The Great Marriage
As the Wheel turns to Beltane, we are at the peak of Spring. Flowers are blooming all around us and the leaves on the trees are unfolding and stretching out their fingers. Birds are singing and warm breezes are blowing. The energy of Gaia is at its strongest, abundant and fertile on all levels. Life has returned and the Earth is offering herself to us, inviting us to drink in her beauty and know that we are part of her. She encourages us to fully inhabit our bodies, so that we may physically connect with life and feel this energy coursing through us as well. It is a time to rejoice in ourselves and in our world for new life is coming into form all around us.
At Beltane, the Maiden Goddess has reached her fullness and represents the peak of Earth’s fertility and the Young God is in the prime of his virility and strength. They are balanced in age and power, truly equals, and they fall in love. The union is consummated, the sacred marriage, the union of Mother Earth and Father Sky, Herios Gamos. Beltane is the celebration of this union, for together, they create the Divine energy of pure creation, of bringing forth into form.
Beltane offers us the opportunity to embody and become our Mother’s seasonal energies, of pleasure and lushness. To become the sacred union of the Goddess and God, to marry the feminine and masculine vibrations within us. To marry our receptivity and sensitivity, our inward knowing with the energy of action and doing, expansion and movement. It is a brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. Every cell in our body has a direct relationship with this divine, creative life force, and we can summon the energy, that is here to fuel our dreams, our ambitions, our creativity.
History of Beltane:
Historically, the ancient Celts divided their year into two parts: the Dark Half, which consisted of harvesting crops, cold weather, and conserving food stores to last them until the Light Half of the year. Beltane marked the beginning of the warm, bright half of the year and was a sacred bridge between the hardships of winter and the abundance of summer. It was celebrated when the Hawthorn trees started to bloom, usually occurring in late April or the beginning of May. In Celtic mythology, the Hawthorn is one of the most sacred trees, symbolizing love and protection. It is a tree of magical enchantment and also known as the Fairy Tree, as fairies live under the Hawthorn as its guardians, and so were treated with great respect and care.
The word 'Beltane' originates from the Celtic God 'Bel', meaning 'the bright one' and the Gaelic word 'teine' meaning fire. Together they make 'Bright Fire', or 'Goodly Fire' and traditionally bonfires (good fires) were lit to honor the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun's light to nurture the future harvest and protect the community. Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane:
"This was the Teineigen, the need fire. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, the villagers would take some of the Teineigen to start their fires anew." ~ From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred
Goddesses To Honor:
The Goddesses we honor at Beltane are many. Every culture in every time has had at least one Goddess of fertility, beauty and creativity. Appropriate Deities for Beltane include all Virgin-Mother Goddesses, all Young Father Gods, all Gods and Goddesses of the Hunt, of Love, and of Fertility. Some Beltane Goddesses to mention by name here include Aphrodite, Arianrhod, Artemis, Astarte, Venus, Blodeuwedd, Diana, Ariel, Var, Skadi, Shiela-na-gig, Cybele, Xochiquetzal, Freya, and Rhiannon. Beltane Gods include Apollo, Bacchus, Bel/Belanos, Cernunnos, Pan, Herne, Faunus, Cupid/Eros, Odin, Orion, Frey, Robin Goodfellow, Puck, and The Great Horned God.
The Goddesses especially here with us are Flora, Aphrodite, Creiddylad (Kehrigdwen, saradywn), Hathor and Blodeuwedd.
Flower queen Flora is the Roman Goddess of flowering plants, especially those that bear fruit. Spring is Her season, and She has elements of a Love Goddess, with its attendant attributes of fertility, sex, and blossoming. Her name is related to Latin floris, meaning naturally enough “a flower”, with the additional meaning of “[something] in its prime”; other related words have meanings like “prospering,” “flourishing,” “abounding,” and “fresh or blooming.”
Hathor is the Egyptian Goddess of women, love and joy, music, dance, celebration and beauty. She protects women and is present whenever they beautify themselves. She blesses women with fertility, and many of the ritual objects associated with Her (such as the sistrum and Mena necklace) also have an erotic significance.
Creiddylad (saradywn), the Welsh goddess is often called the May Queen, she was a Goddess of summer flowers and love. She is the promise of love, golden glowing moon-flowing love, enduring through all hardship and despair. Creiddylad also shows us the necessity of self-love. Only by truly loving ourselves can we love another.
