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BEL © Hamish Burgess 2013. Signed and numbered Limited Edition Giclée print of 300 on water-colour paper. 11 x 14 inches, plus a white unprinted border.

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: Giclée, Print, Watercolor Paper


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BEL © Hamish Burgess 2013.
Signed and numbered Limited Edition Giclée print of 300 on water-colour paper. 11 x 14 inches, plus a white unprinted border.
Original Celtic and folk art by Hamish Burgess, a piece for the cover of The Celtic Connection newspaper in Vancouver BC and Seattle, the May ‘13 issue.

The great wheel of the year turns again on the evening of April 30th, with ancient Celtic festival of Beltane, Beltaine, or Bealtaine in Irish, dedicated to the Sun God Bel, ‘the bright and shining one’. Also known as Belenos, Belinus, Beal, Bile, Belyn, and Beli, he was prayed to at times of sickness, for the healing power of the sun. In various Celtic cultures the god of fertility, healing, music, hunting and even death, he was associated with therapy, prophecy and healing springs. Over 30 inscriptions naming Belenos have been found by archaeologists, more than almost any other Celtic deity.
Shrines have been found to him all over Europe, from the British Isles and Ireland in the west, to the ancient kingdom of Noricum, a federation of twelve tribes in the Eastern Alps, in what is now Austria. The Serpent ring, animal and sun symbols depicted on his helmet are from the Hallstatt area of Austria. Bel is portrayed here, as he was in ancient carvings, as a flaming solar god with wings, wearing a serpent headed neck torc (representing healing and regeneration).
The sun disc decoration is based on the carvings of a 1st century BC bronze mirror, found at Trelan Bahow, St.Keverne, in West Cornwall. The ancient name for West Cornwall (the Celtic region of south-west Britain) was Belerion, ‘the place of Bel’. Bel’s name survives to this day in the old London fishmarket of Billingsgate – Bile’s Gate. Also in William Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline, which was based on the Celtic king Cunobelinus (the Hound of Bel), who lived from the 1st century BC until the 40s AD.

Beltaine is first mentioned in the ancient Irish dictionary Cormac’s Glossary, written by Cormac Mac Chileannain, Bishop of Cashel and King of Munster, who died in 908. He derives the word from the name of a god Bel, or Bil, and the Old Irish word ‘tene’ or fire, so literally ‘the fires of Bel’.
This seasonal feast marks the end of the dark half of the year, and is about honouring life, and the coming of Summer. The Sun God is released from the captivity of Winter, and returns to visit the Earth Goddess, with a time of joyous celebrating.
People did everything in their power to ensure the return of the Sun God, with huge Bel fires being lit on a knoll, started with 9 different types of sacred wood  (shown here) collected by the Druids. The ever-burning household fires would only be extinguished at Beltane, so they could be re-lit from brands of the sacred fires, as a symbolic blessing. People passed, and animals were driven, between the two need-fires to bring luck and protection. It was thought that the purifying fires would cleanse the animals of winter sickness and disease, before going to summer grazing pastures.
St.Patrick famously lit his own fire at Beltane on the Hill of Slane, to announce the arrival of his new religion to Ireland, and challenge the Druids of King Laoghaire at nearby Tara.

Beltane is a fertility festival, with young folks full of the joys of Summer. An old custom of ‘greenwood marriages’ saw couples disappearing to the woods for the night, staying out to see the new May sunrise, and collecting boughs and flowers for May Day festivities. Many of the girls ended up with a child 9 months later at Imbolc, protected by the Goddess Brigit.
The ancient festival has become May Day in modern times, with it’s fertility dance around the Maypole, with young men and maidens circling the pole with coloured ribbons, weaving around each other, making a pattern on the pole. Boys traditionally held red ribbons for the Sun God, and girls held white ribbons for the Goddess.

All prints signed and numbered by the artist in pencil at the bottom.
The print you receive will not have the artist’s name across it, as in the photo. That is for internet viewing only.
Aloha and mahalo for looking.

Dimensions 11 × 14 in