History of Beltane Beltane is also known as Walburge, Bealtaine, Bhealtainn and May Day. It is usually celebrated on May eve or the 1st of May. The actual translation of the word is debatable. Scholars agree that taine or teine means “fire” because the word is used to express fire today in both the Scottish and Irish Gaelic languages. The first syllable, Beal or Bel is not clearly defined. One theory is that the festival is named after the Celtic god Bel (also known as Beli, or Belinus). Therefore, Beltane would mean “Bel’s fire.” Beal, the Gaelic word for “shining one” or “brilliant,” gives Beltane the meaning of “brilliant fire.” On the eve of Beltane all fires were extinguished and relit with embers from the Beltane fire. The Celts built two fires created from the nine sacred woods (Rowan, Apple, Dogwood, Poplar, Juniper, Cedar, Pine, Holly and Oak). The herds were ritually driven between them to purify and protect them. The fires celebrated the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth and would protect, heal and purify anything or one that passed by or jumped over. Beltane is the Sacred Marriage and union of the God and Goddess. Beltane is also celebration of fertility, fruitfulness and the coming of summer. It is a time when the light half of the year is waxing and everything is growing and coming into full greenery and bloom. It is the last of the spring fertility festivals, and is a time when all prepare for the warm months ahead. Beltane celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight. An old Swedish custom stated that the balefire had to be lit by two people–a male and a female, striking two flints together. This is symbolic of the sexual union of the God and Goddess. In Norway the balefires are called Balder’s Fires in honor of their Sun God. Old brooms were often thrown upon these fires and new ones, made during the winter, were brought out and dedicated to their intended purpose. Germanic and Dianic covens celebrate Bealtaine as a Night of the Dead, where ancestors are asked to join them at the warmth of the fire in much the same way the Celts do at Samhain. Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors. Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within. On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it. Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.