The rush of energy that we can feel around us at this time of year reaches its peak during the month of May and despite the days continuing to grow longer, this energy will gradually subside and flow steadily until the sun reaches its apex around the time of midsummer. Beltane is a joyful celebration of family, friends and lovers, of nurturing potential and most importantly of all; gratitude.
If you are wanting to celebrate Beltane this year, which for many pagans living in the northern hemisphere will be on May Eve, then here are a few simple ideas which you might like to add to your own celebrations.
The ancient pagan tradition of Beltane focuses greatly on the bel fire; the fire that not only cleanses, but also fuels the passions of life. If you are able to have a fire outside, then one thing you can do is to write down on small pieces of paper: healing prayers, wishes and dreams that you wish to manifest into your life or things that you wish to banish from your life. Roll these papers up and push them into the sides of a pine cone. Throw your pine cone onto the fire and allow your petitions to float up to the Gods, but be careful, as pine cones can make fantastic fire starters!
If you are unable to have a bonfire then something else you might like to do is a manifestation ritual. On a piece of paper write down all that you wish to bring into your life. Feel it, visualise it, use all of your senses to make it the truth. Hold a seed (I love using sunflowers for this. The largest flower of all!) in your palm and meditate over it, putting all of your energy that you have just raised a moment ago. Over a compost filled pot (preferably terracotta) burn your piece of paper, allowing the ashes to fall onto the soil. Mix the ash and the soil together and then plant and water your seed. Your wishes will now grow along with your seedling, but don’t just forget about your plant. Nurture it, be mindful and give it love.
The Maypole is an iconic representation of Beltane’s fertile energies and you can craft your own mini maypole by positioning a piece of dowling (or a fairly straight twig maybe) in the middle of a small terracotta pot and then fill it up with either filler or small pebbles to keep it in place. Hot glue ribbons from the top of the dowling rod to the edge of the pot at intervals. About five ribbons should do the trick. I glued a small ceramic circle on top of each ribbon end and a clay flower on the top of the maypole, but you can do whatever you want. Placing moss around the base of the maypole covers up anything unsightly. This mini maypole will make a wonderful centre piece for your altar if you have one.
Beltane is a time of primal power, the earth’s heart is beating at its loudest and drumming in time with her rhythm is a powerful experience. You don’t have to go on a shamanic journey to be able to connect with the spirits around you. I only have some small djembe drums and that hasn’t stopped me!
Tying strips of brightly coloured cloth or ribbons to tree branches called ‘clooties’ is an age old tradition. Our European ancestors would have soaked the fabric in the healing water of wells or natural springs and then tied them to tree branches usually near these water sources and left them to disintegrate in the hope that whatever infliction they were suffering from would disappear too. You could tie coloured pieces of cloth to your favourite tree and have different colours represent different things in your life. For example you could choose a green ribbon for prosperity, a yellow one for happiness and a blue one for healing. Don’t forget to leave an offering of gratitude for the tree and land spirits. Something like nuts and seeds or flowers and stones.
If you are able to visit a sacred site such as a well or standing stone have a look around you and see if there is any rubbish that can be picked up or native flower seeds and bulbs that can be planted. Just a small gift to Nerthus and a thank you.
The Hawthorn which is sometimes called the May tree, is in blossom around this time of year and is known to be a powerful tree for crafting protective charms. The Hawthorn’s leaves and beautiful white flowers can be used in tonics, tinctures and salads, but please do your own thorough research beforehand.
Gardens that are left alone to do their own thing are awash with the sunshine flower, the dandelion. This power house of healing (there is too much to mention here) of which the whole plant can be used can naturally treat a long list of ailments. Have fun crafting your own dandelion teas, jellies, biscuits (I know!!!) tonics, salves and oils. The leaves also taste great added to salads.
So that was just a few ideas for you for celebrating Beltane. If you have any ideas for celebrating that I haven’t mentioned then please share them and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.