24 October 2012

The Southern Bealtaine

Maypole at the Temple of the Dark
Moon's Bealtaine camp, 2010
The Wheel of the Year constantly turns and for those of us south of the Equator, soon the time seasonal festival of Bealtaine will be upon us.

With the pending November release of my first book, Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats, I thought I would share part of the chapter on Bealtaine.  If you enjoy the following, you may like to order your own copy which you can do via the Temple of the Dark Moon's web site

Three purchase options are available that include postage anywhere (1) within Australia, (2) within New Zealand, and (3) within Europe/USA.  If you have an Australia bank account and do not have a Paypal account, feel free to email me, and I will send you my account details for a direct deposit, or I will also accept money orders.

  All copies of Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats purchased direct from me will be autographed and numbered.


Chapter 7 - Bealtaine, The Sacred Union
(excerpt from Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats by Frances Billinghurst
ISBN: 978-0-646-58575-8)

As the sun has now reached the midway point between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, it continues to bring more and more warmth and light to the waiting earth. The hours of daylight lengthen as the nights slowly shorten with each rotation of the earth and get increasingly warmer.

The Pleiades (Seven Sisters)
In the southern skies, Bealtaine heralds the return of the brilliant constellation of Orion the Hunter. To the northeast, the reddish star Aldebaran has joined the Pleiades. The Great Square of Pegasus is prominent, straddling the meridian, and in the southwest Scorpius is setting, with the Southern Cross lying on its side just above the southern horizon.45

For the Ngarrindjeri people, the Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters”, (now at their highest point in the Southern Hemisphere) marks the time when initiations into cultural wisdom and knowledge takes place. This is the time when “… swimming is restricted when the waters are full of life, too dangerous for women to enter”.46

Along the waters of the Coorong, flocks of Australian pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus) (the totem animal of the Ngarrindjeri people, known as Ngori) catch the warming air currents, which allow their large bodies to lift effortlessly in the skies. The Ngarrindjeri people refer to this time of the year as Luwadang, the time of warmth, which lasts from November to January.

Australian Pelicans
In the Top End, the Bininj/Mungguy brace themselves as Gunumeleng is about to arrive. From mid-October to late December, the pre-monsoon weather arrives as the humidity increases along with the temperatures. Thunderstorms build to bring rain to the dry land. With the increasing amount of water, birdlife and new growth soon appear. Barramundi move from the waterholes to the estuaries where they breed and the local people seek shelter from the approaching storms and the impending Wet Season. Along the Cobourg Peninsular (some 350 kilometres from Darwin), it is Barligar time, which means that the mangroves become favourite hunting grounds for mud crabs.

Australian Native Bottlebrush
The Australian Bealtaine arrives when the native bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.) is a mass of beautiful red flowers. The flame trees erupt into fire with their brilliant scarlet red flowers as if they too are acknowledging that Summer has arrived.

45 Ellyard, David and Tirion, Wil, The Southern Sky Guide, Cambridge University Press, 2001
46 Bell, Diane Ngarrindjeri Wurruwarrin: A World that Is, Was and Will Be, Spinifex Press, 2001
My previous blog entry about Bealtaine from 2011, which includes information about the Deity "Belenos”, can be found here.

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