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Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas

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Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

Beltane
by Unknown
Festival of Bel, the Celtic god of fire and light

Beltane: Festival of Fire and Light

Balor The festival of Bealtaine may have derived its name from the sun god Balor, whose one eye symbolised the power of the sun. While canny modern folk use the power of technology to find lurve over the Net, in pagan times lusty lads and lassies stopped nothing short of jumping through fire in their quest for a mate. According to the ancient Celts this was the ultimate way to nab yer bird and get pregnant, oops, that is attract the object of your desire and ensure fertility. This bonfirelit, hilltop bonkfest, er, celebration of human sexuality and fertility, was part of their Bealtaine, or Beltane, festival. The event takes its name from the Belfire (Bel being the Celtic god of fire and light) and is celebrated on the evening of 30 April through dawn on 1 May (May Day). Not only did they believe that this would ensure fertility, they also believed that circling the fire three times would bring them luck during the coming year. Thrifty farmers take note: according to the ancient Bealtaine revelers, driving your livestock between two fires at Bealtaine will purify and protect them from disease. In Ireland, The Hill of Uisneach, the ancient centre of the country, is believed to be the site of the first druidic fire in the land. In Scotland, the Beltane Fire Society hosts an event every year on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. If drummers, musicians and fire jugglers not to mention whisky-fuelled carousing and chaotic cavorting with half-naked dancers painted blue, red and green are your bag, then get yourself up the Hill by 9pm. And don't forget your woad.