Celebrating Beltane by Renee Rendall
• Apr 24th 2023 • by GLASGLOW GIRLS CLUB • 0 Comments
Do you remember learning about May Day as a child? I have memories of making a basket out of construction paper to gather spring flowers and learning how to dance around a Maypole. What they didn’t tell us was that these traditions had their root in pagan spring fertility rites. Today, modern witches celebrate this holiday as Beltane.
I’m Renee, and I’m the creator of Awesome on 20 Kitchen Magick and the co-host of The How to Be Awesome Podcast. I also offer tarot readings and spiritual coaching through Sagittarian Tarot & Coaching. I’ve been studying witchcraft since 2019, and I’m thrilled to share a little bit more magic with all of you.
As we approach the height of Spring, we reach another spoke in the wheel of the year. There are eight sabbats, or pagan holidays, throughout the year, each marking a different season of the natural world. This one falls halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Beltane is most commonly celebrated on the 1st of May, but you can observe it anywhere around this time and still enjoy the energy it offers.
Whether you are a practicing pagan or you’ve never even heard the word Beltane, you’re almost certainly noticing a shift in the energy of the natural world around you. May is a season of joy and beauty, with flowers bursting into bloom everywhere you look. Our ancient ancestors noticed something special about this time of year as well. As 21st century humans, we can still get in touch with that natural energy and use it to make our lives a little more awesome.
What is Beltane all about?
If Ostara is the sweet, childlike celebration of abundance with chocolate and fluffy bunnies, Beltane is its teenage sister, ready to explore her own powers of fertility and creation. For ancient Celtic people, this was a fire festival with ceremonial rites to ensure the fertility of the newly sown crops.
It’s said that people would engage in sex in the fields to encourage an abundant harvest. Some believe this was a sacred ritual of the priest and priestess, while others say it was just the farmers and their wives. As with much of our knowledge of these times, it’s hard to know for sure what’s true, what’s legend, and what was slander to persecute pagans.
Modern witches and neopagans have cobbled together what mythology and folklore they could find to create a new way for people to celebrate sabbats like Beltane today. Creating an exact replica of what happened hundreds of years ago is impossible, and probably undesirable. Instead, we take the energy and essence of the celebrations to honor the Earth’s natural cycles and our role in them.
When you step outside into the growing sunshine and notice the plants and trees bursting with flowers, though, it’s hard to deny the sweet, flirtatious energy in the air. It makes you want to smile and dance and play. The Earth is bursting with creative energy, so why shouldn’t you be?
While our ancestors were praying for literal fertility for their crops, their livestock, and maybe themselves, today we can bring a more abstract lens to the concept. Fertility energy can represent anything you want to create in abundance. Any time you make something that didn’t exist before, you are engaging in the act of creation. And if you want more of the good feelings that come with that, you can call in fertility.
How to Celebrate Beltane
Beltane is a celebration of the sun, so naturally, a bonfire is a beautiful way to celebrate. Of course, a big, exciting bonfire on the beach would be amazing, but whether you’ve got a firepit in your back garden, or you simply light a few candles in your house, it’s all fine. The fire represents the power of the sun brought to life here on Earth, so even the smallest flame can honor that energy.
One old tradition was to lead livestock between or over the fires to ensure fertility. Women would also jump the fire as a simple fertility spell, as well. You could practice this by simply jumping over a candle and wishing for whatever type of creativity you desire. Just use your common sense and be safe whenever you’re working with a live flame.
Another beautiful way to honor the season of Beltane is to work with flowers. As the reproductive part of the plant, flowers of all types carry general fertility energy. Different flowers also have their own specific metaphysical properties, so you could choose to work with flowers that correspond with the energy you want more of in your life. For example, roses represent love, and lavender represents peace and spiritual connection.
You can make your flower crafts as simple or complex as you like based on your skills and interests. Weave a flower crown or a wreath to hang on your front door. Make a simple bouquet or arrange a vase of flowers for your home. You could responsibly forage some wild flowers in your local area or buy from a local florist.
If you prefer to enjoy the energy of flowers in their natural state, consider taking a walk at a nearby botanical garden or in a more wild area where flowers are abundant. Rather than picking them, simply take photos. You could even download a plant identification app to learn more about the wildflowers where you live. Once you know what they are, you can also google their metaphysical properties to see what kind of magick they hold.
Create a Beltane Feast
As a kitchen witch, I also think every sabbat deserves a good feast. A backyard barbecue is perfect for Beltane because you get to enjoy the abundance of nature and cook over live fire. A Beltane menu can also honor fire energy by including spicy foods. A Jalapeno Cream Cheese Stuffed Burger would be perfect.
Any seasonal fruits or vegetables would be ideal, as well. And with this being a fertility festival, berries, with their many seeds, are perfect. You can also honor the energy of the sun by working with citrus fruits. I’m planning on making Lemon & Ginger Bars for my Beltane Prosperity Ritual.
If you’re looking for even more awesome Spring recipes, check out my Recipes to Celebrate Beltane. It’s seriously delish.
I hope you’ve found plenty of inspiration here to bring a little Beltane magic into your life. At its heart, the wheel of the year is simply about honoring the rhythm of the Earth and the change of the seasons. It’s about recognising our place in the web of life, and our connection to all living things. These holidays combine traditions and myths from across cultures, and they allow us to bridge the gap between our modern way of life and the culture of our ancestors.
Humans may be the only species that creates art for the pure pleasure of making something beautiful. So go outside and get inspired by what nature is creating, then go make something beautiful of your own. And most importantly, do it in a way that feels really good to you.
Happy Beltane, friends. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram if you have any questions or just want to share what you’ve been creating. May your Spring be filled with joy.