Saturday, 30 April 2016

Beltane )O( 30th April ~ 1st May ~ May Day 2016

A Special Time
Beltane is the anglicised name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1st May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
 In Irish, the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine. 
In Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn.
In Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn.
Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke, and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire or between two bonfires and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. 
LINK HERE           and      HERE
Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons, and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.
Morning Dew of May
Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening due to condensation. As the exposed surface cools by radiating its heat, atmospheric moisture condenses at a rate greater than that at which it can evaporate, resulting in the formation of water droplets.
The aos sí, "ace shee", older form aes sídhe is the Irish term for a supernatural race in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology (usually spelled Sìth, however, pronounced the same), comparable to the fairies or elves. They are said to live underground in fairy mounds, across the western sea, or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans. This world is described in the Book of Invasions (recorded in the Book of Leinster) as a parallel universe in which the aos sí walk amongst the living. In the Irish language, aos sí means "people of the mounds" (the mounds are known in Irish as "the sídhe"). In Irish literature, the people of the mounds are also called daoine sídhe, in Scottish mythology, they are daoine sìth. They are variously said to be the ancestors, the spirits of nature, or goddesses and gods.
These supernatural races inspired the Otherworldly beings in 'A Carpet of Purple Flowers'.
The Sindria ~ inspired by Irish folklore  ;o) 
Ethereal beauty ~ Nastya Kumarova
Some secondary and tertiary sources, including well-known and influential authors such as W.B. Yeats, refer to aos sí simply as "the sídhe" (lit. "mounds").
In many Gaelic tales, the aos sí are later, literary versions of the Tuatha Dé Danann ("People of the Goddess Danu")—the deities and deified ancestors of Irish mythology. Some sources describe them as the survivors of the Tuatha Dé Danann who retreated into the Otherworld after they were defeated by the Milesians—the mortal Sons of Míl Espáine who, like many other early invaders of Ireland, came from Iberia. Geoffrey Keating, an Irish historian of the late 17th century, equates Iberia with the Land of the Dead.
Aos sí are sometimes seen as fierce guardians of their abodes—whether a fairy hill, a fairy ring, a special tree (often a hawthorn) or a particular loch or wood. The Gaelic Otherworld is seen as closer at the times of dusk and dawn, therefore, this is a special time to the aos sí, as are some festivals such as Samhain, Beltane, and Midsummer.
Magical path
Parting the veil ~ Mists of Avalon
Art by Achen089 on deviantART
The Hill of Tara, known as Temair in Gaelic, was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland – 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times. In ancient Irish religion and mythology, Temair was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods and was the entrance to the otherworld. 
The Hill of Tara
As part of the terms of their surrender to the Milesians, the Tuatha Dé Danann agreed to retreat and dwell underground in the sídhe (modern Irish: sí; Scottish Gaelic: sìth; Old Irish síde, singular síd), the hills or earthen mounds that dot the Irish landscape. In some later poetry, each tribe of the Tuatha Dé Danann was given its own mound.
Helena Nelson-Reed
In a number of later English language texts, the word sídhe is used both for the mounds and the people of the mounds. However, sidh in older texts refers specifically to "the palaces, courts, halls or residences" of the ghostly beings that, according to Gaedhelic mythology, inhabit them.
Fragment from The Book Of Invasions (Lebor Gabala Erenn)
(Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived the Gaels, descendants of a Scythian prince.  It is written in the Book of Invasions that Scota, daughter of a Pharaoh of Egypt, created the Irish language.  The Gaels lived in Egypt at the time of Moses, and then they wandered the world for 440 years before eventually settling in the Iberian Peninsula.  It is here, in northwest Spain, somewhere around 100 B.C.E., that a man named Íth climbed a tower and glimpsed Ireland, in the extreme distance.  After that, he was determined to reach this ‘distant emerald island.’) 
Source HERE
Lebor Gabala Erenn
The fact that many of these sídhe have been found to be ancient burial mounds has contributed to the theory that the aos sí were the pre-Celtic occupants of Ireland. "The Book of Invasions", "The Annals of the Four Masters", and oral history support this view.
