Beltane: Festival of Fire and Light
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.