The Mythology of May Day

Blogpic-ET-Beltaine-428x599Beltane is considered one of the most important of the ancient holidays. It’s history goes back further than records exist. It is a time for renewal, regrowth and fertility – for the land, livestock, wild animals, and humankind. It welcomes summer, the awakening of the earth and personal growth. The holiday begins at sundown on April 30th and continues through sundown on May first. However, due to calendar changes over the centuries, in years past, it was actually celebrated several days later allowing for more plants to be in bloom. Celebrations of this holiday are held as late as May 5th.

Blogpic-ET-Beltaine-234x319The holiday has many names: Beltaine, Beltane, May Eve, May Day, Walpurgis Night, Roodmass, to name a few. Many try to stay up all night on Beltane Eve to welcome the dawn with singing and dancing. It is also said that if you sit under a tree, you may be lucky enough to hear or see the Queen of the Faeries as she rides her white horse.

The horse’s bells ring as she rides through the night. Legend has that if you hide your face, the Faery Queen will pass you by, but if you look upon her she may choose you to accompany her to Faeryland. This is a time when the ‘veil’ between worlds is at it’s thinnest, as it is at Samhain (Halloween). It is considered to be the time when Faeries return full of mischief and delight, and rowan branches were often placed over doorways and windows for protection.

Blogpic-ET-Beltaine-545x535Leftover food from MayEve celebrations should be left as a gift for the faeries or buried. It is bad luck for spring cleaning not to have been accomplished by this time. Be sure to blow out the candles used to celebrate Beltane with your love, before falling asleep. It is considered unlucky (especially for men) to marry in May, as it is considered the ‘woman’s month” and is suggested that he would fall prey to lust, allowing his wife great power over him. An old UK rhyme goes “Marry in May and rue the day!” It was also thought that this was the time that changelings might be substituted for human children. Village elders left offerings of food (butter, eggs, milk cheese) for the fairies or poured milk into the ground for protection from faery mischief and from natural events like storms, flood and disease. Native Americans also watched the skies and sang songs to bring themselves into harmony with the fertility of “Mother Earth” and “Father Sky”, and were rewarded with spring rains and increased sunlight. The Navajo refered to the Pleiades as “Dilyehe” and had a saying, “Never let Dilyehe see you plant.” When the Pleiades were gone from the evening sky, it was time to begin planting, which was to be accomplished before Dilyehe returned to the skies just before dawn. Cats born in May are considered to be good “mousers.”

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