Apr 29, 2013

Beltane Blessings!

Bel-tane is named for the old Celtic god, Bel, bright, shining, and tan, fire. In honoring a god of light and fire, Celtic sacred tradition is akin to every other religion, East and West, which acknowledges a great being of Divine Fire and Light as the primary power of creation. The oldest Indo-European wisdom teachings of all, the Vedas, describe the Divine Fire, Agni, as the source of all life, which is expressed by the Sun, Surya. The spiritual path is frequently described as one that leads from the darkness of ignorance to illumination. And just as Eastern paths such as Buddhism teach meditations that will lead us to enlightenment, in the Western Esoteric Tradition we climb the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to reach the blissful level of consciousness known as Ain Soph Aur, or Limitless Light.

Beltane is also the great spring holiday of the Goddess. Halfway around the year from Samhain, when we honor out beloved dead, Beltane is the festival that celebrates all of the living world: plants, animals, and human beings. On both occasions, the veil between the worlds is said to be thin, and is no more unusual to see the fairies near Beltane, than it is to see the spirits of the dead at Samhain. Beltane is a time of Faerie Magic and the Queen of faeries is represented by the Queen of the May. Along with her consort, she rules over the festivities and serves as representative of the Goddess.

Beltane is the Holiday of fertility. For Pagans, one of the great gifts of the Goddess is the power of the earth to grow wonderful flowers and fruits and all the things we eat. We are thankful for the fertility of the earth, and our job is to keep the land and the soil healthy, to protect the animals and plants and trees so that fertility can continue. The earth is a living being, and all of her creatures are part of her body. Each has a place, a purpose, a special part in the great dance of life.

On Beltane, we also celebrate all the different kinds of human fertility and creativity. We give thanks for the power women and men have to make babies, to bring new people into the world. But people can create in other ways as well. When we paint pictures, make up songs, tell new stories, plant a garden, or cook a dinner, we take part in the fertility of the Goddess.

Beltane is also the time when we celebrate the joys of being alive. We give thanks for all the different kinds of pleasure our bodies give us, for without our bodies we couldn't see, hear, touch, taste, smell, run, dance, jump, sing, dance, or swim.

Pagans believe that, just as the different plants and animals each have a special purpose in the web of life, so do the different kinds of people. That's why we should never mock people because of how they look or what they can or cannot do. People who cannot walk or see or hear or who have some other difference, have been given a special challenge in this life by the Goddess. Many things may be harder for them, but other things may be easier. And the harder the challenges we face, the more we can grow in our inner power.

In ancient times Bel-fires were lit on hilltops to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the world. Jumping over the fire could ensure safe delivery of a pregnant woman, spring spouses to young people, grant traveling a safe journey, ensure health, and bring about conception for a barren woman.

Beltane is a time of chaos, of the wild energy and passion found in the Greenwood. Be careful when you walk abroad on Beltane night - you never know what you're going to encounter.

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