Biltan Fire Festival: an ancient pagan tradition in a contemporary form


One of Glastonbury's Greens, in England, celebrates the coming of May 2018

Photo released, Matt Cardy

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One of Glastonbury’s Greens, in England, celebrates the coming of May 2018

Out of the darkness, the Queen of May comes out to meet the green man, they walk together, in front of the procession of revelers. They ascend the hill to light the fire, marking the end of winter and the return of life to the fields, with the morning of May 1.

It is the ritual of Biltan, meaning the word “fire pal,” in the ancient Celtic languages. Pal is the god of the sun, and its celebration was an annual ritual in the ancient religions that spread throughout the European continent for thousands of years.

It is noted that the name of Bal, the Celtic sun god, is similar to the name of Baal, the sun god also in the civilizations that spread across the ancient east.

Historians cannot decide whether the two are extensions of one deity, especially with the great geographical distance between the civilizations that worshiped them, but there is no doubt that they bear something of each other’s characteristics, just as the goddesses of motherhood and fertility are similar among all peoples.

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