Monday, April 30, 2012
Beltane, the Great Marriage
Beltane stems from an ancient Celtic fertility festival. Its name translates to mean "brilliant fires" as people would build great bonfires in honor of this celebration of new life. It is said that some people would jump over the fires, or pass their cattle through two fires for good luck. Traditionally, the festival would begin on the night of April 30, and last through the night of May 1st. It was also a time for marriages and handfastings, as it is a season of love.
Beltane is a time when the earth is in a process of rebirth, the Goddess is reaching her fullness, and this is the time for the Great Marriage. The Goddess, or the May Queen and the God, or the Oak King, would hold a sacred sexual union, of earth and the universe. This sacred union would create the new life that springs forth during Spring and Summer. This sacred encounter was known as Hieros Gamos in the Greek world. This ritual would involve a man and woman acting out the part of the Goddess and the God in a sexual union. Many cultures performed rituals like these around this time of year. In the Sumerian culture, a High Priestess of Inanna, Goddess of love, fertility and war, would enact a form of the Sacred Marriage with the King of the city state. There is also Walpurgisnacht, this Germanic festival was named for Walpurga, who was a Christian saint. This celebration eventually blended with Norse festivals of Spring and became what is today known as Walpurgisnacht. It is celebrated in parts of Northern Europe and although it is named after a Christian saint, it is honored in the ancient Pagan ways. With great bonfires, dancing, singing, among many other festivities. It too is held on the night of April 30, and lasts through May 1st.
On Beltane, just like at Samhain, the veil between worlds is thin and communication with the Fae and spirits is said to be possible. Goddesses to honor for Beltane are Persephone, Artemis, Aphrodite, Flora and also the May Queen as well as Faeries. This time marks the beginning of new life, of rebirth and love. It is a season of flowers, sunny days and the promise that life always regenerates itself. Even after the death of the earth at autumn and winter, the earth will always rebirth itself anew, just like in our own lives. Life always starts over, in many different aspects.
Wishing you all many abundant Beltane blessings!
Photo courtesy of Emily Balivet
Posted by Tara at 3:41 PM