Beltane and the Wheel of the Year

year-wheel

Beltane is approaching! It is the time of abundant growth and fertility, the time we bless the fields for the season of growth. All the living things of the Earth revel under the growing power of the Sun.

Beltane is one of eight Sabbats that make up the Wheel of the Year in Pagan tradition. The two Solstices and Equinoxes are known as the quarter days, marking the continuous cycle of turning points in our experience of the Sun’s power. Beltane is one of the cross-quarter days, or days marking times between the Solstices and Equinoxes. Beltane lies between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The Sun continues to grow toward its height.

The cross-quarter days were seasonal festivals originally celebrated among ancient Celtic peoples. Beltane sits opposite on the year-wheel to Samhain, later celebrated as Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve. It was thought that Beltane was one of the best times of the year for seeing faeries- and I only just recently learned why that is! Samhain of course is the time of year when the veil between our world and the world of the dead is thinnest- hence the remembering and contacting of ancestors during that time. Beltane, its opposite on the year-wheel, is the time when the veil between our world and the world of the faeries or nature spirits is thinnest. Many witches consider Samhain and Beltane the most powerful holidays on the whole year-wheel!

I learned another interesting fact about Beltane recently. To this day in contemporary Ireland, there are towns named for Beltane (Bealtaine/Beltany), which were in old days places where communities would gather for Beltane celebrations. I find bits of knowledge like this fascinating!

Beltane was also traditionally celebrated as a fire festival, with communities gathering around sacred bonfires. It was also a time for scrying, herb collecting, and hand-fasting or marriage.

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