Pass the word and pass the lady,
Pass the plate to all who hunger.
Pass the wit of ancient wisdom,
Pass the cup of crimson wonder.
— Cup of Wonder, from Songs from the Wood
by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
This is the second day of the cross-quarter holiday of Beltane. This festival is named for Bel, a Celtic God of light (roughly equivalent to the Greek god, Apollo). Bel is solar in nature, and is associated with Celtic summer – which officially begins with the Beltane celebration.
At Beltane, we also observe the festival of Elena, the Goddess of the Straight Track.
The Celts observed that the life force of the earth moved beneath the surface in straight lines, which they called leys. These hidden power arteries were the preferred footpaths of shamans when they traveled between the holy sites of ancient Britain. Such straight tracks were sacred to Elena (that’s Sarn Helen, in Welsh). She is the Goddess of the holy road, more particularly the four royal roads of Britain. In Wales, the causeways and roads called Sarn Helen are her sacred, ancient straight tracks.
As Britain became more populous and civilized, these paths became roads; and they were paved with stone during the Roman occupation. Many of them now coincide with modern highways in Britain. Elena shows up in the legends of Camelot as Elaine or Helen, the wife of King Arthur’s friend Ban.
In some traditions, Helen is called upon for help in travel by car. She is also good to talk to if you don’t know where you’re going in life.
Also, Bona Dea, whose name is literally, “Good Goddess” in Latin, can be honored with fires tonight and tomorrow as the Goddess of women’s mysteries. The Arvales honored Bona Dea in Her grove with a highly complicated, secretive ceremony. It included a dance in the temple of the Goddess and singing a hymn that was already so ancient at that time, few understood its words or meaning.
There is so much beauty and life blossoming now. I hope that you and your beloveds will be filled with the joy and wonder of these delightful holy days.
May your rites especially celebrate the wondrous gift that is given to Pagans and Witches: that paradise is not some distant dream that can only be achieved after our suffering and death. It is given to us here and now, freely, on this splendid Earth while we yet live and love.