B is for Beltane

Bis for Beltane – otherwise known as May Day. I’ve always been intrigued by the sabbats celebrated by pagans, Wiccans and other so-called “alternative” religions. The wheel of life, the celebration of new seasons, the connection with the earth and its natural cycles, has always interested and appealed. So when I was writing about Kearton Bay, it seemed only natural that I would include some aspects of that way of life.

Enter Rhiannon Bone – the beautiful Wiccan landlady of The Hare and Moon public house. Rhiannon is a wise soul, sometimes seeming far older than the forty-one years she actually is. Lovely inside and out, but with her own peculiar flaws, Rhiannon is a recurring character in the Kearton Bay series of books, and her life somehow manages to be entwined with the lives of quite a few of the villagers.

When Eliza first arrives in Kearton Bay, it is early May, and Rhiannon has organised a Beltane celebration. I had to research what exactly that means and it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Different traditions seem to have different ideas and views about the sabbats and how to honour them. Some celebrate on 30th April, some on 1st May or thereabouts, but the one thing most of them seemed to agree on was that a fire was essential. So I made sure that Rhiannon’s Beltane celebrations took place around a big bonfire. One item that I read mentioned the tradition that the fairy queen’s bells may sound at Beltane, and that if you hear them and don’t look away from her in time, she will enslave you forever. I thought that sounded rather romantic (if you didn’t take it literally!) so that was included in the book.

The May Queen and the Green Man are also Beltane traditions. I have been fascinated by the Green Man for many years. His image is to be found in many churches, which always struck me as quite extraordinary. Of course, I had to have a Green Man and a May Queen in There Must Be An Angel.

Strange but true: The first of the Write Romantics I ever made contact with was Alex Weston (who writes as Alys West). It was through an online forum, and she told me she was writing a novel set in Glastonbury which immediately intrigued me. We arranged to meet up and the rest, as they say, is history. It was only later that I discovered her novel’s title – Beltane. It really did seem like fate because, through Alex, I met Julie Heslington, aka Jessica Redland, and later became a Write Romantic myself. Spookily, I later found out that Julie’s birthday is – May 1st! Without their encouragement and support, I’m not sure There Must Be An Angel would ever have been finished, so it’s all been quite a coincidence. Or has it…?

Having read Beltane, I’m absolutely certain that it won’t be long before it’s published, and you’ll all be able to enjoy it for yourselves. You’re in for a real treat!

Have a great day xxx

5 thoughts on “B is for Beltane

  1. Better late than never, Sharon. Am in deepest CornwaLL CAMPING and gaining internet access isn’t easy. I just wanted to add something to your post. As you probably know, I grew up in Scotland and there was a hill near us called Beltane Foot – they lit a beacon there on May 1st every year. My mother attended a rather strict secondary school nearby and they nicknamed it – Belt and Fit – ie Belt and Foot, which was how they drilled knowledge into thick heads. It wasn’t until much later that I learned of the (unwitting) connection and how the pupils had unknowingly corrupted the name of the hill to suit their purposes. Great blog post, as usual. .

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  2. What a fabulous story! Lucky you, being in Cornwall. Hope the weather is being kind to you, especially if you’re camping. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lizzie x

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  3. Thanks for the mention, Sharon, and what an interesting post. As you say, my birthday is May Day which is a spooky connection between the three of us as you say. However, I had never heard of Beltane until I met Alys. My only awareness of May Day celebrations was more about dancing around the maypole and, even then, I never lived in or near somewhere that actually did it although I remember occasionally passing through villages that had a maypole. I did, however, dance round one myself in late May when I was about 14 but that’s another story.

    I loved the whole Beltane ceremony described in ‘There Must be an Angel’ and I adore the character of Rhiannon. I’m really excited to see where she fits in as the series progresses. xx

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  4. Fabulous post, Sharon and thanks so much for mentioning my Beltane. I know exactly what you mean about the different approaches of the various different traditions, I’ve found it very confusing too. In the end I decided to stick with 1st May as that’s when I know they celebrate Beltane in Glastonbury. One day I want to be there to see that as it looks like quite a party! xx

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