Ideas For A Beltane Ritual

Wheel of the Year from Tahlia's Web
Wheel of the Year from Tahlia’s Web

Beltane, or Gaelic May Day was originally celebrated by Irish and Scottish traditions. In modern days, it’s observed by Celtic neopagans, Wiccans and magic-practicing people.

Festivities usually begin the night before, or on or around May 1st in the northern hemisphere, and November 1st in the southern hemisphere.

Beltane is one of four major Sabbats in Celtic tradition and the Wheel of the Year. The other three are Imbolc, Lammas, and Samhain.

The Symbols of Beltane

During an original Beltane festival, protection rituals were performed for people, livestock and crops, as well as an invocation for purification, marriage, fertility, growth and abundance.

The flames, smoke and ashes of a Beltane bonfire were believed to contain these powers. People and cattle would walk around the fires or even jump over them or the embers.

Every year in Edinburgh, the Beltane Fire Festival celebrates similar rituals containing beautiful forgotten jewels of our pagan heritage.

Photo by Stefan Schäfer, Lich, 2012 Beltane Fire Festival bonfire on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

Photo by Stefan Schäfer, Lich2012 Beltane Fire Festival bonfire on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

Ribbons, Flowers and Bright Colors

Beltane recipes found at Tumblr, source unknown
Beltane recipes found at Tumblr, source unknown

Yellow flowers adorned homes, doors, windows, byres, cattle and people. And sometimes a thorn bush was decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells.

There would be a feast at Beltane gatherings which might include spring greens, Beltane oatcakes, Scottish Bannocks, fertility bread, cream and truffles. Fruit such as cherries, peaches, pomegranates as symbols of fertility are also enjoyed.

Music, drumming, singing and dancing are other Beltane activities. It’s a time of joy, and fun, carefree celebration.

Divine Sexuality

The Beltane sabbat also celebrates the reunion of the God and Goddess after being separated during winter.

Some say the different colored ribbons of a maypole symbolize complex female energies wrapping around the male phallus. It’s a day to celebrate divine union and sexuality for some.

Hand-fasting union and marriage ceremonies commonly occur at Beltane.

Gods, Goddesses And Parallel Dimensions

Beltane might celebrate the Celtic God Bel – the God of Light and Fire, who’s associated with The Sun. The horned fertility God Cernunnos, Apollo, Pan, Odin, Orion, the May Queen, Freya, Diana, Artemis, Aphrodite, Venus, Gods and Goddesses of the Hunt, and the gods of the forests, and goddesses of fertility are also honored at Beltane.

The veil thins between the human dimension and the Other World or the faery realm. Food and drink offerings are given to the aos sí, or the fairies and elves in a parallel dimension. 

Beltane altar by Druidstone
Beltane altar by Druidstone

Open Like A Flower

I personally join the spirit of Beltane to open my receiving channels for abundance from the universe, connect with local nature spirits, and to bless the God and Goddess.

Here are some ways to celebrate Beltane, or to externalize or “manifest” your intentions, utilizing Beltane energies. Feel free to customize these ideas so that they’re personal, applicable and meaningful to you.

Women dancing with veils at the May Day pageant from Flickr Commons]
Women dancing with veils at the May Day pageant from Flickr Commons]

Beltane Ritual Ideas

  • Walk or hike in nature as you meditate on the natural, effortless abundance of the Earth. Bring a picnic. If you gather flowers or greenery, be sure to leave an offering {such as a crystal, coin, spring water, or a lock of hair} to the local nature spirits.
  • Create a Beltane altar to honor the God and Goddess, or to manifest a love union, health, fertility or material wealth. Place a vase or cauldron of flowers, potted plants, string of beads, two chalices, nature mandala, or a miniature maypole on your altar.
  • Decorate a thorn bush with bows of ribbon to honor the Divine Feminine.
  • Braid yellow or colorful flowers and ribbons through your hair, or make and wear a floral crown to celebrate the abundance of Spring.
  • Homegrown Smudge Sticks by You Grow Girl

    Give a gift of flowers to a loved one as a symbol of the circle of giving and receiving as one energy force. Original traditions left a basket of flowers on people’s doorsteps who were unable to attend the town festival. 

  • Enjoy a Beltane feast with friends or a group, then dance around an outdoor fire in the evening, basking in its power of protection and abundance. Some dance naked for the full effect, or jump the burning embers.
  • Make love with your partner in a garden or the woods as a symbolic act of planting or fertilizing your seeds of intention in the womb of the universe.
  • Spend time in yoga poses such as the Camel, the Wheel, the Pigeon or Mermaid to open your heart to universal energy flow, and as a signal that you’re open to receiving life’s beauty and goodness.
  • Meditate in the lotus pose holding fire agate, carnelian, emerald, malachite, aventurine, or any green, red or orange crystal while imagining a powerful energy force flowing through you from your crown through your base to Earth’s core, activating your chakra centers, and motivating you toward new life goals.
  • Journal your dreams and the action steps to get there while burning lilac, rose, passionflower, jasmine, musk or vanilla incense. 
  • Light a natural beeswax candle to represent the end of a period of darkness in your life, and the welcoming of a new life phase.
  • Declutter and spring clean your home as a signal that you’re ready for the new.
  • Just before sunrise, take a ritual bath, adorn your ritual robe or dress and jewelry, cast your circle, call the quarters, invoke the God and Goddess, and present your goals and dreams to them asking for their assistance. Then show your gratitude with an offering such as food, drink, or a bouquet of fresh flowers.
  • Here’s a Beltane blessing to speak or recite with a coven or solitary. Find the full blessing and ritual here.

“Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into the light.
Mysterious Water and Fire,
The Earth and the wide ranging Air….

The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring….

The power was passed down the ages,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and ages began….

The oldest of gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of Magic is wrought.
For two are the mystical pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and the forces of the divine.
The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
This did our ancestors teach.
By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades.
By day he’s the King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.
She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She sails the torn clouds in her barque,
The bright silver lady of midnight,
The crone who weaves spells in the dark.
The master and mistress of magic,
They dwell in the deeps of the main,
Immortal and ever renewing,
With power to free or to bind.
So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphames’s fair land shall receive us
In peace at the end of our days.
And Do What Thou Wilt
shall be the challenge,
So be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
By magic of old, be it done!

Record your Beltane ritual as well as any thoughts and insights received in your Book of Shadows to refer to next year.

Happy Beltane!

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