Author: Raven Grimassi
Trade Paperback, 165 pages
Publication date: March 2001
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Beltane: Springtime Rituals, Lore & Celebration is the third book published in Llewellyn's series of book on the Wiccan festivals. Like the previous books in this series (Halloween and Yule), this book is aimed at the general population, not just at Wiccans and Pagans. Beltane is the type of book you can put out on the coffee table in your living room without fear of totally freaking the average non-Pagan visitor to your home.
The first two chapters talk about the folk celebrations of May in Britain and northern Europe. Grimmassi talks about folklore like Beltane fires, maypoles, the May King and Queen, the Green Man, John Barleycorn, mummery, and more. Nothing is covered in much detail, but the material is interesting.
The third chapter talks a little about fairies and then gives twelve fairy tales from around Europe. That is, twelve stories about fairies interacting with humans, not twelve tales for children. The fourth chapter discusses folklore about flowers.
Not until you reach page 97, almost two-thirds of the way through the book, will you find anything likely to spook your non-Pagan neighbors. The fifth chapter discusses magick. Grimassi gives a few general spells for love, money, and the like. The majority of the chapter, however, is recipes for May celebrations and fertility folk magick. The recipes include foods like bannocks and porridge. The folk magick is mainly herbal suggestions for increasing the chances of conception, to ease morning sickness or painful periods, and the like.
The sixth chapter provides two "May celebration" rituals: one solitary, the other for a small group. Neither strike me as particularly inspired. On the other hand, there's nothing in them likely to offend even the most prudish non-Pagan. The final chapter covers seasonal crafts such as garlands, wreaths, and a Maypole centerpiece.
Like the other books in this series, Beltane is competently written and well-illustrated. While it can't be considered a "must-have" book, it is worth a look -- especially for families with elementary or middle school age children.
Reviewed by Randall
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