Tag Archives: Ireland

‘The Darling Buds of May’


2Flowering Crab

As a child growing up during the 19th century, or so it sometimes seems, I remember placing baskets of flowers as a surprise on friend’s doorstep early on a lovely May Day morn. Also, dancing around the May Poll festivities in which, not I, but my younger brother and sister both participated. The little girls with garlands in their hair, decked out in pretty spring dresses. Mom made my sister’s. One year the wind toppled the May Poll and then there’s the time the children got all wound up in the ribbons and over it went.  Humiliating for my young brother who’d practiced so hard and tried to no avail to instruct his fellow dancers to wind them properly. I never did trust that May Poll thing to go as planned and hoped to be crowned May Queen, surrounded by a glad assembly of courtiers. No such luck. But May Day was special and has strong flowery associations in my memory. And wind. It never entered anyone’s mind that this revelry had possible pagan connotations. May Day festivities were simply a spring rite and good fun. (*Flowering crab apple tree in our yard)

How about the rest of you? Any May Queens among us?


“May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. (Royalty free image of birch tree)

Beltane

Celtic calendar feast ushering in the start of summer. (It also went by a variety of other spellings and names in assorted dialects of Gaelic.)

Bonfires, often created by rubbing sticks together, were common features of Beltane celebrations. Related rituals included driving cattle between two fires, dancing around the fires, and burning witches in effigy. Another tradition was Beltane cakes, which would be broken into several pieces, one of which was blackened. They would be drawn by celebrants at random; the person getting the unlucky blackened piece would face a mock execution.

In recent years, Beltaine has been adopted or revived by neopagan groups as a major seasonal festival.

Bringing in the May: *This is more what I remember.  🙂

In medieval England, people celebrated the start of spring by going out to the country or woods “going a-maying” and gathering greenery and flowers, or “bringing in the may.” This was described in “The Court of Love” (often attributed to Chaucer, but not actually written by him) in 1561. Totally irrelevant, but I am a direct descendant of Chaucer on my father’s side.

(Iris and poppies image by my mom)

“And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthorn brought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.”

Another English tradition is the maypole. Some towns had permanent maypoles that would stay up all year; others put up a new one each May. In any event, the pole would be hung with greenery and ribbons, brightly painted, and otherwise decorated, and served as a central point for the festivities.

May Day was also a time for morris dancing and other dances, often around the maypole. In the 19th century, people began to braid the maypole with ribbons by weaving in and out in the course of a dance. Other later traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.”

From an interesting site: Herbal Musings

Beltain, Bealtaine, Beltine, May Day, Cetsamhain (‘first Samhain‘), Walpurgis Night (Beltane Eve), Celtic ‘Flower Festival’

Druidic Name: Beltane

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowChristian Equivalent

Roodmas, Rood Day, Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Feast of Saint Walpurga

Beltane is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the summer quarter of the year and the end of the spring quarter. This is a time when nature blossoms and felicity and fertility return to the land. In times past, the livestock stockaded at Samhain was returned to summer pastures at Beltane.

…a joyful festival of growth and fecundity that heralds the arrival of summer. It is the festival of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Bel. Bel was also known as Beli or Bile in Ireland, with Bile meaning ‘tree’, so Beltane may also mean ‘Tree-fire’. Beltane is the counterpart of Samhain (and is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain, the ‘first Samhain’), and these two important festivals divide the year into summer and winter halves, just as the two equinoctial celebrations, Ostara and Mabon, divide the year into light and dark halves.

Lighting fires was customary at Beltane, and traditionally a Beltane fire was composed of the nine sacred woods of the Celts. All hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve and then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke and flames of Beltane fires and cattle were driven through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.

AngelicaIt is a traditional time for Handfastings (marriages), and for couples to make love outside to bless the crops and the earth. Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility and good fortune. Beltane lore also includes washing in May-day dew for beauty and health, and scrying (peeping) in sacred waters, such as ponds or springs.

The festival is sometimes referred to as Roodmas, a name coined by the medieval Christian Church in an attempt to associate Beltane with the Cross (the Rood) rather than the life-giving symbol of the Maypole. Beltane was also appropriated by the Church as the Feast Day of Saint Walpurga, who was said to protect crops and was often represented with corn.”

