Beltane Celebrations & Meanings
Let Go The Old
The 30th April or the eve of May Day is known as Beltane. It is associated with the solar-fire deity known as Balder (also known as Balor, Bel or Belenos). This festival of Balder announces the arrival of the summer half of the year.
The festival of Balder begins at sunset on April 30th and is a time of magic. Here at the Retreat we always make a bonfire from all the rubbish raked up after the winter snow has melted away. We add in old pieces of furniture and old clothes to symbolise the release of old ways and beliefs which will be transformed back into pure energy form by the transformational powers of fire. This then opens the way for the new growth of the spring. See how the trees and plants spring into life as if by magic, see how they transform the energy of the sun and transform it into matter by the process we call photosynthesis
There is an old spiritual tradition to release the old, to have no attachments at all in fact, so that the new light may shine and take us forward.
The smoke from the bonfire is said to drive out all negative influences and lingering darkness from the winter or evil spirits as they were called in times gone by.
At the Retreat we take it in turns to jump over the fire (when it has died down a little!) through the smoke to cleanse ourselves, also to allow the smoke to pass over the house and the animals so that they are cleansed too.
The use of ceremony to create a strong and experiential reminder of our connection to nature and to acknowledging the appropriate place and energy of the seasons is important for all aspects of holistic healing.
The stillness of the winter wherein we sit quietly and integrate all that we grew (physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually) in the previous summer/intense light period quite naturally and effortlessly passes as the seasons change. This change brings in energy which encourages us to shed any old and no longer appropriate aspects. Spring is a natural time for having a clear out and spring cleaning. This creates more light and space within for new growth to inhabit.
This natural cycle continues whether we acknowledge it or not but when we focus our conscious awareness to it we give our strength and energy to it and thereby benefit even more.
For example: it is much easier to let go of our old ways when we recognise it as a perfectly natural part of our continuing growth, when we recognise it as putting down old baggage so that we are free to pick up something new which will take us beyond anything the old had foretold for us.
The whole aspect of Beltane followed by May Day celebrations creates a ceremony of the entire cycle from the letting go around the Beltane fire to the fertility celebrations on the following day symbolising the birth of the new.
The May Pole is traditionally made from the Birch tree, Goddess of the Forest and a symbol of purification.
The ancient Beltane fires were made from the wood of nine different trees laid out in a 3x3 grid. There is also a traditional May- cake also bearing nine knobs in the grid pattern.
The number 9 is the number of completion or the healing layer as I like to think of it. This doesn’t mean healing in the traditional sense of the word but in the way that when we grow to know Who We Really Are we recognise that we never had need of healing. This is the completion. This is the activation of our innate body consciousness.
So by recognising, joining in with and creating a symbolic ceremony of the continuing processes and cycles of growth and expansion we fuel our own individual experience of growth and expansion.