Beltane (pronounced: Bel-tayne), an ancient Celtic festival, marks the joyful arrival of spring and the season of fertility. Celebrated around October 31st and November 1st in the Southern Hemisphere and April 30th and May 1st in the Northern Hemisphere, Beltane is a time when nature bursts forth with vibrant life.
This spirited occasion is synonymous with traditions such as lighting bonfires, maypole dancing, and the crafting of flower crowns. Embedded in Pagan and Wiccan beliefs, Beltane signifies the union of the God and Goddess and serves as a tribute to the vital force that permeates all living things. Its timeless customs continue to be cherished by diverse communities worldwide.
Experience the power of Beltane in 2023 with your own personal Beltane altar. Whether you're just starting out in your witchcraft journey or already a seasoned witch, your Beltane altar will inspire you every day until the next Sabbat - Litha - arrives.
Join us in celebrating Beltane with our tips & tricks for how to make your own Beltane Altar!
Symbols: Goats, bees, fairies, Pegasus, rabbits, flower crowns, baskets, maypole
Crystals: Aventurine, bloodstone, carnelian, fire agate, rose quartz
Herbs & plants: Lavender, peppermint, rosemary, dandelion, tulip, violets, birch, rowan trees & hawthorn trees.
Incense & aromas: Frankincense & rose
Colours: Red, white, green, blue, yellow
Setting up your Altar for Beltane
Setting up your Beltane altar is a personal and symbolic practice that allows you to create a sacred space for celebrating the festival. Your altar can serve as a sacred haven to contemplate your aspirations for the remainder of this Sabbat season. By adorning it with the right decorations and tools, you will amplify the energy of this Sabbat and empower your endeavours throughout the year.
Where to set up your Beltane Altar
Selecting the perfect location for your Beltane altar is a deeply personal choice, influenced by a variety of factors. Whether indoors or outdoors, your chosen spot should offer privacy, safety, and a connection to nature. Consider the weather and remember to follow safety guidelines if you're using candles or an open flame. The location of your altar should resonate with the vibrant, life-affirming spirit of Beltane, whether bathed in sunlight or softly lit indoors. Ultimately, it's the intention and energy you invest in your chosen location that will make your Beltane celebration special and meaningful!
Decorating your Beltane Altar
There are a variety of ways to decorate your altar for Beltane, and showcase this Sabbat's meaning.
Altar cloths for Beltane
Cover your altar with a cloth that symbolises the vibrant colours of spring. Shades of green, yellow, or floral patterns work well. The altar cloth serves as a representation of the Earth and the lushness of the season, providing a beautiful backdrop for your ritual. The Into the Underworld Altar Cloth showcases the Sabbat's colour palette of red and white, and would be a beautiful addition to your Beltane Altar. Some other altar cloths you could use are the Earthly Delights Tapestry or Herbology Tapestry are two beautiful textiles that could be utilised in your Beltane altar.
Candles for Beltane
Candles are a central element on your Beltane altar, symbolising the element of fire, which is associated with this festival. Arrange candles in colours that capture the spirit of Beltane, such as red, white, or pastel shades. You may choose to have one central candle to represent the union of the God and Goddess. To learn more about candle magic, check out our Simple Guide to Candle Magic to help you decide which candle colours would be most useful to help you manifest your goals.
Flowers & Greenery
Incorporate fresh flowers, blossoms, and greenery onto your altar to celebrate the beauty and fertility of the season. Create small arrangements or wreaths of seasonal blooms like daisies, roses, or daffodils. These offerings to the altar not only beautify the space but also connect you to the Earth's rejuvenation.
Statues & symbols
Include statues or symbols that represent the God and Goddess in their fertility aspects. Depictions of deities like Pan, Cernunnos, or Aphrodite are common choices. You can also include figurines of animals associated with Beltane, such as rabbits or stags, to symbolise the renewal of life and the vitality of the season.
If you have the space and resources, consider placing a small maypole on your altar. A maypole, with its colorful ribbons, is a symbol of the festival's playful and joyful spirit. If a full maypole is not possible, a smaller decorative version or a ribbon-wrapped pole can also serve as a symbol of this tradition.
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.
Cakes & ale
This is for all the kitchen witches out there! As part of your Beltane celebration, prepare a small plate of cakes and a cup of ale or wine. These items are traditionally shared in a symbolic feast. The cakes and ale represent the union of the God and Goddess, and by partaking in them, you affirm your connection to the divine and to the cycle of life.
The cauldron is a symbol of the womb representing the feminine power and is the perfect addition to your Beltane altar. 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.
Remember that your Beltane altar is a deeply personal expression of your spirituality and connection to the season. Feel free to adapt and adjust these suggestions to align with your own beliefs, preferences, and the resources available to you.
Beltane is one of the many Sabbat's pagans celebrate from the Wheel of the Year. Ostara is a time for celebrating the Earth's generosity and rejoicing in the flourishing of new life. To get the most out of celebrating Beltane, check out our blog on Celebrating Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere here.