Why We Celebrate Beltane
We celebrate Beltane as the time of the year that marks the beginning of summer. Commonly known as the first of May, it was a time for great celebration. This turn of the wheel was one of the most critical times for the pastoral people of the British Isles. While the holiday is recorded in some of the earliest writings of Ireland, it still flourishes in modern time. Beltane is the time of year when the land is lush and fertile. Summer is almost at its zenith. If you would like to celebrate Beltane, here are some ways you can do celebrate that harkens back to ancient times.
It was believed to be good luck to put out all fires and candles in your home on Beltane Eve. That way, the next day you can relight the hearth fire and candles welcoming good fortune though out the summer. To honor this custom, you can put out all the candles on your altar and around your home. The next day relight your candles while focusing on the blessings of the season.
Gathering Morning Dew
It was believed to be good luck to gather the morning dew come Beltane morn. You can share in this tradition by collecting the first dew of the morning. Once you have gathered the dew, use it to wash with, to anoint yourself, or add it to your ritual bath.
Make A May Day Hair Garland
The sweet smells of flowers, mosses, and earth are intoxicating. One way to participate in a tradition of this turn of the wheel is to make a hair wreath. You may use any flowers that lend themselves to creating a circlet for your hair. Make it as elaborate or simple as you like. Feel the beauty and summer energy while you wear it.
Beltane is an ancient fire festival. Consequently, it was also the day they turned their cows out into the pastures. Before they did so, the early people of Europe would build two fires out of sacred woods and plants believed to cleanse their livestock. Once the fires were going, they drove the animals through the fires to have them cleansed and to protect them from disease or harm. You can celebrate this tradition by using any sacred smudge such as sage. Use the sage it to smudge yourself for the coming season.
Jumping The Bel Fire
After the livestock had been turned out to pasture, it was time for the attendees to jump the Bel Fire. Doing so was believed to bring good luck, and ward off evil spirits. You can recreate this custom by jumping or stepping over a candle or a small cauldron with a charcoal and herbs burning.
The May Pole
Another modern remnant of Beltane is the May Pole that represents the union of the feminine and masculine. For example, the pole represents the male energies of fertility. The wreath atop the pole represents the feminine divine. The dance itself weaves the ribbons in opposite directions around the pole. You can make your own smaller symbolic version of a May Pole, or attend a May Pole ceremony in your area. There will be such a ceremony held at Mystic Elements’ Annual Beltane event on Saturday, May 4th. The ceremony will be held 5-7 PM, immediately after the conclusion of the Beltane Vending Market. All participants should bring 25 ft. of wide ribbon so that they may join in wrapping the Maypole and learning about this beautiful tradition.
By Maeven Eller-Five