Honor the Old Ways with these Beltane Traditions

Beltane, or May Day, is the time we honor fire and fertility, welcoming the warmth of the summer ahead. It falls halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice, while the earth’s energies are potent and active. All around us are signs of spring’s beauty and growth, and as the days lengthen, we awaken to our own dreams and desires. Directly opposite Samhain on the wheel of the year, Beltane is also a time when the veil between the worlds becomes thin. Lofty visions and manifestations are particularly effective during these times, as our connection to the ancestors and spirits guiding us is quite strong. Beltane is also the time to connect with the faerie realm.

The history of Beltane celebrations are rich, and you are sure to find some that resonate with you. Here are some suggestions as to how we can honor the old ways:

FIRE: Bonfires were the central element of Beltane; fires were lit to purify and protect all those around them. Cattle were driven between two fires before being turned out to pasture for the grazing season, in hopes they would stay strong and fertile. Hearths were extinguished, later to be re-lit from the communal fire to spread safekeeping to each household. The smoke and embers of the fires were said to have magickal qualities, and people would leap over a fire to receive its’ blessings.

To modernize the ritual, we can use a fireplace or fire pit, or even candles or a cauldron fire using incense or sage to enhance our smoke blessings. The element of fire can help us to ignite and expedite our intentions, so incorporate it in whatever capacity you can [safely.] Write your intentions on a piece of Magic Flash Spell Paper and throw into your cauldron fire to release intentions to the universe.

COMMITMENT: Beltane was and continues to be a popular time for handfastings, or pagan wedding ceremonies. Some May Day rituals include a union of the may queen and may lord, representing the union of god and goddess, or divine feminine and masculine.

Choose a commitment of personal significance to you - be it to yourself via your spiritual practice or artistic endeavors, a wellness or educational goal, a financial vision, or of course committing yourself to another. This is the perfect time to dedicate and nurture to success any partnership or undertaking.

FLOWERS: Decorating with flowers has always been a part of Beltane traditions. Adorn your windows and doorways with flowers, as they did in the olden times. May bushes [usually a thorny bush] were decorated with flowers, ribbons, shells, and lights in order to appease the faerie folk. Great care was taken to make offerings to the faeries [known in Celtic mythology as aos si], as they were believed to be a supernatural presence with great influence on the villages prosperity. Crowns made of spring flowers were often worn at maypole dances and can be made with either fresh or silk flowers intertwined around a headband or wire. May baskets of gathered spring flowers were given to loved ones or those in need of kind blessings. Plant flowering seeds in either a garden plot or pots to parallel your blossoming manifestations.

SENSUALITY: Couples were sent out into the woods on the eve of Beltane, to make love in nature. Morning dew was collected to anoint oneself and enhance beauty. The fiery energy of the festivities encourages us to be passionate and flirtatious. This is a great time to practice your sex magick! Raise your vibrations by dressing up, dancing, allowing yourself to feel free and sexual.

THE MAYPOLE: A festive dance around the maypole - a phallic symbol of male virility-is one of the most colorful and joyous Beltane traditions. Ribbons are tied to the top of the maypole, and male and female dancers weave in and out from opposing directions with them. The end result is a beautiful wrapped pole, said to be the feminine energy surrounding the male in true union. While erecting a pole for the maypole gathering may not be realistic for all, you can make a miniature maypole with a wooden paper towel stand, or a small mounted dowel. Attach multi-colored ribbons to the top, and adorn it with a small flower wreath. You can enjoy crafting while you create a mini maypole to enjoy each season.

Any way you choose to honor the Beltane traditions, you celebrate the growth of everything beautiful on earth and your own realized passions.

May your fires burn bright this season!

Until next time witches, blessed be!