Well, here we are, the weekend right before Beltaine. Though I suppose it depends on your tradition or group as to when you celebrate Beltaine. Most pagans that I know of tend to celebrate usually on April 30-May 1, though traditionally, I believe it’s May 1st… hence why we have May Day.
So let’s talk about Beltaine, shall we?
Beltaine is associated with the return of Spring and full blown fertility. The name for Beltaine is thought to be derived from the Irish Gaelic ‘Bealtaine’ or the Scottish Gaelic ‘Bealtuinn’, meaning ‘Bel-fire’, the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). Other names for Beltaine include: Cetsamhain (‘opposite Samhain’), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church’s name). This last name came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people’s allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross). There’s also the Floralia (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1) which celebrates the Roman Goddess of Flowers.
The God is usually seen as the Horned King at this time, and coming into His mature power, begins His rule over the Light half of the year.
This is the second of the four fire festivals, and this is often a time of self-discovery, love, union and developing your potential for personal growth. May morning is also considered a magical time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health. Its is said that any Maiden that bathes in this water will have a fair complexion for the following year.
Beltaine marks the start of summer according to the old calendars, and is a time for feasting, merry-making, celebration, and joy. It is a time to look outward and forward to the future, and to prepare for the warm summer months ahead. It is also a time for love, union and the sacred marriage which honors the fertility of the Earth.
Today, the sun is shining, I’ve got my Beltaine playlist playing and I am putting together my plans for my celebration. I just got the latest in a series of “Sabbat Boxes” the other day and I am rather pleased with this sabbats offerings. It’s all crystal magick, which is totally awesome, and it even came with a mini-crystal grid kit, which I will admit, I’ve never done any Crystal Grid work. I’m excited to try it out and learn a new method of working magick.
My menu is coming along nicely. My little Facebook vote went over well and the winner for the main dish is Balsamic Chicken with an Orange Glaze. I’ll be serving steamed asparagus with chives and chive blossoms, a fresh garden salad, fruit and of course, May Wine! I’m looking forward to celebrating this year.
My ritual focus is going to be on healing, particularly I will be working on healing my own issues with self-esteem and doubt. These might seem to be mental hang ups, but I assure you this is very much a physical thing as they are primarily connected with my body image. Beltaine isn’t just fertility my friends, it is a sensual, physical celebration and often people hear Beltaine and think “oh it’s that pagan sex holiday”, which yeah, sex can be part of it, it isn’t a taboo thing and sex can be a very sacred, spiritual experience. But the core of this is being comfortable in our own skin. Loving not just others, but ourselves above all else. We must learn to love ourselves in order to know how to truly love another.
Some Ideas for Community Focus for Beltaine
Community rituals should focus on the joy and passion of the season, but take it deeper. Engage all five senses, make your ritual sensual. We are bringing the upper and lower Worlds together, much like the Goddess and God join in Union.
Try to incorporate rituals of healing damaged body images, as Beltaine is a perfect time to remind us that all are beautiful, all are desirable, and all deserve joy and happiness.
And with that, I leave you with this gem of a song, about the May celebrations in the Cornish town of Padstow.
Many Beltaine Blessings,