The old Celtic name for May Day is Beltane, meaning ‘Bel-fire’, the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). Who, in turn, may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal.

The actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the day preceding May Day because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Bel-fires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill in County Meath, Ireland). In times past, people would rake the debris of winter from the fields, and create large bale fires from it. Burning the debris was a form of purification. They would also march the animals between two of the bale fires. Again, this was in order to purify them and, on the next day, they would be taken to their summer pastures.

By Celtic reckoning, these ‘need-fires’ had healing properties, and sky-clad Witches would celebrate this time by leaping the bale fires to purify themselves and to ensure protection. And of course, they were naked as it’s much too dangerous to jump through the fire with your clothes on!’

So keep in mind as you jump the balefire that you are purifying your energy so that your magic may grow freely during this growing time of year. If you wish to jump the fire with someone else, you are purifying your friendship or relationship. But be warned, the old custom says that unmarried couples who jump the fire together will be wed by the next Beltane. If, however, you are already a couple, it is believed the lady will be pregnant by next Beltane.

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