In Ireland, nature on May 1, 2012 at 6:49 am

Already the constantly turning wheel of the year has brought us to May Day… Bealtaine…the beginning of Summer in the Celtic calendar. The Blackthorn is in blossom now…soon it will be followed by the Maybush as Hawthorn is often known.

The Romans celebrated this time with the Festival of Floraia…in honour of the Goddess Flora…Goddess of fruit and flowers. They would feast for 5 days.

Imagine the scene in the old days in Ireland…fires lighting on every hill on the eve of Bealtaine…must have been a wonderful sight to see the hills glowing in the distance. The main fire was at Uisneach…in what is now county Westmeath. Fires in the home were quenched and then relit with coals from the embers of the bonfire.

In the not so distant past the churning of butter was an important activity on every farm. Indeed as a child I remember my Mother making butter in a round wooden churn. It was believed that anything leaving the farm on May morning could be used to “steal the butter.” People not of the household would not be allowed enter if butter was being churned for fear of malicious intentions. It was suspected that certain people regularly “stole” their neighbours butter and crops. Potatoes, being an important food crop, were often the focus of these “thefts.” The crop would be “stolen” by the “thief” leaving an egg among the potatoes. The “thief” would then have an excellent crop.

Like Samhain,  Bealtaine is considered a time when the veil between the world’s is thin…a time when, at dawn and dusk especially, we can commune with Fairy and Nature spirits more easily.

What does Bealtaine…May Day mean to you? Is it something you mark in any way? For me it is a time of an increased awareness of Nature bursting forth. Everything is so vibrant… green and alive. The fields and hedgerows are once again clothed in green…insects are flitting about doing their pollinating work. So much to observe and revel in. Even though we’ve seen it all before somehow each year we are filled with awe and anticipation at the wonder of it all.

  1. I really enjoy your writing.

  2. Lovely green area, beautiful trees.

  3. We sometimes would celebrate May Day in school, but I have not really celebrated it in a while. I enjoyed the history, folklore, and imagery in your post. We should celebrate it…a very special time…

  4. Lovely post, Bridget. I don’t celebrate 1st May (other than to enjoy all the new growth especially, as you mention, the hedges) but I have in mind to start marking it wiith a Roman five day feast. Or perhaps six. D

  5. Lovely post, Bridget. May Day is not celebrated in the U.S., but when I taught school my class always learned maypole dancing. Happy Beltaine! P. x

  6. May Day never had much meaning to me growing up or now. But then neither does Valentine’s Day, Easter Egg Day, Santa Clause Day, or New Year’s Day.

  7. I loved this post. I always think of the old celebrations at the dates of solstice and equinox but May Day goes right by. Your stories and images will stay with me. Next year five days of feasting.

  8. It rained on our MayDay — but reading your post was magical and beautiful. Thanks for not only bringing me to your country, but for taking me back in time. Gorgeous.

  9. I count on you to remind of the Celtic festivals. We’ve had our first fire, the weather is turning chilly.

  10. Lovely to read this post and be reminded of the magic that exists in nature at this time of year. Sometimes it’s easy to disconnect from nature when living in a city and with heavy rain enforcing more time indoors. Blog posts like yours make me look again with fresh eyes. Thank you!

  11. I make a little bonfire to the gods. 🙂

  12. Happy Beltaine! I love the imagery you painted here with the bonfires lit across the landscape. I wish that kind of excitment over the turning of the seasons was still a widespread phenomenon. The excitement certainly still lives in me and I’m glad it does for you too! What an exciting time of year.

  13. cool sunny day here. Out wandering the property and noting the bees and new growth everywhere. Soon a full moon so plenty of light even last night to wander and be in worship mode on this beautiful planet we call home.

  14. I think I will mark it with five days of feasting! 🙂 Can’t get out much anyway with the rain.

  15. Reblogged this on Artemisia Whispers in the Night and commented:
    A beautiful (as always) post from my cyber friend Bridget.

