The real meaning of May Day and Beltane, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to find yourself at a theatrical performance of Peter Pan, you’ll know that there is an absolutely heart-stopping moment towards the end, when Tinkerbell is dying. As we sit there watching the tiny winged faery slowly expiring before our eyes, it is explained to us that she can only be brought back to life if we humans believe in faeries again.

The adults are usually frozen in the seats, afflicted as we are by a mixture of cognitive dissonance and social embarrassment. But then suddenly, a young girl will jump to her feet and then a boy leaps up in the gods, and then another and another, and finally there are dozens of tiny tots all standing and waving their arms and professing in their loudest voices that “Yes, I do believe in faeries!”  It is a profoundly moving and magical moment – and don’t think for one minute that the real Fae don’t hear those children.

Tinkerbell

But the character of Tinkerbell leads a potent and magical underlying theme, just as the god Jupiter guides the mythological hero or pilgrim as he goes through is adventures and challenges which lead to total transformation. In alchemy, Jupiter is the god of the metal tin; Tinkerbell is his some time belle when she forms with him an astrological conjunction as Venus who rules Beltane through her governship of Taurus, which, readers of my book Stories in the Stars will know, is the sun sign in which Beltane falls each year.

Venus helps the hero transform at the point in his trials when he reaches the Underworld, at Sagittarius, which ruled by Jupiter. Here, he has to face his shadow side and reintegrate it into his personality to make himself whole. The playwright J. M. Barrie illustrates this with a metaphorical act when Tinkerbell helps Peter Pan sew his shadow back on again.

The meaning of Beltane

The word Beltane is the anglicised form of the Old Irish Beltain and Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn, and it is thought to be derived from the belo-te(p)niâ, meaning “bright fire”, or “bale fire”, which means “white and shining”.

It falls on what’s known as a Celtic quarter day. Some have tried to link these old Celtic quarter days to the midpoint between the equinoxes and the solstices, but actually that doesn’t work astronomically, because Beltane would then need to be on 5th May.

In fact, the timing of Beltane comes from a much older strata of astronomical lore than that of the solar priesthood who built Stonehenge. It comes from those whose calendars were lunar rather than solar, and whose lives were dictated by stellar and planetary movements, and these people are the ancestors of the Irish and the Welsh that we call the Celts.

Beltane marks the time when the white and shining constellation of the Pleiades begins to rise above the horizon. It’s sister fire festival is held on the last day of October, which is now known as Halloween, but to the Celts, it was the festival of Samhain, which takes place when the  Pleiades begin to set.

The Pleiades by Corina Chirila of Korinna’s Universe

In Ireland, and increasingly now in Scotland, these great stellar fire festivals are being revived. This photo shows the illustrious and upstanding members of the Beltane Fire Society celebrating on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The good folk of Edinburgh are reviving a custom of the ancient First Peoples to settle these Isles, who believed that fire had a purificatory function, and protected you from malign influences. Even today, this is understood by magicians, alchemists and shamans alike.

For it is said that Beltane is also a threshold or portal time. This is when the liminal walls between the dimensions are at their thinnest and we are more likely to encounter the Fae, otherwise known as the Tuatha de Danann, the Sidhe (pronounced shay) or the one I prefer, the Gentry.

Some people call them fairies, but according to those that have seen them, they’re actually not the least like sweet little Tinkerbell. The tiny delicate winged flower fairy in gossamer dress was a Victorian confection which took its inspiration from Christian angels, but has no grounding in ancient lore. R J Stewart in his book The Living World of Faery says that some of the Fae are really enormous, like giants. Others are the same size as us. The ones that I get to meet look just like me… and they don’t have wings.

They are the spirits of the Land; they maintain the fertility of the Land, which to them, is sacred, and it is from these beings that the Sovereignty comes. They inhabit a parallel dimension which is known in mythological lore as the Underworld or the Land of the Ever Young – which J M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, turned into the Never Never Land. He got the name Peter Pan from the Greek’s version of the King of the Faeries who is sometimes said to be the great god Pan — rumours of whose death, it now turns out, were grossly exaggerated.

As we no longer believe in these faeries, they are ‘dead’ to us … and that is the meaning of Tinkerbell’s resurrection, which can only come about when there is a change in that consciousness. Do you believe in faeries? I do!

The Queen of the May

May Queen

The Queen of the May who stars in carnivals and fairs up and down the land during these festivities is derived from a beautiful woman who is still found today in Welsh myths, known as Creiddylad. Her brother is Gwyn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Underworld and the King of the Faeries, and so as her protector, he has to fight a duel each Beltane over her honour with the Lord of Summer.

