Thursday, April 30, 2009


Also known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, Beltane happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green.
The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.
In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora and the flowering of Springtime. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), and Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name.
Wiccans and Wiccan-inspired Neopagans celebrate a variation of Beltane as a sabbat, one of the eight solar holidays. Although the holiday may use features of the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). Some Wiccans celebrate 'High Beltaine' by enacting a ritual union of the May Queen (May Bride) as personification of the Earth Goddess and Goddesses of Fertility, and the May King (May Groom) as personification of Vegetation God, Jack-in-Green -- often covered in green leaves.
Among the Wiccan sabbats, Beltane is a cross-quarter day; it is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on May 1 and in the southern hemisphere on November 1. Beltane follows Ostara and precedes Midsummer.
Celtic Reconstructionists usually celebrate Lá Bealtaine when the local hawthorn trees are in bloom, or on the full moon that falls closest to this event. Many observe the traditional bonfire rites, to whatever extent this is feasible where they live, including the dousing of the household hearth flame and relighting of it from the community festival fire. Some decorate May Bushes and prepare traditional festival foods. Pilgrimages to holy wells are traditional at this time, and offerings and prayers to the spirits or deities of the wells are usually part of this practice. Crafts such as the making of equal-armed rowan crosses are common, and often part of rituals performed for the blessing and protection of the household and land.

If you just happen to be in Edinburgh on or around the end of April, you owe it to yourself to check out the Beltaine festival they have every year.
Edinburgh’s Beltane festival traditionally takes place on the 30th of April every year on Calton Hill. (The festival originates in the Scottish and Irish Gaelic pre-Christian festival of the same name)
The name itself is thought to have derived from a Gaelic-Celtic word meaning ‘bright/sacred fire’. It was held to mark and celebrate the blossoming of spring, and coincided with the ancient pastoral event of moving livestock to their summer grazing. It did not occur on any fixed solar date (the tradition of solstices and equinoxes is later in origin) but tended to be held on the first full moon after the modern 1st of May. Some sources suggest that the blooming of the Hawthorn was the primary signal for the event before the development of centralised calendars.
It was a celebration of the fertility of the land and their animals. The main traditional element which was common to all Beltane festivals was the fire which gave it its name. All the fires of the community would be extinguished and a new, sacred ‘Need Fire’ was lit by either the village head or spiritual leader. From this source one or two bonfires were lit, and the animals of the community would be driven through or between them. It was believed that the smoke and flame of the fires would purify the herd, protecting them in the year to come and ensuring a good number of offspring. The inhabitants of the village would then take pieces of the fire to their homes and relight their hearths, and dance clockwise around the bonfires to ensure good portents for them and their families.
If you plan on attending, and if you find yourself with strangers, (and really, who but the very chic would find themselves almost naked on a cold, wet, wind-battered hill in Scotland at that time of year) or people you don't know very well and you want to break the ice, simply ask them if they would like to have sex. (on the ground, of course to bless the fields and ensure good crops and all that jazz) This is considered flattering, concerns them personally and will lead to interesting gossip at worst and possibly an invitation to summer in a picturesque Scottish ancestral home- (preferably a castle with hot and cold running water as well as Internet connections) always a nice getaway from that particularly unwholesome curry scented stickiness one finds themselves surrounded by in London during the summer. One can readily recall "The Great Stink" in the summer of 1858 during which the smell of untreated sewage almost overwhelmed people in central London, England... have you ever seen a horse vomit? It's not as hilarious as it sounds...

Jack in Green
3 oz vodka
3 oz White rum
1 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz lime juice
orange juice
Mix all ingredients in this EXACT ORDER. In a shaker filled with cubed ice mix the vodka, white rum, blue curacao, dry vermouth, and the lime juice. Shake until ice cold. Pour into highball glass and add the orange juice until full, or to your liking. If you did it right it should look very green and "Nickelodeon-slime-like." Drink and enjoy. Not too fast, though. This WILL cause you to roll around in the dirt with or without another person much to the dismay of onlookers at the dog park.

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