On the Calendar
The world is awash in color as flowers and fruit trees bloom and fill the air with a potpourri of sweet perfume. It is no wonder that May is called the magical month. May is strongly associated with other worlds, and the fairy folk are said to be particularly active. This month is named for Maia, a Roman goddess of fertility.
On the Calendar
May 1: Beltane/May Day
Beltane celebrates the union of the Goddess and God, fertility, new life, and resurrection. The most widespread and enduring of Beltane rituals is the dance around the maypole. Symbolically it represents male virility and fertility. Like Samhain, the veil between the worlds is thin at Beltane, and the unseen can be seen.
In medieval England, cutting hawthorn on this day symbolized bringing new life into the world and the start of the growing season. To the Celts, Beltane marked the beginning of the summer half of the year when livestock was moved up to hillside pastures. May first was also called Garland Day because garlands of flowers were hung around the necks of cattle. Garlands were also draped over doorways and windows. Hawthorn trees were believed to have a surge of power while in bloom.
In addition to garlands, small baskets called May baskets were filled with flowers, greenery, and sweets, and then hung on neighbors’ doors by children. These baskets were a way to share the creative energy of the season and to keep evil spirits at bay. See the “In the House” section of this chapter for instructions on how to make a May basket.
Any type of flower or greenery can be used on the Beltane altar because their beauty and growth represent the fertility and vitality of this sabbat.
May 4: Veneration of the Thorn
Thorn trees were regarded as guardians of sacred sites and were used to mark holy wells and springs. On this day, devotees would circle around the well or spring and then make offerings to the thorn trees.