A Wicca Beltane Ritual: Celebrating the Workers on May Day
A Wicca Beltane Ritual
Beltane is a major holiday in Wicca on the Wheel of the Year, and it was derived from ancient fertility festivals. The Druids used to build bonfires and the Celts would drive the cattle between them to bless the precious livestock. They’d also perform rites and rituals to bless the newly planted crops and the land. All these things were vital to people’s survival.
For more on celebrating Beltane, please look here.
Perhaps it is no surprise that Beltane, otherwise known as May Day, is also International Worker's Day.
This is not a “traditional” association for Beltane, but it’s one that I find particularly moving and poignant. Beltane comes in the midst of what would normally be a very busy season for those living off the land. The majority of us no longer keep cows or crops for our survival. We have to work to ensure a livelihood. Whether it’s getting your hands dirty, or just getting through the daily bump and grind at the office, we all work with the hopes of reaping the fruits of our labor, and prospering from our efforts.
In that spirit, this ritual, which can be adapted for groups or for solitaries, revolves around honoring the Gods, the land, as well as the workers.
Perfect Maypole for Beltane
For This Beltane Ritual You'll Need
any alter tools desired (candles, incense, etc.)
Maypole w/ 1 ribbon per participant
no Maypole - 3 ribbons per participant, about 1 yard in length each
Ritual drink in a chalice
bread (rolls, biscuits, cookies, cakes, etc.)
Great Beltane Jewelry:
Beltane Ritual Notes
If you have a standard ritual opening and closing, feel free to substitute them.
There are two ways to weave ribbons in this ritual:
- The first is to dance the Maypole, in which every individual dancer will need one long ribbon attached to the pole.
- The second is to give each individual participant 3 ribbons (about 1 yard in length each). The individual will make a knot at the top to join the 3 ribbons together, then braid them.
On the ribbons that you weave, whether on the maypole or in a braid, write your desires revolving around work: safe and healthy conditions, a fair employer, fair compensation, reasonable hours, success, job growth or whatever issue is important to you.
Beltane Ritual Opening
We gather on this day (night) to celebrate Beltane—the great fertility festival. It is a time when the God and Goddess unite! The spring and early summer was a time of hard labor for our ancient Pagan ancestors. Beltane is a time that represents tending to your livelihood and prosperity. It’s a time to recognize that you put your hands in the dirt to sow and nurture your own future, and to remember that the Gods are ever-present in our lives, giving us the tools that we need – both internal and external -- to get the job done.
Cast circle if desired, and perform any cleansing and consecration rites desired.
Invoke the Elements at the Quarters using these or your own words:
Everyone turns to the South:
Powers of the South; Spirit of the Element of Fire
You who heats the smith’s metal,
Who warms the farmer’s fields,
Who brings power to our homes and offices,
Who inspires the artists and impassions the warriors,
We call you to bring your illumination to our rites!
Everyone turns to the West:
Powers of the West; Spirit of the Element of Water,
You who hold the fills the brewers tank,
Who quenches the farmer’s crops,
Who cleanses our bodies and possessions,
Who inspires the poet and impassions the caregivers,
We call you to bring your depth to our rites!
Everyone turns to the North:
Powers of the North; Spirit of the Element of Air,
You who push the fisherman’s sails,
Who turns the farmer’s windmills,
Who cools and freshens the air we breathe,
Who inspires the orator and impassions the scholar,
We call you to bring your clarity to our rites!
Everyone turns to the East:
Powers of the East; Spirit of the Element of Earth,
You who forms the mason’s bricks,
Who brings fertility to the farmer’s plants,
Who feeds our bodies and gives us materials goods,
Who inspires the builder and impassions the innovator,
We call you to bring your stability to our rites!
Invoke the Deities:
Invoke the deities of Your Choice. Agricultural deities are of course appropriate, as are any personal deities you may have that relate to your profession.
Stand before the altar and say:
We celebrate the greening of the land.
We celebrate the lengthening of days.
We celebrate the merging of the God and Goddess.
We celebrate the Elements, which provide us with the building blocks
So that we can survive, with the potential to thrive.
We celebrate Beltane, the Season of life! The season of Growth! The season of Efforts!
This season teaches us to have faith, in that if we sow our seeds and tend our crops, we will reap the rewards.
Wicca Beltane Celebration
Suggested Reading for Beltane
I find this reading appropriate, but you may do whatever chanting, songs, readings, recitals, etc. that you find appropriate.
