May Day History: An Invitation From the Sun
Celebrating life, light, and love at Beltaine also known as Beltane, the old Celtic name for May Day.
BY: Mara Freeman
The lives of our Celtic ancestors were naturally attuned to these cycles as to the rhythm of a spiral dance. To celebrate the fruitful earth in a sacred manner was to constantly renew the ancient contract between human beings and the Divine. We, too, can feel this great turning of the Wheel of the Year in our own bodies, hearts, and minds, if we are willing to open up to the creative forces that flow through us, and learn to live in harmony and balance with each other and with the Earth. The wisdom of the Wheel of the Year can liberate us from our modern linear model of time, reminding us that death yields to life again and again.
At Beltaine, we naturally respond to the rising tide of the life force within our bodies and within the land. Even on a short walk in the countryside or neighbourhood park at this time of year, you cannot help but feel the "force that drives the green fuse through the flower," as Welsh poet Dylan Thomas called it. As all earth responds to the sun's invitation to grow and expand, the soul, too, responds to an inner calling to unfurl and express itself in the radiance of the spiritual Sun, the Higher Self. Whatever hopes, dreams and desires of your innermost self have been incubating during the dark of winter, now is the time to bring them out into the Beltaine light and let them grow to fruition.
As Nature proliferates in joyful fecundity, we are invited to get in touch with our own creativity and our own playfulness - to let ourselves twine, leaf, or blossom into expression, to add our own unique and inimitable flowering to the greening of all life.
We can celebrate connection by gathering with friends to make garlands or decorate an altar to the Earth using yellow flowers, the color traditionally associated with Beltaine in Ireland. We can create May baskets of flowers and little gifts of goodwill to give to those in need of care.
This festival is also a time to nurture our sensuality. Whether we have a sexual partner or not, we can honor our bodies and delight our senses by filling the house with fragrant flowers and branches and enjoying sensual food and drink such as syllabub and May wine. At night, we might draw a bath by candlelight and scent the water with essential oils.
A smaller version of the Irish May bough is also fun to make and can be part of a simple Beltaine ritual which you can do alone or with friends and family: