May 1st, called Beltane by the ancients, is the second Cross-Quarter Day on the wheel of the year. It resides between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, which marks a joyful festival of growth and fecundity, heralding the promise of Summer.
Beltane means ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Belenus – “Bright and Brilliant Regenerator”, “Protective Shepherd”, “The Fiercely Shining One”, a Pan-Celtic solar god, who was also known to be a rainbow rayed healer associated with curative springs.
At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon, (whereas winter begins when the Pleiades rise at sunset) The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, (the dwelling place of the Spiritual Hierarchy of the “Holy Spirit”), near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the west sky.
Beltane is a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun, and the nourishing, healing powers of rain.
Water has special properties on May Day. A Mother Goose rhyme tells us:
The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.
Other sources suggest using the dew found under oaks or on ivy leaves. Make a special wish as you wash your face or drink from a well before sunrise. The first Sunday and first Monday in May are traditional days for dressing (decorating and honoring) wells.
Rudolf Steiner, when lecturing about the Mystery Schools, speaks of this time as being ruled by the Mercurial Archangel Raphael, who holds the caduceus and brings healing in his wings.
Lighting a fire is customary at Beltane, and traditionally it was composed of wood from nine sacred trees. On Beltane Eve all hearth or house fires were extinguished and then rekindled from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the flames and drive their cattle through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.
There were other May Day customs; such as walking the circuit of one’s property, repairing fences and boundary markers, processions of all kinds, archery tournaments, sword play, And of course making merry with music and May wine…
May Day morning is a time when the veil between the worlds can easily be pushed aside; but instead of the spirits coming into our realm from the other side, which is the case with Halloween, the polar opposite of Mayday on the wheel of the year; the fairies can enchant us over into their mystical realms.
The tradition of the Maypole is a circle dance alternating male and female dancers, weaving in and out in a maze movement, plaiting ribbons as they go. Maypole dances fulfilled social and sacred functions. They helped people mingle socially. They also raised energy in a patterned and focused way.
When we acknowledge these creative forces in the dance of our lives, it takes us to our own personal, modern-day version of dancing around the maypole; where we weave and combine the opposing energies within ourselves; blending them into one balanced source.
What would it be like to – Work to unify the polarities of our being, by sparking the new fire of creative abundance and passion; and marrying it with the beautiful, healing waters of compassion and pure love; So we can truly celebrate the marriage feast of our lives, with a grounded, mindful joy…?
**Hazel Archer Ginsberg – Festivals Coordinator and Council Member of the Rudolf Steiner Branch of Chicago.
This May Day, after our Solar Eclipse in Aries yesterday, helps us to rekindle our Spirit Light, Soul Warmth, the superabundance that Heaven and Earth grant us daily. Can we contemplate that through the Pleiades we may be restored to our path of Spiritual origin, and on track in our ascending evolution as true Human Beings? Were we ever off track? I wonder….
This is also expressed in the fact that the Pleiades, a cluster of seven stars, shine from the same region of the heavens. That is, moreover, the region where the whole solar system entered into the Universe to which we belong.” (Background to the Gospel of St. Mark, 1968, pp. 206-211)Rudolf Steiner
Washing in the morning dew May 1 and May 2, may bring blessings from the marriage of curative waters and creative warmth. What seed, and/or tender new Ideas, in sacred Holy Word from the movement or passing of the Moon between the Sun and the Earth are calling to you?
What newly inspired Imagination from the Logos manifested with the Holy Spirit, on this day may bring fertility, growth and successful fruition of dreams/ideas? With the veil thin, let us conceive of working in harmony with our dear Fairy realm, and Elemental kingdom, for the greater good upon our dear Mother Earth. Let us bring truth, beauty, goodness and Love freely into LIFE. “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds, Good Will”.
If Taurus sits in the Larynx of Humanity bringing forth, bearing good fruit from the seed sung of the Holy Word, than now is a good moment to Find your Song and Sing it!
Warm Beltane Blessings,