
Beltane (bright fire) marks a threshold of invitation; the journeying of the Moon and the nearing of the Sun draw life out into the world and we are invited along with it. It is the pause before the curtain rises.
Spiritually it is a time for cleansing, for eagerness, for embracing our potential. It is a time to shake the cobwebs from our creative life and step out with the courage of baby birds leaving the nest.
It has a festival air of optimism; a time when the world is bright and the promise of summer is in the air; where the waxing power of the Sun is recognised in the full flowering of the Spring flowers and the cacophony of the morning chorus.
The Rowan or Hawthorn blossoms of clusters of small white flowers represent the explosion of life in the woodlands; both trees are also known as May trees. They are particularly used as trees of protection which is why you find them marking the boundaries of gardens and fields.
Hawthorn and Rowan wood is used for door and window lintels and for cradles and mangers. At Beltane, boughs of fresh flowering trees are hung over the main doors and and trees themselves may be decorated with ribbons and flowers.
Akin to this is the custom of Well Dressing where the gift of pure, running spring water is celebrated by blessing and decorating the well and surrounding area with ribbons, flowers and figures made out of cones, seeds and berries.
The Beltane fire echoes the shared blessing of the longer days.
Then the hearths would all be cleared to be started again with a brand from the bonfire with a celebration of burgeoning, new life with food, dancing, flowers and the fertile fecundity of Mother Earth.
In Christianity, the whole month of May is dedicated to Mary with many of the customs of Beltane being baptised into the church and community traditions of May Queens, May processions and festivals of flowers. After all,such customs and traditions are ways for humanity to be mindful of a world that truly is wonderful, however we believe it was brought into being.
Mary epitomises the promise of 'yes' that nature is proclaiming before our eyes and beneath our feet. We are surrounded by the Incarnation of God's creation;take the time to be mindful and to be thankful.
Blessing of Beltane
Blessing of sun and moon
in drawing out of darkness
Blessing of fire and water
in healing and cleansing
Blessing of earth and sky
in holding and yearning
Blessing of leaf and bloom
in fruitful anticipation
Blessing of betwixt and between
in invitation and letting go
Blessing of the One who gives
in the eternity of giving
Blessing of the Three in One
in the Circle of Love