33 2 mins 8 yrs

Beltane_by_ArjenHenryHappy Beltane everyone (we’ll have none of that commie May Day nonsense around here).

Beltane is the Celtic fire festival that celebrates the beginning of summer, an extravagent holiday and a time for frolicking and feasting around the traditional bonfires lit after moon-rise the evening before. The opposite side of the wheel is Samhain (31st October/1st November), which welcomes dark winter. Much has been written about the origins of these festivities and rituals. Julius Caeser reported on them in typically propagandistic manner when he came here. Being intimitately related to the land and the seasons, I suspect they originate way, way further back than is reported.

Of course, to Christians, these pagan feast days were regarded as sinful. Like the many churches which were built on and over ancient, sacred pagan sites, the ceremonies were replaced in the calendar with Christian celebrations. Thankfully the knowledge and cultural habits of what came before were preserved in many ways. We observe many of them still without even thinking about it, which I love. I’m not a pagan, but pre-Christian civilisation is as much a part our heritage as any.

Right, I’m off out to slaughter a boar, ravish a maiden and then burn something. Oh, and if you’re of Germanic stock – Happy Walpurgisnacht!

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33 thoughts on “THE OLD WAYS

  1. “Thankfully the knowledge and cultural habits of what came before were preserved in many ways.”

    Aaah!
    In zis way you vere able to forecast that ze Jonny Vilkinson vould partake in ze Lions tour. Yah?

    It is obvious zat you used ze wrong kind of entrails in ze divinations….

    Actually no Christian would deny the study of older cultures is worthwhile, but the neo Druids are ridiculous as no-one really knows what they got up to or actually believed.
    ‘Cept you of course Pete.

  2. The rugby troll in the woods told me that Gatland would want JW out there. He was right.

  3. Fraternal greetings to comrade Pete and all the other ATW’ers on International Workers Day 😉

  4. All workers need to force a more commanding place at the table, in all lands, including the permanently depressed ” worker’s ” states of Cuba and North Korea, where the workers are the most oppressed class.

    And the workers would benefit by throwing all scroungers off all benefits, as this dead weight is ultimately borne on the backs of the working man and woman.

  5. There were probably few places where those old pagan rites were more part of everyday life than in Ireland, until relatively recently at least. My parents used to practice things you’d expect to read about in National Geographic about some tribe in Papua New Guinea or someplace. A lot of the practices go back about 4,000 years.

    The people in the Balkans also kept them very much alive too, for whatever reason.

    Anyone else ever read The Golden Bough? Very many of the things Frazer describes were from the Balkans, but the similarities to practices in the opposite corner of Europe are uncanny.

    Walpurgisnacht is still celebrated in the Protestant parts of Germany. The city of Berlin used to go wild on the night of 30th April, although the fact that it’s also the anniverary of Adolf killing himself might have something to do with it too.

  6. We’ve been warned that Occupy Wall Street is planning a demonstration down here today…it will be interesting to see what develops…if anything.

    Noel…like what sort of practices?

  7. Noel –

    That’s interesting and good to know, for both Ireland and Germany. Parts of England and Scotland clung on to various customs and rites until recently too.

  8. Fraternal greetings to comrade Pete and all the other ATW’ers on International Workers Day

    Rollocks! You wouldn’t know hard work if it bit you on the arse.
    You can shove off with your old socialist/communist nonsense.

    It’s May the first, a beautiful day here in Norfolk. The nesting birds are singing their hearts out, the worms I didn’t manage to cut in half are heaving a sigh of relief, and I have been banished to the back bedroom because the missus is having a meeting in the lounge…
    Where’s that Albanian chardonnay….?

  9. You wouldn’t know hard work if it bit you on the arse.

    How little you know Agi.

  10. Paul,
    re “In Irish the word for the month of May is Bealtaine.”

    Isn’t May a public holiday there?

    And June?
    Oh and not forgettin’ July of course…. 😉

  11. It’s a public holiday here today. It’s International Workers Day so I’m typing this from home 🙂

  12. You wouldn’t know hard work if it bit you on the arse.

    A bit presumptuous!

  13. Paul,
    You’re lying back on your Pamplona sun lounger (B&Q probably) sipping Sangria whilst tippity tap tapping on your keyboard whilst whispering sweet nothings to your adoring wife (poor, deluded woman)

    Now me and the REAL Paddies, we were digging ditches laying drainage pipes and kerbstones day in day out …
    That’s real work.

  14. You wouldn’t know hard work if it bit you on the arse.

    And I thought my 70 hour weeks were hard work. Who’d of thought it.

  15. Agi, I worked on everything from building sites to postal sorting offics to factories to community work before going back to education.

  16. There’s a big difference between going to work for 70 hours and actually working for 70 hours… 😉

  17. Pauly,

    “Agi, I worked on everything from building sites to postal sorting office to factories to community work before going back to education.”

    What you really mean is you weren’t much good at any of ’em, so they sent you back to school for a rest..

    “Tippity tip tap, tap tap………”

    I’m in fine w.u.m today!

  18. Noel,
    I read the Golden Bough many years ago.
    I thought it was a book about archery..

  19. Paul,

    You always give a 100% huh?

    So it’s the rest of them letting you down then?

  20. My goodness!
    He must have attended one of my lectures on the subject. Totally agree with him too. He seems a good man. I hope he will deal with some of the other problems and lead the Church into a time of spiritual renewal.

  21. Agit8ed –

    I know there are some odd carrot crunchers where you live. Seen anything strange today? Any wicker men being set ablaze?

  22. S’funny you should say that Pete.

    I was going to have the talented Mrs Agit8ed knit you a real wicker three piece, and I was just about to ask you your measurements… 🙂

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