Celebrating Beltane1st May ~ great sabbat also a fire festival
Beltane is a celebration of the beginning of summer (Greater Sabbat) Mayday
Pagans and Wiccans celebrate Beltane much like their ancestors did. A Beltane ritual usually involves lots of fertility symbols, including the obviously phallic Maypole dance. The Maypole is a tall pole decorated with flowers and hanging ribbons, which are woven into intricate pattern by a group of dancers. Weaving in and out, the ribbons are eventually knotted together by the time the dancers reach the end.
If you've been wanting to bring abundance and fertility of any sort into your life whether you're looking to conceive a child, enjoy fruitfulness in your career or creative endeavours, or just see your garden bloom Beltane is the perfect time for magical workings related to any type of prosperity.
Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life; fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative ways you can set up for the season.
Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colours -- the yellow of the daffodils, forsythia and dandelions; the purples of the lilac; the blue of a spring sky or a robin's egg. Decorate your altar with any or all of these colours in your altar cloths, candles, or coloured ribbons.
The Beltane AltarBeltane - May Eve, The name is thought to come from Belenos, the Shining One, whose fiery countenance lights up the heavens and warms the earth with golden-green radiance. This is the great festival of flowering that marks the beginning of summer. It is the time when the Winter Crone finally relaxes her chilly grip and the Maiden blossoms forth in her fragrant glory.
In the old days, Beltane was an opportunity for people to come together, celebrate and plan for the coming season. Its themes are fertility, sex, energy and freedom and is one of the great fire festivals. Beltane is traditionally a time of handfastings and as such is full of joy and love a time for regeneration and rejoicing.
Beltane is a time for flowers, picked by you from your own garden or bought, any flowers will do. I use herbs as well as flowers adding sweet woodruff sprigs to the altar as well as to the May wine I make to accompany the feasting afterwards. Use fresh summer fruits, a mini Maypole and use a white or yellow cloth.
Beltane is a great fire festival, so a group of candles on your altar bunched together in warm colours such as red, grass green, yellow and orange would be nice to substitute for a small fire. Or use a cauldron or similar flameproof container and make a mini bonfire inside it (Always remember safety when using candles or making bonfires). If it is not possible for you to have a bonfire then try a group of candles on your altar bunched together in warm colours such as red, green or pink would be nice to substitute for a small fire.
According to old Pagan tradition, a bonfire that blazes on a Beltane sabbat must be made from nine different kinds of wood, and three pieces of each kind must be used. The following nine types of wood are ideal for use in a sacred Beltane fire. Their traditional meanings are included:
Birch: symbolizes the Goddess or female principle.
Oak: symbolizes the Horned God or male principle.
Rowan: symbolizes life.
Willow: symbolizes death.
Hawthorn: symbolizes purification.
Hazel: symbolizes wisdom.
Apple: symbolizes love.
Vine: symbolizes joy.
Fir: symbolizes immortality and rebirth
You might also want to include phallic images, this doesn't have to be graphic, it can be a rock and a creviced stone, or flowers, or a yin-yang symbol or a God and Goddess figure.
HandfastingThis is a traditional custom at this time, and is the Wiccan version of marriage. It is a celebration of loving union in which both parties are equal. Vows are written in recognition of the union. Many of our traditional phrases concerning marriage stem directly from Handfasting. Tying the knot or Getting Hitched both refer to the tradition of binding the hands of the couple together with a gold and silver cords as part of the Handfasting ritual.
In the middle of the Handfasting rite, the couple joins their hands to be bound with cords as they are questioned about their intents toward each other. At the end of the proclamation of their intent towards each other, the couple, with a series of cords lightly draped around their joined hands, the couple then join the cords and tie them into a knot at the center. It is interesting to note that the couple make no promises to each other – just proclaim their union, equality and love for each other. although Handfasting can be a legal marriage ceremony, it is not necessarily so. Sometimes a Handfasting is a commitment made for "a year and a day," perhaps before a couple make their commitment to each other. At the end of the rite, hands still corded, the couple jumps a broom laid on the ground in recognition of the ancient folk method of sealing a marriage.
Handfasting can therefore be the perfect way to celebrate your respect and love for your partner. This doesn’t need to be an elaborate ritual, if you do not feel confident enough to do so, indeed it could be just the two of you present. The important part of Handfasting is the vows, and the symbolism of the binding of hands. You could be a couple making your vows for a year and a day. You may already be married, and may want to just pledge your love for each other in a non-religious renewal of your vows.
Food for BeltaneVegetarian: Mushrooms with pasta, seasoned with onion, celery, peppers and basil. Meat dishes: fish, lamb or pork, Red fruits such as strawberries and cherries, green herbal salads, Large round oatmeal cookies or barley cakes, shellfish
DrinksMulled wines, Mead, Fruit/Wine Punch, Milk and Honey
Symbols of BeltaneEggs, Flowers, Chalice, May Pole, Butter churn, Flower Chaplet, May Baskets, flower
Herbs of BeltaneAlmond, angelica, damiana, hawthorn, hibiscus, saffron, ash tree, bluebells, cinquefoil, daisy, frankincense, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, marsh marigold, meadowsweet, primrose, roses, satyrion root, woodruff, yellow cowslip, yarrow. wreaths, ribbons
Incense of BeltaneAngelica, frankincense, hawthorn, lilac and rose, passion flower, patchouli, vanilla, cinnamon, oak moss
Flowers of BeltanePick whichever flowers are currently blooming in your area. The most traditional is hawthorn, sometimes called “the Blossoming May.” Other good choices include bluebell, cowslip, daisy, lilac, marigold, pansy, primrose, rose, violet, and sweet woodruff.
