Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Get Ready for Beltane!: Day 2: Beltane Folklore 1/25/11

Day 2: Beltane Folklore
Patti Wigington
From Patti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism / Wicca
Beltane has a long and rich history of legends and folklore. This time of year is associated with the Faerie realm, as well as some of the more mysterious nature entities, like the Green Man and the Queen of May. As spring moves into summer, and the land comes back to life, it's a good time to consider some of the tales our ancestors told about the fertility of the soil. From the mythology and folklore surrounding the birds and the bees to the secret language of flowers themselves, Beltane is a time of deep reflection upon the renewal of life.
Beltane Folklore 
Did you know that Irish farmers drove their cattle between two great bonfires at Beltane? Or that if you nibble a snack offered by the Fae, you'll be trapped in their magical Realm for seven years? How about the fertility magic of the "birthing stone"? These are just a few of the fascinating legends and folklore that surround Beltane. Beltane Lore

Who is The Green Man? 
For our ancient ancestors, many spirits and deities were associated with nature, wildlife, and plant growth. After all, if you had just spent the winter starving and freezing, when spring arrived it was certainly time to give thanks to whatever spirits watched over your tribe. The spring season, particularly around Beltane, is typically tied to a number of pre-Christian nature spirits. Many of these are similar in origin and characteristics, but tend to vary based on region and language. In English folklore, few characters stand out -- or are as recognizable -- as the Green Man. Who is the Green Man?
The May Queen & Queen of Winter 
Much like the masculine battle between the Holly King and the Oak King at Yule and Litha, there is a feminine battle for dominance in Beltane folklore. In some Wiccan traditions, the May Queen arises from her winter's sleep at Beltane, and does battle with the Crone, the Queen of Winter. The May Queen
The Mysterious Fae 
Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin. In most European folktales, the Fae kept to themselves unless they wanted something from their human neighbors. It wasn't uncommon for a tale to relate the story of a human being who got too daring with the Fae -- and ultimately paid their price for his or her curiosity! In many stories, there are different types of faeries - learn about who they are, and what they want from us. Faerie Lore
Welcoming the Birds at Beltane 
Beltane is all about fertility, and what embodies that more than the concept of the birds and their nests? They're laying their eggs, preparing to hatch their young, and generally giving us all sorts of signs that life has returned to the earth once more. You can welcome birds to your yard with a couple of simple techniques, and then sit back and watch to see what they're up to. Welcoming the Birds
Busy as a Bee 
If we're going to mention birds, certainly we have to talk about the bees as well! Bees have a long and interesting history in folklore and legend, and in many cultures, they are considered a symbol of divinity. Read on to learn about which cultures honored the bees -- and their honey, which was known as the nectar of the gods! Bee Folklore
The Secret Language of Flowers 
In the Victorian era, it became popular to send people messages told in the language of flowers. There was a fairly standard list, so if you received a bouquet of lemon blossoms, for example, you'd know that someone was promising you fidelity and faithfulness in their love for you. Many of these centuries-old flower meanings translate well into modern Paganism and Wicca -- after all, if magic uses symbolism, we can take this language of flowers and incorporate it into our day-to-day magical living. The Secret Language of Flowers
Tomorrow: Beltane Around the World 
Tomorrow we'll look at some of the ways the fertile season is celebrated around the world, as well as the deities associated with Beltane. 

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