  16. I’m thinking of you and yours today and wishing you all the prosperity of the season.

    • Hi again Ms Grubby Fungus – I’ve just been to your lovely and happy blog as well, and have subscribed to it – anything to do with nature and especially with the ‘fur family’ are things very close to my heart. What a brilliant day this has been so far – two brilliant new (to me) blogs to immerse myself in with delight.

  17. I don’t exactly mark it in any way except to notice and to be grateful that it’s here. This year I am especially grateful because it’s raining and we’ve had a bit of a drought situation lately so I’ll take all the rain I can get. Lovely post–thanks for all the info! Karla

  18. A fascinating post, Bridget. May Day here is soggy. It’s teeming down once again with all our local rivers at bursting point. My garden has never looked greener though. It would be nice if it dried up for a bit so we could get out and appreciate the flowers. May is my favourite month. A month of so much promise where all the growth looks fresh and zinging with life.I love the hedgerows, in particular as they become frothy with cow parsley.

  19. This is so interesting. I know nothing of the lores surrounding Bealtaine. Yesterday I was intending to do a particular task for a blog project. I went outside ,looked around and decided instead of my original task I was going on a fairy hunt through the woods in search of fariy treasure. The veils between the world were very thin indeed.
    Jane x

  20. Bealtaine greetings to you too, Bridget. Yes, we are celebrating this special time of renewal and rebirth and new possibilities. It’s an auspicious time for me today as well – my brand new crafts business is officially launching today, so It’s all very exciting – infinite potentiality and infinite possibilites on the horizon. Today, everything seems and feels more alive, more vibrant, more beautiful. Today, I feel the spirits and the faerie folk are with me, guiding me and helping me along the way. Today, I will walk up towards Knocknashee and take in the abundant beauty and generosity that nature so lovingly provides and shares with us.

    • June, I just wanted to say that I hope your business endeavors and blessed and fruitful.

      • Thank you so much for the kind and lovely blessings for my fledgling crafts business (CelticMoonCraft, if I may be so bold to use this platform for a moment and tell you its name). It’s only early days yet, but I know this is my calling and I know that Joseph Campbell would approve of me ‘following my bliss.’ I wish you the same – much love and abundance in all your endeavours.

      • Hi June, So excited for you on the start of your new business. However I have’nt been able to get onto it, internet explorer said it does’nt exist. What’s the story? Anyway you have my best wishes for your new enterprise.
        Bridget x
        P.S. Happy Bealtaine!

      • Hi Bridget – Yes, there have been a few unexpected glitches in setting up the website, but I’m working on sorting them out hopefully sooner rather than later, along with starting a blog that will connect to the website and eventually an ebay site/shop and etsy as well and Pinterest (which I’ve only just begun learning more about).

        Will you be coming to the crafts fair at the Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo town this Sunday? There will be about 25 other crafters there, and it promises to be a great fair for both crafters and shoppers who love handmade, and everyone is welcome.

        Thanks for the good wishes. There’s never been a better time of year to start than Bealtaine – a time of new beginnings. I feel it, I sense it. For all of us. – June

      • Sadly won’t be making The Glasshouse as I am house/child sitting for family in Tipperary. You’ll love Pinterest, it’s great. I joined about 2 months ago. Sooo looking forward to when you start blogging. Exciting times…new beginnings…lovin it.
        Bridget x

  21. It’s so interesting to read of the traditions of May Day and Bealtaine–probably things my Irish grandparents grew up knowing about. Here in Florida in the United States we don’t mark the first of May in any special way, just the beginning of a new month.

  22. Our May Day is feeling very sorry for itself – the rain is pouring down, the ground is very soggy after weeks of continual rain and we are cooped up indoors yet again. Your photos cheered me up a little.

  23. As you say we have seen it all before and yet every year is exciting, all the possibilities the potential, the starting anew.

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