Beltane Rites and Rituals

April's showers have given way to rich and fertile earth, and as the land greens, there are few celebrations as representative of fertility as Beltane. Observed on May 1st (or October 31 - November 1 for our Southern Hemisphere readers), festivities typically begin the evening before, on the last night of April. It's a time to welcome the abundance of the fertile earth, and a day that has a long (and sometimes scandalous) history. Try some of these rituals and ceremonies for your Beltane sabbat celebration.

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Beltane Altar
Use symbols of the season to decorate your Beltane altar. Image by Patti Wigington 2015

Okay, so we know that Beltane is a fertility festival... but how do you translate that into altar setup? Here are some tips on how to set up your altar to celebrate the Beltane sabbat.

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Welcome the spring with a simple Beltane blessing. Image by Sri Maiava Rusden/PhotoDisc/Getty Images

Looking for prayers to celebrate Beltane? Here are a few you may wish to add in to your upcoming rites and rituals, including prayers to honor the god Cernunnos, the May Queen, and the gods of the forest.

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Celebrate Beltane with a Maypole dance!. Image by Matt Cardy/Getty Images News

The tradition of the Maypole Dance has been around for a long time -- it's a celebration of the fertility of the season. If you have a big group of friends and a lot of ribbon, you can easily hold your own Maypole Dance as part of your Beltane festivities.

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Celebrate the goddess of your tradition with some good friends and a ritual. Image by Neyya/E+/Getty Images

When spring arrives, we can see the fertility of the earth in full bloom. For many traditions, this brings the opportunity to celebrate the sacred feminine energy of the universe. This simple goddess ritual honors the feminine, while also celebrating our female ancestors.

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A simple planting ceremony is an alternative to traditional Beltane rituals. Image by Ariel Skelley/Brand X/Getty Images

Some parents may not be comfortable with the phallic fertility images so often found at Beltane. If you're looking for a way to celebrate this Sabbat with kids that focuses more on abundance and less on sexuality, try this simple planting ceremony instead.

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Celebrate Beltane with a bonfire ritual!. Image by Mark Adams/Image Bank/Getty Images

Beltane is a time of fire and fertility. Combine the passion of a roaring bonfire with the love of the May Queen and the God of the Forest, and you've got a recipe for a fantastic ritual. Use your imagination to kick start your Beltane festivities with this group ritual.

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Use this spring planting ritual to reconnect with the soil. Image by Roger Spooner/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

This simple ritual, designed for the solitary practitioner, is one you can use when you're doing your annual planting. Wait until you're past the final frost date, and then do this ritual when it's time to get your seeds planted!

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Make your handfasting special. Image by Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many people opt to hold a handfasting or wedding at Beltane. If you need some tips on a successful and magical handfasting ceremony, be sure to read on for more info!

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Get your little ones moving with a miniature Maypole dance. Image by Cecelia Cartner/Cultura/Getty Images

Every year, when Beltane rolls around, we get emails from folks who are comfortable with the sexual fertility aspect of the season for adults, but who’d like to reign things in just a little when it comes to practicing with their young children. Here are five fun ways you can celebrate Beltane with your young children, and let them participate in family rituals, without having to discuss certain aspects of the season that you’re just not ready to explain yet.