Sensual Aphrodite is the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty. Graceful and gorgeously seductive, Aphrodite was born from the sea and represents its power and creativity. Her symbols are flowers, fruit, water and gold. She is the goddess of gracefulness and the force of attraction. Aphrodite encourages enjoyment of love and beauty, creativity, sexuality and sensuality. As goddess of the senses, Aphrodite is honored whenever you open to the beauties around you, retaining the capacity to see beauty in, and be in love with, whatever or whomever you focus on,.... moving unselfconsciously from experience to experience, and person to person, fascinated with whatever comes next. Aphrodite is in full possession of her body. She loves herself and takes pride in her feminine sensual nature.
Blodeuwedd (blodiweth), another Welsh goddess, is the Lady of Initiation. She calls us to cast off the garments of expectation and to peer into the darkness of the self to find, and ultimately live, our inner truth. Like Aphrodite, Blodeuwedd was completely aware of her actions at all times and quite willing to take full responsibility for them. She understood the cycle of life and death, and she was well aware that she was merely passing from one existence into the next. Her actions demonstrated that completely, and those people who see her as nothing more than a lustful female had better reassess their views; because Blodeuwedd truly is a Goddess of the Cycle, doing what she was meant to do, honoring her integral nature.
Symbols and Correspondences:
The Maypole is a popular and familiar image of May Day and Beltane. A phallic pole, often made from birch, was inserted into the Earth representing the potency of the God. The ring of flowers at the top of the Maypole represents the fertile Goddess. Its many-colored ribbons and the ensuing weaving dance symbolize the spiral of Life and the union of the Goddess and God, the union between Earth and Sky.
The colors of Beltane are green, red and white. Green represents growth, abundance and fertility. Red represents strength, vitality, passion and vibrancy. White represents cleansing and clearing and the power to disperse negativity. Also appropriate are all the colors of the rainbow spectrum itself.
Stones to use during the Beltane celebration include sapphires, bloodstones, emeralds, orange carnelians, and rose quartz.
Incense - Use lilac, passion flower, rose or vanilla.
Plants and herbs associated with Beltane are primrose, yellow cowslip, roses, birch trees, rosemary, and lilac. Also included are almond, angelica, ash trees, bluebells, cinquefoil, daisies, frankincense, ivy, marigolds, satyrion root, and woodruff. The Hawthorn is a tree of magical enchantment and is strongly associated with Beltane. In Celtic mythology it is one of the most sacred trees and symbolizes love and protection. It is also known as the Fairy Tree, as fairies live under the Hawthorn as its guardians, and so was treated with great respect and care.
Animals associated with Beltane are goats, rabbits, and honeybees. Mythical beasts associated with Beltane include faeries, Pegasus, satyrs, and giants.
Dairy foods and eggs are in tune with this season. Sweets of all kinds, honey, and oats are all fine foods for Beltane. Simple dishes such as vanilla ice cream and egg custard are quite traditional fare on this day
The symbols of Beltane are vibrant and life affirming: rich ripe strawberries, honey with its gorgeous liquid amber color, cream, salads of leafy greens corresponding to the greenery abounding in the field and forest, wine made from elderflower, linden and other wildflowers, and mead. The cauldron – the womb of creation, the rabbit – a strong symbol of fertility, hawthorn wood or blossoms – a token of the Fae, and bright spring wildflowers – all of these can adorn an altar to celebrate Beltane. Take joy in the warmth of Spring, in the renewal of life around you, and know that the spirit of the Goddess and the Green Man walk with you during this time.
Beltane is the perfect time to:
Dress in your best, especially in green, and wear a flower crown - Honor your own beauty. This is the Great Wedding!
Stay out all night, gathering the green, watch the sunrise and make love, preferably outside. Wash your face in the morning dew.
Conceive a new project, grasp that idea, and get on with it.
Dress your home and/or altar with greenery - especially with hawthorn, rowan and birch branches. Ask permission from the tree before you take anything.
Dress a tree. This is the perfect time to go out and celebrate a tree. Sit with it, talk to it, dance around it (maypole), honor the tree and its fertility. Hang ribbons from its branches, each ribbon represents a wish or prayer.
