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Beltane Fires Flower

Beltane Eve

Apr 30

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"On Beltane eve, the fairies are abroad; when the veils between the worlds are thin, we dance with the spirits of spring."

Happy Beltane Eve! Beltane, celebrated on the first of May, holds a special place in the ancient Celtic calendar! Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between the mortal world and that of the spirits is considered thin, similar to Samhain, allowing for a closer exchange with spirits and fairies, both good and malevolent. Superstitions and rituals aimed at protecting livestock and crops from natural and supernatural harm were many and varied. Bonfires, a central element of Beltane, were more than communal centers for celebration; they were believed to possess protective powers. Livestock were driven between two fires to purify them and shield them from disease, and people leaped over flames to cleanse themselves of evil spirits. Even the Beltane morning dew was said to hold magical properties, with people rolling in it to enhance beauty and ensure good health. Without easy access to a bonfire, this dance performed as a jig followed by a strathspey, then a reel, is the bonfire equivalent with Celtic Brooch, Schiehalion reels, and Triangular Poussettes acting as the magical figures! May your dancing days continue happily into the new season! 🌸 🌹 🔥

Beltane Fires Flower

The ancient festival of Beltane held most often between April 30th and May 1st is about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice


Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.


Beltane marked the beginning of summer when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures.  

 

Spirits or fairies were thought to be especially active at Beltane, similarly at Samhain, and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them.


One of the main protective devices used were sprigs from the Rowan tree.  So powerful were the branches of this tree thought to be, that the collection of them, on the eve before Beltane festivities, came to be known as Rowan Tree Day.


Sprigs of Rowan were often tied with string dyed red from the Rowan berries to cows' tails and horses' halters as protection, and sheep were made to jump through Rowan hoops. Crossed branches of Rowan were often placed in cowsheds and stables for the same purpose, and milking stools and pails were sometimes made of Rowan wood. 


Witches (often in disguise as hares) were reported to steal milk from cows (and butter) during Beltane.

 

Necklaces of Rowan berries with red thread, or sprigs of rowan worn in the hair or on clothing, were often worn for protection by Highland women.  


A rowan tree which took root in the fork of an existing tree where old leaves had accumulated, such as another rowan, oak or a maple, was called a "flying rowan" and thought of as especially potent against witches and their magic, and as a counter-charm against sorcery.


For more on Beltane traditions  click the Rowan tree.

Beltane Fires Flower

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Beltane Fires Flower

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