Pronounced: English – BEL-tane
Other pronunciations – bee-YAWL-tinnuh,
BOWL-tan-a or BELL-tinnuh
April 30 or May 1
Themes: passion, mischief, love, beauty, romance, fertility,abundance
Other Names: May Day, Walpurgisnacht, Floralia, Calan Mai, Beltaine, Beltain
Celebrated on May 1st, Beltane marks the transition point from Spring to Summer on the Wheel of the Year. It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year. It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. This is a time marking the return of vitality and fertility to both the Earth and the Sun. Blossoms on the trees are becoming fuller and bursting with green, and the young of the wild are beginning to grow up. Daylight longer and stronger as we move towards Summer. Love and commitment are themes this time of year, with many weddings being planned!! Abundance and creativity are blooming as well with spring crafts and making beautiful spaces in our yards to enjoy nature right outside our door.
Mythology holds that the “God and Goddess” come together in physical union at this time, having reached full maturity in their growth over the Spring. It also symbolizes the coming together of masculine and feminine energies at work in all creation. This is when the Goddess begins to step into her Mother aspect, and the God has almost reached the height of his power. Springtime, Rebirth, Maturity, The Return of the Sun (Son), Betrothals, Weddings, etc…. all blending of traditions from long ago from around the world are themes of Beltane.
The ancient Romans celebrated Floralia, and for many centuries the eve of May 1st has been known as Walpurgisnacht in several Eastern European cultures. In England, the holiday became known as May Day. One distinct custom in England and elsewhere that has never died out entirely is dancing around the Maypole—a tall, wooden pole said to represent male virility. Typically, people gather flowers and green branches to decorate the Maypole, or else use brightly colored ribbons. Many schools have Maypole dances still to this day.
Fire is also a big focus at Beltane so much so that many places host a Beltane or May Day fire festival. Because of the earth heating up with the approach of summer and the fact that this a traditionally a very passionate time of year. The word “beltane” actually comes from an ancient Celtic word meaning “bright fire,” so it’s highly appropriate to include fire of some kind in your festivities. If you don’t have the means to build a fire either indoors or outdoors, you can still decorate your with images of fire with reds and orange colored decorations. Other colors to use are greens and colors of nature symbolizing the vibrant fertility of springtime!
May Day has long been marked with feasts and rituals. Maypoles were the focal point of old English village rituals. Many people woke at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens, using them to decorate the village Maypoles, floral crowns and other decorations for the yard, gardens and inside their homes.
The May Queen (and often King) is chosen from among the young people, they are crowned and then the merrymaking of a picnic, dancing the Maypole and just enjoying the season and the “blessing of May” begin. Some tradition also had kids delivering baskets of flowers by hanging small baskets on neighboring front door handles. All this is symbolic of bestowing and sharing a focus on new creativity, abundant growth, the bonds of the coming seasons marriages, joys of pregnancies and new birth and springtime that is stirring in the earth and in the world..
The early Christian church combined old world traditions and modern Christianity with their own Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. This as a way of combining tradition with the new faith of Christianity.
Beltane Candle Magic
What you need:
- a journal and pen
- candle(s) – optional
- flowers – optional
- any kind of floral scent (ie rose, geranium, ylang, jasmine, neroli) – optional
Make your the space you’re in feel sacred andbeautiful in any way that feels right for you. Flowers, diffusing oils, incense, candles, photographs, art, some delicious food, wear clothes that make you feel beautiful.
Cleanse and purify the your space with sage, palo santo or even a mist spray of the equivalent if you don’t like smoke, and then sit and relax. If you have any floral scented essential oils, put some on your heart or heart chakra. Optionally ad you prepare for ceremony, use the oil to anoint specific places on your physical body; wrists, Third Eye, and ankles. You can think of it as “What you do, what you know, and where you go.” Let your breath become slower, let your body settle, let your mind get quiet. Let all the rhythms of your body slow down, and drop a little deeper into the ground.
