Wheel of Beltane screen print
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Wheels and magic circles have been used by magical practitioners dating back to ancient cultures. The wheel acts as a graphical microcosm of the universe itself and represents the sorceress’s relation to her surroundings and available energies. The Wheel of Beltane embodies the origins, traditions, lore, and symbols pertaining to fire festivals practiced on and around May 1st to mark the return of spring and summer.
At the wheel’s core is a depiction of Flora, the roman goddess of flowers, sexuality, fertility, and vegetation. Her festival, Floralia, is one of the oldest recorded holidays in which Mayday-like traditions arose. The fire festivals of Beltaine, Mayday, and Walpurgisnacht all hark back to having roots in Floralia traditions making Flora the perfect centerpiece for the Wheel of Beltane.
The first inner circle of the wheel touches upon common traditions practiced during Beltane including erecting a Maypole, gathering flowers, building bonfires, crowning the May queen, hand fasting, and visiting natural springs or wishing wells. The Maypole was thought of as a phallic symbol representing the sun which fertilizes the earth to bring about new life. Gathering flowers and wood for bonfires was very common throughout all springtime festivals as a way of sharing earth’s bounty with your family, neighbors, and community. A young maiden was chosen to lead the Beltane festivities and crowned the May Queen as a representation of Flora and mother earth. Finding love and being flirtatious were encouraged during the festivities and therefore many betrothals came about during this time which lead to weddings during the following month of June. This is a tradition still somewhat prevalent in our modern age and attests to the undying customs of Beltane. Although Beltane and the like are fire festivals it is important to note that water was also worshipped during the celebrations as an aid to the earth’s growing season. It was a common occurrence to visit natural springs and wells the morning of May 1st and that the first pale raised from the well (as well as the morning dew) was blessed with the magic of spring and would bring you good luck and beauty throughout the year.
The second ring from the center of the wheel depicts the animals and magical creatures believed to correspond to Beltane. Goats, hares, and honey bees were all worshipped for their energetic and sexually active nature as a symbol of fertility. Cattle were blessed in Beltaine bonfires to ensure good health and an abundant growing season. The mythical creatures associated with springtime are Faeries, Pegasus, Giants, and Satyrs. It is believed that May 1st marks the day when Faeries come out of hibernation to cause playful mischief and spread their magic throughout the green lands once again.
A thin ring of symbols makes up the next layer of the Wheel of Beltane. Alchemical and planetary symbols represent fire, the sun, water, the earth, the moon, Venus (the feminine goddess), Mercury (the masculine god), and Taurus. Interspersed between these symbols are ancient runes representing protection, the torch, the sun, awakening, the gift, the cycle, longevity, and motherhood. The runes presence on the wheel represents the Scandinavian cultures that also hold a springtime festival on May 1st referred to as Thrimilci. The mixture of alchemy, astronomical symbols, and runes alludes to the fact that although they are different cultures, springtime is a joyous season that effects everyone throughout the world.
The outer ring of the wheel represents the trees, plants, and herbs commonly worshipped and used during Mayday ceremonies. Clockwise from top is Lily of the Valley, Willow tree, Lilac, Hazel tree, Apple blossoms, Juniper tree, Woodruff, Fir tree, Bluebell, Birch tree, Ivy, Rowan tree, Cinquefoil, Oak tree, Primrose, and Hawthorn Tree. Among these trees there were 9 sacred woods gathered in preparation of Beltane which were used to light the ceremonial balefires.
The entire wheel is encircled by the ouroboros, the snake eating it’s tail, as a reminder that Beltane festivities are to honor one half of the year in a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth. Also spanning the entire wheel is the constellation of Taurus, made up of stars. Cultures would know when it was time to prepare for Beltane when the sun reached 15 degrees Taurus in the night sky.
The Wheel of Beltane is an all encompassing view of springtime festivals and traditions. The magical practitioner who possesses the wheel and uses it to honor the season will be granted good luck and prosperity throughout the spring and summer.
The Wheel of Beltane is original artwork drawn and screenprinted by Adrienne Rozzi.
Black ink on kraft-colored archival paper. Each print comes signed by the artist.
Measures approximately 15" x 15"
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