October 21, 2022
How to Celebrate Beltane
Feasts, fires & abundance encapsulate the energy of this festival in the Wheel of the Year!
Beltane (pronounced: Bel-tayne) is celebrated on the 31st of October in the southern hemisphere and on the 1st of May in the northern hemisphere. There is a noticeable difference in the Earth's energy in comparison to the beginning of Spring. The hours of night and day were equal back at Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The days have since grown longer and we are blessed with warmth and light from the sun as we move towards Litha, the Summer Solstice. The trees are blossoming with new bright leaves, the birds are chirping and we see an abundance of life here on Earth!
WHAT IS BELTANE & WHY IS IT CELEBRATED?
Beltane is a pagan holiday and represents the exhilarating energy of life. The word ‘Beltane’ originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning ‘fire’. Together, ‘Beltane’ roughly translates to ‘Bright Fire’ or ‘Good Fire’. Most of this sabbat’s themes and customs are derived from the Irish á Bealtaine and the Scottish Latha Bealltainn, with hints of the Roman festival Floralia, which honours the Goddess of flowers, vegetation and fertility, Flora.
Cultures around the world honour the ebb and flow of solar energy and have shared stories to explain this pattern. The Celts share stories of the union between God Bel and the Great Mother. The Irish believe the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and the faeries can easily visit. Thomas the Rhymer is a Scottish ballad that tells the tale of someone traveling to Elfland. The Pueblo people of the Southwest and the ancient Greeks tell stories of a battle between Summer and Winter. Flora is the Goddess honoured by the Romans, who have shared some spicy stories.
The Irish traditionally observed Beltane as the first day of Summer. Modern witches who observe the Wheel of the Year celebrate Beltane as the peak of Spring. Beltane is opposite from Samhain on the Wheel of the Year; Samhain is the celebration of death, stillness and reflection, whereas Beltane celebrates and honours life, nature, fertility and sexuality. Beltane is at the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, marking it a time of peak fertility on all levels and is the central theme here. We give thanks for the abundance of life the Earth provides us. Earthly and sexual energies are most active and strongest during this time. Beltane is the perfect time for conceiving a baby if that is on your mind, otherwise, you can take advantage of this night by focusing on creativity, prosperity and bringing a project to life.
Just like Samhain, the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest and spirits can pass through easier, making it one of the best times for divination. Your ancestors and spirit guides may be able to communicate with you more easily through your preferred method of divination such as fire scrying, runes, tarot or oracle readings, crystal balls, pendulums or numerology.
WHO ARE THE BELTANE GODS & GODDESSES?
The Maiden Goddess, the Goddess of Spring, is the manifestation of growth and renewal.
The Young Oak King, also known as Jack-In-The-Green and the Green Man, falls in love with the Goddess and wins her hand. The Goddess falls pregnant once their union is consummated. The Goddess and the Green Man symbolise sacred marriage and the union of Earth and Sky. Throughout centuries, this sacred union of Gods and Goddesses has been freely re-enacted by humans and is focused on in part of Celtic Beltane beliefs. The Gods & Goddesses were honoured through handfasting, marriage ceremony and by having sex, commonly outside so individuals could further connect with the Earth and bring about fertility to the land. The community would unite by running freely, painting symbols on each other's bodies, creating music, feasting together and sharing stories. Wishes were also written on a ribbon and tied to a tree with hope of the Gods granting them.
BELTANE FIRES, FESTIVALS & FERTILITY
Beltane is a Fire Festival. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to honour the Sun and promote the support of Bel.
Ancient traditions by the Celtic Gaels of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man involved farmers preparing to relocate their livestock from Winter pastures to Summer grazing and they sought protection and abundance from the Gods during this time. It was believed that in order to ensure protection from harmful forces and promote fertility throughout the herd, bonfires needed to be built and lit once the sun went down, and they walked their cattle between the flames while making their way to the summer grazing lands. The smoke from these fires also cleansed their cattle.
Within one's home, flowers adorned windows, doorways and also livestock. People walked the perimeters of their property and even their towns to promote protection to the area. Any fires already lit were traditionally put out and rekindled for Beltane to renew spiritual defences and encourage prosperity and wellness.
The morning dew on Beltane was believed to be infused with properties that helped preserve youth, and enhance beauty and attraction. Druids would collect the dew in hollowed out stones prior to sunrise and people would even roll in the dew and anoint their faces with it.
The maypole, often made from birch, was inserted into the Earth as a phallic symbol representing the masculine power and potency of the God. This was traditionally decorated by maidens by wrapping the maypole with a ring of flowers at the top to represent the fertile Goddess and with coloured ribbons. Dancing around the maypole symbolises the spiral of Life and the union of Earth and Sky, the Goddess and the God, and shows honour to nature’s forces that promote seeding and growth back to the soil.
The cauldron is a symbol of the womb representing the feminine power. If you wished to conceive a child, it was believed that you would need to build a small fire, set the cauldron on it and then jump over the cauldron. People would also jump fires for purification and cleansing, and couples would jump fires together to pledge themselves to one another.
As Beltane is the sacred union of the Goddess and the God, it is a fantastic festival for lovers and is the most popular time for pagan weddings or Handfastings. It was also believed children conceived on Beltane belonged to the Goddess and had a special connection to the faerie realm.
The term A Maying meant gathering flowers and plants and often involved couples spending nights in nearby forests and woods, being intimate and bringing back flowers to decorate their homes and barns. Due to the overt sexuality, the Puritans outlawed these activities in the 17th Century throughout most of Great Britain.
BELTANE CRYSTALS, HERBS & TREES
- Fire Agate
- Rose Quartz
- Rowan trees
- Hawthorn trees
BELTANE INCENSE & AROMAS
- Abundance & Prosperity
- Divination & Mental Power
- Happiness & Positivity
- Protection & Grounding
- Relationships & Self Love
- Flower crowns
- Wake up early in the morning, go for a walk & reconnect with nature
- Tidy your altar & decorate it with crystals, plants, colours, candles & symbols associated with Beltane
- Light a candle & meditate on the flame*
- Give offerings to your ancestors & spirits you work with
- Give thanks to your ancestors & nature, walk around your home & ask for protection
- Do some divination
- Dress in corresponding colours
- Decorate your home with flower wreaths, bouquets & garlands
- Tend your garden & plant seeds
- Have a picnic outside
- Conduct an abundance, prosperity, self-love, relationships, fertility or lust spell
- Begin or take further action on a project you’ve been working on
- Set aside time for some self care - cook up a feast with corresponding herbs & aromas, listen to music, indulge in beauty rituals
- Adorn a tree with colourful ribbons representing your wishes for the rest of the year
- Create flower crowns
- Host a feast & bonfire for friends & family
- Go camping
- Have an intimate night with yourself or your lover
- Stay up all night if possible & watch the sunrise
RECOMMENDED WITCHCRAFT BOOKS
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Written by Melissa Belle, Tragic’s Witchy Consultant.
*Safe witches are clever witches, never leave a flame unattended and always be prepared to safely put out a fire if needed.