May is the time of fertility and new beginnings after a long winter. The Faeries are afoot! They dance in the hills and roll in the grass, reveling in the joy of warm May breezes. Our spirits are high with the lust and heartiness of spring. New life is stirring and appetites are keen. -Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth
Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. It is a time when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. Beltane kicks off the merry month of May, and has a long history. This fire festival is celebrated on May 1 with bonfires, Maypoles, dancing, and lots intimate energy. The Celts honored the fertility of the Goddess with gifts and offerings. Cattle were driven through the smoke of the balefires, and blessed with health and fertility for the coming year and for the same reason people and especially couples would also walk between the fires. In Ireland, the fires of Tara were the first ones lit every year at Beltane, and all other fires were lit with a flame from Tara.
The Romans, always known for celebrating holidays in a big way, spent the first day of May paying tribute to their Lares, the gods of their household. They also celebrated the Floralia, or festival of flowers, which consisted of three days of unbridled sexual activity. Participants wore flowers in their hair (much like May Day celebrants later on), and there were plays, songs, and dances. At the end of the festivities, animals were set loose inside the Circus Maximus, and beans were scattered around to ensure fertility. The fire festival of Bona Dea was also celebrated on May 2nd.
The excitement and beauty of Beltane can not be better expressed than through the gaiety and joy of children. There is not doubt “spring fever” hits at Beltane, and hits hard. Children are full of unbridled energy charged up and ready to go! Children always amplify the seasonal energies and the thrill of their change, they bring richness and merriment wherever they go. It is the child’s unrestrained expression of bliss and delight that is what Beltane is all about. It is the sheer joy of running through fields, picking flowers, rupturing in the sunlight, delighting in the fragrance of spring, dancing in the fresh dew covered grass. Children guide us through the natural abandonment of our adult sensibilities and show us how to take grand pleasure, warmth and bliss from the gift of Beltane.