Falling on May 1, this holiday is the last of the fertility festivals in the wheel of the year, and celebrates the union of spring and summer, male and female. I like to view this season as the time of courtship between the God and Goddess.
In Druidic society, Beltane marked the time of the year when the cattle were driven out to pasture. These cattle were first driven through purificatory fires to rid them of disease and illness. Fire plays an important part in the rites of Beltane. Sacrifices by fire were performed in ancient times; in modern times, a person is chosen to jump over the sacred fire while others clap and sing.
Oatcakes are traditional to the season, as well as the dance of the maypole. The intertwining ribbons on the pole represent the union of the male and female principle, while the pole contains an obvious phallic symbolism. Beltane is also known as Walpurgisnacht, made famous in the tale of Faust.
Followed by the Summer Solstice, the wheel of the year continues to turn, and the “holiday” series of my blog concludes – hope you enjoyed your year long lesson of Sabbat histories from ancient times 🙂