(*Royalty free images of the Archangel Michael and the sacred herb Angelica)

The Magick of Fairy Thimbles by Author Patty Koontz


Do you believe in fairies? Wee Darby and I most certainly do! Have you ever noticed a sparkle of tiny lights or gotten a quick glimpse of flickering movements from inside flower petals or beneath a cluster of wildflowers? Or even “thought” you just “might have heard” some giggling or sounds of flutes playing soft whimsical tunes, while taking a stroll by fragrant, colorful flowers, that made you smile for no reason? If so, the next time you decide to go outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, you might want to take a closer look . . .
chapter-4-copyright
Glens of Antrim, Bluebells, Portglenone Forest, Ireland

Glens of Antrim, Bluebells, Portglenone Forest, Ireland

Have you ever heard the legend of the Bluebell Fairy Thimbles – then you’re in for a grand surprise when you read about the fairies that live in the fields of bluebells, which grow wild in Ireland and Scotland.
canstockphoto14778167Wee Darby and his fairy niece, Pantera, are delighted to share a wee bit about the magical lore…The legend tells of fairies that live among the bluebells growing in charming meadows and visited by hares (rabbits).  And humans, (or Krindles, as the fairies call us from what I’ve learned from Wee Darby), should be careful not to disturb or pick these flowers – you never want to anger the fairies – as they can play tricks on you.
canstockphoto19508726 Its been told how people even believed that witches turned themselves into the hares and hid among the precious plants to keep out of sight and danger. Make sure you ask permission first – the next time you get the urge to pick the precious plants . . . .
You might be surprised at just “what” or “who”  you might find…
canstockphoto35067130canstockphoto7559070
20150927_061611fairy-flowers
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Wee Darby and I are delighted you stopped by, and encourage you to please feel free to leave us comments, and let us know if you enjoy the site. “The Magick of Wee Darby” is coming out in early 2017.
(A Lovely illustration of my wee Pantera, (a fairy with tiny wings, who can’t fly), on her first official visit to a pumpkin patch in America) (drawn by the talented, Elise Trissel)
the-magick-of-wee-darby-image-from-the-book
***The print book will be available from Amazon on October 1st-release date!
wee-darby-cover

“If you’re enough lucky to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!”


“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”  ~Adrienne Cook

Irish Blessings

“May those who love us, love us. And those who don’t love us, May God turn their hearts; And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May He turn their ankles, So we will know them by their limping.” ~Irish Blessing

Contributed by my husband. 🙂

“May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.”
~Irish Blessing

“Gin ye find a heart that’s weary.

And that needs a brither’s hand,

Dinna thou turn from it, dearie,

Thou shouldst help thy fellow man.

Thou mayest have a hidden heartache,

Sacred from all mortal kin,

And because of thine own grief’s sake,

Thou maun feel for ither men.”

“For ’tis green, green, green, where the ruined towers are gray,
And it’s green, green, green, all the happy night and day;
Green of leaf and green of sod, green of ivy on the wall,
And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all.”
~Mary Elizabeth Blake
irish shamrocks“When we feel restless, impatient and discouraged because we have lost something prized or loved, let us remember the first and last verses of Mrs. Wheeler’s beautiful poem, ‘Recompense:’

“Straightway through my heart this fact to-day

By truth’s own hand is driven;

God never takes one thing away,

But something else is given.

It is the law, complete, sublime;

And now with faith unshaken,

In patience I but bide my time

When any joy is taken.”

Ireland

An Old Irish Blessing~and my favorite

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

*Royalty free pics of Ireland

The ‘Magick’ of Ireland with Author Patty Taylor


A warm welcome to my friend and fellow author, Patty Taylor, here to share about her fascinating Irish heritage and upcoming Celtic fantasy romance.

Dunluce Castle #1 edited(Dunluce Castle–This image and all others by Patty Taylor)

Good Morning Everyone. 🙂  I wish to thank my friend and mentor, Beth, for inviting me as a guest today on her lovely blog. I feel honored to be here and hope I can come back again as soon as my first novel, “Mortal Magick” is released in June by Soul Mate Publishing.. By then, I’ll be able to share my cover and a peek at a few of the other stories I’m currently working on. I write fantasy/paranormal romance with a wee bit of magical lore woven into all my stories. I “love animals”, and enjoy spinning exotic fibers on my spinning wheels where I’ve blended my beloved Samoyeds (dogs) undercoats with alpaca, sheep and even Angora wool. I’m hoping one day for the opportunity to get my hands on some white wolf undercoat (or any wolf’s undercoat), but that’s another story…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Mount Stewart)

I enjoy centering my adventures in various places like Scotland’s mystical Isle of Skye, the magical Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland and the secluded wilderness of Alaska – where fairies, brownies, shape-shifters and mythical creatures come to life.

