Crafts for the Beltane Sabbat

01
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Crafts for the Pagan Beltane Sabbat

Young woman looking away
Simona Boglea Photography / Getty Images

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.

As Beltane approaches, you can decorate your home (and keep your kids entertained) with a number of easy craft projects. Start celebrating a bit early with fun floral crowns and a Maypole altar centerpiece, do some meditative braiding, or even get to the know the Fae! A few simple seasonal crafts are a great way to celebrate the Beltane sabbat. There's more to this time of year than just plants and greenery, so be sure to check out these simple craft ideas!

02
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Make a Spring Floral Crown

Flower Crowns
Nikki O'Keefe Images / Getty Images

If 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 color works in a pinch)
  • Spring flowers, such as daisies, irises, petunias (leave the stems on)
  • Ribbon in whatever colors 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 twist them around the ring, creating 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. 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!

03
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Maypole Altar Centerpiece

Altar Maypole
Patti Wigington

For many people, a Maypole Dance is the best way ever to celebrate the fertility holiday of Beltane… but let's face it, you may not have the ability to do that. Not everyone can stick a 20-foot pole in their yard, or you may not even know enough other Pagans (or Pagan-friendly non-Pagans) to have a Maypole Dance in the first place. If that's the case, there's a much smaller alternative. You can easily make a Maypole to put on your Beltane altar.

For this simple craft project, you'll need the following:

  • A 1" thick dowel rod, about a foot long
  • A wooden circle, about 4" in diameter
  • Pieces of ribbon in various colors, about 2 feet long each
  • A hot glue gun

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, as shown in in the photo.

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, as shown in the photo.

 

 

04
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Make a Faerie Chair

Girl wearing fairy costume in backyard
Cultura/Zero Creatives / Getty Images

Some people believe that Faeries inhabit their flower gardens. If you think you've got friendly Fae out there, this craft project is a great way to get kids into gardening at the beginning of spring. You'll need the following items:

  • An old wooden chair
  • Some primer paint
  • Exterior paint in your favorite Faerie color(s)
  • Polyeurethane or sealant
  • Seeds for a climbing flower, such as morning glory or clematis
  • A sunny spot in your garden

To make this cute outdoor project, start by applying a coat of primer paint to the chair. It's really easiest if this is in white or another light color. Next, apply a coat of your favorite Fae-attracting color—pastels look very pretty, such as lavenders or sunny yellows. Decorate the chair with designs in acrylic paints if you like. Once the paint has dried, apply a coat or two of polyeurethane to protect the chair from the elements.

Find a sunny spot in your garden, and loosen the soil a bit. Place the chair where you want it, but be sure that it's the right spot, because it's going to become a permanent fixture. Once the chair is in place, plant seeds around the base of the chair, just a few inches away from the legs.

Water the soil each day, and as your climbing plants appear, twine the vines up through the legs of the chair and around it. Pretty soon, you'll have a chair covered with leafy greens and bright flowers. It's the perfect place for your kids to spot a Faerie!

Think you've got the Fae nearby? Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin. In most European folktales, the Fae kept to themselves unless they wanted something from their human neighbors. It wasn’t uncommon for a tale to relate the story of a human being who got too daring with the Fae—and ultimately paid their price for his or her curiosity! In many stories, there are different types of faeries.

In some NeoPagan traditions, the Fae are often welcomed and celebrated. In particular, the Beltane season is believed to be a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin. If your tradition is one that celebrates the magical link between mortals and Faeries, you may want to take advantage of the fertile Beltane season to invite the Fae into your garden

05
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Make a May Day Cone Basket

ConeBasket_1500
Patti Wigington

In some rural societies, May Day flower baskets were a perfect way to send a message to someone you cared for, especially at Beltane. In the Victorian era, it became popular to send people messages told in the language of flowers. There was a fairly standard list, so if you received a bouquet of lemon blossoms, for example, you'd know that someone was promising you fidelity and faithfulness in their love for you. Be sure to read the list of the Language of Flowers.

The History Behind May Day Flower Baskets

Linton Weeks at NPR says in A Forgotten Tradition: May Basket Day that this was a popular tradition in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Weeks says, "In St. Joseph, Mich., the Herald reported on May 6, 1886, "little folks observed May Basket Day custom in hanging pretty baskets to door knobs." The Taunton, Mass., Gazette in May 1889 told the story of a young man who got up very early and walked a mile and a half to hang a basket on his sweetheart's door, only to find another basket from another beau already hanging there."