Bring your awareness to your heart center (chakra) as you breathe; breathe into your heart space, inviting more love in, more beauty, more compassion; breathe out from the heart as you feel that energy expand around you. Continue on like this for a few more rounds of breathe. When we come into our heart space and truly start to connect with its energy we are able to release the ego. In this place fear and judgement cannot exist. Anger cannot exist. Hate cannot exist. We tap into our divine center where love lives strongest. We remember who we are and we release what no longer serves.
Now, grab your journal and you’re going to answer these 3 questions:
- How can I create more beauty in my life?
- How can I nurture and love myself better?
- How can I extend this beauty and love out into the world around me?
Don’t judge, don’t over think. Just answer.
Perhaps this exercise allowed you to shed some light on what your intention may be for this Beltane. Remember, the soil is fertile and the Earth is waiting to receive… what do you want to sow? What came up in your journaling? Be honest, dig deep! Write down your intention.
Now light your candle!
With your intention in mind, start to visualize your intention growing stronger and stronger. Visualize it coming to fruition. How does it make you feel when your intention has come to pass? Let those powerful, positive emotions flow over you and become part of you. You can place your written intention under your candle until it is burnt down.
If you are not using a candle, leave your written intention in your sacred space for the day or all night, or even under your pillow as you sleep. Tomorrow, bury your intention in nature, or in your garden.
To close, send a message of gratitude for all your blessings to your higher power or out into the universe. Give thanks to the Earth who supports and nurtures us. Give thanks to God/Source/Creator etc… for this life you have, even when and if things low or sad. Let your candle burn down. Eat some yummy food. Smell some flowers. And leave an offering to our planet.
- Planting some seeds a bush, or even a tree that may stand long after you are gone.
- Leave an offering somewhere in nature (nuts, seeds, apple pieces, orange peels, etc… or fill a bird or squirrel feeder for the birds and wildlife.
- Get involved in a community garden and pull some weeds or plant some seeds!
- meditate for 10-15 minutes as you visualize the Earth surrounded by white light. Yep, that simple.
- Pick up garbage in your community, near the beach, in a park…
Guided Visualization for Spring
Here is a meditation for spring that you use to feel inspired.
- Find a cozy spot to relax. Minimize your distractions by turning off your mobile devices and just begin to breathe, slowly and deeply.
- As you settle into your space, notice how your breath connects you to your physical body and any sensations you may be feeling, images in your mind, and thoughts you may have floating by.
- Take a few moments to think about the energy of creation and how it aligns with the newness of the spring season. What does this time of year represent to you?
- Begin to notice how the energy of spring is stirring within you. What needs freshening up in your life? Is there a new project you’re feeling inspired to start? Now that the sun is out, and the birds are chirping, what has you feeling passionate, excited, and motivated in your life? What are you going to create?
- Feel your own energy and become conscious of the sensations in your body as you breathe deeply. What are the words, phrases, or feelings that come up for you?
- As you think about the energy of spring and how you’re experiencing it internally, ask your Higher Self or Higher Power that this idea, this project, or this plan you’re beginning be for your highest good, and for the good of all who will be affected by it.
- Now, imagine yourself going out into this new season and beginning the thing(s) that bring you the most joy—bringing your thoughts and ideas into your external environment and making them come to life. See yourself cultivating and harnessing the energy of spring, both internally and externally.
- When you feel comfortable, slowly open your eyes, take out your journal, and make some notes about what you saw, heard, felt, or experienced during this guided visualization.
Meditation By: Tris Thorp
- In honor of the sacred nine, ignite a bonfire or fire in a fireplace. In lieu of igniting a big fire in case that’s not an option you can light 9 candles that symbolize the sacred 9 or make a list of 9 things that bring you immediate delight so you can embody joy. Turn to your list for inspiration!
