For a brief description of the May Queen and Tennyson's "The May Queen" poem, click here.
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, / Don’t be alarmed now. / It’s just a spring-clean for the May Queen. --Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, "Stairway to Heaven"
Thematic Images for Beltane/May Day Neo-Pagan Fire Festivals
Beltane Fires Burn
The Beltane Fires of Love
Beltane is about rebirth after the cold and dark of winter and the sprouting season of early spring. Harsh climates throughout the Northern Hemisphere, compounded by lack of food, supplies, and medicine, provided long and challenging months. Surviving these winter conditions of hardship with one’s life intact was indeed something to celebrate (“Gotta get through January / Gotta get through February”)…. So at sundown on the eve of Beltane, bonfires were lit throughout the land to invoke protection for the crops and for the purification of farm animals for the coming year…. The purpose of these bonfires was purify and sanctify the community and their livestock in readiness for the new cycle…. These “need-fires” served to welcome in the summer and encourage the sun’s warmth and to walk between for purification…. The fires celebrated the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth and would protect, heal and purify anyone or anything that passed by. Those gathered on Beltane were encouraged to leap the flames in a dynamic gesture of the acceptance of the blessing of fertility, creativity, and good fortune…. But the fires of the Celtic sun-god Belenos ("The Shining One") also represented the fires of passionate desire that flared up though the ground and brought fertility to the land and the people. For young lovers this was a special time when they could feel the Beltane fire in the belly, and they would leap the flames for luck in finding a mate.