The person who influenced me the most to pursue my writing, was my beloved Mother, Evelyn V. Taylor. Her own story of how she came to live in the United States and became a citizen of this country has always inspired me. Born and raised in County Down, Northern Ireland, she served in the British Army during WWII where she met and fell in love with my tall and handsome Daddy, a US Sergeant. Soon after they were married, she crossed the ocean by ship by herself, to wait the arrival of my Daddy’s return to the states. I’ll always admire her strength and courage for beginning a new adventure in a strange country with no family of her own, to start a life with the man she fell in love with and raise a family.  And with the discovery of my father having American Indian heritage, both cultures have made a huge impact on my imagination.

Glens of Antrim, Gorse1(Glens of Antrim with gorse in bloom)

I inherited her superstitions and respectful beliefs in the wee people and fairies, along with her love for reading and storytelling. Mom was the first to introduce me to the magical world of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. On my last visit to Ireland, my cousin, Yvonne, took me to see the Wardrobe statue outside the library in Belfast and I even sat in the chair. There were happy tears that morning. As a child, I fell in love with the movies Darby O’Gill and the little People and the adventures of Gulliver’s Travels, along with many other Walt Disney Movies she took me to see. To this day, I still tear up watching the “Quiet Man” – one of my mother’s favorites.

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My beloved husband, Michael, still comments how he believes I’ll always remain a kid at heart, and I have both my parents to thank for that. Especially my Mom, as I still treasure the wee mustard seed necklace she gave me as a child to teach me about having faith. Without realizing it, she also planted another special gift deep within my heart. To never abandon my dreams, and my love for the enchanting world of fantasy and Magick.

(Patty sitting in front of the famous wardrobe that leads to Narnia.)

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(Images from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, taken in a Belfast Library. ***Beth has to jump in here to say that this is my favorite author and book. I love all the Chronicles of Narnia, but this one is the best.)

Back to Patty: I feel blessed to be fortunate to visit my Mom’s home for the very 1st time in 2010, and got to see the building where my parents first met, the places she took my Daddy to visit and the mystical country where she was raised.  Like stepping back in time, my imagination ran wild with the reality of finally seeing the magical qualities of this beautiful and amazing country.  I’m delighted to share a few photos from my visit.

And we are delighted to see them, Patty. Wonderful pics!

 lace-cap hydrangea(Fairy flowers–Lace-cap hydrangea)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Fairy tree)

Gorse in bloom(More gorse in bloom with quaint cottages)

I’m also excited to have this wonderful opportunity today to share a wee bit about my first published novel, “Mortal Magick”, a time travel fantasy romance coming this June.

Giant's Causeway stepping stones 1When an immortal Highlander falls in love with a human witch,”Mortal Magick” soon casts a spell of its own. 

Story Blurb:

As Keara, a modern day reluctant witch from Maryland, finds herself whisked back to 18th century mystical Isle of Skye, she’s taught lessons in both magic and love after being rescued by the rugged and extremely handsome Highlander, Duncan McCord. To add a wee touch of “when beauty meets beast” charm to their adventure, along with the mischievous antics of a whimsical Scottish Brownie character, named Darby, Keara soon discovers that Duncan is dealing with a serious problem of his own. He’s been cursed to live a nocturnal life of half man and half beast for eternity.

I hope all of you will help me celebrate and look forward to reading my story, Mortal Magick, and the future sequel, Sea Wolf Magick.   

Get ready for two magical adventures – Journey across the

Mystical Isle of Skye, to the Enchanting land of Fire and Ice . . .”

To find out more about me and my books, please stop by and visit my new  website at:  http://www.pattytaylorauthor.com/ 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also invite you to follow me on Twitter under Patty Taylor, Author, and follow me on Facebook.

Thanks once again to my gracious and kind friend and host, Beth Trissel, for having me here today, and to all of you that took the time to stop by to meet me and leave your comments 🙂

Lovely to have you, Patty. I look forward to your return to the blog and your exciting new release in June.

