Thursday, October 29, 2009

Celebrating Beltane the Oz Way! Part 1

I spoke in my previous post about my expiriences and difficulties in coming to australia and adapting the sabbats to suit the Southern Hemisphere. Writing that blog entry really got me thinking. The problem I have is that I normally associate Beltane with Bel-fires, Mayday and the Maypole and Morris dancing which is of course a traditonal English folk dance. In the UK we have Mayday (the first Monday in May) off. Around this time you will usually find some local school fete where the children put on a maypole dancing demonstration or a local fair where Morris dancing can be seen so it is easy to find Beltane being celebrated all around and the traditional celebrations being upheld even if the participants dont realise it!

So with that in mind it got me thinking how does this holiday really fit now that I'm living in Australia. To answer this question I went back to the roots of where this sabbat came from.

Beltane is an ancient Gaelic festival that was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Similar celebrations were held at the same time of year in the Celtic countries of Wales, Brittany and Cornwall.

For the Celts Beltane marked the begining of the summer pastoral season where herds were driven to the summer and mountain grazing land. The main activity of the holiday was the lighting of the Bel-fires. The Bonfires marked a time of transition and purification, heralding in the season and the hope of a good harvest later in the year. They were accompanied by rituals to protect people from otherworldly spirits as the veil between the world was seen as being thin much like at Samhain. Another common aspect of the festival was the hanging of the may boughs in doors and windows.

The festival is a celebration of fertility, love and passion and this can be seen symbolically in the Maypole with its red and white ribbons denoting the union of male and female. In modern Wicca Beltane is the time of the sacred union between the god and goddess.

So while the union of the God and Goddess can be celebrated in Australia and the start of summer with all its fertility can be viewed all around with new plant and animal life springing forward it is difficult to find old traditions as Australia is a young country! For all my research I have found no maypole or morris dancing in Australia's traditions.

I am a firm believer that it is important to follow the native traditions of a country in order to celebrate the seasons. This was something I started thinking about when I attended a talk by Tam Campbell at Witchfest a couple of years ago. The talk was about worshipping Gods and Goddesses that are local to the area you live in. These are easy to find in the UK. You just have to look at the local place names and pagan sites where depictions of pagan gods and goddesses can be found.

In Australia it is a little harder to dig up the native traditions. I have started to research this by reading up on aboriginal Gods and Goddesses. Generally in my workings I just use the God and Goddess or Lord and Lady in a generic sense without assigning specific dieties but if i do want to work with sepcific dieties then I feel it is sensible to use those native to the country or place I am at.

I feel the same about celebrating the changing seasons. Although I will follow the Wiccan stories behind each sabbat and the life cycle of the God and Goddess I feel it is sensible to relate these to how the changing of the seasons were traditionally celebrated in the country I am in. At the moment all my research seems to be drawing a blank as to how or even if the aboriginals celebrated the changing of the seasons but as soon as I have more information I will write the second half of this blog.

I appologise if this blog entry is a bit rambling but an idea is forming in my mind about this subject and I am trying to form it into something a bit more solid so I guess more reasearch needs to be done on my part.
Blessed Be dear readers ... x

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