If you're familiar with our shoppe, you know I have an infinite passion for the Pagan Wheel/Sabbats, seasonal correspondences, & lore! Beltane is one of my favorite Sabbats (I know, I say this every Sabbat), as Beltane is packed with cultural traditions, meanings, & symbolism. It is the direct opposite of Samhain, as one of the four cross quarter holidays (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, & Samhain), marking a halfway point between seasons, or a hinge if you will. Along with Samhain, it is one of the largest fire festivals in the Pagan Wheel & a point at which the veil has thinned between the physical realm & the Otherworld. This is a time of heightened spirituality & magic; the fairies have entered our realm to play their tricks &/or bring good luck & blessings & the God & Goddess have converged, bringing with them blessings of universal knowledge & fertility. The duality of this sacred holiday (physical & ethereal realms/male & female energy) creates a great convergence of energy, providing a spiritual nexxus for enhancing our own magical strength & for communicating with our ancestors for guidance AND proving that Nature is inclusive of all genders, non-genders, & sexuality & can utilize all of these energies to flourish. The deities I look to most during this time are Danu & Bel. Danu is often considered the Mother goddess or Mother of Irish gods & goddesses (she is also known as the goddess of the rivers & earthly waters). One lore says that she arrived with Bel, the Sun god, to Ireland on Beltane & celebrated their union on the same day, giving birth to all of the Irish gods & goddesses. The Natural elements of both of them, coupled with their traditional lore, makes them a great representation of Beltane.
As a cross quarter between the Spring & Summer Solstices, Beltane marks the time at which the sun is rising to its highest point in the sky. The weather has gotten warmer, animals have fully returned from hibernation, & the things that were seeded during Imbolc & nurtured in the Spring are in full growth. In Nature, this is a time to honor the Sun for giving us its energy to light our way, warm our bodies & spirits, enliven our minds, & help us & the Earth grow. It is a time of high energy, celebration, & delight in Nature. In fact, the Celtics & many other cultures honored the trees during Beltane, including the sacred Hawthorn, which are also known for being trees of the fairies & often seen as the Tree of Life. In some lore, the Hawthorn tree is the doorway between the two realms & should be held sacred. If foraging from a Hawthorn tree, always leave offerings to the fairies to avoid their mischevious ways. Hanging ribbon from the Hawthorn tree or any trees is a great way to honor their strength & beauty, & as a form of gratitude for the fruit/flowers they bear. The Maypole is also a representation of the sacred Tree, as was often made of a tree trunk or rood decorated in various foliage, flowers, & ribbon.
May 1st is the start of Beltane, but in Germanic countries, Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht is celebrated with a bonfire & feast on April 30th to ring in the beginning of summer. In some cultures, this was also the time in which they would dance around the Maypole & crown a May Queen to ring in the festivities of Beltane. *There are many variations of Walpurgisnacht & Hexennacht in Germanic cultures. In Ancient times, feasts were often a celebratory event & represented sustenance & fullness of our bodies & the Earth, so it's no wonder many fire festivals ring in the season with a giant feast of livestock, fruits & crop, honeycakes, & wine or Meade. You can also build a fire or light your fireplace to bless your home/hearth for the season to come & to represent the sun in all it warmth & glory.
Beacause of these many representations, along with honoring Nature, Beltane can help us to accomplish several things: reawaken from our own hibernation, allow room for growth of our ideas & selves, connect with our primordial selves through nature, create bonds & connections, open oneself for emotional healing & love, show ourselves self-love & care, & to let our passions & creativity flourish.
You can celebrate Beltane in a myriad of ways that feel right to you, your intentions, & your goals. One of my go-to rituals for all occasions is a ritual bath. Baths are great for symbolizing cleansing & for cleansing oneself prior to ritual, as to not "allow any negative energy into one's space". They are also a good way to start your Beltane or initiate ritual because you can meditate on your personal intentions. What is it you want to accomplish this season? Do you want to bond with Nature, your ancestors, yourself, & or someone specific? Do you want to exhibit the season in your altar, yourself, or your creativity? How will you connect to all that Beltane represents?
Another simple way to celebrate Beltane, especially if you don't have a fireplace or the ability to build a bonfire, is through candle magic. You can light various candle colors that represent Beltane, depending on your intention. For instance, you can light a yellow or gold candle to represent the sun, summer, joy, & warmth. You can light a green candle to represent the Green Man, Nature, growth, & abundance. You can light a red candle for love, passion, & creativity. And you can always light a white candle for cleansing & peace or in replacement of any other candle color. When you light your candle, speak to it your intentions for the season. Tell the candle directly what you wish to accomplish in yourself &/or the world. Let the candle burn to completion, while meditating or journaling on the various ways you can accomplish your goals.
There are other, more complex rituals that can be done during this time, as well. For instance, because of the representation of the convergence of the god & goddess at this time, sex magic is prominent during this time. Sex magic can be accomplished several different ways: 1. with a lover for fortifying a connection or bond, 2. with oneself for helping to instill self-love, awareness, & confidence, & 3. with the purpose of conceiving a child. There are various ways to go about this, but one way is to light a red candle for passion & love, pink for self-love, & white or green for fertility while having sex. You can also speak your intentions specifically before having sex, like "Let us fortify our bond & strengthen our relationship" or manifest intention through the release of an orgasm. *Always practice with care & with the consent of any one else involved.
The simplest way to celebrate Beltane is to create an altar. An altar is a good way to not only offer things to Nature & the gods or goddesses, but to also connect to the natural elements of the season. You can decorate your Beltane altar with very bright, vibrant colors, flames, cauldrons, maypoles, flowers, representations of the god & goddess, oak leaves, stones, & deer antlers. You can also add anything specific to your intentions for the season. For instance, if you're looking for emotional healing, you might decorate your altar in pink & red candles, Rhodonite, Rose Quartz, the sun symbol, & other things that transport you into a place of peace & resilience. If looking to attract abundance, you might place coins on your altar or Malachite, honey jars, & so on.
All of these ideas are very basic for celebrating & honoring the Beltane season, but there are so many ways to participate & connect to the seasons. Tomorrow, I will post 2-3 specific rituals one can practice during Beltane.
For now, blessed Walpurgis Night & have a most nurturing, passionate, & abundant Beltane!