Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Beltaine by Barbara Carvallo
May 1st marks the ancient Gaelic celebration of Beltaine. In the Irish Gaelic language it is Bealtaine (pronounced béal-taine), and occurring halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice it is one of eight great Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year. As a seasonal festival it marks the beginning of the Earth’s journey through the sweet, sensuous time of summer.
Bonfires lit on the sides of hills or more contained fires in populated areas symbolize the fire of life that is generated at this time. Young and energetic animals, newly immerging perennials, blossoming fruit trees and budding roses tells us that Goddess Herself has released the fire, growing steadily since the Quickening at Imbolc within Her womb.
Yellow flowers are sacred at this time. Primrose, hazel, marsh marigold and others adorn altars and are given to friends and loved ones in bouquets with Beltaine blessings for regeneration, healing and new awareness. Rich orange Carnelian stones symbolizing a gardener’s confidence and will to action may rest and glow with fire opals, the sun’s surrogate, in the light of yellow and pale green candles on the altar as well.
Holy Wells, sacred to the Goddess Brigit, are also included in the joy and beauty of Beltaine. In my training these wells are symbolized by water in a ritual bowl and used in moonlight for scrying. This is a form of meditation whereby focusing on the water, the blood of the Goddess, contained in a womb like vessel presents a conduit for entering the collective unconscious. In this altered state one perceives in a limited way with the eyes of the Goddess and hears Her voice, thus deepening our insight and enriching our awareness so that we might observe with what my Irish grandmother called the “sight.” It is the past, bleeding through the present and into the future that we see. Do not confuse this with the inanity of fortune telling. It is a deep and revered communion with our Goddess that we seek.
At this time I invoke the company and aid of the sacred Fae. According to my belief the Fairy people live in a land that is not of our dimension during the winter months. When summoned in the first blush of summer they come and take up residence to assist the gardener in maintaining flowers, herbs, shrubs and food planted in Her name and growing through Her grace.
Today I Iook out upon my gardens covered in a blanket of snow that falling feather like from a late winter’s sky obscures the spring from view. It is 31 degrees here on the Plains. The celebration of Beltaine and the calling of the Fae is postponed like the season itself. The gentle Brigit stands behind a lace veil waiting for the Crone of Winter to recede from the landscape. Brigit knows and by Her benevolence so do I that the Great Lady stays for a purpose. I wonder how many will understand that purpose.