Beltane is an ancient Celtic festival celebrated primarily in Ireland and Scotland on the first day of May. It can also be traced as far back to Egypt and the people of Sumer. On the surface, this holiday celebrates fertility during a time when many animals are mating and farmers are planting their fields hoping for an abundant harvest later in the year. People of the old cultures honored this time of year by dancing around a roaring bonfire and a maypole tied with colorful ribbons. Stories of food and perhaps too much wine, led to lovemaking beneath the stars, all in honor of celebrating the fertility of nature.
However, as we peel back the layers of myth, we discover an older story. Beltane is a cross-quarter day standing between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, much like Halloween stands between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. They are both considered powerful times of the year when the "veil between the worlds is thin."
In the older stories, the Maypole is woven with only two colors of ribbon, white and red. Some say the white represents semen and the red represents blood. However, others say the white represents the land of the Sidhe(pronounced Sheee) - or as many refer to them as the faerie folk. The blood represents the land of humans. It's inferred that Beltane was traditionally celebrated as a time when the two worlds came together. The veil was lifted and the beings of the Sidhe and humans entered into fertility rites that essentially wove the two lands together as well as their DNA.
Both the Sidhe and the humans believed this to be a valuable rite and understood that producing offspring that blended the two, would eventually lead to a world where the veil between the two worlds would dissolve and the "new human", carrying both human and Sidhe blood would embody the consciousness of both worlds. Perhaps this is what is inferred when we talk about the sacred marriage of heaven and earth, for the land of the Sidhe is often described as the Garden of Eden.
Today, here at Hawk Circle, we have no Maypole this year as we have in other years, but we do have a bonfire waiting to burn. This will be my quiet celebration. A bonfire, a festive meal for my family and all the while, I'm going to hold in my heart an opening, a doorway to the land of the Sidhe. I've had too many experiences in nature where the veil is lifted and the landscape suddenly becomes sparkly and vibrant with emerald green light pulsating all around me to discount the older stories of the Sidhe.
So whether you are celebrating this day by gathering a few May flowers, or dancing around a Maypole, or honoring this day by feeling the joy of the young plants sprouting, the greening of the pasture lands and the unfurling leaves of the trees, I hope you have a blessed day and experience a glimpse of the magic of nature.