Beltane Basics

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Beltane is the only Pagan holiday I was exposed to as a child. I knew it then as May Day.

I can’t clearly recollect being taught about Beltane. I don’t have a detailed memory of learning this holiday. All I know is I gathered the knowledge that May 1st was called May Day. And I learned that on this day it was traditional to do a May dance around a maypole. This activity included pretty, colored ribbons and I liked that 😉

Still …

Not a lot for a girl to go on, LOL!

Fortunately, I am a bit more ‘in the know’ now …

Beltane marks the space between spring and summer. At this point of the year it is no longer really spring, and yet summer has not fully arrived. It’s a sort of gateway, if you will.

We have access to the energy of this turn of the wheel, which carries a remarkably potent force, capable of producing new life and growth. Fertility is a main component of this force. Mother Earth opens herself to union with the Horned God; setting the stage for an abundant harvest at Samhain. Livestock are birthing forth their young and crops are being planted. Both of these events are worthy of celebration, as they will provide for our needs throughout the coming year.

Due to Beltane’s focus on fertility there is much sexual imagery associated with this holiday. This leads many to view it as an adult affair. But that is not necessarily the case. It can certainly be enjoyed by people of all ages. Simply plan your activities accordingly, keeping the daylight hours for family friendly activity and reserving the late evening hours for more age-specific events.

The veil is thin on this day, just as it is on Samhain. It opens a portal to the ‘otherworld’ of fairies and plant devas. Young people are particularly drawn to learning of and rejoicing in this aspect of Beltane. It is a great time for people of all ages to draw knowledge from the folk of the ‘otherworld’. It is also quite fun to dress up as a fairy or a diva, no matter what age you are. And you just never know, looking a bit more like these folk may draw them closer to you. It for sure couldn’t hurt!

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Bonfires are generally a central part of the Beltane festivities as well. It is considered a fire festival, and the Beltane fire is one of the vehicles by which the power of this significant day is carried into the upcoming seasons. On this day, in times past, all of the hearth fires of the community were extinguished, and a new fire was lit from which each household would relight their own hearth fire. This ritual activity served to bind the community together through a common central element. This strikes me as a very powerful practice. I would love to see my Pagan brothers and sisters try to rekindle (pun intended!) this practice on some level. It would be quite difficult to do in modern times, but certainly not impossible. It could be done with candles. And even though the flame would not burn in our homes long term … oh-how-lovely it would be while it lasted 😉 The energy would be set in place and the intention put forth. It seems that many good things could come from such a practice.

Fire is commonly considered a purifier and healer, and the Beltane fire is perfect for these purposes as well. Walking and dancing around it raise the magical energies it emits.

So … walk, dance, or simply stand in its powerful light and absorb the magical energy pouring forth from it into the depth of your being. Consciously place an intention with the Universe to carry this energy with you throughout the rest of the year. It will serve you well.

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Another seriously fabulous time-honored element of this holiday is the maypole. The maypole is a tall pole decorated with hanging ribbons and topped with a crown of flowers. A dance is performed around the pole, in which men dance in one direction and women dance in the opposite direction. They hold a ribbon from the pole in their hand as they circle around it. Thereby, causing the ribbon to create a weaved pattern on the pole. When there is not enough ribbon left for them to continue circling the pole, the remaining slack is knotted together. This keeps the ribbon from unwinding. After the maypole ritual is complete, the pole stands ‘dressed’ in her festive regalia for everyone to enjoy throughout the remainder of the holiday celebration.

The maypole itself is a pretty obvious phallic sign of fertility, representing the Horned God. The crown of flowers which sit atop the pole are representative of the Goddess. Many symbols associated with Beltane are sexual in nature. As it is a celebration of fertility, this just makes sense. True?

This is a time when the male energy of the God is at its peak. Statues of Him in a state of erection display His state of virility. As do depictions of Him with prominent antlers. If you are looking for appropriate Nature-based representations of the Gods fertility you can use sticks and seeds. These make great additions to table settings and altars alike.

Don’t forget to represent the Goddess, while adorning your feast table and/or your altar, as She also flaunts Her fertility at this time. She is aptly represented using any circular item. These items depict the vessel (the vagina) into which the Horned God will plant His seed. This seed will be nurtured by the body of the Goddess until it is birthed into the upcoming harvest. Wreaths, rings, and crowns are all lovely ways to honor Her.

Magically Beltane presents a magnificent opportunity to invoke abundance, prosperity, and fertility in your life. Use this to your advantage by casting spells for all of your endeavors, both large and small, to flourish and bear fruit by the time harvest arrives.

That concludes our journey through the fertile world of Beltane ...

I would love to hear your thoughts on this holiday celebration ...

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May good fortune chase you throughout ALL of your days!

Bountiful Blessings ~ Diane