Simple Ways to Celebrate Beltane
Beltane falls on the 1st May in the northern hemisphere and is considered by many to be one of the most important festivals in the wheel of the year. At Beltane the goddess casts off her maiden robes and becomes the mother while the god leaves behind the irresponsibility and freedom of youth as they join together in marriage. Beltane is a festival of life, fertility, passion and warmth. Spring is well underway with the days growing warmer and new life in the form of animals and plants in abundance. This is a festival filled with happiness and hope for the year ahead and in particular for fertility and growth whether this is for crops and livestock or more personal to us such as in working towards our goals or on self-improvement.
The word Beltane means bel-fire. Bel was a Celtic fire god (also known as Beli, Balor and Belenus) Traditionally bel-fires were lit to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the earth after winter. Fires were built using nine sacred woods (birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir) and the village’s herds of sheep and cattle would be driven between the fires as people believed that this would purify and protect them in the times ahead. These bel-fire were often large and were believed to burn away the last remains of winter, purify and create an energy of vibrancy and power.
Another traditional Beltane celebration saw single men and women would dress in green and spend Beltane night in the woods seeking a partner. Children who were born into partnerships resulting from this practice were considered to be especially blessed in life.
Like Samhain, Beltane is a time at which the veil thins making it a good time for communication between realms. At this time in the wheel of the year the veil between the human and fae worlds is at its thinnest and so you may find it easier to make contact with them at this time or experience more of their mischievous behaviours when they are nearby. Gods known for their sense of humour or fun such as Pan, Puck and Loki can be more easily invoked at the time of Beltane. Fires are often still lit at Beltane and the festival is one of joy celebrating love, rebirth and the return of the summer.
Five Easy Ideas for Celebrating Beltane
Beltane marks the marriage of the god and goddess and is therefore considered the perfect time for feasting and joyous celebration. If the weather is pleasant you could hold your celebration outside, perhaps as a picnic or barbeque with friends and family. This could be held at a local park or woodland or at home in your garden. You do not need to have a lot of space to mark and celebrate this fertility festival. If you prefer your celebration can be held indoors in any form you wish – for example a party or meal with friends or family.
2. Using Fire
If you are unable to light a traditional bel-fire there are still ways to include the element of fire safely and easily. For example you could use a fire pit or chiminea to create a small, safe and manageable fire in an outdoor space. If you are only able to celebrate indoors you could you candles to represent fire. The area around the candles could be decorated with twigs to represent the traditional fires but take to ensure that this will not cause a fire hazard. If you are going to use candles in glass containers or jars, the outside of this can be safely decorated using twigs either by using a hot glue gun to stick them to the container or by holding the twigs in place with ribbon or string. Candles are also a useful way to celebrate discreetly for anyone who cannot be open about their pagan beliefs and practice.
3. Heart Chakra Meditation
As Beltane is a festival connected to passion, joy and love it is a great time to work with our heart chakras. Having an active and balanced heart chakra enables you to be compassionate, loving and understanding towards other people as well as yourself. Meditation and guided meditations are a simple way to work won your heart chakra and many of these can be found online for free, particularly on YouTube. The colours green and pink are closely connected to the heart chakra and colour therapy can be used in chakra balancing by wearing or bringing these colours into your life. Some examples of everyday ways to do this include wearing pink or green clothes or jewellery, burning pink or green candles or eating foods of these colours. If you enjoy working with crystals many of these are beneficial to chakra balancing and healing. A good place to start with this is by choosing stones of the colour associated with the chakra, so for the heart this would be pink and green stones such as rose quartz, green tourmaline, green jade, fuchsite and green aventurine.
4. Planting Seeds
This is a simple way to mark Beltane and can be adapted to suit almost any situation. If you have a garden or outside space you will have lots of options for seeds, bulbs and plants that you can grow. But even if you only have a patio, balcony, a few outside steps, a windowsill or window box or no outside space at all there are still options for plants to grow. Many plants will grow happily inside for example succulents, cacti, aloe vera and some herbs. Seeds and bulbs can be bought in many shops such as supermarkets, DIY shops and garden centres and many are simple to grow and require little care. Some examples of plants to grow at this time of year include:
- Spring onions
5. Take Care of the Environment
One easy way to take care of the place you live and show gratitude to the earth is to go on a litter pick. This can be done anywhere you choose and every little bit helps not only to make the place look tidier and cleaner but to protect the wildlife and plants in the area from harm. You could collect litter on your street or take a visit to a local park, woodland or beach and pick up litter left there. If you attend any groups such as youth or hobby based clubs perhaps it is an activity you could do together to create an even bigger impact. Another option is to think carefully about your own waste and consider ways that you could reduce this or make more environmentally friendly choices.
Food for Beltane
As Beltane is regarded as a time for feasting, food commonly plays a large part in any celebration. Traditional foods eaten at this time include fresh fruits and salads, herbs, seasonal vegetables, cheese, bread and eggs. May wine and mead are also often served.
Easy Beltane Recipes
1 bottle of white wine
½ cup strawberries, sliced
12 sprigs of fresh woodruff
Pour wine into a wide mouthed jug. Add sliced strawberries and woodruff and let sit for a few hours. Strain and serve chilled.
½ lb dandelion greens, torn
½ red onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss together the dandelion greens, onions and tomatoes. Season with basil, salt and pepper.
3 cups of white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. red food colouring
2 tbsp. of edible glitter
Place the sugar, red food colouring and vanilla into a bowl and mix well. Add the glitter and mix to combine. Store in the glass container and use to make special treats and offerings to fae.
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp. rose water
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup honey
2 cups of freshly picked elderflower
1) Mix the egg, rose water and honey in a mixing bowl. Stir in the flour and cinnamon.
2) Fold in the elderflowers.
3) Fry heaped tbsp of the mixture as you would pancakes until golden.
Decorating your Altar for Beltane
Beltane celebrates the fertility of the earth, abundant new life, fire, passion and rebirth. For this festival decorate your altar with greens and bright spring colours. Small pots of daffodils, dandelions and other spring flowers are ideal and these can be cut flowers or growing plants. Many spring flowering bulbs are planted over the winter months so this will require some planning in advance. Eggs and seeds can be used to represent fertility and items that symbolise the god and goddess’ fertility at this time such as antlers, sticks, acorns, cauldrons, cups and circular items such as rings and wreaths can be included in your altar decorations.
Other commonly used symbols of Beltane include May baskets, honey, oats and milk, fruits such as cherries, mangoes and peaches, horns, swords or arrows.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Claire