Claire has worked with crystals and many other aspects of paganism for over 14 years. She has also studied reiki up to master level.
What Is Beltane?
Beltane falls on May 1st in the northern hemisphere and is considered by many to be one of the most important festivals in the Wheel of the Year. At Beltane, the goddess casts off her maiden robes and becomes the mother, while the god leaves behind the irresponsibility and freedom of youth as they join together in marriage. Beltane is a festival of life, fertility, passion and warmth. It occurs when spring is well underway—the days are growing warmer and new life in the form of animals and plants can be found in abundance. This is a festival filled with happiness and hope for the year ahead and centers around fertility and growth. Whether this focus on growth is about crops and livestock or a more personal focus (e.g., working toward our goals or self-improvement) is unique to each person who celebrates.
5 Ways to Celebrate
- Using fire
- Heart chakra meditation
- Planting seeds
- Taking care of the environment
Basics About Beltane
The word Beltane means "bel-fire." Bel was a Celtic fire god (also known as Beli, Balor and Belenus). Traditionally, bel-fires were lit to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the earth after winter. Fires were built using nine sacred woods (birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir), and the village’s herds of sheep and cattle would be driven between the fires because people believed that this would purify and protect them in the times ahead. These bel-fires were often large and were believed to burn away the last remnants of winter, purifying and creating an energy of vibrancy and power.
Another traditional Beltane celebration saw single men and women dress in green and spend Beltane night in the woods seeking a partner. Children who were born into partnerships resulting from this practice were considered to be especially blessed in life.
Like Samhain, Beltane is a time at which the veil thins, which makes it a good time for communication between realms. At this time in the Wheel of the Year, the veil between the human and fae worlds is at its thinnest. As such, you may find it is easier at this time to make contact with them, or you may experience more of their mischievous behaviours when they are nearby. Gods known for their sense of humour or fun—such as Pan, Puck and Loki—can be more easily invoked at the time of Beltane. Today, fires are often still lit at Beltane. The festival is one of joy and celebrates love, rebirth and the return of the summer.
Five Easy Ideas for Celebrating Beltane
You can integrate as few or as many of these various practices into your Beltane celebration as you'd like! Make the day unique to you and your loved ones.
Beltane marks the marriage of the god and goddess and is therefore considered the perfect time for feasting and joyous celebration. If the weather is pleasant, you could hold your celebration outside, perhaps as a picnic or barbecue with friends and family. This could be held at a local park, woodland or at home in your garden. You do not need to have a lot of space to mark and celebrate this fertility festival. If you prefer, your celebration can be held indoors in any form you wish. For example, you could throw a party or meal with friends or family.
2. Using Fire
If you are unable to light a traditional bel-fire, there are still safe and easy ways to include the element of fire. For example, you could use a fire pit or chiminea to create a small, safe and manageable fire in an outdoor space. If you are only able to celebrate indoors, you could use candles to represent fire. The area around the candles could be decorated with twigs to represent the traditional fires, but take time to ensure that this will not cause a fire hazard. If you are going to use candles in glass containers or jars, the outsides of these can be safely decorated using twigs. Use a hot glue gun to stick the twigs to the exterior of the container or hold the twigs in place with ribbon or string. Another benefit of using candles is that they are a good way to celebrate discreetly for anyone who cannot be open about their pagan beliefs and practices.
3. Heart Chakra Meditation
As Beltane is a festival connected to passion, joy and love, it is a great time to work with our heart chakras. Having an active and balanced heart chakra enables you to be compassionate, loving and understanding towards other people—as well as yourself. Meditation and guided meditations are a simple way to work on your heart chakra, and many of these can be found online for free, particularly on YouTube.
Green and pink are closely connected to the heart chakra, and colour therapy can be used in chakra balancing by wearing or bringing these colours into your life. Some examples of everyday ways to do this include wearing pink or green clothes or jewellery, burning pink or green candles or eating foods of these colours. If you enjoy working with crystals, many of these are beneficial to chakra balancing and healing. A good place to start with this is by choosing stones of the colour associated with the chakra. For the heart, this would be pink and green stones, such as rose quartz, green tourmaline, green jade, fuchsite and green aventurine.
4. Planting Seeds
This is a simple way to mark Beltane and can be adapted to suit almost any situation. If you have a garden or outside space, you will have lots of options for seeds, bulbs and plants that you can grow. But even if you only have a patio, balcony, a few outside steps, a windowsill or window box or no outside space at all, there are still options for plants to grow. Many plants will grow happily inside—succulents, cacti, aloe vera and some herbs, for example. Seeds and bulbs can be bought in many shops (e.g., supermarkets, DIY shops and garden centres), and many are simple to grow and require little care. Some examples of plants to grow at this time of year include:
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5. Taking Care of the Environment
One easy way to take care of the place you live and show gratitude to the Earth is to go on a litter pick. This can be done anywhere you choose, and every little bit helps not only to make the place look tidier and cleaner but to protect the wildlife and plants in the area from harm. You could collect litter on your street or take a visit to a local park, woodland or beach and pick up litter left there. If you attend any groups, such as youth or hobby-based clubs, perhaps it is an activity you could do together to create an even bigger impact. Another option is to think carefully about your own waste, and consider ways that you could reduce this or make more environmentally friendly choices.
Food for Beltane
As Beltane is regarded as a time for feasting, food commonly plays a large part in any celebration. Traditional foods eaten at this time include fresh fruits and salads, herbs, seasonal vegetables, cheese, bread and eggs. May wine and mead are also often served.
- 1 bottle of white wine
- ½ cup strawberries, sliced
- 12 sprigs of fresh woodruff
- Pour wine into a wide-mouthed jug.
- Add sliced strawberries and woodruff and let sit for a few hours.
- Strain and serve chilled.
- ½ lb dandelion greens, torn
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- ½ tsp dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toss together the dandelion greens, onions and tomatoes.
- Season with basil, salt and pepper.
- 3 cups of white sugar
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. red food colouring
- 2 tbsp. of edible glitter
- Glass container
- Place the sugar, red food colouring and vanilla into a bowl and mix well.
- Add the glitter and mix to combine.
- Store in the glass container and use to make special treats and offerings to fae.
This recipe contains elderflower, which is an ingredient you should first ensure you know how to safely harvest and prepare before ingestion.
- 1 egg
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1 tsp rose water
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 cups of freshly picked elderflower
- Mix the egg, rose water and honey in a mixing bowl.
- Stir in the flour and cinnamon.
- Fold in the elderflowers.
- As you would with pancakes, fry one heaped tbsp of the mixture at a time until golden.
Decorating Your Altar for Beltane
Beltane celebrates the fertility of the Earth, abundant new life, fire, passion and rebirth. For this festival, decorate your altar with greens and bright spring colours. Small pots of daffodils, dandelions and other spring flowers are ideal. These can be cut flowers or growing plants. Many spring flowering bulbs are planted over the winter months, so this will require some planning in advance. Eggs and seeds can be used to represent fertility. Items that symbolise the fertility of the god and goddess at this time, such as antlers, sticks, acorns, cauldrons, cups and circular items (e.g., rings; wreaths) can be included in your altar decorations as well.
Other Beltane Symbols
Swords or arrows
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Claire
Claire (author) from Lincolnshire, UK on May 04, 2019:
You're welcome :) I hope you have a great day.
Lydia Workman from Canada on May 03, 2019:
Thanks for the great article. Lots of intriguing ideas. The recipes are new to me and some of them are worth trying. Faery Sugar sounds particularly fun!