Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Beltane: Dancing the Sacred Fire of reUnion

May 1st is Beltane: a time for celebrating the beauty and sanctity of all life. Today is a moment for reclaiming your power, balance, and inner strength.

Beltane is one of eight Shabbats on the Wheel of the Year. The others include the Solstices and Equinoxes, Lammas (August 1st), Samhain (October 31st), and Imbolc (February 2nd). Beltane breathes renewal into our cells as we acknowledge the Nature Kingdom and the advent of summer. [For our Southern Hemisphere allies, the Wheel of the Year is reversed: they now celebrate Samhain.]

In the West, we have an unfortunate tendency to water down our sacred days to become mere children's celebrations: Samhain, ushering in the dark half of the year, becomes a specter of itself as Halloween; Imbolc, heralding the return of the light on February 2nd, morphs to Groundhog Day; Beltane becomes a day to dance around the Maypole. Yet the deeper meanings reflect our lost connection with natural rhythms, with the seasonal shifts we actually embody.

As Samhain honors the power of death, so Beltane honors the cycles of life and rebirth. Beltane takes place in Taurus, the zodiac's most earthy, sensual sign, and focuses on exuberant sexuality: the pollinating of flowers, the lush cornucopia of fruit-bearing plants and trees, the reproductive cycle of the entire natural world, from birds and bees to humans. It's a celebration of fertility in all its forms — and thus we dance in homage to Aphrodite, the Goddess Herself.

Although traditionally observed on May 1st, astronomical Beltane arrives about the 5th, a nice sync-up with Cinco de Mayo, giving us an entire week in which to renew, dance the fire back into our beings, and open once again to a sacred reUnion of our masculine and feminine selves. Mythologist Kathleen Jenks provides a page rich in Beltane lore from around the globe.

Ignite your Light!

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