- Create – Beltane is a festival of the fertility of the Earth, for the fruits and flowers we enjoy at this time of year, and for the miraculous ability of humans and animals to create new life within. You can also harness this wonderful energy by creating something new as a family: planting a garden; writing a story; build something…whatever it is, breathe new life into it at this magical time.
- Get Outside – this time of year is energizing and restorative, and one way to enjoy it is to stay close to the Earth. Whether lying on your back gazing at the stars or standing in your garden barefoot and earthing. Go camping and build a bonfire, tell stories, watch the sunrise, and give thanks for the gifts of life.
- After the long winter this is a beautiful time to just let loose. Put on some music and dance, raise some energy and have fun!! Be fearless, spontaneous and silly.
- Have a party (even if via Zoom, or Teams) gather to laugh and cultivate smiles and joy!
- Growth! Grow something. Grow anything! Water a house plants with extra tlc. Give your pet some extra love and care. Create art. Ask yourself; where do I need to allow growth in my life or in myself? What drives me that I need more of in life??
- Set aside a day just to play and have fun with childlike abandon. Nurture your inner child.
- Breathwork and meditation; Find a guided meditation or download a meditation app such as Insight Timer or Calm.
- Honor the fire within you – the one that keeps you going, despite anything and everything. You are the keeper of the flame. Light something special and honor your courage to persevere.
- Revive your motivation. What gives you purpose?
- For the Celts morning dew is considered sacred. You can honor and celebrate the morning dew by going for a walk at dawn in nature or a garden. Notice the dew on the plants and grass, perhaps wash your hands or face with it. This is the perfect time to embrace the morning dew as it’s not too early for morning walks at dawn.
- Decorate a May Bush. This can be a living tree or just a branch or clump of a tree brought indoors. Decorate it streamers, ribbons, scraps of cloth, and flowers.
Medieval Celts danced around a pole to have a fruitful planting season, according to the New York Times. Around the 19th century, however, the maypole became a celebration of virtue and maidenhood. In the dance, the wooden pole is decorated with brightly colored ribbons through a folk dance in which dancers weave in and out of each other. The result is a beautiful pattern on the pole, or a hot mess depending on how well the dance was done lol. I have been personal been a part of both the beautiful and the messy!
Crown Of Daisies
- Daisies (or any other flower)
- Measuring tape
- Measure head for how and where you want your crown to lay.
- Cut down the flowers to 5-7 inches long. Take off extra greenery.
- Cross one flower over the other.
- Take the top flower and wrap it under the bottom and then up to the top again. Bring it down to lay with the first stem. The tighter you do this, the more secure the crown.
- Lay the next flower down close to the second and repeat the process.
- When you reach the right length for the shape of the head, weave in the ends of the stems into the first flowers.
- That’s it! To create a fuller crown, weave in more flowers. For variation, try varying the flowers for different patterns.
Foods Of Beltane
In it’s simplest form, mead is a fermented alcohol drink made with honey and water. Learn how to make it at home with this mead recipe from Colleen at Grow Forage Cook Ferment.
Small batch mead recipe. The best way to start is on a small scale, and a gallon batch of mead is the perfect size for beginners. This mead recipe features fresh strawberries, but you can easily substitute your favorite fresh fruit. Say, blackberries. You can also use foraged items like linden flowers or blended wildflowers.
- A one-gallon glass jug with a narrow neck for brewing.
- An airlock with a rubber stopper. You can alternatively use a balloon with a pinhole that is attached to the top of the jug. The gasses will be able to escape through the pinhole without letting any oxygen in. (You can also get the glass jug with airlock together for a better price).
- A stainless steel pot.
- A big spoon.
- A funnel, bigger is better.
- A thermometer. Just a regular meat thermometer will do.
- Sanitizer, It is very important that you sanitize everything that will be used prior to brewing.