Revel in flowers, flowers and more flowers. Make a flower crown to wear - the daisy chain in the simplest of all. Make a traditional flower basket. fill it with Beltane greenery and all the flowers and herbs you can find. Bring brightly colored flowers inside to symbolize fresh beginnings and the power of nature.
Give those flowers to someone you love. It was tradition to partake in an activity that was sort of like reverse Trick-or-Treating but without the trickery. People would go around the village leaving baskets of flowers and home-cooked foods at the threshold of their neighbors, friends, and family.
Meditate, journal, sleep, nap, take time to yourself. Engage in some self-love. Set aside time to feel your feelings. They are a portal to your intuition and internal navigation system, offering you helpful feedback.
Engage in an exploration of the senses: Create experiences that engage one of your senses, particularly smell or touch or taste. Create a touch experience by gathering items with different textures, then blindfold yourself, center yourself and explore the items. Don’t just pick soft and pleasant items either — pick things that are sticky or prickly or scratchy, too. Immerse yourself in a smell, like coffee or a fragrant tea. Order your favorite food from a restaurant and make the eating of it a special, sacred moment. Put the dish on your best plate. Eat it in the most pleasant setting you can create for yourself. Do it by candlelight.
Make some Hawthorn Brandy as a tonic for the heart. You will need a bottle of brandy and at least one cup of hawthorn flowers, plus a little sugar to taste. Mix the ingredients together and leave away from direct light, for at least two weeks. Shake occasionally. Strain, bottle and enjoy.
Portal Work At Beltane
by Barbara Jones
Beltane is a time to contemplate the sacred union of polarities. Just as the union of the goddess and god takes place at this threshold time, we can seek to come into Divine Union with the two parts of the Self – the Light and Dark Halves of the Self – what we more commonly call our conscious and unconscious selves. How then can we bridge these aspects of the Self, which, by their very nature, are opposite to each other? Beltane is a bridge between the worlds, and we can use this sacred time outside of time to foster a connection between When we step through the portal of Beltane, we pass through the symbolic fires of purification and embrace the fertile ground of our limitless potential. We leave behind that which has held us back and move into a place of positive action which helps us to create the life we wish to live. What greater act of creation can there be than to set the fires of transformation alight in our souls, and to use the resulting illumination to burn through any outer challenges and inner resistance that stands in the way of our ultimate goal — a whole and holy self that is balanced and expressing its greatest good and highest potential. A sacred flame indeed!
Beltane is a sensual holiday, where one is encouraged to fully inhabit your own body and feel the energy of the Universe coursing through it. It is a celebration of your body as a means of channeling energy in all forms — divine energy, sexual energy, physical energy. To truly experience the lessons of life change, death and rebirth, we must occupy our bodies. Modern cultures, for the most part, teach us to shut down, to de-sensitize ourselves, to just make it through. The body is seen as something to be used, or even used up. But this approach never really works, because when we incarnated, we agreed to certain rules — one of them being that, when we screw up, the body gets to speak up. When we stuff our emotions, we stuff them in the body — and the body responds. When we deny pain, we deny the body — and the body responds. When we deny pleasure, we deny the body — and the body responds. The body also responds when we open to our emotions, work through our pain, allow pleasure its place in our lives. This intimate, undeniable relationship we each have with our bodies is the blessing, the gift of Beltane.
How long has it been since you carefully considered your beliefs about pleasure and the role it plays in your life? Not just the surface, intellectual beliefs, but those beliefs that are deeply rooted in your subconscious? Simply by virtue of being brought up in modern cultures, we have internalized negative messages about pleasure that may still influence us if we have not dug them out. Think of the aphorisms we heard growing up — and still hear: “business before pleasure”, “the devil finds work for idle hands”, “keep your nose to the grindstone”. Which ones did you absorb? What taboos around pleasure may still be subconscious drivers for you? One of the best ways to uncover and release subconscious beliefs is to listen to what the body is saying.
Paying attention to, learning to care for and honor your body, no matter what state of health it is in, will have a tremendous effect not only on your body, but on your mental awareness, your emotional states and on your personal resonance as well. Your personal resonance has a great deal to do with the people and experiences that you attract.
Occupying your body — paying attention and not shutting down — is a necessity if you want to fully experience life and love on this Earth. You cannot truly love, you cannot deeply connect with another if you are shut down, armored, and in denial. Accepting our bodies just as they are is a prerequisite for learning to love ourselves, and a necessary step towards healing. Listening to our bodies, learning to understand and making sure they get what they need is love in action, for if we carry the energy of self-rejection, anger and denial, we cannot come into resonance with the energy of love.
