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Beltane

Beltane ribbon wreath

The Great Marriage

Spring turns
to Summer

 

1 May

Welcome to Beltane

Beltane is one of the four annual Cross-Quarter festivals, which happen in between the equinoxes and solstices and mark the turning of the seasons.

 

As the high holy days are major transition times, we refer to them as portals or doorways, through which we step into the next cycle of the Solar year. As priestesses, we hold the portal time especially sacred, as we bid farewell to the previous cycle and welcome the new.

Beltane themes: Fertility ~ Union ~ Beauty ~ Life

At Imbolc we trusted that the seed was going to awaken.

At Ostara we reveled in the first visible green shoots.

At Beltane, our faith is justified. All new growth is exploding. We are energized. We are excited. We are ready to move forward. But what is awakening? Flowers are blooming, beauty is at its height. We feel like we’re in heaven when we stand beneath a blooming apple tree or in a field of tulips. Earth is offering herself to us, to drink in Her beauty and know that it’s a part of ourselves. Beauty awakens in the self.

From the dawn of hope at Ostara, we come to the lighting of the Beltane fire, the consummation of passion that ignites in love to rebuild the world anew. As the world reawakens, green explosions signifying new life all around, so we will awaken the new life within, through consummation of the energies of light and love.

 

In preparation for Beltane, also known as The May, why not craft something beautiful?

Make a ribbon mobile; paint a picture (or a wall); write a poem; create a special altar; plant something new in your garden; cook or bake something delicious to eat. Whatever you choose, make it something that nourishes you deeply. Drink in this life-giving energy that the earth is exuding for us now. And you will become (again) an overflowing fountain, an eternally blooming rose; your true self NOW at THIS moment.

In the season of Beltane, we celebrate the Joy of Creativity!

For more information and ideas about how to honor and celebrate Beltane, read on...

About Beltane

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, Heiros Gamos. Beltane is the celebration of this union, for together, they create the Divine energy of pure creation, of bringing it 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

Symbols and Correspondences

Colors

  • 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. 

Food & Drink

  • Dairy foods and eggs

  • Sweets of all kinds, such as vanilla ice cream and egg custard

  • Rich ripe strawberries

  • Honey

  • Salads of leafy greens corresponding to the greenery abounding in the field and forest

  • Wine made from elderflower, linden and other wildflowers

  • Mead

Stones & Crystals

  • Sapphires

  • Bloodstones

  • Emeralds

  • Orange carnelians

  • Rose quartz

Plants & Herbs

  • Primrose

  • Yellow cowslip

  • Roses

  • Birch trees

  • Rosemary

  • Lilac

  • Angelica

  • Ash trees
  • Bluebells

  • Cinquefoil

  • Daisies

  • Ivy

  • Marigolds

  • Satyrion root

  • Woodruff

  • 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.

Incense & Oils

  • Lilac

  • Passion flower

  • Rose

  • Vanilla

  • Frankincense

  • Almond

Symbols

  • 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 cauldron – the womb of creation

  • The rabbit – a strong symbol of fertility

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. 

Goddesses and Gods

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 Hathor, Aphrodite, Arianrhod, Creiddylad, Artemis, Astarte, Flora, Venus, Blodeuwedd, Diana, Ariel, Var, Skadi, Sheela-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.

Hathor Dancing

Hathor

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.

Flora

Flora

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.” 

Creiddylad

Creiddylad

Creiddylad, 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.

Aphrodite

Aphrodite

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

Blodeuwed

Blodeuwedd, 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.

Create Your Own Beltane Celebration

Ready to create your own celebration? Check out our ideas for Beltane songs, readings, and themes, as well as a sample ceremony script and program handouts from our past Beltane celebrations.

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