Tuesday, April 30, 2013

YouTube Treasures: Loreena McKennitt ~ Huron 'Beltane' Fire Dance

Beltane is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on April 30 ~  May 1, or halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It was observed in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Beltane was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (November 1), Imbolc (February 1), Beltane (May 1) and Lughnasadh (August 1). Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the symbolic use of fire. There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, as well as to encourage growth. The (often described as "the spirits" or "the fairies") were thought to be especially active at Beltane (as they are at Samhain) and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them. Beltane was a "spring time festival of optimism" during which fertility rituals were important, perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun.