The Temple of Nine Wells - ATC

North Country Beltane


Well, I could write a bit about Beltane and it's meaning in the wheel of the year. About how the name comes from the Gaelic 'Beal-teinne', or Bel's Fire; Bel being a kind of Celtic Sky-Father, as Danu was a kind of Celtic Earth-Mother. How Beltane is one half of the axis of the year, with Samhain being the other half. For ancient European herding cultures, Beltane was that time of the year after which it was safe to let the herds up into the upland meadows.

I could write some about how Beltane, like all Greater Sabbats, is a Fire Festival. In the Highlands of Scotland and in the Western Isles, all the fires of the community would be allowed to go out and a sacred fire, a need-fire, or 'tein-eigen' would be kindled at dawn. The herds would be purified by being run between two fires, and young folk would look for luck by jumping the fire. The sacred fires of Beltane bring protection, good fortune and fertility to the people.

Or, how water was part of Beltane celebrations. Wells were blessed and consecrated on Beltane, and wishes were made, by coming to the well before dawn, walk deosil three times 'round the well, then tie a cloutie, or bit of rag, to the tree that grows closest to the well, connecting Underworld to Upperworld.

Water as dew is part of the lore of Beltane, too. Youngsters can collect the dew form the leaves on Beltane morning to make a facial wash, warranted to make one's complexion clear, while to be sprinkled with May dew one is assured of health and happiness. In the old days in the Scottish Highlands, dairymaids would braid a cord from hairs taken from the tails of the cattle and draw it through the May dew grass, saying "Bainne an te so shios, bainne an te so shuas, 'nam ghogan mhor fhein" (Milk of this one down, milk of that one up, into my own big pail).

I could write some about how Beltane represents the sacred marriage, or Hieros Gamos, of the Goddess in Her guise of Earth Mother with the Horned One in His guise of Jack O' The Green, Green Man, providing the Divine spark that awakens the Goddess's fecundity, providing fertility to the land, the beasts and the people.

But what I want to write about is this Beltane. Despite wars and harsh acts between strangers, when I step out my door, the endless cycle of Life is manifestly continuing, oblivious to the madness of humankind. A warm and gentle wind stirs the pines, itself a magnificent blessing, for carrying the promise of Summer, I'm reminded of many another Beltane when Summer seemed far off, and Winter had not yet relinquished it's grip on the Land. The waxing Moon lofts in the sky a hairsbreadth from Jupiter; last week She was next to Venus at sunset. Up here north of Boston, this year the snow is just a memory, streams and rivers are flush with spring. The buds of the trees swell with the promise of new life. The spring peepers are in full voice, singing an aria of amphibian passion, froggy lust for Life. Every other pond has ducklings swimming next to their moms, and robins hop across the lawn in the twilight. The smell of Life In The Earth is on the breeze, sweet in the nostrils. Truly, the Goddess is alive, and the magick of Life is afoot. In the soft spring twilight, the timeless promise is revealed, renewed.

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