“On the night of Beltane the fires shall burn, to usher in the Sun king and welcome his return. Hand in hand the Lord and Lady sing, joy upon the land and gifts they shall bring.” (Author unknown). Many chants and songs have been written and sung for the celebration of the sacred fertility rites. So much joy and happiness revolve around this ancient Gaelic Fire Festival.
Grab a rose quartz, pink and red flowers, a red candle and think of the love of your life! Now is the time to create! Create! Create! As one of the ancient fire festivals, Beltaine was the time to honor fertility and the cultivation of our ideas, families and crops. Held on May 1st, at midpoint between spring and summer, Beltaine is one of the eightfold turnings of the wheel of the year and great feasts and ceremonies were held at this time. It is Gaelic in origin and is one of the sacred rites of passage.
In Gaelic, Celtic and Germanic traditions, your cattle was not only a symbol of your wealth but represented your sustainability. The health of the cattle was vital to the communities and households. At Beltaine, bonfires were built and the cattle would be walked around the fires or between them to ensure blessings of health and protection. The smoke and ash were considered purifing and holy and were scattered around the fields and homes. Modern day Pagans burned sage, sweetgrass, dragon’s blood, cedar and cypress to purify their homes and their thoughts to ensure healthy growth.
The May Pole
Traditionally known as May Day, Beltaine was a time to celebrate physical fertility, consummation of love and marriage. This was honored by the union of the God and Goddess in many forms. From rites of passage between a man and woman, to children running around a May pole, there were many ways to honor the importance of the union of man and woman. Swedish in origin, a tall wooden pole, representing the phallus, would be erected at May Day rites. The May “pole” was typically a tree trunk that was decorated with greenery, fruits, flowers and ribbons and hung in the town square. A processional through the villages would take place ending at the pole and great feasts, offerings, music, singing and dancing where then enjoyed. Modern day pagans have incorporated a fun and not so easy game of running around the may pole. Each child, especially those “coming of age”, was expected to run around the May pole, ribbons in hand, criss-crossing and tying the ribbon around the pole as as symbolic honoring of the union of man and woman, God and Goddess and the importance of procreation.
The Beauty Of Spring
The Beltane Altar has been an important part of the celebration of the beginning of spring. Keeping with the offerings of the season, altars are adorned with fresh green colors, and spring greens, as well as brightly colored flowers like daffodils, crocuses, forsythia, lilacs and dandelions. Eggs were also used on the beltane altar and if one found a blue robin’s egg, it was considered a wonderful omen. Symbols of the fertility of the God aspect were also used such as antlers, sticks, nuts and seeds. A traditional beltane offer is easily crafted by simply collecting items from the natural world around us.
Kim Anderberg, for Kheops International
Beltane, By Melanie Marquis
The Wheel of the Year, Pauline Camponelli
The Grandmother of Time, Zsuzsanna E. Budapest