Beltane is, actually, a
ceremony surrounded by considerable controversy – not least in relation
to its origins. Some claim Teutonic beginnings for this
festival, whilst others place it firmly in the Celtic camp.
One thing of which we can be certain is that across Europe, fire
ceremonies were widely celebrated at this time of year. Some
of these were seen as purification processes, and others as fertility
rites. What stands out, among other things, is that there is
no Christian equivalent for Beltane – this is unusual in terms of the
more ancient and traditional pagan ceremonies. Could this be
a reaction against the very rumbustious energies represented here, I
When he is called forth, the invocation is accompanied by a tattoo beaten with a ribbon-bedecked staff reserved entirely for this purpose. Woven amid the ribbons are bells, so the tattoo is a sort of knocking, chiming affair. The altar – red of course – is adorned with hawthorn boughs – and it is considered a particularly bad omen if the hawthorn is not in full blossom. [More...]
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