Sunday, May 1, 2011


Today marks the Celtic festival of Beltane, the brilliant fire(sun), the beginning of summer. Beltane is a quarter day, half way between the vernal equinox and summer solstice.

Long ago Brits believed the night of April 30 was the darkest of the year, a night witches and evil spirits roamed the earth and sky spreading evil and destroying tender crops. To ward off danger kettles were banged, church bells rang, bonfires were kept lit on hilltops until sunrise.

It later became the custom to dance around the bonfires, in a clock(sun)wise direction, in what eventually evolved into a fertility rite. Over time the fires were replaced with poles creating the Maypole. The phallic pole adding visual meaning to fertility rites.

A sacred rite at my first wife's high school graduation ceremony was the Maypole dance. Even then it struck me as odd that a private catholic all-girl's school would perform a pagan fertility ritual as part of commencement.

Whether you honor the day as a pagan ritual, workers day, military parade and speech day or just a great day to be alive, welcome May. In the northern hemisphere Summer will soon arrive.



James said...

When you consider that for centuries the Church considered woman's role was to provide more Catholics, the maypole dance sorta makes sense.

Barbara said...

(Nix on the pink brolly, my dear. But you're looking good.)
I'm sure everyone in the northern hemisphere is doing their own pagan Maypole dance, hoping for spring and a touch of summer. You've had a bad winter and a ghastly spring.

Toad said...

Amen to that Barbara

T said...

I love these kinds of posts you do...very informative. This one reminds me of when I was searching online for information on this truly odd and somewhat creepy place that I stumbled on one night in Maryland:

Particularly this gem:

I'll probably stage my own personal pagan dance this coming Saturday...most likely after number 3 of Mother's Derby Day mint juleps. Happy Spring, Toad.