Old Fashioned Living blogger Brenda Hyde explains that Little Women author Louisa May Alcott wrote about the practice in her story Jack and Jill: "Handing out May Day baskets is a charming and gentle activity for children and adults. It's a tradition that Louisa May Alcott wrote of in Jack and Jill" (Chapter 18): "The job now in hand was May baskets, for it was the custom of the children to hang them on the doors of their friends the night before May-day; and the girls had agreed to supply baskets if the boys would hunt for flowers, much the harder task of the two. Jill had more leisure as well as taste and skill than the other girls, so she amused herself with making a goodly store of pretty baskets of all shapes, sizes, and colors, quite confident that they would be filled, though not a flower had shown its head except a few hardy dandelions, and here and there a small cluster of saxifrage." (a type of herb called Greater Burnet)."

One fascinating bit of history behind the May basket custom is that - in addition to the gifting being thoroughly anonymous - it's one of the few times of year when kids give gifts to adults, instead of the other way around. This is a great craft to make with little ones for them to present to grandparents, teachers, or other adult family members and friends

Make Your Own May Day Basket

You can make this basket and fill it with the flower that sends the message you want to send along. Hang it on the door of someone special!

You'll need the following supplies:

  • Heavy-duty paper
  • Scissors and glue (or tape)
  • Flowers of your choice

Cut a large circle out of heavy-duty paper. The best kind of paper for this project is actually the 12x12" scrapbooking paper -- it doesn't tear easily, and it comes in an apparently endless variety of designs. To cut the circle, place a large dinner plate on the paper and trace it, and then cut it out.

Cut a wedge-shape out of the circle. Imagine the circle is a pizza with six slices, and remove one of those slices.

In addition to the circle, you'll need a strip about 12" long by an inch wide.

Roll the circle (minus the wedge-piece) up so that it forms a cone shape. Tape or glue the edges in place.

Attach the strip to the open end of the cone, to make a handle.

Finally, fill the basket with flowers. You may also want to add ribbon, raffia, magical herb cuttings, or some Spanish moss to jazz it up a little. Hang the basket over the doorknob of someone special, so that when they open their door, they'll find your gift!

06
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Magical Weaving and Braiding

Weaving ikat on a hand loom.
Peter Ptschelinzew / Getty Images

In many traditions of Paganism, handcrafts are used as a magical process. Weaving and braiding in particular are meditative exercises, and so magical workings can be incorporated into the creative technique. If you think about it, fibers in one form or another have been around for thousands of years, so it makes sense that our ancestors could have utilized them in spell work and ritual as well. By focusing on the process of braiding or weaving, you can let your mind wander off as your hands do the work. Some people report even being able to astral travel while doing such craftwork.

When spring rolls around, you can incorporate some of the earth's goodies into your braiding and weaving. Use willow wands, long grasses, or vines twined together to create new projects, like a Grapevine Pentacle. If you have fresh flowers, you can braid a chain of them into a floral crown. If onions are in season, you can create a protective charm with an Onion Braid.

If you have a strong connection to the moon, you can create a Moon Braid to honor the three different phases of the moon. For spell work, make a Witch's Ladder.

Another great option that's not only a meditative exercise, but also a green craft project: upcycle old t-shirts or sheets by cutting them into 1" strips to use in place of yarn. Braid the strips, then stitch the braids together to form bowls, baskets or even prayer mats and altar cloths.

07
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Beltane Fire Incense

Image by Studio Paggy/Dex Image/Getty Images

 At Beltane, spring is beginning to get seriously underway. Gardens are being planted, sprouts are beginning to appear, and the earth is returning to life once again. This time of year is associated with fertility, thanks to the greening of the land, and with fire. A few fire-associated herbs can be blended together to make the perfect Beltane incense. Use it during rituals and ceremonies, or burn it for workings related to fertility and growth.

Fresh herbs will likely be too young to harvest right now, which is why it's a good idea to keep a supply on hand from the previous year. However, if you do have a fresh plant you wish to dry out, you can do this by placing it on a tray in your oven at low heat for an hour or two. If you have a home dehydrator, these work just as well.

This recipe is for loose incense, but you can adapt it for stick or cone recipes. If you haven't read up on Incense 101, you should do that before beginning. As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the goal of your work.

You’ll need:

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation, such as:

Fire blend and fire light,
I celebrate Beltane this warm spring night.
This is the time of most fertile earth,
the greening of the land, and new rebirth.
Fire and passion and labor's toil,
life grows anew out of the soil.
By Beltane's flames, br
ing fertility to me,
As I will, so it shall be.

Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.