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- the time of the Green Man

1 May = Northern hemisphere
31 October = Southern hemisphere

The feast of Beltane celebrates the coming of summer. It is the time when we honour the Green Man, consort of the Goddess and ancient spirit of the Greenwood. Known as 'Jack-in-the-Green' or 'Robin', he joins with Marian, his May Queen.
This is the season of Herne, protector of the Greenwood and symbol of fertility, growth and change. Just as buck deer shed their antlers following mating in May, with the Goddess pregnant with the Star Child, Herne declares his readiness to forsake his wanderings and take his place beside her. On Beltane Eve, some witches take to the woods, to 'bring in' the May-blossom at dawn. For our ancestors, this was a time of sexual licence, so possibly 'bringing in the May' was a euphemism for a more traditional
activity of Beltane.
Unsurprisingly, many pagan handfastings and marriages take place at this festival.

=Close To The Faery World=

In the wheel of the year, Beltane stands opposite Samhain; just as at Samhain when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is thin, at Beltane the world of mortals and that of faery are very close. The faery Otherworld was well-known by our ancestors, who left us stories of seers and poets who gained their gifts after falling asleep under a hawthorn, May-tree or faery-mound.
Our Celtic ancestors drove cattle between two sacred fires on 1 May to protect them before sending them out to pasture; this was the bel-tine, the 'lucky' or 'bright' fire. The feast may also be named for a northern European god or goddess named Bel/Belenos/Belissama. The Celtic preface bel means 'bright', indicating that this god or goddess had solar connections.
Whatever the festival's origins, the sacred fire features strongly in Wiccan celebrations. If celebrating outdoors, we light a small bonfire which the sprightly can leap to obtain a Beltane blessing. Sometimes a broomstick is used instead, symbolizing the sacred conjunction of male (handle) and female (brush), and marking the threshold between spring and summer. As we cross, we make promises to keep in the coming year.

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