(Images of Giant’s Causeway Stepping Stones and Primula Candelabra above)

*** Patty will return in May for a post on spinning and sheep, with pics! I can’t wait. And again in the summer for a post on fairies and when her new book comes out., Then again in the fall for our focus on  C S Lewis, including pics from her next trip to Ireland. We both love The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of Narnia.  

Bringing in the May


2Flowering Crab

As a child growing up during the 19th century, or so it sometimes seems, I remember placing baskets of flowers as a surprise on friend’s doorstep early on a lovely May Day morn. Also, dancing around the May Poll festivities in which, not I, but my younger brother and sister both participated. The little girls with garlands in their hair, decked out in pretty spring dresses. Mom made my sister’s. One year the wind toppled the May Poll and then there’s the time the children got all wound up in the ribbons and over it went.  Humiliating for my young brother who’d practiced so hard and tried to no avail to instruct his fellow dancers to wind them properly. I never did trust that May Poll thing to go as planned and hoped to be crowned May Queen, surrounded by a glad assembly of courtiers. No such luck. But May Day was special and has strong flowery associations in my memory. And wind. It never entered anyone’s mind that this revelry had possible pagan connotations. May Day festivities were simply a spring rite and good fun. (*Image of flowering crab apple tree in our yard)

How about the rest of you? Any May Queens among us?

birch tree in spring“May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. (Royalty free image of birch tree)

Beltane

Celtic calendar feast ushering in the start of summer. (It also went by a variety of other spellings and names in assorted dialects of Gaelic.)

Bonfires, often created by rubbing sticks together, were common features of Beltane celebrations. Related rituals included driving cattle between two fires, dancing around the fires, and burning witches in effigy. Another tradition was Beltane cakes, which would be broken into several pieces, one of which was blackened. They would be drawn by celebrants at random; the person getting the unlucky blackened piece would face a mock execution.

In recent years, Beltaine has been adopted or revived by neopagan groups as a major seasonal festival.

Bringing in the May: *This is more what I remember.  🙂

In medieval England, people celebrated the start of spring by going out to the country or woods “going a-maying” and gathering greenery and flowers, or “bringing in the may.” This was described in “The Court of Love” (often attributed to Chaucer, but not actually written by him) in 1561. Totally irrelevant, but I am a direct descendent of Chaucer on my father’s side.

The Beauty of Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia“And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthorn brought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.”

 (*Wild roadside flowers near us)

Another English tradition is the maypole. Some towns had permanent maypoles that would stay up all year; others put up a new one each May. In any event, the pole would be hung with greenery and ribbons, brightly painted, and otherwise decorated, and served as a central point for the festivities.

May Day was also a time for morris dancing and other dances, often around the maypole. In the 19th century, people began to braid the maypole with ribbons by weaving in and out in the course of a dance. Other later traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.”

From an interesting site: Herbal Musings

Beltain, Bealtaine, Beltine, May Day, Cetsamhain (‘first Samhain‘), Walpurgis Night (Beltane Eve), Celtic ‘Flower Festival’

Druidic Name: Beltane

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowChristian Equivalent

Roodmas, Rood Day, Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Feast of Saint Walpurga

Beltane is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the summer quarter of the year and the end of the spring quarter. This is a time when nature blossoms and felicity and fertility return to the land. In times past, the livestock stockaded at Samhain was returned to summer pastures at Beltane.

…a joyful festival of growth and fecundity that heralds the arrival of summer. It is the festival of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Bel. Bel was also known as Beli or Bile in Ireland, with Bile meaning ‘tree’, so Beltane may also mean ‘Tree-fire’. Beltane is the counterpart of Samhain (and is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain, the ‘first Samhain’), and these two important festivals divide the year into summer and winter halves, just as the two equinoctial celebrations, Ostara and Mabon, divide the year into light and dark halves.

Lighting fires was customary at Beltane, and traditionally a Beltane fire was composed of the nine sacred woods of the Celts. All hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve and then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke and flames of Beltane fires and cattle were driven through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.

AngelicaIt is a traditional time for Handfastings (marriages), and for couples to make love outside to bless the crops and the earth. Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility and good fortune. Beltane lore also includes washing in May-day dew for beauty and health, and scrying (peeping) in sacred waters, such as ponds or springs.

