Celtic Traditions: Beltane

Our Scottish ancestry is rich in Celtic traditions

The Celts follow an Earth based seasonal wheel. The Celtic year is divided into two halves, the dark beginning with Samhain and the light beginning with Beltane. In between these are Imbolc and Lughnasadh/Lammas. These key points of the Celtic year were recognized as doorways, when the veil between the worlds are thinnest.

These quarters are further divided by the solstices and equinoxes:  Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. These were referred to as the Albans.

We’re all familiar with the solstices as they are noted as the longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year. The word is derived from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still.

Equinoxes also occur twice a year, when day and night are equal lengths. In fact, the word is derived from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night.

Today is Beltane (generally pronounced BELL-tane though the Gaelic is bee-YAWL-tinnuh)

Beltane is counter to Samhain. Beltane is a cross quarter day between Ostara and Litha falling on May 1st but like other Celtic festivals it is celebrated on its eve, April 30th.

Celebrating the triumph of summer over winter, Beltane rejoices in the union, both that of the Goddess and the God as well as that between man and woman. Celebrating fertility and sexuality. Beltane is a season of maturing life and deep love, a time of vow and commitments. Handfastings were common at Beltane.

For Celts, Beltane is a joyous festival that marks the time of beginnings in Celtic myth and legend and the arrival of faeries.

New fires are created from the power of fire within wood, such as a well-seasoned oak: The fire, termed tein-eigan: a forced- or need-fire, is elicited by means of turning a wimble in a socket or an axle-tree in a hole, creating fire through friction, and the first sparks are caught in kindling and the new fire, like that of the new summer, would be born: The old year fires are extinguished as a preamble and embers of the new fire would be brought into the homes to rekindle the hearth (Frazer, J. 1890, 1922).

Decorate your home with a Maypole, flowers, and ribbons. Scents to include are lilac and frankincense.

Give it a try —
  • Stoke a “bonfire” — candles, a fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, anything you have on hand will do.
  • Attend a May Day celebration.
  • Dance wildly.
  • Spring has sprung…get outside and enjoy nature.
  • Make a faerie offering.
  • Engage in a pleasure ritual.

A blessed Beltane to you all ~ 

Sherri Siggy


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