Think about what each day’s extra minutes of daylight are showing you, and how you are experiencing your ‘enlightenment’. We consider goals set last fall and new goals born of the winter’ contemplative insights. We assess our own internal relationship to our masculine and feminine selves, and we do our best to surrender to the alchemy required when birthing anything new and important. The weeks between Beltane and the Summer Solstice are the brightest of the year! They bring us the most hours of daylight, and consequently the most growth, whether to the plants in the ground, or the ideas we have planted in our intentionality.
As our days grow longer, I invite you to walk both inner and outer landscapes at the same time. Assess how your past decisions have created this reality (whether garden or life circumstance) and decide what you’re going to do about it in the here and now (sow new seeds in your garden’s empty spot, or use the fertile energy of Beltane create a new crop, situation or opportunity for the coming season.
Fertility is key at Beltane and usually involves rituals for fertile crops, love and babies. Yet fertility is also present in other areas of our lives. Fertility in your creative life, professional success, self-love, skills you want to learn or enhance, spirituality; the list goes on. How would you inspire fertility in areas of your life?
Prepare the soil
Prepare your foundation, specific to whatever area you would like to fertilize with a thorough spiritual cleansing. Ground and center with ritual baths, using herb bundles to change the energy of an area, undertake a deep cleaning of your home space, or try ritual bathing in lakes, rivers or the ocean. Make your own home blessing water, create your own Florida water using local herbs and waters, create an incense specific to your needs, plan some time to fast from food to cleanse your body of processed foods and toxins, hydrate yourself with water, add movement to your life that pleases you.
Get rid of the invasive species
What is taking over your life? Start by getting rid of all the extra items off your altar, decluttering your home space, streamline your spiritual tools, focus on those people you truly care about, get rid of time wasters and drainers, limit your social media time (set a timer if you have to), get rid of items you literally haven’t touched in years, and all the extra things you accumulated for “just in case” when you know deep down that time won’t come. Get rid of obligations that make you miserable, toxic friendships and relationships, and all the bad habits you know aren’t good for you (one at a time, because we are all human, and it takes time).
Adjust your climate
Certain plants need more sun or water than others, so what do you need more of in your life? It won’t magically appear without your intention, so start figuring out what YOU need. Not everyone else in your family or community, but YOU. What needs to be adjusted? Do you need more alone time, or more laughter? Do you need more sunshine when you are always stuck indoors? Make time in your life for what is important, adding in what enhances your life, and minimizes what doesn’t. Nothing happens overnight, so start with one small thing, and keep working at it until the climate is exactly how you like it, and then? Flourish.
Embrace the unknown
Ah, the great unknown. So many fear it, but it does take a certain amount of faith to keep moving forward. When we plant a seed, we have no idea of knowing if it will grow, do we? Do we fall to pieces when it doesn’t? I sure hope not. We usually try again, or try a different type of seed. What leap into the unknown are you afraid of taking? Take small steps towards that unknown. Visualize what you want at the end of that great leap: use vision boards, manifesting spellwork, or crystals to enhance your journey in the unknown. Use the spiritual and magical tools you have, or learn other ways to amplify your skill set.
New soils and nutrients
Old, tired soil doesn’t do well for crops, so we add more nutrients to the dirt, and we let it rest for a season. What would be a good magical boost for yourself? A new class, a piece of protective jewelry, a new vista or way of looking at things? What nutrients could you add to your life to feel better, and to become more fertile? Change up your diet, go vegetarian or vegan for a while, add more exercise and water to your life, try meditation, or go home a different way from work. Do your spellwork with a new tool, herb or oil. Try it for a little while and see how you feel. Change, if you harness the magic of it, can boost your life. Change one thing in your life and see what happens.
Strengthen your root system
What is your root system? Are you grounding and centering regularly? Do you listen to your deities or ignore what they say? Have you done ancestor work, shadow work, or really spent some time focused on yourself? Do you tend to look for any and all distractions instead? Really strengthen your core with a regular practice of grounding and centering, honoring your deities, and working with your ancestors. It is tough work, but the roots and foundation you will garner are worth all the effort.