Beltane by Raven Grimassi, Llewllyn Publications, ISBN 1-56718-283-6, www.llewellyn.com.
It is natural to celebrate renewed life during the month of May because nature does so herself by dressing herself in blossoming of flowers. The Celtic people called the May 1 celebration Beltane which means "bright fire" because of the multiple bonfires they set during this spring celebration. It was thought that warming the earth in this way encouraged seeds to sprout.
Rites were performed in May to celebrate life's renewal and to ensure fertility and can be traced to Greco-Roman times when flower garlands were offered to the goddess Maia for whom the month of May is named. The evolution of the Maypole can be traced from European paganism which the Romans carried to the British Isles. Tall wooden poles, symbolic of trees, were decorated with flowers and ribbons, carried about a village, then the traditional Maypole dance weaving the ribbons around the pole symbolizing the unification of human life with Nature.
The book talks about May Garlands which were worn and set with foxglove, a flower honoring faeries as well as flowers associated with faeries and a list of flowers and their meaning. Beltane containds cahpters on trees associated with faeries and several short faerie tales. There are fun projects, for those with a cullinary interest, linked to the celebration of May including a May Wine, May Wreath Cake and May Serpent Cake.
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