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The Legend of the May Queen and the Queen of Winter

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A woman dressed as the May Queen dances at a Beltane May Day celebration in Glastonbury, 2013.

Image (c) Matt Cardy/Getty Images; Licensed to About.com

In some Wiccan traditions, the focus of Beltane is on the battle between the May Queen and the Queen of Winter. The May Queen is Flora, the goddess of the flowers, and the young blushing bride, and the princess of the Fae. She is Lady Marian in the Robin Hood tales, and Guinevere in the Arthurian cycle. She is the embodiment of the Maiden, of mother earth in all of her fertile glory.

As the summer rolls on, the May Queen will give forth her bounty, moving into the Mother phase. The earth will blossom and bloom with crops and flowers and trees. When fall approaches, and Samhain comes, the May Queen and Mother are gone, young no more. Instead, the earth becomes the domain of the Crone. She is Cailleach, the hag who brings dark skies and winter storms. She is the Dark Mother, bearing not a basket of bright flowers but instead a sickle and scythe.

When Beltane arrives each spring, the May Queen arises from her winter's sleep, and does battle with the Crone. She fights off the Queen of Winter, sending her away for another six months, so that the earth can be abundant once more.

 

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