5/7/08

Beltain Fires

Moon: Waxing Blossom Moon, Gemini
Weather: Clear skies, mild. Some cloud cover expected later as a cool front begins to enter the area this evening. Possibly unseasonably warm today, meteorologists hesitantly said it may get up to 80 degrees F.

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At Beltain, a fire was often built by the ancient Celts to ward off illness. This fire was known as a need-fire by mythologists. One of the fire-festivals, Beltain not only had need-fires lit as part of the observances of the day but fires that were also dedicated to a solar deity. Or at least, this is the popular theory for why the bonfires were lit on this day by the ancient Celts. Wicca generally celebrates this holiday as a combination of the German witches' Walspurgis Night and the Celtic Beltain, usually on the first of May.

The focus upon fertility and certian popular ritual elements, such as Dancing the Maypole, come from the Germanic origins. The lighting of fires and reconing this as the beginning of Summer is derived from the Celtic cultures. Generally, Beltain is viewed as a celebration of the earthy pleasures of life, ranging from sexuality to food. It is considered by many traditions to be the day to celebrate the union of the God and Goddess of Wicca, as well. All of this, however, is not the focus of my post here today. It, rather, serves as context for the real content of my post and I am now going to move away from this to a somewhat odd direction, but you'll see how I tie all this together.

Last Sunday, I was going to go to a ritual to celebrate Beltain with some very dear friends of mine. That ritual, however, did not happen as planned. For, you see, the night before their home caught fire and burnt down. They were lucy to escape with their lives, but they lost everything. Sadly, they were unable to rescue their beloved pets (two cats and a quite aged rat). It was odd a few days before the master of the house had said that bringing my infant son to the ritual would not be a problem because there was "not going to be any huge bonfires to worry about." I thought that was rather odd phrasing at the time, but now I look back on it and question if there was something of a premonition there.

To say the least, they are devestated and feeling a mixture of things ranging from relief that they are alive to guilt and self recrimination. My friends, even as they are struggling to plan how they will move forward, are struggling to understand why this tragic accident befell them. Right now, they see only loss. I really can't say a word to begin to even approach that issue, though I see something odd about this entire situation.

Sometimes, we have events happen in our lives that are major points of change in our lives that are seemingly destined to happen. We may have flashes of intuition of them before they occur and we may heed those warnings, or we may put them aside as just strange accidents. Over the last several years, perhaps longer I am not sure, there has been some kind of odd incident involving fire surrounding Beltain for these people and the coven that they are a part of. One year, the oven functionally blows up that day (which is very strange considering that was an electric oven) and then another year, all of the candles burn unusually fast and hot. Yet another year, people were some how burned by the candles for the ritual and prior to the ritual there was something of a rash of minor burns to people who were cooking food to have at the post ritual dinner. As I look back over the last several years that I've known this coven, I see that each Beltain, something went strange with fire.

I think that perhaps they could have been warnings of this year's fire, or indications of something different. I'm not sure. I am inclined to say, however, that they were precursors to this year's fire and a bit of preparation for the message that was supposed to come out of it. As the person who was not part of the situation, I recognize that my statements here sound terribly callous. It, however, is not my intent to offend. I apologize if I have or manage to do so as I proceed.

Now, I look at all of this and I have to say that the fire this year which burned down the home of my dear friends is a continuation of the pattern established from prior years. (I think I can include the top popping off of an oxygen bottle as people were smoking at the dinner after last year's ritual as part of the list of Beltain fire incidents, by the way.) I don't know for certain if they are part of a series of warnings, but I think they placed the ground work for a very large, life changing event, as happened here. I also think that this life changing event is one that was going to happen no matter what actions occured the day before the fire or years before it. I suspect that this is the hand of the gods at work here or destiny, which ever you prefer.

It may sound strange to say that. It most definately is not what one expects to come from the gods whom are supposed to be benevolently inclined towards their worshippers. Heck, it's a very bizzare event to occur just about a week after I had given the mistress of the house a birthday gift that included a home blessing for prosperity and protection as part of a belated birthday gift. As I look back on this situation, I think my intuition prompted me to make that home blessing and protection charm as this fire was coming because I felt that it was needed. Heck, the fire orginated in the kitchen and my intuition told me to make something that would go in the kitchen.

I see in this situation, however, that they are going to rise up like a pheonix. Pheonixes are rather special to me. I identify quite strongly with them. They are a powerful symbol of rebirth and continuance. They also signify great triumph over adversity. I see this here singifying their strength and a renewal. In this fire, I feel something very large at work in their lives to force them to recognize just how powerful they are. I don't know what else is at play here, but this fire is no ordinary fire. It is a continuation of the fire magic that was done on Imbolc, and I suspect that there will be additional echoes of that fire magic of change and renewal is going to manifest until Samhain.

My intuition tells me that they're being given something far larger then everything they lost, though they can't see it yet or feel it's presence yet in their lives. Once the shock has worn away and they have completed the grieving process, I think they will see it. Their old life was cleared away for a purpose. Such a dramatic severing ensures that they can not return to the past, despite how ever tempting it may be. It would have come even if the fire hadn't happened. It may have come via a car accident or something else of a crisis. And my intuition tells me that it would have come at Beltain anyways. This is the largest of the fire festivals and it is the time where the vast majority of fire magic is performed. This also, I know, is when the Gentry begins to set to work on things as well.

And I know that my friends are going to feel that presence quite strongly as well, for the Good Folk are highly inclined towards them. Help is going to come to them from strange places, but I know it will be appreciated, even as it brings confusion. I just wish I knew what I could do to help them. This is not the end but rather the end of a beginning, despite all of that loss and destruction that surrounds them.

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