What is Beltane and how can we celebrate it?
Beltane is about honoring life.
It is when the energies are most abundant, at their strongest. It is the peak between Spring and Summer, there is a visions of life bursting all around us. There is potent fertility at this time and as humans traditionally we would mirror Mother Nature in this representation.
The turning of the wheel at this time becomes a potential for conception.
On May Eve the sexual energy all about us and within is at it’s most potent, the Maiden Goddess has reached her fullness. It is at this time through the triple Goddess that she has come through manifestation of growth and renewal.
We have the Goddess of Spring, Flora, the May Queen, the May Bride, the Young Oak King, the Green Man and it is at this time that they fall in love, the union is consumated as they fall in love and pregnancy occurs.
The May Queen and the May King are symbols of Sacred Marriage, the union of the Earth and Sky and often this is a time chosen to have hand fastings. For this is the night of the Greenwood Marriage. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action.
dress a tree
This is the perfect time to go out and celebrate a tree. Especially a hawthorn, rowan or birch – but the tree spirit will welcome you attention whichever kind of tree it is. Sit with it, talk to it, dance around it (maypole), honour the tree and its fertility. Hang ribbons from its branches, each ribbon represents a wish or prayer.
festival of flowers
This is the festival of Flora. 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. Think about, and honour, their magical and healing properties while you do so. Give it someone you love.
Easy Beltane Activities
This is a joyful time, a time of abundance, of playfulness, of union, courtship, stoking the fires and starting new beginnings.
Making a fire
Beltane is a Fire Festival. 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 were lit to honour the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. Bel had to be won over through human effort. Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. “This was the Tein-eigen, 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) Green Man – Beltane
seek out the faeries
Just as Samhain (Halloween) is a time when the ‘veils are thin’, so is Beltane. It is a time of magic and wonder, when miraculous things seem to happen. You might like to set off an adventure looking for faeries with your children, seeking out discarded hats (acorn caps) on a riverbank or soft bedding (moss) in the woods. Why not make little faery houses for these reclusive creatures to live in, complete with bark furniture and leaf pillows.
Decorating your altar
When decorating your altar at this time, take your mind to the sense of coupling, the abundance of the seasons, union and it’s fruition, the opulent blessings of Mother Nature. It is a time of consumation also, perhaps depicted with a statue representing lovers, or male and female.
It is the Festival of the Flowers, so create divine floral pieces for your altar, or simply one flower to give thanks.
Also the trees of now are rowan, hawthorne and birch, perhaps see what is already lying on the ground ready to take, or ask permission before taking only that which you need.
The colours of Beltane are green, red and white/silver. Green represents growth, abundance and fertility. Red represents strength, vitality, passion and vibrancy. White represents cleansing and clearing and the power to disperse negativity.