There are many things I associate with May, spring, tulips, lengthening days and cleaning the deck so I can spend more time outside. From a nostalgic viewpoint, I remember my grammar school’s international dance festival the first week of May. Each grade focused on a different part of the world. All winter we prepared for the festival. We learned a new dance, a bit about the countries culture, and made our costumes. I vividly remember how striking I looked in a serape when my class did a Mexican hat dance.
But the central dance, the one each class group did together was the Maypole. I can look back and laugh at the frustrated teachers when the weave of a pole wasn’t quite right and how, as students, we’d looked at the other poles to take some pride in the work we’d done and to see which pole came out the best before you went to the table for juice and cookies.
Years later, I learned the Maypole was one of the traditional symbols of Beltane. This celebration ushered in the fertility of spring to ensure the success of the crops and livestock. Beltane is a Fire Festivals. Its very name originated with Celtic and Gaelic meaning’ bright one’ and ‘fire’, later translated to ‘Bright Fire’ or ‘Goodly Fire.’
The Druids believed Beltane divided the year in half. The other half ended with Samhain, Halloween, on November 1. The ancient rite of Beltane included dousing all existing fires and setting a new fire. This was in keeping with ancient New Year rites. The people believed fire gave life to the lengthening of the new springtime sun and purified crops and animals. Bonfires were lit side-by-side and cattle driven between them to purify them. Men and their sweethearts passed through the smoke for good fortune and to pledge themselves to each other. At the end of the evening, people would take some of the fire to their hearths to start a new fire for the coming year.
The festival began thousands of years ago. Villagers would go into the forest and cut down a tall birch tree. They’d insert the phallic pole into the earth representing the potency of the God. Young women made a ring of flowers for the top of the pole that represented the fertility of the Goddess. Colorful ribbons hung from the Maypole. Young people, each holding a ribbon, danced around the pole weaving in and out to create a sleeve of sorts, enveloping the womb of the earth around the pole. This symbolized the spiral of life and the union of the Goddess and God, Earth and Sky.
How does my mother figure into this post? Mom wasn't prudish but I remember when she, Dad and my older brother visited me at college in update New York. The town had been all abuzz with the new obelisk an artist had erected. I called it a phallic symbol. Mom asked, What does that mean?
Title The Highlander’s English Woman
Author Ruth A. Casie
Genre Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy
Laura Reynolds and long-time friend of Jamie Maxwell Collins are in love. She adores his playful sense of humor, caring nature as well as his strong sense of honor. They have known each other from the time Jamie trained with her older brother at their home on the English side of Scottish border. Jamie has become an excellent soldier except he won’t fight and while she knows him well, she has no idea why.
Jamie Maxwell Collins lives on the Scottish side of the border. Carefree and open, he hides a dark secret so powerful it could destroy his family and those he cares for. He can’t involve Laura in this deception. He mustn’t give her hope for a future together. Instead, he ends their relationship.
While visiting Jamie’s uncle, Laura stumbles upon Jamie’s secret, but has nowhere to turn. The only person with the answer, her brother is gone, killed on a Welsh battlefield. In her heart of hearts she knows Jamie is innocent. Their relationship in tatters and with no hope of reconciliation, she plays a deadly game to find a way to exonerate Jamie even though it means agreeing to a political marriage. She has no idea the entire game has been orchestrated by her future husband, Jamie’s greatest enemy.
“You’ll let me know your decision, Wesley.”
Jamie brought Laura to a halt. An exasperated male voice drifted out of the great hall.
“I want to make the announcement as soon as possible. With Richard gone and Glen Kirk so close to the Scottish border, you need someone strong to hold back the devils.” Lord Bryce Mitchell of Ravencroft, the manse next to Glen Kirk, stood with Wesley and Darla.
Standing at the great hall entrance, Jamie stiffened when Laura’s pulse skittered into a panic beneath his fingertips. Jamie’s free hand covered hers until the beat settled into a normal rhythm. If Bryce couldn’t feel sympathetic toward the family, couldn’t he at least curb his speech?
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RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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