In the evolutionary cycle of this year guided by the mystery of the Goddess we have arrived to the great fire celebration of fertility, to the night of Beltane or Beltaine as it was called by the ancient Celts, which represents the coming of the Celtic god of light. Beltane was originally a fire festival of the Celts or the Druids, which they held to celebrate the uniting of the Goddess and the Horned God and to praise fertility. The Druid high priests lit the bonfires on this night, which they made from nine different holy trees. From these bonfires, the people took the new flame into their houses as it was forbidden to make any fires before the celebration.
Beltane is the celebration of the young God emerging into manhood. He falls in love with the Goddess and their love is fulfilled in the gentle green womb of nature. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. This is the celebration of her fertility and fertilization. The flowers and green leafs represent the Goddess and the maypole represents the God. Beltane means the returning of vitality and passion and the fulfillment of desire.
This fire was meant to invoke the holy mystery in which the two ancient forces of Creation, the God and the Goddess reveal the two primordial creative principles from the unity of which all life is born. It is the driving force of nature as well as the desire-colored flame of human life for the uniting of these two divine principles in their own being. The purpose of the ritual performed at the celebration was that the chosen man and woman could take up the costume of the God-Man and the Goddess-Woman and through the flaming night of a sacred love they could represent and manifest the enormous creative power of the uniting of the God and the Goddess to win the blessing of fertility to the entire community and the surrounding nature.
Beltane is one of the “spirit-nights” when the fairies come out. According to ancient tradition, if we bend a branch of the Rowan tree into a ring and look through that at dusk, we can see the fairies. And if you are a fairy-elf spirited messenger of the stellar nation of the Birds, you can feel the relationship with the creatures of this special mystical world even deeper during this time, wandering around the gardens and the woods.
This custom comes up in the Hungarian tradition as well, with the erection of the maypole, Jacob’s tree or dawn tree which has similar symbology too.
So let this be the celebration of sacred love, fertility and happiness, and the deep appreciation of life and the power of nature!
Dr. Beatrix Czeizel and Anikó Greskó
Image by Celine Grandidier. Many thanks to the artist!