Colours of BeltaneRed, Green, White, Dark Yellow, green, pink
Stones of BeltaneSapphire, Bloodstone, Malachite, Garnet, Rose Quartz, Emerald, Beryl, Tourmaline
Altar candles for BeltaneGreen. Gold, Silver, and the 4 elemental colours, (yellow, red, blue, green.)
SpellsTime of self-discovery, love, union, and developing your potential for personal growth, a time to look outward and forward to the future, and to prepare for the warm summer months ahead
OilsPassion Flower, Rose, Tuber Rose, Vanilla
Gods and GoddessesGods Robin Hood, the Green Man, Cernunnos, Pan, Bel, All Gods of the Hunt
Goddesses All Flower Goddesses, Maeve, Tanit, Flora, Maia, Danu, Luna, Guinevere, Gaia
Different ideas for BeltaneWalk the perimeter of your property to check that everything is in good order. Bring trash bags and do a general clean up of anything that is not where it should be.
Make a miniature maypole for your altar if you can not make a full size version
Get a new mirror, or use one you have already, and decorate it with ribbons and flowers for your bedroom
Fill a cauldron or a large bowl with fresh flowers (wildflowers are best)
Braid bracelets out of white ribbons and give them as gifts to friends or family
Make a dish of fruits, berries, nuts and leave in the wood for the animals and fae folk to enjoy
Cut branches of fresh green from budding trees, or make garlands of flowers to decorate the home for this celebration. Hang them on the doors and windows early, so the may sunrise finds them there!
Create a special wreath for the top of the May Pole
Make "May Day" baskets of flowers and leave on friends and family's doorsteps as a surprise gift. Maybe they'll think a faerie did it!
Create hair pieces and garlands for decorating your head or around your neck from flowers that are in bloom
Tie colored ribbons to your trees with Blessings written on them:
Beltane is one of the three "spirit-nights" of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them.
Making a Floral crownIf you're holding any kind of Beltane celebration at all, it's all about the flowers! Be sure to jazz up your festivities with a crown of flowers -- it looks beautiful on any woman, and really brings out the goddess within. Not only that, it's pretty heavy on the fertility symbolism as well. A floral crown is easy to make with just a few basic craft supplies.
You'll need the following:
Pipe cleaners (preferably green, but any colour works in a pinch)
Spring flowers, such as daisies, irises, petunias (leave the stems on)
Ribbon in whatever colours you love
Take the pipe cleaners and create a circle that will fit your head. This usually takes two pipe cleaners for adults, and maybe one and a half for kids. Twist the ends together to form a ring.
Next, take two more pipe cleaners and loop them around the ring. This creates a framework for you to add your flowers.
Take your spring flowers and weave the stems through the pipe cleaner frame. Tuck the flowers in snugly so that the frame is covered (see Figure 3). If you have trouble getting them to stay in place, or if they seem loose, wrap a bit of green florist's wire around them for additional stability.
Finally, cut several ribbons in a variety of lengths. Tie them to the back of the flower wreath. Once you put on your floral crown, you'll be all ready to go dance around the Maypole!
Tie ribbons to trees to celebrate the coming of spring. Make a wish each time you tie a ribbon as it's good luck to wish for things on this day!
Wash your face in the morning dew to retain youth.
Dance the May Pole
During the Maypole dance, think about what you wish to weave into, or out of, your spirit. The Maypole is an ancient symbol of the male aspect of the Divine, while the ribbons are strands of life. Have small baskets of goodies around the room to symbolize the coming abundance and to enjoy after the Circle.
Making your own MaypoleTo make a maypole you will need the following items
A 1" thick dowel rod, about a foot long
A wooden circle, about 4" in diameter
Pieces of ribbon in various colours, about 2 feet long each
A hot glue gun or a way to attach the dowel rod
Use the hot glue gun to attach the dowel rod to the center of the wooden circle. Once the glue has dried, you can stain or paint the wood if you choose. Attach the center of each ribbon to the top of the dowel rod
Use the Maypole as a centerpiece on your altar. You can braid the ribbons as a meditation tool, or include it in ritual. Optional: add a small floral crown around the bottom to represent the feminine fertility of the Sabbat.
Do a Beltane Day Spell for Health and Happiness
Plant your frost sensitive bulbs now.
Let your child dress up like the May Queen. Make a pointed hat with a large piece of paper rolled, and tape crepe paper streamer from the top. Decorate with crayons, stickers, and glitter.
Beltane Ritual Potpourri45 drops frankincense oil
1 cup oak moss
1 cup dried bluebells
1 cup dried lilac
1 cup dried marigold
1 cup dried meadowsweet
1 cup dried rosebuds and petals
1 cup dried yellow cowslips
Mix the frankincense oil with the oak moss and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.