May 1st is Beltane, the day of the May Pole, flowers in your hair and hanky panky to help bring fertility to the world, and the day that my latest novel Beneath the Hallowed Hill ends in a grand meeting beneath the Tor.
In the Celtic calendar, this is the first day of summer, also the time when the Pleiades rise on the Dawn horizon. The word means “bright fire” and it is a solar holiday, the cross-quarter day between spring equinox and summer solstice. People drove their herds between May fires and couples jumped the fire for fertility and blessings. The Green Lord and May Queen preside over the festivities on this day, showing us the union of male and female in all their manifestations. It’s also a good time for a royal wedding.
Beltane stands opposite Samhain in the calendar, two times when the veils between the worlds thin and the faery troops may be seen. On May Eve the Tuatha De Danann arrived in Ireland. This night is called Walpurgisnacht in Germany—”Woods Purging Night” when other worldly forces fill the forest. Celebrants meet on Germany’s sacred mountain, the Brocken, celebrated in Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain.
Gwyn ap Nudd is Lord of the Faeries who lives beneath the Tor whom all the characters of Beneath the Hallowed Hill meet on May Eve. He shows each of them a secret.
How beautiful they are,
The lordly ones
Who dwell in the hills,
In the hollow hills.
~ Fiona Macleod