Among the many rich Celtic myths and legends, there are days that are an affirmation of life. I’d like to introduce you to one of the more earthy and sensual Celtic celebrations, the time of Beltane or as many refer to it, May Day.
Most, if not all of us, have heard the saying:
April showers bring May flowers
And if you’re from New England it actually goes like this:
April showers bring May flowers and what do May flowers bring? (Think for a moment…)
Pilgrims! I know it’s trite, but it goes over big with the elementary school crowd … but I digress.
April’s welcoming rains signal a change in seasons. Warm air from the south pushes back against the cold northern winds of winter, blowing them back to the Arctic hinterland. The Earth’s axis in relation to our Sun enables us to enjoy more hours of daylight further enhancing the warming cycle. It is a time of awakening.
In a previous blog posting, I introduced you to Celtic Legend of the Green Man. In it I wrote:
General consensus is that the Green Man is a symbol of fertility and rebirth. Every spring life begins anew as the countryside blooms. Early pagan cultures probably added him to their spiritual pantheon to mirror the human cycle of birth. Understanding basic biology, these early groups could have wondered, “How could Mother Earth give birth without some help?”
In answer to that question, I offer you the celebration of Beltane. While the celebration entails several activities, two of the more well-known are the Fire Ritual and the fertility celebration. Fire in and of itself is primarily considered a destructive force since it consumes matter, turning it to ash. Yet from the destruction and devastation, new life emerges. Seedlings sprout through the carnage reaching for sunlight long denied. The soil is enriched with nutrients released in the inferno. A transformation commences as the circle of life begins anew. For humans, the circle is complete when the Green Man impregnates Mother Nature and fertility is celebrated.
The peoples of Britain have, for centuries and perhaps much longer, celebrated the fertility rites by reveling and cavorting on Beltane night. Cattle were blessed with fertility by being driven through the smoke from the fires while humans cavorted in the woods. It was and still is a celebration of the sensuality of the reproduction of humans.
But is this all there is to the legend of the Green Man? Does it exist merely to be the Yang to Nature’s Yin? Get to know Katie Walsh and her fellow adventurers in Trove and the follow them in the next book in the Katie Walsh Mysteries, Harbinger, due out in late Summer 2013.