- As soon as you add any fruit to mead, it is then called a “melomel,” so that is technically what this recipe is. Feel free to use any fruit you might have on hand, or leave the fruit out completely and just do a straight mead if you’d like. The process is the same either way.When you’ve completed the fermentation process you can bottle it.
Recipe: Will make a gallon of mead – Prep Time 10 minutes – Cook Time 10 minutes – Total Time 20 minutes
- 2-3 pounds honey (3 pounds is about 1 quart, and will yield a sweeter mead)
- Champagne yeast (or other wine making yeast)
- 1 cup more or less organic strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 10 organic raisins
- Filtered water
- First and foremost, sanitize everything that will come in contact with the mead.
- Put approximately 1/2 gallon of filtered water into a large stainless steel pot and heat until warm, but not boiling.
- Turn off the heat, add the honey, and stir to dissolve. You can put some hot water back into the empty honey container and shake a bit to get all of the honey out.
- Use a funnel to pour the honey water mixture into the glass jug (it will not fill it completely).
- Add the strawberries and raisins.
- Fill the jug with cold filtered water, leaving about 3 inches of space at the top.
- Cap the jug with its lid and invert once or twice to mix everything together.
- Check the temperature of the liquid; if it is 90°F or less it’s ok to add the yeast. If it’s higher, wait a bit until it cools.
- Add the yeast. One yeast package will ferment up to five gallons of liquid, so you don’t need to use it all. I usually use about half of one package when making a gallon.
- Cap the jug again, and shake it vigorously for a minute or two. This helps to combine and aerate the yeast.
- Attach the airlock to the rubber stopper, fill it with water to the line, and put it into the top of your jug.
- The mead should start bubbling within a few hours and the top will get really foamy. Sometimes it foams too much and comes up out of the airlock, but that’s ok. Just rinse the airlock and put it back on the jar. It will subside by the next morning. You will see millions of tiny bubbles coming up through the liquid – that’s the yeast just doing it’s thing.
Now You Have to Wait:
Put the jug in a cool and dark corner and wait. It will take about 6-8 weeks to fully ferment, depending on the outside temperature. It will ferment faster when it’s warmer, slower when it’s cooler. Check it every few days to make sure it is still bubbling. Once it completely stops bubbling, it is ready to be bottled. The mead is ready to drink right away, but will benefit from some amount of aging, as it can be a bit harsh at first.
8oz boiling water
8 tsp. green tea
6 tsp. rose petals
4 tsp. Jasmine flower
4 tsp. Chamomile
Steep for 20 min and consume with the intention of honoring your spiritual self. Optional: add honey to taste.
- 1 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 1/2 cup hot water
- Combine oatmeal, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
- Melt the butter, and drizzle it over the oats.
- Add the water, and stir the mix until it forms a stiff dough. Turn the dough out on a sheet of wax paper and knead thoroughly.
- Separate the dough into two equal portions, and roll each one into a ball. Use a rolling pin to make a flat pancake that is about ¼” thick.
- Cook your oatcakes on a griddle over medium heat until they are golden brown.
- Cut each round into quarters to serve.
Oats: Money, prosperity, abundance. Salt: protection. Butter: Spirituality, Communication, Reconciliation, Enhancing Energies.
May Day Maple Hearth Bread
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup
- 1/4 cup warm water (105ºF-115ºF)
- 3 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- Dissolve the yeast in the water.
- Mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour with the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut in shortening.
- Add the syrup to the yeast mix and let the syrup dissolve too.
- Now add yeast mix to the flour mix; stir.
- Add flour until dough is easy to handle.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
- Cover and let rise for 15 minutes.
- Form into round, place on cookie sheet.
- Let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.
- Loaf can be brushed with syrup or butter during last 5 minutes of baking.
Note: This bread is quite dry without something to moisten it, so definitely serve it with some vegan butter. Also, your bread will have trouble rising if the syrup is too cold! Warm up the syrup if it has been in the refrigerator, it should be room temperature or warmer.