A fistful of Beltane

Lá Bealtaine, the ancient Irish May Day festival, is fast upon us, and it is a time of year when faeries go into overdrive, much like they do during the festival of Samhain. In olden times, great bonfires were lit across Ireland on the eve of Beltane and households would extinguish their own fires; rekindling them later with new fire taken from the ritual Beltane fires. To keep cattle safe, herds would be driven along a path between two bonfires – the smoke from the fires was believed to purify the cattle and protect them from harm, ensuring good yields of milk for the coming year. Cows were also adorned with yellow flowers such as gorse, cowslips and primroses, all that yellow presumably evoking the yellow fires that protected against evil.

With all that Beltane magic afoot, the Celts had a few tricks up their sleeves to protect their houses from mischievous faeries too. Pouring milk across your doorstep was said to prevent the ‘wee folk’ from getting into your house and causing trouble, and another way to appease those tricky faeries was to rise before dawn on Beltane and gather a posy of May flowers to hang on your door post.

This Beltane eve I found myself unable to sleep, and as the first blue-grey glimmer of pre-dawn lit the sky, I slipped into the dewy garden and fashioned a posy of wild garlic, gorse and bluebells on the off-chance some impish sprite was keeping me awake.

may day flowers, bouquet, beltane, la beltaine, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Wishing you a safe and happy Beltane filled with flowers, fire and appeased faeries.


About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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13 Responses to A fistful of Beltane

  1. aj vosse says:

    I love the idea of up before dawn to collect the flowers… would it still work tomorrow morning?? The after May Day party?? 🙄

    • ailsapm says:

      I don’t see why not, AJ, especially seeing as Lá Bealtaine can be celebrated all the way to May 11th due to the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar. 🙂

  2. maverickbird says:

    Wishing you a happy Beltane.

  3. wildsherkin says:

    How gorgeous! I think there may be a little bit of fairy in you…. Magical post – as ever. Px

  4. Heyjude says:

    Such a pretty posy, with quite conflicting scents! I hope it works… 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Hee hee, I know, butterscotch gorse and spicy garlic make for an, umm, unusual bouquet, Jude, but the faeries seemed happy enough – I dropped off to sleep almost immediately. 😉

  5. Thank you for the reminder. I’ll have to see what I can find around these parts. Happy Beltane.

  6. Love your flowers and your info too.

  7. Pingback: What Is A Faeriemancer?

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