Merry Meet again my friends! As March is almost over and April looms…my thoughts turn to Beltane…another Spring festival….festival of fire and love and lust and fun! Beltane..always on May 1st is known also as Bealtaine, May Day, and Walpurgisnacht, which means “Night of the Witches.” It is the festival of passion, one of the two greatest Sabbats in the Pagan year, second only to Samhain, which lies directly opposite it on the Wheel. Beltane (named for Bel, the Celtic Sun God) was traditionally begun on the eve of April 30, when great bonfires were lit using bundles of nine different woods sacred to the Druids ( Birch, Oak, Hazel, Rowan, Hawthorne, Willow, Fir, Apple and Vine) These fires had healing properties; herds of cattle were driven between them and people would jump through the flames to ensure purity and protection.
Beltane is a celebration of sexuality and fertility. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie together on the greening earth, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. A Maypole was set up and was the focal point of the old English village rituals. The Maypole is an ancient symbol of the Great Rite, the sexual union of the God and the Goddess, celebrated by lovers everywhere on May eve.
The villagers would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers int0 their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Young people would spend the entire night in the woods “A-Maying”, and then dance around the Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. All night trysts in the forests between young lovers, called “greenwood marriages,” were common magickal practice and children conceived of these arrangements were known as “merry-begets,” and were considered children of the gods. I told you it was a fun and lusty Sabbat! 🙂
There are so many ways to celebrate Beltane. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health. Collect overnight dew and wake before Sunrise to wash your face with it to ensure beauty in the coming year. Make May baskets…a small basket, jar or paper cone filled with Spring flowers…to put on your family, friends. or neighbors front doors. Knock and run away so they don’t know who left it! Celebrate this Sabbat with bright, fresh colors, especially red and white, considered traditional for the ribbons of the Maypole. A tall straight, branchless tree or a flagpole, as many ribbons as there are dancers, bells at your wrists and heels, and merry music….. weave the May! Make a mini Maypole for your altar. Build your own Beltane fire of nine different woods, then leap over it to purify and cleanse yourself of unwanted things. (Be careful!) Or create a smaller blaze and write what you wish to eliminate on colorful ribbons of paper, then burn them to ash in the flames. Your cauldron or fireplace would be great for this! Take an early morning walk through a local park or woods. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Make flower crowns for the ladies and wear them thruout the day! Make a great feast…Make love…drink May wine….Eat, drink and be Merry!!
*Symbolism-Sacred marriage of the Lord and Lady, arrival of the Tuatha de Dannan in Ireland, Fertility festival, 1st day of the light half of the year.
*Symbols/Tools/Decorations-Maypole and ribbons, flower crowns, fires, bowers, fields, May baskets, white flowers and red ribbons, daisy chain, white wine in clear crystal glass, chalice, seasonal fruit
*Herbs-Almond, angelica, hawthorn, hibiscus, ash tree, bluebells, cinquefoil, daisy, frankincense, ivy, lilac, marigold, meadowsweet, primrose, roses, woodruff, yarrow.
*Incense/Oils-Passion flower, frankincense, tuberose, vanilla, lilac, rose.
*Colors-Red & white (symbolizing the God and Goddess), dark green, dark yellow, blue, rainbow, pastels, all colors.
*Crystals/Stones-Emerald, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz, lazuli, bloodstone
*Customs/Activities-Maypole, dancing, bonfires, mating, picking flowers, flower (May) baskets, feasting, drinking and music, walks in nature, moving herds to pasture.
*Foods-Dairy, honey, oats, red fruits, herbal salads, red/pink wine, punch, large round oatmeal cakes, sweets.
*Gods-May King, Jack in the Green, Herne, Green Man, Bel, Gods of the Hunt
*Goddesses-May Queen, Flora, Aphrodite, Flower Goddesses, Lady of the Greenwood, Goddesses of the Hunt
*Spellwork/Rituals-The Great Rite, love, romance, fertility, elf and faery power, offerings to Elementals, crop blessings, divination, re-lighting sacred fires.
This correspondence information will help you to decorate your altar and your home. It will help you to know what foods to prepare for your feast, what goddess/god to invite to your circle, what spellwork/ritual you can do…but most of all….this Sabbat is about having fun, being outside, celebrating Love! Remember the saying “In Spring all young men’s thoughts turn to love”? Remember prom night? Remember your wedding night? Ahhhhh….now you are getting the picture! Let loose..no matter whether young in age or young at heart! Dance around your fire….let your heart soar….celebrate Spring and the coming longer and warmer days! Be light of heart and joyful! Beltane is a glorious Sabbat and I hope YOU enjoy it to the fullest!
“The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.”
– Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur
Blessings and light, Autumn