Weekly Features

the weekly shaman — by chris friend

May 1st or May Day was the original day when the  Celts celebrated Beltane when great bonfires were lit to welcome back the warmth of summer. It was also a time with rituals were done to ensure the return of fertility of the land with the ashes of the bonfires spread out over the land. The hearth fires were usually extinguished and re-lit with the flames from the sacred bonfires.  Many pageants such as the May Pole dance were practiced as a way of getting summer off and running. Colorful ribbons were tied to a pole with Two opposing circles would dance and braid around the pole and then back again. Descended from the ancient Roman festival of Floralia the practiced evolved and flourished. Each practice was done to encourage the return the power of the summer sun.  The original  Beltane fires  were usually kindled by the druids, and in the Christian it became the priests who took over the Beltane observances for the community.  In this version of the sacred fires \start in the church and the priest lead the congregation out into the fields to start the sacred fire. Such fires were created to ward off demons, witches, and other evil doers who might be out and about at this time. With the growing force of the sun  the  forces of darkness would be driven away until the next winter gloom. In Scotland young farmers would carry hay burning at the end of their pitchforks out into the fields to drive away witches and evil spirits. Likely the fires were lit from the sacred bonfires of Beltane. Again, the ashes would be spread out to fertilize the ground to ensure a good harvest, and so it goes.