It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of April already and in just 7 days, it will be time to celebrate Beltane. Or more commonly called depending on where you are in the world, May Day.
Beltane is one of the eight Sabbats that are honored by Pagans and Witches – predominantly in North America and Europe and dates back at least 1,000 years. The word Beltane is a Celtic word deriving from northern Europe and means “the fires of Bel.” Ancient Celts would light two bonfires as a way to purify themselves and to help increases the odds of fertility.
Pagans also celebrated Beltane as a way to indicate the halfway mark between Spring Equinox (Ostara) and the upcoming Summer Solstice which is celebrated on June 20-21. Beltane is also referred to as the Fire Festival or in May Day.
It is a time to celebrate light and fertility and put the darkness of winter behind us, focusing on creation and “birthing” of new ideas, projects or relationships.
May Pole Dancing / May Day
In some parts of the worlds, Pagans (and witches too) will celebrate by dressing up in pretty white or frilly dresses for the girls/women, and dance around a tall pole that is decorated by colorful ribbons.
Many of the dancers wear flower or garland wreaths that they made by using supplies from their own gardens. The May pole dance is considered to be a fertility ritual. Some dancers may choose to wear flowers that are braided or woven into their hair as well. Other ways to “give back” include making a “May Basket” and filling them with flowers and goodwill (food, non-perishable items), and then give the baskets to a friend or neighbor in need of of support.
Spiritual Symbolism & Correspondences
- Colors: greens, red, white, blue or pastels
- Elements: fire, smoke (incense), air
- Herbs: sandalwood, lavender, thyme, rosemary
- Plants: rosemary, mint, daffodils, dandelions, tulips
- Symbols: flowers, fire, wreath, May Pole, ribbons
Beltane Meal Planning
It is customary to eat foods that are in season for Beltane or May Day such as fruits and vegetables that are grown locally. A great way to give back to the Earth, is to support your local farmers and buy fresh produce at a local farmer’s market. Other people, especially those from Indigenous backgrounds, will often prepare bannock bread with berry jam made from scratch. Or you could bake scones or fritters.
For meat eaters, goat, beef or chicken are typically consumed at Beltane Feasts. For drinks, you may want to consider grape wine, mead or homemade ale. Anything made from fruit is a good option.
Here’s another list of options you could prepare for your guests if you are hosting a dinner with friends. I was just outside and the sun is shining so bright and warm – I’m hoping and praying for good weather next week.
The following are some suggestions you can do in a group setting, or alone. Try looking for groups or activities in your area on Facebook or Meetup.com if you are new to the practice or don’t have anyone to celebrate with. As a solo practitioner, I will be partaking in activities I can do alone from home.
- Craft a May Pole out of homemade items such as popsicle sticks and giftwrap ribbons using an array of colors (typically pastels or bold colors).
- Make a crown or wreath out of supplies from your garden to wear on your head.
- Prepare a basket of goodies including wine, food, pastries or fruit and give to someone in need of support. Make a casserole and bring to a friend who is ill.
- Gather with friends and light a bonfire, enjoy some wine, fruits and vegetables and dance or sing songs around the fire.
- Prepare an offering for Mother Earth of flowers, herbs, or other biodegradable items that you can leave somewhere in nature – WITHOUT disturbing the natural habitat.
- Fertility rituals – if you’re in a relationship and trying to conceive, now is the time to get busy in the bedroom!
- Go on a nature walk alone or with family, take in the amazing scenery, relish in the fresh spring air and say hello to woodland creatures you might stumble across.
- Grab a bunch of friends and head out to a local park, roast some hotdogs or hamburgers on the open flames, enjoy a cold ale, sit outside until the night sky comes in and admire the moon and stars
Solo practitioners like me that live in the city, might not have access to a bon fire or nature trails. Or may not be able to walk or drive to these places for health reasons. If you’re like me and you live alone, it is perfectly fine to make do with what you have available to you. Make a healthy meal, light a candle if you are allowed to, recite a blessing, or go for a walk or sit outside on your balcony.
Honouring the Sabbats doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money or create an elaborate event – find the things that you enjoy doing and resources you have available in your environment. You can make new traditions with your family or friends, or just celebrate on your own.
Are you a witchy type of person? Or are you of Pagan origins? If so, do you celebrate the Sabbat holidays? If so, let me know what your plans are in the comments. Always looking to connect with fellow practitioners.
If you’d like to learn more about my spiritual journey, please head over to my spiritual practice page.
- Imbolc (Candlemas) – Feb 1-2
- Spring Equinox (Ostara) – March 19-23
- January 2023: Working with intentions instead of resolutions
- February 2023: intention setting & scrapbooking
- March 2023: Mindful March & Ostara blessings
- April 2023: Creating Space (intentions)
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