The Beginning of Summer
At sundown on April 30th until the end of sundown on May 1st we celebrate Beltane, our second biggest fire festival. This festival marks the beginning of summer as well as a time for us to celebrate love, joy, magic, fertility and romance. Its main deities are the May Queen and her counterpart, the Green Man. While the Queen represents flowers and fertility, the Green Man represents nature. Together they are a perfect representation of Beltane.
Much like Samhain in October, the Beltane fire festival is celebrated with bonfires and symbolizes a turning of seasons. However Samhain is a celebration of the dead, while Beltane is a celebration of the living. Like its counterpart, Beltane celebrations feature a veil between worlds that thins during this time. But instead of reaching over into the world of the dead (as it does during Samhain), this open veil grants us access to the land of the fey so that we may focus on celebrating life and joy.
While there are many different ways to celebrate Beltane, I’ve picked out a few you might enjoy…
Create Your Own Maypole
Traditionally the Maypole dance was a way to ensure fertility of the lands and also its people. Originally this was made with a birch or elm tree bark and featured colorful ribbons streaming down in all directions for everyone to grab as they danced around the pole to invoke its energy.
Make a mini-maypole from a stray branch, PVC pipe, broom handle or even an old roll of wrapping paper! Attach multi-colored ribbons to the top so they cascade down around your pole. Put on some music, grab a ribbon and dance your heart out! Can’t find anything to make a Maypole from? Something symbolic is just as powerful. Use a white pillar candle and attach the ribbons around it. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Another option is to make a wreath of flowers to wear in your hair. These were normally placed atop the Maypole and also worn by the dancers below.
Turn Up the Romance
Beltane is a time for lovers rendezvous and romantic gestures. Here are some ways to revel in this energy for the Sabbat. However please use caution with your respective partners as this holiday is also a time of fertility. Be safe!
- Kick up the romance in the bedroom with some silk sheets, scented linens or a seductive trail of rose petals in a trail up to and across your bed. What happens after that is up to you…
- Share a glass of wine and a decadent treat with your special someone
- Create a space for love on your alter. Include red & white candles, rose quartz, or the flowers of your choice. Perhaps include a stature of the Green Man (or his counterpart the May Queen) surrounded by flowers to symbolize the nature of the season.
What better way to help bring in the season than to make a stunning flower bouquet? Each flower and color has its own symbolism and represents a different energy. Use these definitions as a guide or simply choose the flowers that look the most beautiful to you. Start with a larger flower in the center as a focal point and then build the bouquet by adding smaller flowers around it. A great way to keep it all together.
Have a Bonfire
Celebrate Beltane with fire! After all it is at its core, a fire festival. Light up your fire pit, your indoor fireplace or even an arrangement of candles if that’s your only available option. In times past the fire was meant to be leapt over in order to provide protection for those who flew over the flames. Unless you’re working with small candle I wouldn’t recommend this part of the ritual. Instead perhaps you could gaze upon the flames from your respective fire and receive whatever messages they have for you this Sabbat. If the mood strikes, you can also opt to play some music and dance around the flames of the fire as wild and free as you like. (As always, please remember to exercise caution when working with the fire element.)
Take a Hike
Literally! Beltane is a time to commune with nature. What better way to do than than to get out in the great wide open and take a hike? If you don’t want to go that big, the park or local botanical gardens are great backup options. You can even pause during your time in nature to meditate and ask for messages from the Green Man if you like. If you happen to make it out to a hike where there are flowers, you could consider picking a few to make a beautiful head wreath or try your hand at a tussie-mussie.