Monday, May 01, 2006


On the ancient Celtic calendar, the 1st of May was a great festival day called Beltaine (or it was maybe celebrated on the full moon closest to the 1st of May, depending on which anthropologists you ask).

It was the heart of spring, the fires of life returning to all things that grow, a time of blessing and renewal. It is said that on the Eve of Beltaine, lovers would lie together in the fields, making love by the light of moon and bonfire, and that this display of fertility would cause the crops to grow tall and strong, symbolizing the union between the sun and the earth.

It was also said that Beltaine was a time of in-between. In folklore, these were the times when the veils between this world and the Otherworlds wore thin, when spirits and faeries might walk among us, or brave mortals might enter the worlds of faerie.

To guard against intrusion by malevolent spirits,
then, ladies would gather flowers of the hawthorne tree and weave them into wreaths, which they would hang above their doorways or above their children's beds.

It would have been a lovely thing to celebrate my ancestors' tradition by gathering some hawthorne flowers, but alas, in this part of the world, they won't be in bloom for a few weeks yet! (Besides which, they generally grow on private property, and an arrest for trespassing and flower theft is hardly my idea of a festive holiday.)

So what is the American descendant of wild Celts to do?

I picked some dandelions instead. They may not guard against malevolent spirits, but they should! Just look how bright and cheerful they are! What evil spirit would want to hang around with those?

Happy Beltaine!


Tirithien said...

And a very joyous Beltaine to you, my Bainwen. :-)

naive-no-more said...

And you could always make wine with them. :)

I knew there would be some interesting fact here today about May Day.

Bougie Black Boy said...

sorry i've been incognito. you now i got a lot of things on my plate right now.. hope all is well. Seems as if the Nature Spirts are surrounding you, eh?

martie said...

What an interesting lesson. You're always great at finding and posting things that I never knew.

Wow, an educational blog! Neat concept. :)

naneth said...

I'm so glad to see a lovely and spring-like description of May Day! I especially love the part that Beltaine was a time of in-between.

So many used May Day as their chance to fuss and argue; and I'm not just referring to the immigrants national protests. Many on my boards took great delight in getting political, and getting into nasty disagreements. Your blog is refreshingly delightful! Thank you. I needed that!

ericdheimer said...

The Celtics harbored many traditions evident in today's faiths. Carry your torch well:)

naneth said...

Hey, it's now May 3rd. Happy Birthday, my little Sweetie!
Love you,