Monday, April 30, 2012


Ahhh, Beltane, the time of the big sun has finally arrived!

Beltane, or La Baal Tinne (meaning Bright Fire), was one of the (pagan) Four Great Festivals. Traditionally, the festival started with open pasturing, the beginning of summer and the welcoming of the sun's heat to promote growth of livestock and crops. Bonfires were rekindled with sympathetic magick to encourage the sun's warmth to penetrate the earth.
The Celts believed that at this time in the Otherworld the sacred fire of Tamhair-na-Righ (Tara of the Kings) was lit every three years. There was great ceremony with this, by using a brazen lens to concentrate the sun's rays on dried wood, as all the sacred fires of the Sidhe were lit. They also believed the Faery were at their happiest on May eve, and the music of their harps and pipes were heard all through the night.
It was from the sacred fire that all participants lighted brands and took them home to light their domestic fires.
Bonfires always played a part in ceremonies. The men would draw lots to see who would jump over the flames three times when they were their highest, and the women when they were low. This was a practice to protect them from the powers of evil.
Cattle had their horns decorated with garlands of rowan and vervain to honor the May Queen, and driven between two bonfires, and sprinkled with water from The Purity of the Well.  Cows who's skin was singed became the sacrificial animal for the feast.
If a snow white heifer appeared among the cattle, The Celts believed it was good luck.
A May-bush was decorated and the women danced around it, wearing garland, and the men carried a green bough. At the end of the dance, the woman would toss her garland to the gentleman of her choice, if he was successful in catching it on his bough, he gained her affections. But if he dropped it, heartache was certain to follow.Throughout the night, music and story telling were heard around the fire, and then mystical dancing until dawn's early light.

Of course so many of these things do not, and cannot, apply to today's world. Time, space and basic laws would not allow big bonfires, or frightening animal sacrifices to be made. But there are many things we can do today to fit the traditions of the past.

One of our favorite things to do is pick wild flowers and place them in a paper cone, hang them on the front door, knock and run! Or for the elderly, just hand them the handful of flowers and see the smile it brings.
Make special breads and have an outdoor cookout, if weather allows.

Lately in my world, I've had the joy of just walking around and appreciating the simple beauty of all the activity going on in nature around me. I am fortunate enough to live in a forested wetland, so there is so much going on, I have to stop and really watch, or I miss it.
Just this morning, there were hummingbirds diving at us as we walked, woodpeckers drumming on trees and street signs, and jays laughing. The skunk cabbage is in full bloom, their bright yellow, pitchered flowers brightening the swampy ground, and makes forgiving their smell is a little easier. The cherry and apple trees are heavy with blossoms and the dark soil in my garden have leafy green rows just starting.

Just as in ancient times, the cycle is renewing, the soil is rewarming and life is returning. It's not so hard to find that fine line that time creates. Using imagination and some creativity, it seems so simple to step over, recreate, and celebrate life.

Happy Beltane!

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~♥~ Hope you find magic in your day ~♥~

Thank you for stopping by!


  1. Lovely picture and summary, Colleen! Thank you so much. And a very happy Beltane to you and all your beasties, magickal and otherwise. I know you already have chicks. The lambs are up and running here; calves and foals are not far behind. We are lucky to live so close to nature, but even in the cities people hear the voices of flowers. I will toast you and my other friends at my Beltane bonfire! :)

  2. I always love everything about the myths and customs and magic in Scotland. What a wonderful world to live in where you celebrate things such as spring and new growth. I think of my husband who has been planting vegetables like crazy and we will no doubt be feeding the neighborhood this summer.

    Bless you in the new warmth coming to the earth.

  3. Great post, thanks. I live in Scotland and my grown-up daughter (who is also a writer) went to the Beltane festival at Edinburgh last year just to experience the fun. The photos were amazing!

  4. Wonderful post! Gelatine is most definitely a magical time --and I'm always up for a bit o' magic ;) Blessings to all!! :)

  5. Colleen,

    I love the way you wrote this post, but especially the way you ended it. The festival is, after all, a celebration of renewal. Your evocative garden brings back to all of us the ancient need for cyclic revival. Hallelujah! I worship in your spring garden.

    Thanks for a lovely reminder of why May Day is special, and of how Celtic traditions still figure in our modern world.

    Slán, Erin O'Quinn

  6. Interesting story. I learned something today! Thanks, Colleen


  7. Thank you all for stopping by! :) My garden and all the critters, big and small, bring such simple pleasure. It truly is my magic world. I feel like every day is Earth Day!


  8. Another of those days when the stones set by the ancients point directly to the sun. Thanks for the well written overview, Colleen. Very enjoyable post!