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BeltaneImage: Jan Shepherd

Here are Jan's thoughts:
We have come to the third of those festivals that celebrate the bursting forth of life which is Spring.  Here, the energies have built an undeniable power which must inevitably explode into fulfilment and fruition.  The Earth goddess is, here, both receptive and welcoming.  And the Lord stands proud and free in all his rampant glory.  From this you will gather that this is not only a Fire Festival, but also one with a great many sexual undercurrents.  That said, it is also a time where deep and loving commitments are made, one person to another.

This is a very popular period for handfastings – the uniting of two people in a shared commitment for a year and a day - perhaps because of the intensity of passionate energy inherent here.

If you follow through the logic which has threaded each of these last ceremonies, you will see Imbolc plants the seed, the Vernal marks its germination and gathering strength – and here we see that same energy gathering to itself the strength which will eventually leading to fruiting, and a fertile harvest.  In many senses, therefor, Beltane is a blessing ceremony.  It not only imbues the swelling buds with the promise of bounty; it also introduces the concept of fertility to all living and growing things.

Another tradition that might have grown up as a result of the blessing aspect of this ceremony is that of well-decking.  Sacred springs and wells were often garlanded with flowers (especially hawthorn) on Beltane.  This acknowledged the gift of pure water, and also of the healing qualities many such wells and springs were credited with.     [More...]

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