As the moon starts to rise on the eve of May Day, the festival of fire begins.
One of the two greatest Solar festivals of the year in Celtic tradition, Beltane is a festival of fire. One of the oldest known holidays, the word itself originates from the Celtic sun god “Belenus,” which translates to “the bright one,” and the Gaelic word “teine,” meaning fire. Together, they make “Bright Fire,” which is why people celebrate by lighting bonfires! If you are an #apartmentwitch like many I know, though, or just don’t have access to a firepit, you can gather a cluster of candles to represent! Traditionally all fires in the community were extinguished and a communal fire was made, called the “teine eigin” (fire from rubbing together sticks) and people would jump over it to purify themselves.
Day: May 1st
Color: Green & all the colors of the rainbow
Incense: Rose, Jasmine, Vanilla, Peach
Herbs: Frankincense, St. Johns Wort, Hawthorne, Ivy, Marigold, Rose, Rowan,
Stones: Garnet, Rose Quartz, Malachite, Emerald, Tourmaline
“As the year turns, the land is lush and green. The Green Man has been very busy, enjoying his youth and virility. The Great Mother calls to him, for it is time for the Great Marriage to take place. In the Great Rite that follows, she is once more impregnated for the following Yule.”
How you can honor the holiday
Many customs are prevalent on Beltane, as it is said to be the most joyous of all the Sabbats. People are known to leap the fire for luck, purification and to find love.
Make a Fire
If you are going to create a bonfire, make sure you use any of these nine sacred woods: oak, apple, hawthorn, birch, elder, ash, blackthorn, grape vine, mountain ash (rowan), holly, willow, cedar, yew, and hemlock.
If you do so, you can scatter the ashes of the balefire in the fields as a fertility charm, women wishing to conceive can tie a bag of ashes around their necks.
Dance around a Maypole
Maypoles are one of the most popular traditions of Beltane. It represents the divine marriage between the Lord and Lady. Usually made from Birch, the pole was inserted into the earth, representing the potency of the God, The ring of flowers at the top represent the fertility of the Goddess. It’s many colored ribbons and the ensuing weaving dance represents the spiral of life and the union of the God and Goddess, the union between earth and sky.
“The Maypole represents the phallus of the God. The wreath atop represents the vagina of the Goddess. As the Maypole is danced, the ribbons wind around the pole and the wreath lowers, symbolizing the Divine Marriage, the sexual union of the God and Goddess.” -Yasmine Galenorn, Dancing with the Sun
This is a time to commune in nature, to reenergize and feel renewed! Go A-May-in’ but getting in touch with nature; take a walk in the woods, gather flowers and freshly grown herbs. Take a picnic! Make flower wreaths out of the flowers you pick, and make love in the woods to represent the God and Goddess consummating their passions, bless yourself with the morning dew to renew your youth. Young and old, handfasted or not, traditionally couples spent the night in the woods and fields, and would return with the first May or Hawthorne blossoms to decorate their homes- bringing in Hawthorne at any other time of year was considered bad luck. Everyone was free to enact the sacred marriage of the God and Goddess, and their was an accepted tradition of Beltane babies arriving nine months later.
Remember, this is what is considered the Great Wedding! Dress your best, and wear a flower crown. You can stay out all night, conceive a new project, dress your altar in some GREEN! You can sit with a tree, talk with it, dance around it, and dress it with ribbons, each represents a new wish.
“May is the time of fertility and new beginnings after a long winter. The Faeries are afoot! They dance in the hills and roll in the grass, reveling in the joy of warm May breezes. Our spirits are high with the lust and heartiness of spring. New life is stirring and appetites are keen.” –Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth