All About Beltane

Celebrating the Fertility of Spring

Beltane Festival
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April's showers have given way to rich and fertile earth, and as the land turns green, Beltane celebrates the coming new life and growth. Observed on May 1st in the Northern Hemisphere (or October 31 - November 1 in the Southern Hemisphere), festivities typically begin the evening before on the last night of April.

Originally a Gaelic tradition, Beltane is observed by Pagan and Wiccan followers as a time for lighting a bonfire, dancing, and performing rituals.

Other cultures, like the ancient Romans' Floralia and the ancient Norse festival for Eyvind Kelda practice similar traditions around May Day.

A common theme is that it's a time to welcome the abundance of the fertile earth. For some, the history seems blush-worthy. History aside, Beltane can be celebrated by everyone, young and old, and in a number of ways.

Beltane History 

Beltane or May Day has been celebrated by many cultures, over many centuries. Take a look at some of the history behind the tradition. While reviewing the history, take a look at a number of the legends and lore surrounding ways to become more fertile during this time.

Typically, this is a sabbat (holiday) to celebrate deities associated with Beltane, such as the gods of the hunt or of the forest, and goddesses of passion and motherhood, as well as agricultural deities. 

Beltane Magic

Beltane is a season of fertility and fire, and you often see this reflected in the magic of the season.

From spring magic and ritual sex to fertility magic and the magic found in gardens and nature, open yourself up to learning a lot about the magic to be had surrounding this season. 

Rituals and Ceremonies

There are many different ways you can celebrate Beltane, but the focus is nearly always on fertility.

It's the time when the earth mother opens up to the fertility god, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around.

Read up on a few rituals you may want to think about trying. These can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group, with just a little planning ahead. For example, you can honor the sacred feminine with a goddess ritual. You can hold a family abundance rite to celebrate what you have with your family. Or, if you are alone, you can perform the Beltane planting ritual for solitaries, which will get you into the spirit of the season.

Setting Up Your Beltane Altar 

Set up an altar honoring the Beltane season using rich greens and colors reflecting the spring flowers. Incorporate a candle signifying the Beltane fire. Fertility symbols from nature like horns, seeds, and flowers, and a mother goddess symbol can round out the altar.

Beltane Prayers

If you are a planning a special ceremony, some appropriate prayers include the "Beltane Blessing," a prayer to the horned god Cernunnos, as well as prayers to Mother Earth, gods and spirits of the forest, and the May Queen.

Celebrate Beltane with a Maypole Dance

The Maypole dance is a time-honored tradition.

Consider hosting your own Maypole dance. Maypoles have a rich history. Men going one way, women going the other way, each holds a ribbon, sheathing the Maypole, another symbol of fertility.

Ritual Sex and the Great Rite

Beltane is a time of passion and fertility, so for many people, it's a time for ritual sex. For most, it is a way to raise energy, create magical power, or find a sense of spiritual communion with a partner.

The Bale Fire of Beltane

The Beltane bonfire ritual goes back to early Ireland on Beltane when the community would light a giant bonfire and share the fire to light their home. The fire would pass on through the land. It is likely that the word "Beltane" is a reference to the "bale" fire. Similarly in Germany, during Beltane, German Pagans celebrate  Walpurgisnacht, a giant bonfire celebrated much like a May Day celebration.

Handfastings and Weddings

Handfastings and weddings are popular during Beltane, the traditional season of fertility. Decide if you want a ceremonial handfasting or if you want to get official with a marriage certificate. Either way, there are a few dos and don'ts with planning your perfect way to tie the knot.

Welcome Faeries to Your Garden

In Pagan and Wiccan traditions, it is believed that on Beltane the veil between earth and the faerie world is thin. There is plenty of faerie lore that makes the connection between Beltane and the mischievous fae. Plant flowers, herbs, sacred plants of the Beltane season that welcome faeries to your garden, like rosemary or mugwort. Butterflies are mystical and magical and tied to the fae world, too.

Crafts and Creations

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. You can do some meditative braiding or make some faerie-size furniture for your garden.

Celebrating Beltane with Children

If you're raising little Pagans, try these fun ways to embrace the Beltane season with your kids. The Family Abundance Ritual is a good place to start. Children love the Maypole and wrapping it with ribbon, too. Get the children involved with simple crafts like decorating the house or making floral wreaths.

Beltane Recipes & Cooking

No Pagan celebration is really complete without a meal to go along with it. For Beltane, celebrate with foods that honor fertility of the earth.

Bake a Green Man cake to celebrate the lusty fertility god of the woodlands, mix up a light early summer salad, and stick some traditional Scottish oatcakes in the oven. 

 

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Wigington, Patti. "All About Beltane." ThoughtCo, Feb. 18, 2018, thoughtco.com/guide-to-the-beltane-celebration-2561640. Wigington, Patti. (2018, February 18). All About Beltane. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/guide-to-the-beltane-celebration-2561640 Wigington, Patti. "All About Beltane." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/guide-to-the-beltane-celebration-2561640 (accessed February 18, 2018).