On or around 1st May in the northern hemisphere and 1st November in the southern, Beltane represents the beginning of Summer or the height of Spring.
It is thought that the ancients only recognised two seasons, these being Summer and Winter. Beltane is the time when the Earth is literally buzzing with fertility. Life springs forth in all of its richness, and the land is covered with beautiful flowers; the freshly opened leaves of the trees are a quality of green that they only show at this time of year. At Beltane the Lady of the Land takes the hand of the Horned God. Some celebrate Beltane on the dates given above, whilst others look to the flowers of the May tree as their signal that Beltane has, at last, arrived.
Deeper into Beltane
Beltane (Beltaine, Belltaine, Bealtaine, Beltain, Beltine, Bealteine, Bealtuinn, Boaldyn), meaning ‘bright fire’ or ‘lucky fire’ is held on May 1st (May 15th in Scotland) and celebrates the start of summer, the crop and pasturing season. Although scholars are non-commital, many of us believe Beltane honors the ancient continental Celtic sun and healer God, Belenus.
At Beltane, we open to the God and Goddess of Youth. However old we are, Spring makes us feel young again, and at Beltane we jump over the fires of vitality and youth and allow that vitality to enliven and heal us. When young we might use this time as an opportunity to connect to our sensuality in a positive creative way, and when older the mating that we seek might well be one of the feminine and masculine sides of our nature. Integration of the male and female aspects of the Self has long been seen as one of the prime goals of spiritual and psychotherapeutic work, and Beltane represents the time when we can open to this work fully, allowing the natural union of polarities that occurs in nature at this time the opportunity to help us in our work – a work that is essentially alchemical.
Father Sun shines brightly
Warming mother Earth
Joining in creation
First Beltane as a Bard
Oh those wonderful brown packages of light carried on the waves of modern transportation to be cradled in my mail box just waiting for my eager hand to pluck them out with pure delight. Ever so gently I break the seal and remove the contents spreading them out so I can gaze at each article with childish curiosity and an overwhelming sense of Awe. This was just the third OBOD course package that I had received, but already they were teaching me how to dance with my Soul. The depths, the lengths that these few lessons had taken me is something that I could not have fathomed in the years prior. Simple, eloquent guides for life. Rituals for my years. A song that I can call my own. Poetry that was written for me.
This third packet of mine gave me the gift of a ritual for Beltane. This is a season that I was familiar with already. The May Pole. The flowers. The month of May holds a special place in my heart anyway. May ushered in the birth of my mother and my daughter whom I named after the Spring Goddess, Maia. I was even married to my beautiful wife during the first week of May. So on top of all that joy that I had already be given by May, I now have a ritual to do that honors her in a way that is most certainly deserving. I started to read the lessons that my third packet contained and right away the ritual of the dance came out to play. My soul and I twirled around each other in graceful, flowing movements that could have won a blue ribbon in a ball room dance contest. The walls of my domain turned to trees of glory. My carpet grew lush green grass, and my ceiling gave way to a star-filled night sky. Then I realized that it was not just me and my soul dancing in my lush, dewy, sacred grove, but another couple had to join in as well. Beltane and Samhuinn. Two couples that were of completely different lights. One bright, one dark. Two different temperatures. One hot, one cold. In fact they were different in every way possible, but there they were in front of me. No longer embodied in just a point of time, but as two manifested figures enjoying the same dance as I in our sacred grove. He, Samhuinn, tall dark and mysterious. She, Beltane, bright and beautiful. My soul and I took a seat on the grass so we could watch this most amazing of dances. The music seemed to be played by the leaves of the willows. A haunting violin melody with a mixture of pure joyous flutes. The flowers swayed as the couple passed. With each step they took the stars grew brighter. Nothing but peace and love radiated from their being. Two elements that were so different came together to complete a circuit that was so whole, so right.
Time again slipped into the world of my grove and the couple, still dancing, faded into the air. The veil lifted. And I again was back in the world that my body inhabits. The grass that I was sitting on turned back to carpet. The Oaks, willows, and elms turned back into the walls of my residents. And my soul once again took up occupancy inside this shell of a man. But the wonder of it all stayed behind to keep me company like it always does. And the dance of it all was still being played inside me, inside you, and inside the world and universe. My wish is that we all find our dance this Beltane.