Saturday, May 21, 2011


Beltane, celebrated on May 1st, is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain), celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Traditionally, it marked the arrival of summer in ancient times.

The Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon at Beltane. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few minutes before sunrise.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter and summer. As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counterpart, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.

Like Samhain, Beltane is a time of "no time" when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and magic abounds! It is when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection. Many otherworldly occurrences transpired during this time of "no time". Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food during the time of no time is treated with great care.

When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse's bells as She rides through the night. If you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you. There is a Scottish ballad called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go to the Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since.

Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg. Christina Aubin

It is an unusual sort of Christianity practiced on the islands off the coast of Ireland and Scotland. The ancient practices of the Druids are often blended with the early teachings of the Catholic missionaries, hence the practice of cementing a child's relationship with the earth at baptism when a tiny spoonful of soil is fed to him along with holy water. 
Poteen From Ireland
7 lb of bakers yeast
3 stone of brown sugar
4 lb of treacle
1 lb of hops 1. Steep ingredients in 3 gallons of lukewarm water at the bottom of a 40 gallon barrel after steeping fill barrel to three quarter full with cold spring water. Leave in a cool place to settle. After several weeks transfer to your still. 

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