While the faery midwife Brigit the Bright One’s time is Imbolc in February, when the snowdrops and crocuses are just beginning to be born into the light, the season of the saturnine Gwyn ap Nudd is the Plutonic dark of winter, which he wins rulership over by a duel with the Lord of Summer in October at Samhain.

The two faery lords govern the whole Wheel of the year, and so Gwyn has to fight this contest again at Beltane in May and this time, he is the loser, so that his challenger can reign over the Summerlands – otherwise, we would be in permanent winter.

But in ruling the months of the lower half of the zodiac, Gwyn is the psychopomp whose role it is to guide the initiate down into the Underworld for the Judgement as much as the Egyptian Anubis performs that function in the Papyrus Texts and the Sumerian Nabu ferries Gilgamesh along a river into the Realms of the Dead, while the Arthurian scribes of the Norman conquest personified that character as Morgan of the Fae who takes the wounded Arthur in her boat through the mists of Avalon into the Otherworlds.

Gwyn-ap-Nudd

The mythological psychopomp symbolises Mercury, who was known to the ancient Greeks as Hermes, the so-called ‘trickster god’ who conducts souls into the afterlife – hence why the term Hermetic Arts is often used for the practice of alchemy. The metal quicksilver, which is governed by Mercury-Hermes, can be quite tricky to work with!

Trickster gods, like Puck in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, are always representatives of Mercury, who is the catalyst of all alchemical processes but particularly that of the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon. No matter the amount of painstaking effort put into an operation, without Mercury’s divine intervention, the Child of the Philosopher will be stillborn.

So viewed through that lens, you may be now realising that the psychopomp guide is not just there for the dead, but for the living shamans too who journey through the veil into the Underworld. Gwyn is there for the quick and the dead. Once you understand that, and you also know about the propensity of our earliest ancestors for dreaming themselves into trance in the pitch black of caves, then it will also make sense to you why no corpses have yet been found buried within the Egyptian pyramids.

© Stories in the Land, Annie Dieu-Le-Veut, 2019


About me and my work

annieHello, I’m Annie Dieu-Le-Veut and I write books on shamanism, Earth magic, the Grail Mysteries, the spirit of Sovereignty and sacred sexuality. I also decode ancient myths to show how they are actually the vessels or arks of our ancestors sailing the seas of Time and containing, deep in their submarinal holds, precious messages about our innate holographic relationship to eternal astrological and alchemical cycles which drive each of us along our life’s path.

Once we understand the substance of the messages our ancestors left for us thousands of years ago, we can realise the value and meaning of human life and finally know what to do with it.

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The Grail Mysteries: Sovereignty and shamanic sex magic

The Bright World of the Gods: A real faery tale from the mists of Avalon

Reclaiming Sovereignty: Shamanic Earth magic

Stories in the Stars: What our ancestors were trying to tell us


How to read my books

If you’re thinking of getting one or more of my books, can I give you a bit of a steer? There are two ways to receive my teachings, and each augments the other.

If you wish to go down the fictional route, and become inspired in your dreams and imagination by the coded magical keys, symbols and metaphors hidden in mytho-poetic romantic adventures, I suggest that you read The Bright World of the Gods first, and then The Grail Mysteries. They are actually the first two books of a trilogy, although they work great as standalones too. I haven’t written the third in the series yet.

However, if you feel you need some help with unravelling the meanings of the symbols and metaphors found in ancient myths, my theoretical works are straightforward accounts that explain these Mysteries teachings in plain language.

Reclaiming Sovereignty is largely about the historical and mythological evidence, going back thousands of years, for the practice of shamanic sex magic, otherwise known as the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, which brought wisdom and enlightenment to the newly-crowned king on the night of his coronation. There is also a step-by-step guide for practising it yourself.

In Stories in the Stars, you’ll learn that ancient myths are like Trojan horses carrying our ancestors’ voices and wisdom that they hid in astrological and alchemical metaphors which, once I’ve taught you how to decode them, will help you to transform and reincarnate into your own life today.


 

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Sunday Service: Beltane | Lizbeth's Garden
  2. Caigwyn

    Lovely blog, thanks Ishtar.

    Personally I like the Welsh version of the Fae, the Tylwyth Teg. And you’re right, they are definitely no confections, more malevolent mischievous, changeling placing things…than pretty little disney concoctions.

    C

    Like

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