The festival is sometimes referred to as Roodmas, a name coined by the medieval Christian Church in an attempt to associate Beltane with the Cross (the Rood) rather than the life-giving symbol of the Maypole. Beltane was also appropriated by the Church as the Feast Day of Saint Walpurga, who was said to protect crops and was often represented with corn.”

(*Royalty free images of the Archangel Michael and the sacred herb Angelica)

Ancient Celts and Paranormal Romance With Author Juli D. Revezzo


I’m glad to have fellow author Juli D. Revezzo with me to share about Celtic history and her new Paranormal Romance release from The Wild Rose Press.

DunluceCastleCountyAntrimIrelandThanks, Beth. If you’ve read historical romance for any length of time, you’re bound to have read quite a few books modeled on the movies Highlander and Braveheart. Everyone I can think of stars as a Scotsman in a kilt somewhere. So much so, it’s almost become a cliché. In fact a good friend of mine just two days ago said, “Oh, but I thought your book was like Highlander.” I love her, but…um, no. When researching my début paranormal romance novel, PASSION’S SACRED DANCE, I decided to focus on the Celtic tribes from the Continent to the British Isles.

Scotland-highlandsDelving into the history of the Celts, I found many interesting things. While the story of their origination around the Danube River is common, some say they go back as far as the Bell Beaker Culture who originated in Iberia (Spain) sometime around 2800 BC.  Wherever the Celts were born, they eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, all over Central and Southern Europe, to end up settling in Ireland before the Romans wiped out their culture (for the most part). Turning to the scholars, Nora Chadwick says “In the heroic age we find Corc, the son of Lugaid took refuge in Scotland from his usurping uncle and ultimately returning with a Scottish bride to rule Munster.” (Chadwick, p. 87) Poor girl. Why would they make a distinction of Corc’s bride as Scottish if they were the same group? To me, that says clearly, they’re separate groups. On the other hand, a later article I found says that the Celts and Scots may have both actually originated on the British Isles. (So who were the Continental Celts, chopped liver?) It’s enough to give a writer a headache! (Amen to that, Julie)

220px-Braveheart_impAt any rate, while Braveheart made the Scots a very popular subject in modern romance, the Celts are the ones that make me swoon, the ones that are underrepresented in the field. Be that as it may, the Celts were no mere raiders (though they are famous for their cattle raids). These were the men and women of the heroic age.

Descriptions of the courageous qualities of their gods and heroes—Arthur, Owain, Lugus, Morrigan, Scathatch and Corc, mentioned above among many others—remain in the tales that even the scribes of the Common Era couldn’t muffle.

beautiful red haired womanAs it was this set I’d been studying all along, it wasn’t hard to move them into the story of PASSION’S SACRED DANCE, instead of reverting to the ever-popular Highlander in a kilt image. To me, their story just needed to be told. Would you like a glimpse? Okay.

Story Blurb:

Battling mounting debt, Stacy Macken is determined not to lose her historic art gallery. When Aaron Fielding appears and offers to help, she fights to keep the attraction sizzling between them from clouding her judgment. He may be her savior in disguise–but can she trust him?

long haired young manAaron intrigues her with tales of the Tuatha dé Danann, sworn warriors who protect humanity from the monsters seeking their destruction. If Aaron can prove what he claims, she would give up anything to help–even the gallery he claims is sacred ground. But with her property set to stage the next epic battle, she needs answers. An old family diary will confirm the ancient legend is true, if only they can find it in time.

If the battle is lost, the enemy will take control of Earth for the next five hundred years. Stacy and Aaron’s budding love might only complicate things.~

Sounds fascinating, Juli!

PassionsSacredDance_w6021_750About Juli D. Revezzo: Juli D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics and has a soft spot for classic the “Goths” of the 19th century. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly. She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling. She is a member of Independent Authors Network and Magic Appreciation Tour. Passion’s Sacred Dance is her first romance novel.

Passion’s Sacred Dance can be purchased from Amazon

Coming soon to The Wild Rose Press webstore.

You can find out more about Juli at her homepage: http://julidrevezzo.com/ Blog: http://julidrevezzo.com/blog

Like her on Facebook: Follow her on Author’s Den Google+: On Good Reads: Shelfari: On twitter: @julidrevezzo

Works cited: The Celts by Nora Chadwick Beaker Culture, Wikipedia.

