Beltane Fire Dance by Loreena McKennittTraditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. "This was the Tein-eigen, the need fire. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, the villagers would take some of the Teineigen to start their fires anew."
~ (From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred)
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held on April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on April 30.
Flora's altar at Rome was said to have been established by the Sabine king Titus Tatius during the semi-legendary Regal period. Flusalis (linguistically equivalent to Floralia) was a month on the Sabine calendar, and Varro counted Flora among the Sabine deities.
May Day (or the day after Walpurgis Night).
Walpurgis Night is the English translation of Walpurgisnacht, one of the Dutch and German names for the night of 30 April. In Germanic folklore, Walpurgisnacht, also called Hexennacht (Dutch: heksennacht), literally "Witches' Night", is believed to be the night of a witches' meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe.
Stonemaiden Art - EtsyIn the Arthurian legends, the Flower Bride is Guinevere, though she is usually abducted on May 1 and must be rescued. However, in Celtic lore, there are many ladies or goddesses, such as Creiddyled and Bloudewedd, who fit this role.
http://jodeee.deviantart.com/art/Cernunnos-563034529The Young Oak King, as Jack-In-The-Green, as the Green Man, falls in love with her and wins her hand.
The union is consummated and the May Queen becomes pregnant.
"Sacred Marriage" between Dumuzi and Inanna on a bed. Old Babylonian Period.
I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,
If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break:
But I must gather knots of flower, and buds and garlands gay,
For I’m to be the Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be the Queen o’ the May.
– From “The May Queen” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
According to folklore, the tradition once had a sinister twist, in that the May Queen was put to death once the festivities were over. The veracity of this belief is difficult to establish; it may just be a folk memory of ancient pagan customs. Still, frequent associations between May Day rituals.
Michael A. Michail - Flora.The Faery Queen also represents the May Queen, although in practice the honour is usually carried out by young women who are soon to be married.
Mists of Avalon
Morgan le Fay is a powerful enchantress in the Arthurian legend. Early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or sorceress. She became both more prominent and morally ambivalent in later texts.
A "May Crowning" is a traditional Roman Catholic ritual that occurs in the month of May, honoring the Virgin Mary as "the Queen of May".
Our Lady of the Sea, Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland ~ The May CrownThe feminine connection in many forms ~
Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. The title is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed "theotokos", a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English "Mother of God". The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary. In the Hebrew Bible, under some Davidic kings, the gebirah, the "Great Lady", usually the Mother of the King, held great power as advocate with the king.In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. A text probably coming from Origen (died c. 254) gives her the title domina, the feminine form of Latin dominus, Lord. That same title also appears in many other early writers, e.g., Jerome, and Peter Chrysologus. The first Mariological definition and basis for the title of Mary Queen of Heaven developed at the Council of Ephesus, where Mary was defined to be the Mother of God.
Our Lady, Star of the Sea is an ancient title for the Virgin Mary. The words Star of the Sea are a translation of the Latin title Stella Maris.The title has been in use since the at least the early medieval period. Originally arising from a scribal error in a supposed etymology of the name Mary, it came to be seen as allegorical of Mary's role as "guiding star", as a guide and protector of seafarers, in particular, the Apostleship of the Sea, and many coastal churches are named Stella Maris or Star of the Sea.
Mists of Avalon
Hawthorn tree is the true symbol of Beltane, the original May tree, and the tree of the fairy folk. Also known as the May-tree, due to its flowering period, it is the only British plant named after the month in which it blooms.
In Britain, it was believed that bringing hawthorn blossom into the house would be followed by illness and death, and in Medieval times it was said that hawthorn blossom smelled like the Great Plague. Botanists later learned that the chemical trimethylamine in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue, so it is not surprising that hawthorn flowers are associated with death.
A hundred years I slept beneath a thorn
Until the tree was root and branches of my thought,
Until white petals blossomed in my crown.
~ From The Traveller by Kathleen Raine
When we read of medieval knights and ladies riding out ‘a-maying’ on the first morning of May, this refers to the flowering hawthorn boughs they gathered to decorate the halls rather than the month itself. For on this day, according to the Old Style calendar that was in use until the 18th century, the woods and hedges were alight with its glistening white blossoms.
In some villages, mayers would leave a hawthorn branch at every house, singing traditional songs as they went.
The young girls rose at dawn to bathe in dew gathered from hawthorn flowers to ensure their beauty in the coming year. For May was the month of courtship and love-making after the winter's cold; and so the hawthorn is often found linked with love-making. In ancient Greece, the wood was used for the marriage torch, and girls wore hawthorn crowns at weddings.But while hawthorn was a propitious tree at Maytime, in other circumstances it was considered unlucky. Witches were supposed to make their brooms from it, and in some parts, it was equated with the abhorred elder, as in the rhyme:
Hawthorn bloom and elder-flowers
Will fill a house with evil powers.
Even today many people will not allow the branches inside the house, for, as one might expect from its association with Beltane, a time when the two worlds meet, it is considered a tree sacred to the faeries, and thus to be regarded with fear at the least, respect at most. As such, it often stands at the threshold of the Otherworld.
In the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, the Scots poet is taken away by the Queen of Elfland as he sits beneath an ancient thorn known as the Eildon tree. In another old rhyme, the Ballad of Sir Cawline, a lady dares the hero to go to Eldridge Hill where a hawthorn grows, to await there the faery king.
There are noteworthy parallels between this tale and the romance, The History of Sir Eger, Sir Graham, and Sir Gray-steel.
The full moon of May, also known as the Flower Moon, Milk Moon, or Hare Moon, will occur Wednesday (May 10) at 5:42 p.m. EDT (2142 GMT). It will appear full to the casual observer for about a day before and after.
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the Native American name for the May full moon was the Full Flower Moon, though some Algonquin-speaking nations named it the Corn Planting Moon or Milk Moon (milk, referring to nurture - milkweed or cows, though not native to the Americas).
Flower Moon ~ May ~ by Ithilyen on Deviantart
Haiku ~ Flower Moon
light of the moon
moves west, flowers' shadows
Just a thought:
Perhaps, keeping in mind the feminine moon cycle (and matrilineal aspects), Beltane would be best celebrated by the moon cycle and not the modern dating of the Gregorian calender.
Did you know:
1. The original Roman calendar is believed to have been an observational lunar calendar whose months began from the first signs of a new crescent moon. Because a lunar cycle is about 29½ days long, such months would have varied between 29 and 30 days.
2. A lunar calendar is a calendar based upon cycles of the Moon's phases (synodic months), in contrast to solar calendars based solely upon the solar year. The details of when months begin varies from calendar to calendar, with some using new, full, or crescent moons and others employing detailed calculations. Traditional lunar and lunisolar calendars continue to be used throughout the Old World to determine religious festivals and national holidays. Such holidays include Ramadan (Islamic calendar); the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian New Year (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian calendars); the Nepali New Year (Nepali calendar); the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chuseok (Chinese and Korean calendars); Loi Krathong (Thai calendar); and Diwali (Hindu calendars).
Maypole History HERE
My apologies, for the rather long post. I get excited about this theme in folklore. 😉
Love and light,