(Brilliant Fires)


Calendar Event - May 4 or 5




Beltainn {Beltuinn} marked the beginning of the summer season (Samhradh).  Beltainn had two fires and was a   2-day event with 3 days of festival on either side.  Bel (god) teine (fire) was a fertility festival in which Belenos the male sun god and the female earth goddess fertilized nature (life force) and encouraged healthy livestock, game and foliage.  Belenos was associated with the bull and the oak tree.  This was the month of the bull in the zodiac calendar and the month of Saille (Willow) in the tree calendar.  Willow was also a tree of great importance to the moon goddess.  Hawthorn crowns were made for the god and goddess.  Children conceived at this time would be born for Imbolic.


On the eve of Beltainn all fires were extinguished and all wheels ceased to turn.  At the crack of dawn, the needfire was lit using two large very dry trunks of oak.  The oak was rubbed together by 81 males working in shifts of 9 men each.  The Beltainn fires were special fires called Coelcerth (Gaelic), now known as bonfires meaning good fires".


Circular Beltainn cakes (Tcharnicanare) made from eggs, milk and oatmeal were quartered and put into a calfskin bag.  All the members of the tribe then filed by and retrieved a quarter of the wheel-cake.  The person who picked the cake with the charcoal-blackened mark on it was called the cailleach bealtine (Beltain Carline) and became the sacrifice.


The festival was associated with spring flowers and new boughs of leaves from the hawthorn, which was sacred to the moon goddess.  People wore bright colors to enhance the cycle and to help it on.  This was a precarious time of year because winter stores were still the main source of food, as most new growth would not yet be ready to eat.  Circular cheeses were rolled down the hills in a sunwise direction and the feast that followed was of mead, boar, game, sweet milk, milk curdled over the fire and, most importantly, fresh beef.


During the feast, incense was burned and the bards provided music.  The festival included ritual ecstatic dancing around the phallic stone; ceremonial acts of bowing and kissing, and leaping over the Beltaine fires.  There were different types of races, entertainment by bards and poets, friends and family were together and a festive atmosphere prevailed.


The Partholean, Nemedian, Danann and Goidel all landed in Ireland on Beltainn.  The Celts of Ireland held their Great Assembly on Beltainn at Uisnech, the navel of Ireland.  The Gauls also held their Great Assembly on Beltainn at Chartres, which was in the territory of the Carnuti tribe.  This was a time when disputes were settled and the druid's word was law.



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