Light Your Fire For Beltaine
Celtic culture has its origins in nature worship which includes the concept of sacred trees, caves, stones, rivers, streams, wells, and fire. The Celtic year follows the seasons with four major observances: Samhain on 1 November, Imbolc 1 of February, Beltaine 1 May, and Lughnasadh 1 of August, each holiday being a fire festival. The lands settled by the Celts are mainly in northern Europe and, of course, Ireland so Celtic culture was deeply affected by the relative harshness of the winter months making the movements of the sun of particular interest. Each fire festival marks a significant increase or decrease in light and warmth and in keeping with the practices of sympathetic magic on which nature religions were based, the fire festivals were meant to ‘keep the flame alive’ in terms of garnering the attention of the primary fire goddess and her consort who died a ritual death at the end of each year.
Light Your Fire For Beltaine
Without doubt, the happiest fire festival of the year is Beltaine which marks the coming change from spring to summer with the return of green god from the dead and the union of couples in fertility rites. As with most spiritual rituals, there is a practical side to the whole affair. The fires themselves were used to consume to the floor rushes, the straw stuffing from the mattresses and other detritus accumulated over the winter. The fire was intended to purify the land and provide the flame that would light the new hearth fires for the next few months. Fire is a powerful force and a potent psychological and emotional symbol in human imagination. It is both life sustaining and life destroying, a constant reminder of the fragility of natural balances that must be maintained to keep the human world from disaster. By collectively observing the fire rituals of the year, the Celts hoped to forge a bond with the spirits of the land and the air upon which their survival depended. One of sadder aspects of our ‘enlightened’ science-based society is the loss of such collective rituals that once united humans in the recognition that we are inter-dependent with nature and with each other. It is gratifying to see the recent revival of the fire festivals not only in Celtic cultures but in many others around the world as well. Practices that deepen our regard for nature and implicitly acknowledge our dependence upon the natural world can do much to help re-balance our relationship with the planet and with each other.
If a bonfire is not on your agenda consider lighting a special candle to mark each of the fire festivals of the year, each candle in a colour appropriate to the season. Beltaine would obviously be green! If you like the candle above, please, visit Celtic Illuminations, HERE
For more information on fire festivals or the Celtic Wheel of the Year, visit Delia’s “A List” Amazon Shop HERE.