‘Bringing in the May’


A Spring Walk in the CountryAs a child growing up during the 19th century, or so it sometimes seems, I remember placing baskets of flowers as a surprise on friend’s doorstep early on a lovely May Day morn. Also, dancing around the May Poll festivities in which, not I, but my younger brother and sister both participated. The little girls with garlands in their hair, decked out in pretty spring dresses. Mom made my sister’s. One year the wind toppled the May Poll and then there’s the time the children got all wound up in the ribbons and over it went.  Humiliating for my young brother who’d practiced so hard and tried to no avail to instruct his fellow dancers to wind them properly. I never did trust that May Poll thing to go as planned and hoped to be crowned May Queen, surrounded by a glad assembly of courtiers. No such luck. But May Day was special and has strong flowery associations in my memory. And wind. It never entered anyone’s mind that this revelry had possible pagan connotations. May Day festivities were simply a spring rite and good fun. (*Image of cherry tree in our yard)

How about the rest of you? Any May Queens among us?

More on May Day from: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/mayday.html

birch tree in spring“May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. (Royalty free images of birch trees)

Beltane

A Celtic calendar feast ushering in the start of summer. (It also went by a variety of other spellings and names in assorted dialects of Gaelic.)

Bonfires, often created by rubbing sticks together, were common features of Beltane celebrations. Related rituals included driving cattle between two fires, dancing around the fires, and burning witches in effigy. Another tradition was Beltane cakes, which would be broken into several pieces, one of which was blackened. They would be drawn by celebrants at random; the person getting the unlucky blackened piece would face a mock execution.

In recent years, Beltaine has been adopted or revived by neopagan groups as a major seasonal festival.

TreesBringing in the May: *This is more what I remember.  🙂

In medieval England, people celebrated the start of spring by going out to the country or woods “going a-maying” and gathering greenery and flowers, or “bringing in the may.” This was described in “The Court of Love” (often attributed to Chaucer, but not actually written by him) in 1561. Totally irrelevant, but I am a direct descendent of Chaucer on my father’s side.

The Beauty of Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia“And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthorn brought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.” (*Wild roadside flowers near us)

Another English tradition is the maypole. Some towns had permanent maypoles that would stay up all year; others put up a new one each May. In any event, the pole would be hung with greenery and ribbons, brightly painted, and otherwise decorated, and served as a central point for the festivities.

May Day was also a time for morris dancing and other dances, often around the maypole. In the 19th century, people began to braid the maypole with ribbons by weaving in and out in the course of a dance. Other later traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.”

From an interesting site: Herbal Musings

Beltain, Bealtaine, Beltine, May Day, Cetsamhain (‘first Samhain‘), Walpurgis Night (Beltane Eve), Celtic ‘Flower Festival’

Druidic Name: Beltane

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowChristian Equivalent

Roodmas, Rood Day, Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Feast of Saint Walpurga

Beltane is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the summer quarter of the year and the end of the spring quarter. This is a time when nature blossoms and felicity and fertility return to the land. In times past, the livestock stockaded at Samhain was returned to summer pastures at Beltane.

…a joyful festival of growth and fecundity that heralds the arrival of summer. It is the festival of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Bel. Bel was also known as Beli or Bile in Ireland, with Bile meaning ‘tree’, so Beltane may also mean ‘Tree-fire’. Beltane is the counterpart of Samhain (and is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain, the ‘first Samhain’), and these two important festivals divide the year into summer and winter halves, just as the two equinoctial celebrations, Ostara and Mabon, divide the year into light and dark halves.

Lighting fires was customary at Beltane, and traditionally a Beltane fire was composed of the nine sacred woods of the Celts. All hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve and then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke and flames of Beltane fires and cattle were driven through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.

AngelicaIt is a traditional time for Handfastings (marriages), and for couples to make love outside to bless the crops and the earth. Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility and good fortune. Beltane lore also includes washing in May-day dew for beauty and health, and scrying in sacred waters, such as ponds or springs.

The festival is sometimes referred to as Roodmas, a name coined by the medieval Christian Church in an attempt to associate Beltane with the Cross (the Rood) rather than the life-giving symbol of the Maypole. Beltane was also appropriated by the Church as the Feast Day of Saint Walpurga, who was said to protect crops and was often represented with corn.”

(*Royalty free images of the Archangel Michael and the sacred herb Angelica)