Sacred Plants of the Beltane Sabbat

Beltane 19 by Shadowgate
Shadowgate/Flickr/(CC BY 2.0)

In most modern Pagan traditions, plants and their folklore are an integral part of belief and practice. In particular, many of the Sabbats are associated with the magical properties of different plants. Beltane falls on May 1 in the northern hemisphere, and around October 31/November 1 if you live below the equator. Let’s take a look at Beltane, and some of the plants that often correspond with the season.

Oak Trees

The tiny acorn eventually grows into a mighty oak.
Georgette Douwma/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

The oak is a symbol of power and victory, and we often think about them in the context of large trees in the fall and winter. However, even a mighty oak has to start as a seedling. If you've ever thought about planting oaks on your property, now is a good time to get them started - hopefully you saved some acorns and potted them last fall!

In many Celtic-based traditions of Neopaganism, there is the enduring legend of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. At the Winter Solstice, or Yule, the Oak King conquers the Holly King, and then reigns until Midsummer, or Litha. Beltane is the realm of the Oak King, and is often portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest. Read more about the magic of oak trees here.

The Birch

Birch trees line a path at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire, England.
John Doornkamp/Design Pics/Getty Images

The birch tree is pretty hardy, and it's one of the first trees to begin regrowing its greenery in the spring. Because birch often grows perfectly straight, it wasn't uncommon for this tree to be felled, stripped of its bark, and used as a Maypole. If you happen to find birch bark lying on the forest floor, use it to write on in spellwork.

When a forested area burns, birch is often the first tree to grow back, and thus is associated with rebirth and regeneration. Workings using birch can add momentum and a bit of extra "oomph" to new endeavors. The birch is also associated with magic done for creativity and fertility, as well as healing and protection. Read more about the magic of birch trees here.

Spring Flowers

Beltane is a season of blossoms and blooms.
Imgorthand/E+/Getty Images

As spring arrives, our gardens begin to bud and eventually bloom. For hundreds of years, the plants that we grow have been used in magic. Flowers in particular are often connected with a variety of magical uses, especially those that are blooming at Beltane. Keep an eye out for some of these:

Forsythia

This early spring flower is associated with the sun, thanks to its yellow flowers, and is associated with anticipation. Use forsythia in workings related to things you hope to see happen in the long-term. Also consider using it in divination workings – after all, knowing things in advance leads to anticipation!

Dandelion

The leaf of the dandelion is used for healing, purification, and ritual cleansing. To bring positive change about, plant dandelions in the northwest corner of your property. The bright yellow flowers can be used in divination, or placed in a sachet to draw good energy your way.

Crocus

This flower is one of the first you'll see in the spring, and it's often associated with newly blooming love. The crocus is also known to enhance visions and bring about intuitive dreams.

Tulips

The tulip appears in many different colors and varieties, but is typically connected to prosperity. You can use the different colored variations in color magic -- use a dark strain such as Queen of the Night for full moon rituals, or bright red flowers for love magic.

Violets

The violet is associated with tranquility and peace. The leaf offers protection from evil, and can be sewn into a pillow or sachet. Carry the petals with you to bring about luck and enhance nighttime magic.

Rowan Trees

The rowan tree is associated with protection magic.
Peter Chadwick LRPS/Moment/Getty Images

The rowan tree is associated with the Fae, who - in many belief systems - are pretty active during the Beltane season. Place rowan branches around your doors and windows to keep the Fae from intruding, or craft a protective talisman by tying two rowan twigs together in the shape of an X, wrapping them together at the cross with red cotton thread. This traditional Scottish charm was said to protect not only the person carrying it, but those around them as well.

Hawthorn Trees

Watch out for the spikes of the hawthorn tree!
Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The hawthorn tree traditionally blooms at the end of April of beginning of May - this was usually how our ancestors knew it was time to celebrate Beltane. Often considered a highly magical tree, the hawthorn is associated with fertility and sexuality. Place the thorns under your pillow or mattress if you'd like to conceive a child.

Magical Herbs

Beltane is the perfect time to start your magical herb garden
Westend61/Getty Images

If you've been thinking about planting a herb garden, Beltane is a great time to get that underway - it's not too late to start your seedlings, either, if you want to get a jump on putting them in the ground. Before you start your garden, if you're hoping to get magical herbs going, check this list for some ideas on what to plant. Herbs like lemon balm, the various members of the mint family, dill, mugwort, coltsfoot, and rosemary are often making their appearance already.