The Worker's Maypole, by Walter Crane (1894 -- public domain poem)
World Workers, whatever may bind ye,
This day let your work be undone:
Cast the clouds of the winter behind ye,
And come forth and be glad in the sun.
Now again while the green earth rejoices
In the bud and the blossom of May
Lift your hearts up again, and your voices,
And keep merry the World's Labour Day.
Let the winds lift your banners from far lands
With a message of strife and of hope:
Raise the Maypole aloft with its garlands
That gathers your cause in its scope.
It is writ on each ribbon that flies
That flutters from fair Freedom's heart:
If still far be the crown and the prize
In its winning may each take a part.
Your cause is the hope of the world,
In your strife is the life of the race,
The workers' flag Freedom unfurled
Is the veil of the bright future's face.
Be ye many or few drawn together,
Let your message be clear on this day;
Be ye birds of the spring, of one feather
In this--that ye sing on May-Day.
Of the new life that still lieth hidden,
Though its shadow is cast before;
The new birth of hope that unbidden
Surely comes, as the sea to the shore.
Stand fast, then, Oh Workers, your ground,
Together pull, strong and united:
Link your hands like a chain the world round,
If you will that your hopes be requited.
When the World's Workers, sisters and brothers,
Shall build, in the new coming years,
A lair house of life--not for others,
For the earth and its fulness is theirs.
Buy a Maypole!
You don't have to go without a Maypole for Beltane!
Dance, or Braid, As the Case May Be
If you have a large gathering of people who are dancing around the maypole, you may begin the dance now.
If you are not having a maypole dance, then all participants should take three ribbons and tie the tops together and begin weaving.
Remember, whether weaving around the maypole or weaving ribbons with your own to hands, weave your energy into it— your dreams for your hard work to eventually pay off.
Drumming and chanting can certainly help raise energy.
A good chant you might consider looking up is the poem Chant for May Day by Langston Hughes. Because it is still under copyright, I can’t reprint it here, but you’ll find a version if you click this link.
When the weaving is finished, dedicate the maypole, or your braided ribbons, say:
We dedicate this pole (or woven cord) to the Goddess and God;
May you bless honest workers and their contributions to society,
Let the seeds they plant – both literal and figurative – sprout and flourish
So that the fruits of their labor may grow,
And all of the world may prosper from their efforts!
The Great Rite
The Great Rite & Simple Feast
No Beltane celebration is complete without the Great Rite—the symbolic union of God and Goddess. Traditionally a male would take up the blade and a woman would take up the chalice. Don’t get hung up on gender, though—two women or two men can also perform it.
If you are a solitary, take the blade in one hand and the chalice in the other. Say:
The blade is to the Father
As the cup is to the Mother
Neither is lesser nor greater than the other
Together, they join to become one
And through their Union, all things come forth!
The person holding the knife inserts it into the cup. The ritual drink is now blessed. Everyone may take a sip, passing the cup along to each person with the wish, “May you never thirst.”
Bless the bread now. Take up a piece of bread and hold it up. Say:
The Goddess provides the womb
The God provides the seed
The Elements provide the fundamentals
The animals provide the milk and eggs
The farmer provides the grains
The miner provides the fuel
The factory workers provide the tools
The baker provides the product
The driver provides the transportation
The merchant provides the means of transaction
The consumer provides the payment
We all participate in the cycle
That maintain and sustain life
None are greater; none are lesser
When we share the burden, and share the fruits
We all prosper and thrive.
And so this bread, the result of our joint efforts, is blessed.
Break the bread and begin to distribute it to others with the wish, “May you never hunger.”
Don’t forget to give a libation to the Gods, and any other spirits you wish. This can be poured out directly into the ground, or into a libation dish if the ritual is being performed indoors.
Closing the Beltane Ritual
After you finish the feast you may wish to linger, sing, chant, dance and make merry. When you’re ready, bid farewell to the Gods and the Elements, one at a time (just as you invoked them one at a time).
Some simple words such as:
Great God/dess (Element of Air, Fire, Water, etc.), we thank you for your presence in our circle today. We thank you for showering your blessings upon us. May you go in peace, with our eternal devotion, so mote it be!
Take up the circle and declare the ritual over:
The circle is open, but never broken!
I hope you enjoy this ritual and find it as exciting as I do. May you have a blessed Beltane.
© 2014 Mackenzie Sage Wright