Belated Beltane Feast

Oatcakes on a wood table

According to Mother Earth Living, “Ancient Celts ate and drank heartily during their traditional fire festival on the eve of May Day, which celebrated the return of the light half of the year. From the fulachta fiaolha (cooking pits of the Celtic tribes), this feast features organic flavors of the wild, with foods gathered from the seas, the forests, and the meadows.”

Smithsonian tells us about a Beltane cake, which doesn’t sound like as much fun as a king cake—for the person who received this blackened piece as described in the 1922 book The Golden Bough, by Sir James George Frazer:

Towards the close of the entertainment, the person who officiated as master of the feast produced a large cake baked with eggs and scalloped round the edge, called am bonnach bea-tinei.e., the Beltane cake. It was divided into a number of pieces, and distributed in great form to the company. There was one particular piece which whoever got was called cailleach beal-tinei.e., the Beltane carline, a term of great reproach. Upon his being known, part of the company laid hold of him and made a show of putting him into the fire; but the majority interposing, he was rescued. And in some places they laid him flat on the ground, making as if they would quarter him. Afterwards, he was pelted with egg-shells, and retained the odious appellation during the whole year. And while the feast was fresh in people’s memory, they affected to speak of the cailleach beal-tine as dead.

While Beltane is not a Thelemic holiday or feast per se, it seems appropriate to enjoy revelry and celebration honoring sacred sexuality and the return of Spring. Why not feast on some of the recipes here? Some provide an opportunity to forage for native plants as Br. Kim M. has described online recently.


One Comment

  1. Bannocks also show up in a Scottish Bealtain tradition in which the broken bread is thrown beyond the edges of ones property while walking its perimeter as a way of keeping out the less beneficial local spirits who had sway in winter but now must accept their bread as payment to stay away through Summer.

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