Beltane in the Past and Present
May 1 is Beltane, or May Day, is one of the four major holidays in the pagan Wheel of the Year. It falls directly opposite to Samhain, with six months in between the two cross-quarter days. Astrological Beltane (the half way point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice) falls a few days later, this year it coincides with the Scorpio Full Moon of May 5.
In the pagan calendar, it is a fire holiday. Though the origins of the name are disputed, it seems to have Anglo-Saxon or Celtic origins, perhaps from bright fire, or bale-fire, or after the Celtic Sun God Bel. Beltane is also associated with fertility, especially because it corresponded to the traditional last stretch of the last phase of the agricultural planting season.
Balefires are still common throughout Europe on the eve of (called Walpurgisnacht in Central and North Europe), and on Beltane proper. Fire is incorporated within Beltane rituals because of its association with the sun, celebrating with giant bon or balefires in order to ensure the sun’s light would promote a fruitful and prosperous growing season.
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I wrote a little something for the Wonderworks blog about Beltane, check it out! And now I am running off to my celebration. Take care, dear ones.