Pagan Celtic Celebration of Beltane

By: Christopher “Lobo” Ostrowski
Demonology Team Chair

Today is April 30*. Starting tonight at Sundown is the Pagan Celtic Celebration of Beltane. Imagine, centuries ago. The Fires of Bel would be light on the Mountain sides throughout the Celtic region of the World. The local tribes would pick a May Queen to symbolize the Goddess. She would choose a Male to represent the God that the Goddess gave birth to at the Winter Solstice. They would go off into to the woods to celebrate their Union.

Beltane’s fires also mark the bright half of the year. Since it lies in the northern hemisphere, we consider it spring. Actually it marks the start of summer whose middle point will be celebrated at “Midsummer” in June.

Other names for Beltane include: May Day, Cetsamhain, The ‘opposite Samhain’, Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church’s name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people’s allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingam – symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross – Roman instrument of death)….

A good portion of ancient Celtic magic is sympathetic. This means that all actions were performed to simulate the desired result.

The Maypole is an important aspect of the Celebrations. It is the Symbol of the God. The Maypole dance was an important aspect of encouraging the return of fertility to the earth. As people passionately dance around and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it raises is sent down into the earth’s womb, bringing about Her full awakening and fruitfulness
May was also the time to encourage crops, animals, and people to grow and reproduce abundantly. Unions among unmarried partners were a way to encourage this result, but it was considered unlucky to marry at this time of disorder
May is not the month to marry. May is the Goddess and God’s handfasting month, all honor would be Hers and His…

When the Romans invaded Western Europe and Britain, much of the symbolism and rites of the Floralia and Beltane became comingled. It became the holiday we now call May Day or Walpurgis. The custom of going ‘a-Maying’, which is collecting flowers, greenery and the maypole early on the morning of May 1, survives to this day. The lighting of Bel fires in Britain, Germany and other countries of Europe, also remains intact. The sexual aspect of the holiday, however sadly, has become almost extinct in many countries. The festivities became viewed as sinful by some Christian leaders, and in 1644 the celebration was banned by the Puritan-controlled Parliament in Britain….

Beltane, just like its counterpart Samhain, divides the year into its two primary seasons, Winter and Summer. As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane is about bringing forth Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter.
Beltane, also like Samhain, is a time of “No -Time”. “No-Time” is an in-between time, when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. “No- Time” is when the two worlds can intermingle. It is when the strongest Magic can be performed. It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite.

On the night before Beltane, people would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of “No-Time”.

* Although Beltane is now usually celebrated from sundown April 30th to sundown on the first of May, it should be noted that in earlier times, before the calendar changes of 1752, all dates year-round would have come some days later — precious extra days, in springtide especially, during which time the hawthorn (“mayflower”) and many more trees and flowers would have begun blooming.



Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.
Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.