How Bealtaine marks the start of summer in Ireland - May 2021

What is Bealtaine?

By Maria O'Farrell Carr

bealtaine in ireland

If you ask our national meteorological service Met Éireann, the summer months are June, July and August. But according to the Irish calendar, summer begins on May 1st and ends on July 31st. This relates specifically to the ancient Celtic Festivals of old when the first of May or Mayday began with the Irish celebration of Bealtaine (pronounced phonetically as "Bee-yowl-tan-eh"), which officially heralded the beginning of summertime.

The exact time of the cross quarter day between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice is on May 5th or May 6th or could be even on the May 9th. The exact date each year is decided by the star alignments but many people celebrate on May 1st, similar to the Celtic Festivals of Imbolg on February 1st and Lughnasadh on August 1st.

Directly translated Bealtaine means "mouth of fire" coming from the Irish Gaelic Béal (mouth) and tine (fire) referring to the Sun as its light and heat rise further and further towards the Summer Solstice. However, others relate the first part of name to the old Irish God ‘Bel’ and also the word ‘Bright’ whereas in our sister Celtic countries this early Summer Festival is called Beltane.

Bealtaine is one of the great Irish fire festivals that ask us to be intimate with the energy of the sun in balance and harmony with the energy of the moon. Living on planet Earth, we essentially live between two fires every day, the fire of the sun above and the permanent fire of the Earth’s core.

For our ancestors, this early summer season initiated the release of the cattle to the summer pastures. It was important that certain rituals were performed to protect them before the journey and so they were driven between two fires where the smoke not only eliminated any parasites on their hides, but was seen to offer protection from illness and theft.

As the name of the festival suggests, bonfires played an important part in the celebrations and were often lit on prominent local landmarks such as the Hill of Uisneach near Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. This was a very important sacred site to the ancient Irish as it is at the exact trigonometric centre of the Ireland, also said to be the burial site of Goddess Eriú who gave her name to the island.

All household fires would be extinguished and following the ceremonial lighting of the great fire at Uisneach, subsequent fires would then be lit in the surrounding hills in a great spiral throughout the land. All would gather for this huge spectacle and bring an ember home to their hearth for the year ahead. For the last decade, there has been a Bealtaine Fire Celebration at the Hill of Uisneach in a wonderful evolution of the old ways, with the fire lit by President Michael D Higgins following the magnificent Parade of Light.

Another Bealtaine tradition that became the May altar was where children gathered the milky Hawthorn blossoms, yellow Gorse and wild Primrose flowers (mimicking fire) before dawn and placed them in bundles on doorsteps and in cow sheds for protection. Young maidens were also up early to wash their faces in the morning dew to enhance their chances of procuring a lover with a wish tied to the May Bush, usually a small Hawthorn tree, decorated with bright flowers, ribbons and sweet foods. Indeed we can see England’s version of this with their Maypole customs as young lovers criss-crossed the gaily coloured streamers in time to the Morris dancers’ bells.

There was also a great tradition of visiting local Holy Wells to set intentions for weather conducive to a clement Summer season and the happy match-making of the young in the family and village.

Today, we too can sense the energies of early summertime in May. We notice the burgeoning of the flowers and crops in the fields, we peel off our layers of heavy clothes and become more body conscious. No wonder it is the season of fertility and fecundity! This Bealtaine, under the Full Moon, may you become aware of nature’s bounty and let the light, heat and intentional movement of your body feel and sense the increasing sunlight with gladness in your heart.

For the last 10 years, Maria's Irish Tours bring groups to Ireland around the time of Bealtaine and Fall equinox visiting many of the ancient sacred sites with a small group of like minded people and Irish Guide and Celtic wisdom Keeper Maria.

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Source By Dr Karen Ward




Maria O'Farrell CarrMaria's Bio: Maria is a gifted healer, intuitive and medical intuitive from Ireland. She carries a vast wealth of experience from a life of passionate exploration of the profound healing and ancient Irish intuitive gifts she inherited from her mother and going back to her grandmothers, two great uncles who were well known healers of the sick and even as far back as her great, great, great, grandfather (b. 1837) who was known as the Irish Healer of Animals. Her depth of knowledge and wisdom comes from her deep study and relentless research. Maria offers Celtic Intuitive & Angel Card Reading thru Skype or phone to any were in the world. Maria grew up in Ireland and has travelled to over 16 countries and visited 245 cities. She has lived and travelled to Australia, Canada, North and South America, Europe and many places around the world. Maria has lived in the Okanagan, BC, Canada for years. She now lives part-time also back home in Ireland in the Spring and Autumn. Maria is the founder and publisher of 'OK In Health eMagazine' and Web site since 2014. www.OKinHealth.com is a beam of light in the wellness community. Maria was awarded the 2008 SOWINS, Women Up Front and Centre - Health & Wellness Award for her work on OK In Health eMagazine and the community. Over the years she has also worked as an Event Organizer and brought instructors to the Okanagan from all over the world. Maria was also involved at the grass root level in bringing in Dr Deepak Chopra. Gregg Braden and Dr. Wayne Dyer to the Okanagan valley. Maria has a wealth of experience in travel, as a healer and in events organizing. Maria hosts a weekly Health Column in 5 Okanagan newspapers. In 2013, Maria brought 30 people to Ireland for the 14 day Celtic Angel Ireland Tour and since then brings two tours over to Ireland each year. Maria has published two books on Sacred Ireland and is working on her third book. Maria continues to enjoy studying, travelling, offering sessions, working on OK In Health eMagazine, loving life in the beautiful Okanagan Valley and the Sacred Ireland Tours. - Maria O'Farrell Carr Website - Email


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