Read more HERE ~ HERE ~ HERE and HERE
On the summit of Tara stands a pillar stone believed to be the Lia Fail, or the stone of destiny, on which the Kings of Ireland were crowned.  Legend is that more than 100 ancient kings touched this stone as part of their coronation.
Source: HERE and HERE
'Druid's temple' by George Hodan
Photo by George Hodan on Yourshot
According to the early medieval texts Sanas Cormaic and Tochmarc Emire, Beltane was held on 1st May and marked the beginning of summer. The texts say that to protect cattle from disease, the druids would make two fires "with great incantations" and drive the cattle between them.
There is no reference to such a gathering in the annals, but the medieval Dindsenchas includes a tale of a hero lighting a holy fire on Uisneach that blazed for seven years.
Photo by stephan_amm on Flickr
Bonfires continued to be a key part of the festival in the modern era. All hearth fires and candles would be doused before the bonfire was lit, generally on a mountain or hill. Since the early 20th century it has been commonly accepted that Old Irish Beltaine is derived from a Common Celtic *belo-te(p)niâ, meaning "bright fire". Beltane, meaning “bright fire” or “lucky fire.” It is the “fire of Bel” – the bright, shining Celtic Sun God, the father, protector, and the husband of the Mother Goddess.
The ancient fires blaze with nine of the sacred woods – ash, oak, apple, hawthorn, birch, elder, blackthorn, grape vine, rowan, holly, willow, cedar, yew, or hemlock.
At Beltane, the Pleiades seven-star cluster in the constellation Taurus rises over the morning horizon just before sunrise. Winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades rise at sunset. The ancients used the rising and setting of this star cluster as a marker for the planting season. Beltane, like Samhain six months earlier, is a time when the veils between the worlds are said to be thin, and magical things can happen.
Pleiades at dawn
Fertility is the theme of the Beltane season. It is about the Sacred Union of the masculine and feminine. Dancing around the Maypole is still observed with enthusiasm in Great Britain and Ireland. The pole itself is a phallic symbol as well as a conduit of energy that connects the three worlds – above, below, and the middle world. As people dance around the pole, weaving the ribbons into a pattern, the energy raised goes into the earth’s womb to awaken her fruitfulness. The earth wakes from her winter resting phase, is warmed by the Sun and sprouts with exuberant new life.
May Pole
Ribbon Spell - Write your intentions on ribbons and tie them to a tree. Letting them be released by the wind to the universe.
Yellow flowers such as primrose, rowan, hawthorn, gorse, hazel and marsh marigold were placed at doorways and windows in 19th century Ireland, Scotland, and Mann. Sometimes loose flowers were strewn at the doors and windows and sometimes they were made into bouquets, garlands or crosses and fastened to them. They would also be fastened to cows and equipment for milking and butter making. It is likely that such flowers were used because they evoked fire.
Stefanie Miles.
Similar May Day customs are found across Europe.
A wild Hawthorn.
The May Bush was popular in parts of Ireland until the late 19th century. This was a small tree or branch—typically hawthorn, rowan or sycamore—decorated with bright flowers, ribbons, painted shells, and so forth. There were household May Bushes (which would be placed outside each house) and communal May Bushes (which would be set in a public spot or paraded around the neighbourhood). In Dublin and Belfast, May Bushes were brought into town from the countryside and decorated by the whole neighbourhood. Each neighbourhood vied for the most handsome tree and, sometimes, residents of one would try to steal the May Bush of another. This led to the May Bush being outlawed in Victorian times. In some places, it was customary to dance around the May Bush, and at the end of the festivities it may be burnt in the bonfire. Some, however, were left in place for a month.
Hawthorn blossom 
Thorn trees were seen as special trees and were associated with the aos sí. The custom of decorating a May Bush or May Tree was found in many parts of Europe. Frazer believes that such customs are a relic of tree worship and writes: "The intention of these customs is to bring home to the village, and to each house, the blessings which the tree-spirit has in its power to bestow."
Hawthorn bonsai in flower.
