From approximately April 28-May 5 Pagans celebrate the Celtic fire festival known as Beltane. It is held at the halfway point between the Spring Equinox & the Summer Solstice. This day marked the time of year when farmers would bring their cattle out to pasture.
Rituals would be performed that would involve lighting bonfires as the flames and ashes were deemed to be protective. People would walk around the bonfires with their cattle and sometimes leap over the flames. These gatherings would be followed by a feast. Homes were decorated with yellow Mayflowers due to their fiery colouring. Beltane is a spring time festival that celebrates the fertility of nature. Thus, pagan folk would consumate their love in the meadows and woods under the light of the moon. It was also a festival of sexual freedom, therefore promiscuity was celebrated.
The name Beltane is old Gaelic for “bright fire.” We see similar etymology in the Slavic languages where the word byelo means White as in to purify.
The Astrology of Beltane
Beltane occurs at 15 degrees of the sign Taurus. 15 degrees in Astrology is known as a critical degree because it represents the half way point in a zodiac sign (there are 30 degrees in each sign). 15 degrees is therefore a peak of energy….a strong burst of the Taurus archetype.
Beltane is opposite the other Pagan holiday Samhain which is commonly celebrated at Halloween. This festival celebrates the thinning of the veil between worlds. It’s a time of ancestral worship and purging. Beltane, representing the other half of Samhain also experiences a thinning of the veil. It’s less to do with communicating with the dead, and more about communicating with the cosmos, the divine feminine.
The symbol for Taurus is the Bull- a creature of virility & aggressiveness- typical qualities we associate with the masculine. Oddly enough, Taurus is an ultra feminine sign ruled by Venus, so why the Bull as her symbol?
The Bull was sacred in Egyptian, Assyrian, & Crete cultures. The constellation was named as such between 4000 and 2000 BC when the ancients noticed fertility began when the constellation was rising in the evening at the time of year that the Nile receded far back enough that Oxen could plough the land. The Bull features in many mythologies which I recommend you research further in order to grasp the full archetype of Taurus.
The Taurus bull head looks like the female reproductive system, confirming once again the connection between creation and Taurus.
The First Heartbeat
The Star Aldebaran is found in the Taurus constellation at 15 degrees- the degree of Beltane. To the ancient Babylonians (the first Astrologers) this star was the luckiest star, representing wealth and a beautiful family life. This is why Beltane is celebrated on May 1st when the Sun in Taurus reached 15 degrees.
If you have been following my analysis of the Pagan sabbats on my blog, you will know that I have discussed these holidays in terms of frequencies. To recap, there was a frequency that was released at the Winter solstice that was encoded with our blueprint for the upcoming year. That frequency becomes seeded at Imbolc which is the metaphysical cosmic conception. At Ostara we celebrate pregnancy- we are creating new life that will be given birth to 9 months later at the Winter Solstice. Beltane is 6 weeks from Ostara. We know that 6 weeks into a pregnancy, a heartbeat can be detected. This is the realization that we are carrying life within us. It is the reality that our creation is in fact alive! It’s always an emotional time for the parents to hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time because it is confirmation that their love has indeed created another human.
Faeries are believed to dance around under the moonlight on Beltane which is why this holiday has a magical quality to it. Is there anything more magical than creating life?
If we take Beltane as experiencing the first heartbeat, what we are really celebrating during this holiday is life and creation. It’s in May that we begin to see nature waking up from the long dark Winter, and it gives us hope and excitement knowing that life is ours to create. I have noticed with many people that the period from January-April are always stagnant periods because we are metaphysically accumulating a lot of energy for the remainder of the year- we are energetically preparing ourselves for this frequency that we are carrying.
Milk & Honey
The Sun meets with the Milky Way at Beltane- connecting our consciousness with the stream of souls of the Milky Way. It is called the Milky Way because it is believed that it is the milk of our universe- the nurturing elixir that women use to feed their babies. In astrotheology, the Milky Way is Mother Mary. It is believed that when the Sun meets with the Milky Way at Beltane, souls are able to penetrate the womb of women who are expecting. This is why many believe that it’s at 6 weeks when the fetus has a soul.
The Maypole which is an important symbol of Beltane represents the Axis Mundi- the celestial pole that connect us to the heavens. The pole is an obvious phallic symbol, however I like to think of it as a column of enlightenment and the ribbons representing the celestial bodies. The crossing of the ribbons represents the meeting of the Sun with the Milky Way, the celebration of the stream of consciousness from the heavens that is now descending upon earth.
Beltane reminds us to enjoy ourselves and to celebrate the union of life and love. We experience the most profound intimacy with the universe when we are able to fully surrender to its magnificence. Taurus knows how to celebrate beauty and recognizing the beauty around us creates a conduit of energy connecting our physical world with the spiritual world…..this is why Beltane represents the thinning of the veil.
At Beltane we celebrate the masculine and feminine coming together. It’s a time to celebrate who you are unapologetically. Write down a list of your deepest wishes and bury it in your garden in a wish box. Visualize your wishes growing true.
We celebrate the union of the feminine and masculine, for without it, there would be no heartbeat.