Aloha!! It’s Lei day here in Hawaii, May day in many parts of the world, and it is of course Beltaine as well!!
I wanted to post something for Beltaine, and so I am going to include a ritual that you can imagine as you read through it, as well as some basic background for this High Holiday.
As I celebrate it, it is the spring fertility rite, it is the Divine Marriage of the God and the Goddess; and represents our passion and inspiration and conception of our greater yet to be. It is also the festival related to the Celtic God Bel, who is one of the Gods that I personally work with, he is a God of light and the Bel fire.
Here is some background…
Bel’s festival is Beltane, one of two main Celtic fire festivals. Beltane celebrates the return of life and fertility to the world — marking the beginning of Summer and the growing season. Taking place on the night of April 30, or the dawn and remaining day of May 1st, Beltane also is sometimes referred to as “Cetsamhain” which means “opposite Samhain.” The word “Beltaine” literally means “bright” or “brilliant fire,” and refers to the bonfire lit by a presiding Druid in honor of Bile.
The Celts used Beltaine celebration to bless the herds by driving them between two large fires to cleanse them before taking them to the summer pastures. Beltaine begins the season of summer as well as the “summer half” of the year. This High Holy Day was dedicated to adolescent joy, contests, frolicking in the woods, romance and passion. Dancing around the Maypole, games, and feasting are the usual customs.
In old Irish, one of the meanings of “Bel” is “bright” and “Teinne” denotes “fire,” joining to form “Beltaine”
In Celtic mythology, “Aed” refers to “fire” and an early fire deity associated with the Assaroe Falls near Ballyshannon, Ireland. Two better known characters, Lugh and Balor are solar gods who arrived with the Celts. Within the dark of the sidhe mounds lay the brilliantly lit palaces of the fairy folk. The gentry themselves are often described as radiant beings. This underworld of brilliance was later demonized as Christian “hellfire.” Even today, individuals who encounter Otherworldly or deceased spirits describe them as luminous figures.
In Ireland, the central site of the Beltaine festival is the Hill of Uisneach, in County Westmeath. Twin fires lit atop the hill signaled to fires on neighboring hills, forming an enormous bonfire web through which those assembled could see and be seen by the Goddess of the land, Aine. Then as today, ritual contact with the spiraling forces of life restored vitality to the participant and renewed the divine ligature between worlds.
Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin.
In Ireland, one of the early races of conquerors was known as the Tuatha de Danaan, and they were considered mighty and powerful. It was believed that once the next wave of invaders arrived, the Tuatha went underground. In hiding from the Milesians, the Tuatha evolved into Ireland’s faerie race. Typically, in Celtic legend and lore, the Fae are associated with magical underground caverns and springs — it was believed that a traveler who went too far into one of these places would find himself in the Faerie realm.
Another way to access the world of the Fae was to find a secret entrance. These were typically guarded, but every once in a while an enterprising adventurer would find his way in. Often, he found upon leaving that more time had passed than he expected. In several tales, mortals who spend a day in the fairy realm find that seven years have passed in their own world.
The following is one version of a guided meditation ritual I have used to get in touch with the wonderful energy of this day and season.
Ground and center and get settled into your body, start to breath deeply and let yourself relax into that place between waking and sleep where you can ride the waves of your imagination.
Imagine that you are coming into a beautiful open field.
You see an open air Carriage decked with ribbons and bells sparkling jewels and soft white fur, you are thrilled to realize it is waiting for you, so you climb into the soft wide seat. It is being pulled by two beautiful horses with wings, who prance along the path, they know where they are going so you relax as the warm breeze softly playing against your cheek and you ride, the excitement building and you ride onward through beautiful country.
As you continue you look around you the trees and air takes on a glowing golden hue, as if the setting sun is warming it all with color and golden sweet honey.
The carriage stops at the end of a meadow, with little multicolored flowers fragrant among the grasses.
Stepping out of the carriage you look down at yourself and see that you are dressed in beautiful new clothing, silks and velvets, suede and ribbons, flowers and feathers. There is a bright bon fire in the center of the meadow and people are dancing around the fire there are bright Fey folk among the people adding to the song and festivities.
Speak to the Fey, let them greet you. Share secrets and stories during this time where the view between our world and theirs is so very thin. Let them bedeck you with even more finery.
You see a path that leads up to a hillside. On the top of the hill you see an oak tree and under it there are figures standing at the top. Stepping onto the path you walk along it. You follow the path up the hill, you look down and notice that it is lit on both sides with candles that look like glowing small stars.
