Beltaine sits opposite the Wheel from Samhain. It is the opposite side of the coin. It is a time of great energy, life bursting into bloom, everything exploding. Everything about this festival is associated with energy increasing. Action instead of rest, outer work instead of inner work, fertility instead of fallowness, mating and creation instead of death. The two strongest Beltaine images are the Balefire and the Maypole. The Balefire is the new fire, the new fire of life. Fire transforms and is a symbol for passion and the creativity of life. People jump the Balefire for luck, for love, for change, for creativity. In the old days, cows were driven between two Balefires (bonfires) for fertility and productivity. People would dance around the fire and then partner off and disappear for a night of unabashed coupling. Children born from these matings were considered children of the gods. The Maypole is a strong symbol of life and love. A deep hole is dug into the earth and the pole is set into it (a rather obvious symbol, this). The pole is draped with ribbons. People grasp the ends of the ribbons, women facing one way and men facing the other, and they dance around the pole, bobbing up and down, weaving the ribbons together and around the pole until the pole is covered. It is fun, exhilarating, and energizing. The Lady is represented by the Queen of the May, the Maiden, and her consort is the Green Man, Jack of the Green, the Hooded Man, Robin Hood. The Horned God retreats into the forest until the twilight of the year, for this is the time of new, fresh, green and growing things.
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