However, "lucky" and "unlucky" trees varied by region, and it has been suggested that Beltane was the only time when cutting thorn trees was allowed. The practice of bedecking a May Bush with flowers, ribbons, garlands and bright shells is found among the Gaelic diaspora, most notably in Newfoundland, and in some Easter traditions on the East Coast of the United States.
Hill of Tara.
Visitors to holy wells would pray for health while walking sunwise (moving from east to west) around the well. They would then leave offerings; typically coins or clooties (see clootie well). The first water drawn from a well on Beltane was seen as being especially potent, as was Beltane morning dew. At dawn on Beltane, maidens would roll in the dew or wash their faces with it. It would also be collected in a jar, left in the sunlight, and then filtered. The dew was thought to increase sexual attractiveness, maintain youthfulness, and help with skin ailments.
Two different healing springs, one touched red with iron, the other white with calcit ~ G. Seyfert
White Spring Glastonbury. Feel blessed to have drunk from these. A lovely lady left empty bottles outside her house for people to use and my cousin mixed the water from each spring for balance.
Scared Well Pinterest Board HERE 
Riders of the Sidhe, by John Duncan, 19th c. Scottish artist.
People also took steps specifically to ward-off or appease the aos sí. Food was left or milk poured at the doorstep or places associated with the aos sí, such as 'fairy trees', as an offering.  To protect farm produce and encourage fertility, farmers would lead a procession around the boundaries of their farm. They would "carry with them seeds of grain, implements of husbandry, the first well water, and the herb vervain (or rowan as a substitute). The procession generally stopped at the four cardinal points of the compass, beginning in the east, and rituals were performed in each of the four directions".
Cardinal points 
"This is the Fairy Tree from Marley Park in Dublin Ireland. It is an old dead tree which was turned into a fairy castle - Marlay Park is a 121 hectares (300 acres) suburban public park located in Rathfarnham in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Ireland. Lying about nine kilometres (5.5 miles) from Dublin city centre. 
Waterfall in Marlay Park
Dryad of Night by Leo Ch. on 500px
There are a number of place names in Ireland containing the word Bealtaine, indicating places where Bealtaine festivities were once held. It is often anglicised as Beltany. There are three Beltanys in County Donegal, including the Beltany stone circle, and two in County Tyrone. In County Armagh, there is a place called Tamnaghvelton/Tamhnach Bhealtaine ("the Beltane field"). Lisbalting/Lios Bealtaine ("the Beltane ringfort") is in County Tipperary while Glasheennabaultina/Glaisín na Bealtaine ("the Beltane stream") is the name of a stream joining the River Galey in County Limerick.
Windswept Hawthorn ~ wouldn't it be fantastic to have this section as your garden. Blanket, book, iPod, sketch pad, paints, and pens...bliss! Maybe, some silk and velvet cushions, too. Oh, and for the evening, some candles and solar fairy lights draped over the tree.  Pretties, pretties, perfect for Beltane.  :o) 

Day/Night for Lovers
Beltane ~ The-lovers ~
The festival of Beltane is the time when lovers slip into the woods together. (It is not a coincidence that Imbolc, nine months later, is associated with childbirth and midwifery.) At Beltane, lovers can pledge to live together for a year and a day. After that year has passed, they may decide to part, or may make plans for handfasting at Midsummer.
Bronte-esque photo under an old hawthorn tree by Kim Ayres Photography
Alphonse Mucha
Beltane invites us to open to the sacred union of masculine and feminine, in whatever form that comes for each person’s stage in life. We all hold the natural polarities of the receptive, nurturing feminine and the active, expressive masculine. Bringing these aspects of our Selves into balance is the Sacred Union and the work of spiritual growth.
"You soak up my soul and mingle me. We are partners, blended as one." ~Rumi
Let us always meet each other with smile, 
for the smile is the beginning of love ~Mother Teresa
"Ancient lovers believed a kiss would literally unite their souls because the spirit was said to be carried in one's breath." - Eve Glicksman
Love is a friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses ~ Ann Landers
Precious souls and tender love 
This blog feels like a sacred piece of the web where I can escape the usual hectic networking and express my soul with beautiful kindred spirits. 
A massive thank you for popping by and connecting.  :o)  
Blessed Beltane lovely people. 
love and light,