High Days: Beltane

The Celtic Beltane is the last of the fertility festivals in my eyes, and the most recognized fertile of the High Days. Most of the fields have been sewn, and now we ask that they be blessed with a good harvest in the fall.

Symbolically, Beltane represents the union of the God and Goddess, often depicted in a maypole dance and/or some sort of sacred sexual act. It is a fire festival, and probably one of the most energetic high rites I’ve ever attended. There’s even tale of farmers lighting two great bonfires and driving their cattle between them for purification and fertility.

Beltane is not thought of as the beginning of summer in modern culture due to the misrepresentation of the Summer Solstice being given the title of “First day of Summer.” But traditionally it is Beltane that marks the beginning of the summer season.

To the Cherokee, the moon during May is known as the “planting moon”, the Ojibwe call it the “blossom moon”, and even the Apache call it the “season when the leaves are green”. The Ute’s celebrate this time of year by performing a Bear Dance, which is specific for mating and courtship.

It is clear that in many cultures, this time of year is fairly universal for being the season of fertility.

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