Aside from Samhain this is perhaps the most widely anticipated Pagan Celebration of the Year. Beltane and Samhain share a synergy that is unlike no other. Perhaps it’s because both are gateways into a specific time of year, and we know that gateways are Sacred & Laden with Magick. Whereas Samhain is Death, Beltane is Life & each are celebrated with fervor.
What is Beltane?
Beltane is the OFFICIAL beginning of the Light half of the Year. You might be asking, well then what was Imbolg? Think of Imbolg as the beginning of the end of winter. At Beltane, the Cherry trees have surely already blossomed, the tulips & hyacinth have given way to foxgloves, pansies, dianthus & Rose. The Crops are beginning to burst forth from the earth but are still tender and need lots of looking after in their beginnings & Our animal brethren have surely given birth by now – the earth is literally teeming with life. And this is what we are here to celebrate. The official entrance into the Light Half of the Year and the LIFE that we are literally watching being born. ‘Tis a Beautiful, Magickal time.
What was Beltane to the Ancient Celts & How did they celebrate?
To the ancient Celts of the British Isles, Beltane served about the same purpose it does for us modern Pagans. Typically at Beltane, the clans separated as it was time for the herds to be taken to summer pastures, and that wasn’t always necessarily close to home. Beltane was one last hoorah together until it was time to bring the herds home in the autumn. During Beltane, massive bonfires were built , some sources even claim that in areas where there was a druid presence they would build the bonfires with “many incantations”. The primary purpose these bonfires served was that of blessings & bestowing protection. The herds were driven between or around the fires in order to protect them from disease before they went to pasture. Young children were often carried over the fire by their fathers as well for the same purpose, as it was often women who would accompany the herds with their children to pasture while the men stayed home and farmed.
The focus of Beltane even to the ancients was the virility & fertility of the earth at this time.
How can We Observe & Celebrate Beltane Today?
If You’re a social person, I encourage you to seek out Beltane Festivals in your local area. Many areas have them and they are often times three day camping extravaganzas that include games, bonfires, vendors, dancing, rituals, performances & workshops. Go to http://witchvox.com/ and select your state from the left menu bar, then select events. Most folks who are hosting events will list them on witchvox.
Of course there is also plenty you can do at home before the big festival!
*Make a Beltane Altar! My Beltane Altars are always my favorite of the year, they tend to be super feminine with shades of light pink, whites, green, lace and lots of Roses. Witch Tip: depending on the size of your altar, a yard of cloth from joanne fabrics is much cheaper than buying “altar” cloths online and you can choose from a huge variety of fabrics! I always layer mine with a solid under cover and a lace/mesh or faux fur runner/overcloth.
We created our Beltane Candles to grace your beautiful altar in shades of Reds & White, We chose these colors as they are classic and traditional colors associated with Beltane. Red represents Passion, fire, joy, renewal, energy, health & desire. White corresponds to transformation, enlightenment, connection to higher self & purification. They’re also available as part of our Beltane Ritual Set.
* Grab a basket and go gather flowers in your local park or forest. It’s long been a custom to do this on Beltane and use those flowers to decorate your home in the form of garlands, wreaths & bouquets.
* Have a Bonfire!! Beltane would NOT be complete without a bonfire. If you have the ability to make a fire in your yard, in any shape or form, do it. Dance around that fire. Chant around that fire. Cast spells around that fire. Rub yourself...and a friend ;) down around that fire with The Rite Perfume to invoke the sexy energies of Beltane.
Traditionally, the bale fire was lit with a bundle made from the nine sacred woods and wrapped with colorful fabric. While it would be hard to get those 9 types within your local area perhaps, we included the leaves of 4 of these 9 sacred woods in our Beltane herbal mix for your bonfire Pleasure, which we will be including as a free gift in orders this month.
* Build a Faerie Garden. Beltane is loaded with Lore about the Fae so if you choose to work with these spirits Beltane is no better day to start. Make sure you add a source of water and some wind chimes, the fae are very attracted to these elements! I made an oil to assist those choosing to work in the fae realm called Faerie Magick, a potent blend of no less than 12 flowering plants associated with the fae.
* Maypole dancing! If you can’t/choose to not hit up a local festival for some maypole dancing, fear not, you can still incorporate this into your celebration by making one for your altar.
For this you’ll need the following:
Use the hot glue gun to attach the dowel rod to the center of the wooden circle. Once the glue has dried, you can stain or paint the wood if you choose. Attach the ribbons to the top of the dowel rod.
Use the Maypole as a centerpiece on your altar. You can braid the ribbons as a meditation tool, or include it in ritual. Optional: add a small floral crown around the bottom to represent the feminine fertility of the Sabbat.
Have a Blessed and Wild Beltane, Wild Ones.
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