Beltane a Festival of Flowers Fertility and Fire
Sweet Summer Days Are on the Way
Beltane, one of the eight pagan holidays is a festival all about fire, fertility and flowers. Originally a Celtic Pagan holiday Beltane or Beltaine has been around for centuries. It is a celebration that begins on the eve of April 30th and goes into the 1st of May. The holiday of the halfway point between Spring and Summer.
Beltane is a little bit about Spring, a lot about Summer. Spring has made its presence of which we are all happy, but the coming days of summer are upon us and that brings a new found joy.
Summer means more warmth, sun and lovely days.
Days drenched in sun brings with it life, heat, passion; the sun being the vitality and life force. It signifies slowing down and enjoying the time around you: shedding of the layers of clothes we need to keep warm in other seasons, a time of romance and romping in the woods, to relax, to enjoy daylight hours after work, and soak up the energy of the sun.
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What is Beltane?
Celtic Pagans from Ireland and Scotland
Beltane comes from Gaelic times and it is a time to celebrate spring in full bloom and the excitement of the summer to come. Its name means both fire and the month of May. It was during this time of year in Ireland and Scotland in which the herd animals were put out to the pastures for grazing and roaming.
Beltane is the opposite holiday of Samhain, more commonly known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. In pagan tradition and belief, Samhain, is a time of the year when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead are at its thinnest. However, this holds true as well with Beltane.
It is a time of year when fairies and other nature spirits are thought to be out and about. Festivities of Beltane included athletic activities, dancing the maypole, walking in the woods, gathering of flowers, jumping fires and expressing passion and love for another.
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Flowers, Fire and Fertility
Flowers are an important part of Beltane. Spring has been doing its work and nurtured the buds and seedlings of the flowers.
During Beltane the flowers are in full bloom, bright in color, fragrance and life. They are complete, open and ready to receive adoration.
Many maidens would wear a flower crown on their heads or leis around their necks. The men would do this also and would pin a bouquet of flowers on the door of the maiden they fancied.
It is tradition to pick, buy, decorate with or wear flowers. Flowers are a symbol of life, coming into blossom, opening up and showing off your colors.
It is about attraction, in a round about way; butterflies, birds and bees are all attracted to the sweet nectar of flowers and in Beltane represent the maidens.
Spring brought about new life and buds, Beltane is proof that the sun has matured it. Feeding them until they have fully blossomed, a sign in Gaelic Celtic Pagan times that summer was arriving.
Fire is an important and constant representation throughout paganism that symbolizes the sun; very powerful and a life giving force. On the eve of Beltane bonfires are lit where rituals, dancing and feasting occurs. It is custom to have two bonfires lit so that a dance between the two of them could occur. This was done to keep the dead or veil between the two worlds from opening, to provide protection and successful ventures in the coming summer. Often times cattle or other herd animals would be driven between the two lit bonfires as well to protect them from the spirits.
Young lads would jump fires to show their virility and impress the maidens. It was also a tradition to circle the bonfire 3 times clockwise. This was and is believed to bring luck. Many will burn incense in the fire or anoint it with oils.
The Bel fire is believed to bring healing and protection. Many will use the ashes from the fire to scatter on their fields or smudge it on their faces after it has died down.
Springtime is all about fertility and Beltane being the third and last holiday during spring it is still a main focus. The fertility during Beltane is expressed with the flowers and fire but also with couples coming together. Many would take a walk in the woods together, men openly showed who they had an affection for and some began planning for hand tying rituals (a form of marriage).
Backyard Bonfire - A Great Fire Pit
Whether you practice paganism or not there is something so magical about lighting a bonfire in your backyard. Sitting around with friends and families while sharing stories, it creates a warm atmosphere where memories are made.
It is a long standing tradition to dance the May pole on the day of Beltane. A pole is erected, crowned with a wreath of flowers and long ribbons attached to the top of it.
Ladies and lads dance around the pole each holding a ribbon weaving in and out of each other as the pole becomes wrapped by the ribbons. Children also enjoy riding their hobby horses around the Maypole.
Some areas have still have permanent Maypoles from days of yore while others put the pole up on Beltane Eve. The pole symbolizes the male conduit into the Mother Earth. Dancing, singing, and feasting around the pole symbolized a giving of energy to the womb of the earth to bring a full awakening and fruitfulness to all.
Have You, Would You, Want to Dance the May Pole?
Symbols and Properties of Beltane
Gemstones, Colors, Herbs
Symbols, Gemstones and Herbs that have particular strength during Beltane are....
Symbols - May Pole, Chalices, Flowers, Baskets Full of Flowers, Candles.
Colors - White and dark green are favorites. However, all colors of the rainbow are associated to this holiday. The difference between the colors of spring and summer is the hue or richness of it. Beltane and summer is not about pastel colors as spring is, rather more it is the deep, rich, full blown hues of the rainbow colors.
Herbs and Plants - A short list - Primrose, Vanilla, Rosemary, Lilac, Marigold and Daisies.
Gemstones - Bloodstones, Sapphires, Black Onyx and Carnelians (as shown above)
Decorating Your Home or Altar for Beltane
Since Beltane is about the sun, flowers, fire and fertility I would suggest decorating your home and altar with fresh flowers, candles and any objects you wish to give intention or remembrance to.
There is no real rule as to how to decorate your altar. It is a personal choice, what resonates and means something to you. Yes of course honoring it with the colors and natural properties is wonderful but not limited to that.
Place objects that hold great memories of summers past, to put the intention out of a wonderful summer. Change your flowers often to suit your mood and the summer .
Add photos of loved ones present and past.
Have candles present - when lighting them think of something or someone you already planted a seed of at spring to really begin to flourish. Anoint them with oil made of proper herbs.
Also include an item (picture, symbol or written words) that will encourage relaxtion, enjoyment and time spent leisurely. Remember, that many times in order to solve problems, create new ideas or free our minds we need to shut off, stop, take a deep breath. Summer means less work, stress and long hours, take advantage of it for it does not last for long.
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