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Thread: Beltane

  1. #11
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    Thumbs Up Re: Beltane

    St. John's Day & Midsummer Day

    Midsummer's Eve gets its name from the Celtic Pagan calendar which places the beginning of summer on May 1 and the end of summer on August 1, reasoning that the day when the sun is most powerful (the Summer Solstice) is actually the mid-point of summer. Just as the Pagan celebration of Yule (at the Winter Solstice) was adopted by Christians as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Pagan mid-summer celebration was adopted by Christians as the day to celebrate the birth of John of the Baptist, the son of Mary's cousin Elizabeth born six months before Jesus, who prophesied the coming of Jesus and prepared the way baptizing people in the River Jordan.

    The blend of Christian and Pagan traditions which are seen in Midsummers' celebrations is remarkably reciprocal, with many pagan references to "St. John's Eve" and many Christian celebrations marked by pagan symbols (fire and water) and superstition. It is interesting to note that St. John himself is often depicted as a rather Pagan figure-his connection to the wilderness has been emphasized (some called him 'the Oak King'), and many statues show him as a horned figure, like the Pagan deity Pan. This blending continues in Midsummer celebrations around the world today.

    Scandinavia
    In the far north the longest day of the year (twenty to twenty-four hours of sunlight as compared to zero to six mid-winter) is a joyous occasion! In Finland the day is called Juhannus Day and is conveniently fixed on a Saturday so that everyone can spend it in the country. On Midsummer's Eve the celebration begins with a sauna, followed by the midnight lighting of great bonfires on lake and sea shores and outdoor dancing through the night. The birch tree takes the place of the Christmas evergreen; great branches are cut and used to decorate cars, homes, and churches. Superstitions abound, such as you must have a birch tree in the house to insure future happiness, and you should hang a birch wreath to your cow's horns for protection. Hundreds of fires can be seen on the highest promontories throughout Finland and Norway with shadow-like figures dancing around them. Boats decorated with flowers and green branches float down fjords, giving passengers a good view of the lighted hilltops.

    In Sweden, where the festival is called Midsommar, houses are decorated inside and out with posies, wreaths and flower garlands. A midsummer pole, similar to the maypole is erected in a field and decorated with leafy branches and flowers. People of all ages gather around the pole to dance, led by fiddlers playing classic old tunes and children's favorites. In Sweden, as in many other countries, the magic of Midsummer includes divining the future, especially one's future spouse. The young girl who goes out into the fields, and (in silence) picks seven different kinds of flowers and places them under her pillow that night, will dream who her husband will be.

    In France St. Jean's Day is also celebrated with bonfires, dancing and leaping over the fires (a pagan tradition to bring good fortune). As in Scandinavia and elsewhere, houses are decorated with plants thought to have special magical powers on this day: rue, roses, St. Johnswort and verbena. Branches of these plants are burned in the fires and ashes saved to protect houses from lighting, or used in garden's to promote growth. So strong is the association of plants with this festival that the eve of Midsummer's Day in Spain is called the 'Night of the Verbena'

    Pagans associated water with Midsummers as well as fire, perhaps because of the opposition of fire and water, perhaps to emphasize the importance of water during this season when the sun is strongest. Include water sports in your celebration: swimming if possible, running through the sprinkler, or having a water fight. Sun-colored water balloons would provide fun symbolism..

    Indoors and out decorate with birch branches, flower garlands (be sure to use verbena or St. Johnswort if available), floating candles (on a birdbath or basin), and sun images made of paper or clay. Young girls in your family or group might try divining as the Scandinavian girls do. In silence have each go out to the woods or fields and gather five different kinds of flowers. Each girl places the bouquet under her pillow that night with hopes to dream of her future spouse.

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    Post Re: Beltane

    You want a May-"Pole"? Here's your Maypole right here...

  3. #13
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    Beltane Blessing

    This is a translation of a Gaelic prayer from the Highlands. It is an interesting example of the mingling of Christian and pagan practices. This is not a case of paganism existing in secret under a Christian veneer, rather it is an organic synthesis of the two traditions.


    Bless, O Threefold,
    Myself, my spouse, and my children,
    My tender children and their beloved mother at their head.
    On the fragrant plain, on the gay mountain sheiling,
    On the fragrant plain, on the gay mountain sheiling.

    Everything within my dwelling or in my possession,
    All kine and crops, all flocks and corn,
    From Hallow Eve to Beltane Eve,
    With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
    From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
    From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.

    Be the Three Persons taking possession of all to me belonging,
    Be the sure Trinity protecting me in truth;
    Oh! satisfy my soul in the words of Paul,
    And shield my loved ones beneath the wing of Thy glory,
    Shield my loved ones beneath the wing of Thy glory.

    Bless everything and every one,
    Of this little household by my side;
    Place the cross of Christ on us with the power of love,
    Till we see the land of joy,
    Till we see the land of joy.

    What time the kine shall forsake the stalls,
    What time the sheep shall forsake the folds,
    What time the goats shall ascend to the mount of mist,
    May the tending of the Triune follow them,
    May the tending of the Triune follow them.

    Thou Being who didst create me at the beginning,
    Listen and attend me as I bend the knee to Thee,
    Morning and evening as is becoming in me,
    In Thine own presence, O God of life,
    In Thine own presence, O God of life.



    Source: Di Veteres
    Lík börn leika best.

  4. #14
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    Yes, Christianity tended to meld fairly effortlessly with the pre-existing religions.
    There is a legend about St Patrick meeting with the druids and found that much of the Brehon Laws were in accord and so retained much of them.
    It's ironic that many practises still found to this day such as pilgrimages to various grottos and shrines are far closer to the old practises than some white-robed "druids" dancing round stonehenge during the summer solstice

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    Very interesting thanks. A small point; English pagans (the ones who dance around naked like lunatics) usually pronounce Beltaine "Bell-tane" but it should sound more like "Bel-ten-ehh", or "Bal-tan-ehh".
    Close observation may result in feelings of horror, wonder and awe at world you find yourself inhabiting.

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    So, is Mayday like Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, with topless women drinking too much? These kinds of events seem like nothing but mindless self indulgence, but if I say I don't want to partake in craziness, I'm called "antisocial". For as much as I admire religious architecture, I've no interest in rituals either, although incense and song are enjoyable enough. I guess that makes me boring and apathetic, but am willing to at least witness a Mayday celebration once.

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