Beltane is a time of hope!
It is about dreams! It is about your aspirations and manifestation. I call it the fire life festival!
With the global pandemic in our lives, I can’t think of a better time to look at what you would like to create and bring into being.
Beltane Friday May 1, 2020
It would be celebrated at sunset on April 30th until sunset May 1st.
Beltane celebrates life. It represents the pinnacle of Spring in all its glory and the emergence of Summer. Earth energy is like a tornado. The energy is at its height – active and forceful. It is bursting with the potent, active energy of fertility. On the Wheel of the Year, that forceful energy becomes conception. This is about expansive, abundant energy at its brightest.
It activates abundant fertility in all areas of our life. The Maiden goddess at her fullest. She is Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the expression of growth and renewal or the May Queen. She is the May Bride.
Her partner in the Green Man, the young fresh oak King, the Jack in the Green who falls in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage.
This union is consummated, and the May Bride becomes pregnant.
Together the May King and May Queen are symbols of the Sacred Connection, the union of earth and sky or Heiros Gamos. For millennia, this celebration has been playing out over and over.
This one night is about passion, kundalini energy, sensuality, sexuality, the fierce joy of life and feeling connected.
This is a dazzling moment in the Wheel of the Year to manifest ideas, dreams, hopes, etc.
Traditions of Beltane
Beltane is a Fire Festival. The word ‘Beltane’ originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire. Together they make ‘Bright Fire’, or ‘Goodly Fire’ and traditionally bonfires were lit to honour the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. Bel had to be won over through human effort. Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. “This was the Tein-eigen, the need fire. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, the villagers would take some of the Teineigen to start their fires anew.” (From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred) Green Man – Beltane
As Beltane is the Great Wedding of the Goddess and the God, it is a popular time for pagan weddings or Handfastings, a traditional betrothal for ‘a year and a day’ after which the couple would either choose to stay together or part without recrimination. Today, the length of commitment is a matter of choice for the couple, and can often be for life. Handfasting ceremonies are often unique to the couple, but include common elements, most importantly the exchange of vows and rings (or a token of their choice). The act of handfasting always involves tying the hands Handfasting (‘tying the knot’) of the two people involved, in a figure of eight, at some point in the ceremony and later unbinding. This is done with a red cord or ribbon. Tying the hands together symbolises that the two people have come together and the untying means that they remain together of their own free will. (From: The Goddess and the Green Man)
Jumping the Broomstick
Another common element is ‘jumping the broomstick’ – this goes back to a time when two people who could not afford a church ceremony, or want one, would be accepted in the community as a married couple if they literally jumped over a broom laid on the floor. The broom marked a ‘threshold’, moving from an old life to a new one.
Foods of Beltane
Mead and cakes are often shared in communion as part of the ceremony. Mead is known as the Brew of the Divine, made from honey which is appropriate for a love ceremony (and is the oldest alcoholic drink known to humankind). I am not a fan of Mead. You can substitute another wine or fruit juice in celebration. Think of a little sweeter.
Handfasting or not, both young and old went A-Maying… Couples spent the night in the woods and fields, made love and brought back armfuls of the first May or haw thorn blossoms to decorate their homes and barns. Hawthorn was never brought into the home except at Beltane – at other times it was considered unlucky. Young women gathered the dew to wash their faces, made Flower Crowns and May Baskets to give as gifts. Everyone was free to enact the Sacred Marriage of Goddess and God, and there was an accepted tradition of Beltane babies arriving nine months later…
The Maypole is a popular and familiar image of May Day and Beltane. A phallic pole, often made from birch, was inserted into the Earth representing the potency of the God. The ring of flowers at the top of the Maypole represents the fertile Goddess. Its many colored ribbons and the ensuing weaving dance symbolize the spiral of Life and the union of the Goddess and God, the union between Earth and Sky.
The Colors of Beltane
The colors of Beltane are green, red and white/silver. Green represents growth, abundance and fertility. Red represents strength, vitality, passion and vibrancy. White represents cleansing and clearing and the power to disperse negativity.
Things To Do
Whatever you do, remember this is the Great Wedding! Dress in your best, especially in green, and wear a flower crown.
Stay out all night, gathering the green, watch the sunrise and make love. Wash your face in the morning dew.
Conceive a new project, grasp that idea, and get on with it.
Dress your home and/or altar with greenery – especially with hawthorn, rowan and birch branches. Ask permission from the tree before you take anything.
Dress a tree. This is the perfect time to go out and celebrate a tree. Especially a hawthorn, rowan or birch – but the tree spirit will welcome your attention whichever kind of tree it is. Sit with it, talk to it, dance around it (maypole), honor the tree and its fertility. Hang ribbons from its branches, each ribbon represents a wish or prayer.
Flowers, flowers and more flowers. This is the festival of Flora. Make a flower crown to wear – the daisy chain in the simplest of all. Make a traditional flower basket. fill it with Beltane greenery and all the flowers and herbs you can find. Think about, and honour, their magical and healing properties while you do so. Give it someone you love.
Make some Hawthorn Brandy. You will need a bottle of brandy and at least one cup of hawthorn flowers, plus a little sugar to taste. Mix the ingredients together and leave away from direct light, for at least two weeks. Shake occasionally. Strain, bottle and enjoy. Hawthorn is renowned as a tonic for the heart.
Trees of Beltane
Hawthorn is a deeply magical tree and is one of the three trees at the heart of the Celtic Tree Alphabet, the Faery Triad, ‘by Oak, Ash and Thorn’. Traditionally Beltane began when the Hawthorn, the May, blossomed. It is the tree of sexuality and fertility and is the classic flower to decorate a Maypole with. It was both worn and used to decorate the home at Beltane.
Birch is regarded as a feminine tree and Deities associated with Birch are mostly love and fertility goddesses. It is one of the first trees to show its leaf in Spring. Eostre/Ostara, the Celtic goddess of Spring was celebrated in festivities and dancing around and through the birch tree between the Spring Equinox and Beltane. Birch twigs were traditionally used to make besoms (a new broom sweeps clean). Maypoles were often made from birch and birch wreaths were given as lover’s gifts.
A tree of protection and healing. Branches of Rowan were placed as protection over the doors of houses and barns at Beltane to protect from increased Faery activity as they woke from their winter slumber. Sprigs were worn for protection also. Rowan berries have a tiny five-pointed star on the bottom reminiscent of the pentagram.
Colors of Beltane
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(The above information is from: The Goddess and the Green Man)