52 Goddesses – Bealtaine and The Goddess Meadb (Maeve)

Queen Meadb Maeve Goddess by Helen OSullivan MotherHouse of the Goddess

Queen Maedbh/Maeve by Helen O’Sullivan

Here in Ireland, we have a Wheel, a Celtic Wheel which was in a long time passed called the “Wheel of the Sun”. Upon our wheel we have four main points and four lesser points. The main points are the ‘cross-points’: Samhain – 30th Oct-1st Nov; Imbolc – 31st Jan-1st Feb; Bealtaine – 30th April-1st May & Lughnasa – 31st July-1st August. The four lesser points are the solstices and the equinoxes. The year starts and ends at Samhain and each of the points start in the evening and lead into the following day. Each point is also presided over by a Deity, an ancient Goddess of the land. Samhain is a time of honoring our ancestors and Bealtaine is the next most powerful movement/ hinge upon the Wheel.

Now is the time of Bealtaine, presided over by the Ancient earth Goddess Meaḋḃ/Medb/Maeve. Homage to Meaḋḃ goes back over five thousand years here in Ireland – nearly three thousand years before the coming of the first Celts. It was a time when a chieftain would be chosen to lie with one of the priestesses of Meaḋḃ, at Meaḋḃ’s Rath in Tara, Co. Meath and, by their coupling, would bring fertility to the land and Her people. The chieftain would then be the head Chieftain for the year, until Bealtaine came around again. This was a time when great fires spread across the land; a time when the tribes would gather at Uisneach, the sacred centre and Soul of the land and they would share and feast together. This was also the time of merry making and love making as there was great magic in the air. There was a great fire temple at Uisneach and lights from the fire were taken out onto the land at Bealtaine,  so the people all shared from the one fire. Deals would be agreed upon and people would choose partners. Women as well as men were Chieftains and while it was a woman’s right to divorce at any time of the year, men could only divorce at Bealtaine.

The name Meaḋḃ means “intoxicating’”and it was said that Meaḋḃ could have 33 men in one night and still be found wanting – such was the wildness and freedom displayed by Meaḋḃ. The greatest epic ‘Táin Bó Cúailnge’ was written about Meaḋḃ and Her battle to hold the land for the people against the oncoming patriarchal society. Meaḋḃ’s body was the Earth and the symbolism of having ‘33’ men sleeping with Her in one night was also signifying Her role as an Earth Goddess and Her ability to confer annual kingship to a chieftain. The “cup of sovereignty” could only be offered by Meaḋḃ. She was known to ‘test’ her partners to access their ability to hold the land in generosity, without fear or jealousy. Meaḋḃ was relegated to a Goddess of Connacht from the Great Earth Goddess, possibly by the early Celts.

Meaḋḃ is also connected to the fairy folk and was said to have animals lie about Her body. Meaḋḃ’s colour is red, blood red, bringing us in touch with our womb energy, our creative source, our chalice. As women we have the power of life and death and Meaḋḃ reminds us of that. We remember Meaḋḃ with our first blood, given unto the land, in honour of the life source that feed and sustains us.

Great Meaḋḃ – she who reminds us of our passion and our power – recalls to us, as women, to hold to what is ours and to awaken to what is happening around us: to live and drink life. Our fires are re-lit with beauty and vitality, with community and commitment & with laughter and delight. It’s time to “jump the fire” and live and love in the fullness of our natures.

To learn more, listen to the Goddess Alive Radio Show with Amantha on the Goddesses of Ireland Irish Shamanism

Queen Maedbh artwork by Helen O’Sullivan

**MHG Editor Note:  Amantha leads Sacred Goddess Journeys in Ireland to connect with the Irish Goddesses and the land.  She is also available for distance readings and consultations.  Please contact her via Celtic Soul Journeys and reference The MotherHouse of the Goddess.

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