Beltane is a Pagan celebration of new life and the last of the three Spring fertility festivals, or Sabbats. The name is believed to come from the god Bel, or Belenus, and marks the peak of Spring and the beginning of summer. The Sabbat sits about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is a day to celebrate the passing of winter; the return and fullness of life; longer days; brighter colours and increased fertility.
Beltane was once a time of great celebration, purity and new life. With the increased sunlight, food will soon be in abundance and the natural flora will return. Many say that they find themselves with increased energy and an improved overall mood.
A Gaelic, or Pagan, festival, Beltane was marked to encourage summer to return with the promise of an increase to the size of domestic herds and abundant harvests. Dancing around the Maypole and leaping over the Beltane fire were traditional activities/rituals that are still performed to this day throughout parts of the UK and the rest of the world. Beltane is now more commonly known as “May Day”. There are many ways to carry out Beltane celebrations, here are a few ideas of how you can mark this festival:
Light a Beltane Fire:
There is a great history behind lighting Beltane fires which were used to purify, cleanse and bring fertility. Couples leapt over flames together to pledge themselves to each other and people would walk around the lit bonfire. Farmers would light two fires and drive their cattle between them as it was said to prevent diseases and encourage fertility in the female cows. Household fires were often extinguished and then relit from the Beltane bonfire.
Light a small fire in your garden, if you are feeling the celebrations let your hair down and dance around the fire. Alternatively, you can light a candle inside and do the same. Write a note of all things you wish to banish and place it in the fire, watch it reduce to ash. Revel in the heat and power of the fire.
Collect and Honour Spring Greens and Seasonal Flowers:
At this time of year, the spring greens are this magnificent gold/green colour. As the sun blazes of landscapes, the beauty of the earth and nature really shines through. Fields of rapeseed flowers are flourishing during the first period of spring, consider taking a walk by your local rapeseed flower field, although be aware of any allergies. The bright yellows are truly unforgettable. Pick and dry daisies or dandelions during this time of year, they are usually in abundance and are a great addition to any witch's dried botanical collection.
Pick the last of any wild garlic and eat the leaves in salad or use to make pesto or garlic butter.
Make a space in your garden, or in a pot on your window ledge, to start a herb garden.
Bake and cook delicious foods:
Of course, baking is of high importance during any Sabbat. A celebration is great but a celebration with food is better! Bake a hearty meal with fresh in-season greens and vegetables. When eating in-season produce that has been grown under the sun, you will be taking in essential minerals and vitamins whilst honouring the sunlight provided to make them grow. In the UK the seasonal vegetables at this time of the year are Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Chillies, Elderflowers, Lettuce, New Potatoes, Peas, Peppers, Radishes and Rhubarb.
Lavender or Violet tea is said to be a traditional Celtic treat and a deliciously refreshing drink to sip in the sunlight. Lavender lemonade is an alternative beverage and very delicious.
Pick early lavender and dry to make herb or spell bags.
There are many other ways to celebrate the Sabbat, Beltane can be honoured in lots of different ways here is just a little insight into some practices and celebrations. As always, follow your path and choose what you feel is right for you.