As you get nearer you begin to see who it is that waits for you. It is Aphrodite and the Horned God of the Forest, smiling with eyes sparking with amusement and enjoyment; they are so very glad that you have joined them here.
You see a little past them a canopy/bower that is decked out in finery and you want to go to it, but you know that you must still wait a while yet.
You step first to Aphrodite. She is lovely and shining, hair flowing and skin lit from within. Drink in the attraction and the beauty, sea foam and sensual energy, permission for love. Go to her and receive her embrace, she has something to give you, a gift for your Beltane ritual. You realize that you have a gift for her as well, give it to her and know her enjoyment. Exchange thanks.
Next you go to the God of the forest, see him energized and smiling, filled with abundance and the energy of the rite of spring, eyes shining with merriment, embrace him and feel your own life force and vigor, the wild night in him and in you, the birth of desire and manifestation, creation and fulfillment, that he emanates. Again receive from him the gift he has for you, and give him what you find you have to give to him in offering, exchange thanks.
You see the next leg of your journey had two paths one goes along the fireside to join in with Bel who is the God of the Beltaine fire and the other dancing celebrants, the other goes towards a flowery bower that holds a beautiful bed made of rose petals and softest down mattresses, with wild furs thrown across it. There are many luscious things hidden in the warm shadows. It calls to you.
Realize that at any time that you can connect completely at what every level you wish and can also at any time move from the bed to the fire side to dance with the others. Knowing that each is a wonderful place to be, and if you dance near the fire you can feel the swirl of energy from the bower; and from the bower you are aware that everyone around the fire is lending their energy to your connection with the Divine.
You take a deep breath, and feel the soft ground under your feet.
As you pass the heat of the fire you are aware of your own energy rising, feel it, breath it in, it is warm at first then filling you. Your heart is open and you feel relaxed and secure, wonderfully at home in your body.
You feel yourself to be the God or Goddess, knowing yourself to be exactly that. As you look upon the beautiful soft flower petal bed you see that you are not alone, you are joined by the aspect of the God or Goddess that best compliments you.
You feel yourself glow with energy and life; you know that you are indeed divine and that you are divinity incarnate in living flesh. You feel spring call to you now; you heed the call and fall laughing into the fur and feathers and satin folds. Looking deeply into the eyes of Divinity there, connect at all levels, feeling the energy move through you. Knowing this to be indeed the meeting of the God and the Goddess in sacred marriage and the Great Rite.
As you look into the eyes of your consort, the light changes for a moment. You recognize now that you are also looking into the eyes of your special lover in your waking world, or perhaps it is the eyes of the one that waits for you that you have yet to meet. Know them to be also the God and Goddess in form.
Feel the springtime rising in you, ripe and ready to burst forth with abundance and flower, sweet and succulent nectar. Breathe deeply and feel yourself rising on the energy bursting into the Universe shooting stars fly past with glittering light. Hear the sounds of bells and song, smile and know yourself to be beautiful and beloved of the Gods just exactly as you are. You are decked in beauty and light and sensual pleasure and it is all so very very good.
Know that you are sacred that your union is sacred see it flow out in all directions, bringing spring and flower and new life to everything around you and into all the worlds. Knowing that it brings into your own life the fruition of plans and joyous beginnings made manifest as you will them to be.
Breathe and Bask in the golden light of creation and afterglow. Thanking the Goddess and God for their energy and love you receive a shining kiss on your forehead, bringing you back to your self. Energized and buoyant, you rise from the bower and drape flowers and vines around your body and you go to join the others. Revel in the fire and the twilight and see the stars begin to shine above you.
You see your carriage waiting for you and waving to your friends, you climb in. The carriage rolls through the countryside you are watching the purple shadows and silver moonlight flow by you as you travel back to where you began.
As you are driving back you notice that your clothing and festival wear is melting away like morning mist. The carriage stops and you get out. You stand cleansed and new and you notice how at home you feel in your body, you know yourself to be comfortable and strong and that your heart is warm and open.
You begin to allow your awareness to expand, bringing the energy and lightness and creativity with you to the physical plane, clothing yourself in physical reality and clothing that you began with.
Taking a deep relaxing breath and grounding out any excess energy, carrying with you your divinity and the gift from the Gods, you come to this reality awake and aware and refreshed. Wiggling your finger and toes. And open your eyes.
(copywrite Erika Ginnis 2014)
Blessings and Aloha,