Beltane: And The Fires Burn!
Beltane fires come in many different forms! They begin with the fires within.
In this season the sap is rising . . . not only in the trees and birds and bees, but in humans as well. The whole Earth seems to be rising up in joyful celebration.
Beltane, or May Day, is celebrated on the first of May. (Or, more specifically, beginning at sundown April 30th). In the Southern Hemisphere, it is celebrated on November 1.
The name derives directly from the Old Irish Beltain
, and is related to the English word bale
, as in balefire. (It's also related to various words referring to fire, ash, and shining.)
Some say it means the fires of Bel
, supposedly a Celtic God (personally, I haven't found any evidence of this).
In the Wheel of the Year
Beltane is poised at the cusp between spring and summer. It's a solar cross-quarter festival, the midpoint in the Sun's journey between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.
The Earth is coming to life again. Everything is greening, and a sense of infinite promise fills the air.
The Sun's power is strong and still growing. The God has come of age, and courts the Goddess. At this last of the spring festivals, their passionate reunion fuels the well-being and abundance of the world.
Between the Worlds
May Day is directly across the Wheel of the Year from Samhain.
Both mark a gate between the Worlds. As Samhain marks life turning to the Otherworld, so Beltane marks opening passages for spirits to embody in fleshly life.
So just as the Veil Between The Worlds is thin and permeable at Samhain, we can reach across at Beltane as well.
The Powers of the Beltane Fires
Fire is a primary feature of this festival. In ancient times, cattle would be driven between two great fires, to ensure their fertility and to grant them protection through the year.
These are the main themes of a Wiccan Beltane celebration:
- fertility & creativity,
And all of these can be invoked in the magick of the Beltane fires.
Traditionally, at this time of year, we work magick for fertility (our own, or what feeds us), for creative expression, for well-being, for success, and for abundance.
Beltane Ritual Ideas
There are plenty of directions for your Beltane rituals to take. Here are some traditional ones.
Dance the Maypole
If you have a community to celebrate with, you might wish to set up a Maypole.
This great tree trunk with its tip buried in the ground is symbolic of the male essence fertilizing the female Earth.
We joyfully celebrate this union of God and Goddess by decorating the sacred lingam with ribbons, and dancing around the sacred marriage bed.
May Boughs and May Bush
If you prefer a quieter or solo rite, you can hang May Boughs on the doors and windows of your house, invoking protection and blessings.
Or decorate a May Bush traditionally a rowan/mountain ash or whitethorn/hawthorn branch set up near your house.
This would be decorated with ribbons, flowers, and coloured egg shells. (A practice that still exists in some places on the East Coast of North America.)
The Great Rite
If you enjoy sex magick, you may choose to enact the Great Rite. This sanctified union of the Yin and the Yang generates Divine Energy that nourishes all life and creative expression.
Contrary to certain prejudices, this can be done with couples of the same sex as well as couples of opposite sex.
We all embody the creative Energy of the Divine. We each contain both Yin and Yang.
The Great Rite is a form of Tantric ritual. In other words, it's not simply about sex. In giving yourself away through the sexual act, you can break yourself open to the Divine. This is the power and magick of sexuality.
Traditionally the Great Rite is enacted with a lover, but there is no reason why you cannot invoke the God or Goddess solo! The Divine can be a potent lover!
And of course to celebrate Beltane, fires are most appropriate! A nice bonfire can be worked into any of these other rites.
After blessing and lighting the Beltane fire, you can dance around it and leap over it to purify yourself and invoke blessings and abundance for the coming year.
Cedar or juniper branches are particularly beneficial in this blessing fire. Offer some boughs to the fire, and allow the scented smoke to cleanse and bless you.
You can also jump the Beltane fires with someone you love!
Jumping the Beltane fires with another is said to strengthen your bonds of friendship. It is also said to increase passion and promote fertility, so you may wish to be careful when you choose a fire-jumping partner.
A Season Of Joy
Remember that, whatever rituals you choose to do, this is a season of celebration!
The deep work of the dark time is over; the hard work of summer has yet to begin. Now is a time to rejoice in all life's pleasures.
Thank the deities and ancestors with gifts.
Dance, feast, make merry, make love....
All these acts of love and pleasure nurture the Goddess Earth, who in turn nourishes us.
Give to Her your joy! She will multiply it, and offer it back to you, and to all beings.
I wish you a blessed and brilliant Beltane!
Chants For The Season
We are a fire
that keeps returning
and always burning
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I am the fire
I am the sun
Thy will be done
With Brightest Blessings,
Silver Chalice Wiccan E-zine