These fires were fed with the nine sacred woods to honor the coming of summer, such as the branches of rowan, apple, dogwood, poplar, juniper, cedar, pine, holly and oak. Some use alder, ash, birch, hazel, and willow.
Animals were then herded between the two blazing bonfires in order to purify and protect them in the upcoming year. It is also said that these fires celebrated the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth after the long winter months, especially in the Highlands of old Scotland.
Besides leading their cows and sheep between huge bonfires to bless them with fertility, the annual celebration included joyous dancing, beverage-downing, traipsing across the countryside, a sensuous ballet around the Maypole by young maidens, and leaping over fires by young warriors. It was customary for young lovers to spend the night in the forest.
Hmmm…how many new bairns were born each winter following this annual May Day celebration? Have a lovely Beltane, and check out my latest release.
Smolder is the 3rd Book in the Clan of Dragons series.