The Fires of Bel, a Celtic Sun-God
Article courtesy of Carolynn Black-Stoops

Welcome Spring!

May 1 is the time to celebrate The Fires of Bel, a Celtic Sun-God. Beltaine is an 'in between' festival, but was just as important to the ancient Celtic as the Solstices. Beltaine was the time of peak blossoms (well maybe in the valleys not here in the High Desert of Bend, Oregon!) and the time most domesticated animals bore their young. The Celts used Beltaine celebration to bless the herds by driving them between two large fires to cleanse them before taking them to the summer pastures.

Beltaine begins the season of summer as well as the "summer half" of the year. This High Holy Day was dedicated to adolescent joy, contests, frolicking in the woods, romance and passion. Dancing around the Maypole, games, and feasting are the usual customs.

Another website to review on the origin of the Beltaine Festival:

Fire Burns at the Heart of Beltaine Festival

Balquhidder(Scottish Gaelic: Both Chuidir pronounced bal-hw-idder) is a small village in the Stirling council area of Scotland. It is overlooked by the dramatic mountain terrain of the Braes of Balquhidder, at the head of Loch Voil.

The local kirkyard is the final resting place of Rob Roy, his grave marked with the appropriately defiant motto 'MacGregor Despite Them'. He lies with the remains of his wife and two sons, the graves marked by three flat stones. Balquhidder Glen is also popular for fishing, nature watching and walking. Above the village, Creag an Tuirc is a fine viewpoint, well worth the short climb.

St Angus, who may have been a monk from Dunblane, came to Balquhidder Glen in the 8th or 9th century and recognised what the Celts called a "thin place" where the boundary between Earth and Heaven was close. He knelt and blessed the glen and built a stone oratory at Kirkton, where he spent the rest of his life. Angus may have brought Christianity to Balquhidder but there was already a long tradition of Pagan worship.

Behind the present kirk is Tom nan Angeae, the hill of fire, where until the 19th century hearth fires were renewed at Beltane and Samhain to encourage ancient gods to bring warmth to the land. Angus was buried at the foot of this hill and a flagstone laid over him which stands today in the church.


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