May Day falls on the first day of May, and Beltane ‘proper’ is when the Sun is at 15 degrees of Taurus — usually around the 4th or 5th of May. In 2017, it’s Solar Beltane on May 5th.
As Eric Francis of Planet Waves also says, some celebrated the whole month … The May. (See a link below.)
Beltane — a Gael name for this time of year — celebrates the beginning of Summer on ancient calendars, and marks the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Spring has sprung, and Summer is on its way.
It’s a seasonal celebration of Love and the Life blooming and ripening from Spring, which promised, it was hoped, an abundant, fertile Summer and a good Autumn harvest. If previous harvests were blighted and the Winter even more harsh, the hope for the coming year helped to keep people’s heart-fires and resilience alive.
Given the Great Shift that’s underway to restore “the world’s lost heart” as the best leader of the head and intellect, now is as good a time as any to recommit (or commit for the first time) to being more and more heart-centered.
It’s also a time of clearing that which may have collected or grown stagnant over the Winter (seasonally or life-cycle). It’s a time of purification, expressing gratitude, and invoking blessings.
This brings to mind what the Sufi’s call “polishing the mirror of the heart,” so that we’re able to see and hear through the heart — an intention common to most (and possibly all) spiritual traditions.
How could you not celebrate love, Life, and Nature when, after a long, dark, hard Winter, you look around at the fertile blooms of Spring emerging?
We might also see it as a ‘return of the Fire within’ — whether our heart-and-soul-centered passion for life and purpose, or a renewal of the Divine Spark at our heart and core. Perhaps they’re more related than we might think?
The ancients often had a deeper appreciation for these things, and a richer connection to the cycles of Life and the causes for celebration and deep gratitude. They celebrated things that we have learned to take for granted.
Where there are seasons, however marked or subtle, and where the Wheel of the Year was marked by the progress of Sun and Moon — which means pretty much everywhere on Earth — there were these kinds of celebrations our ancestors, of whatever Family Tree root or branch, would have marked their year with.
They feasted, danced, sang, celebrated, made love, collected flowers, lit ceremonial fires, cleaned, smudged, and rejoiced at Life.
So what are the Beltane key themes?
Life, love, joy, fertility, greening, warmth, fire, generosity, planting, emergent life, beauty, renewal. Yum.
Have a look at some others — which ones speak most to you & stir your heart-fullness, courage, love, and passion?
Traditional Ways of Celebrating May Day and/or Beltane
* Make a ‘Spring Tree’ or May Day tree, with colorful ribbons;
* Get the body moving … dance, walk, wander, stretch, love, or however else you might be blessed and able to do it;
* Smudge or do other things that help clear out the funk and open your heart;
* Light a candle indoors or a fire-pit fire outdoors (unless you’re in a drought zone – then stick to the candle or wee electric faery lights or a drawing of lights);
* Enjoy sacred sensual-relating with your beloved, and/or by tending your own body as the miracle it is, whatever its current challenge or condition or calendar-age.
What I appreciate so much about the various timeless traditions and celebrations is that, for one, people found ways to celebrate them whether conditions had been ‘abundant’ or meager, or the times harsh or peaceful. These weren’t celebrations confined to the wealthy (and were often considered ‘peasant’ ways).
Also, very often, they show a common thread amongst times, cultures and spiritual traditions, because they were based on the Wheel of the Year and a reliance on Earth’s ‘wild bounty’, natural elements, and cycles with which life, food, wellness, craft and creativity, livelihood, and subsistence were interdependent.
In that sense, now as with our ancestors, we’re all children under the Sun and Moon, with our feet (and the bones or ashes of our ancestors) on the Earth, and our food and vital sustenance coming from it.
How might your own ancestors have celebrated this time of year?
Take a look, too, at Jeff’s post – Beltane by Ian Anderson – with its evocative and beautiful image, and ‘bridge between old and modern’ symbolism.
And Eric Francis of Planet Waves has an inspired message for The May — find it here.
Happy May Day and ‘Bright Light’ season.