Beltane(May 1st) is the time of the year to start something new.Beltane is the time for decision, for making of laws and goals for the coming year. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. . Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight. Wiccan handfastings are common at this time.This is a time of self-discovery, love, union and developing your potential for personal growth.
In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.Think of the May pole as a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God.
Forms include pole, tree, bush, cross; communal or household; permanent or annual.
In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day.
In England, permanent Maypoles were erected on village greens
In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.
Maypole ribbondances, with two circles interweaving; around decorated bush/tree, clockwise circle dances.
Flowers & Greenwood
Gathering and exchange of Flowers and Greens on May Eve, pre-dawn May Day, Beltane.
Decorating homes, barns, and other buildings with Green budding branches, including Hawthorn.
Making and wearing of garland wreaths of Flowers and/or Greens.
May Baskets were given or placed secretly on doorsteps to friends, shut-ins, lovers, others.
May Bowl was punch (wine or non-alcoholic) made of Sweet Woodruff blossoms.
Traditionally, sacred woods kindled by spark from flint or by friction -- in Irish Gaelic, the Beltane Fire has been called teine eigin (fire from rubbing sticks).
Jump over the Beltane Fire, move through it, or dance clockwise around it.
Livestock was driven through it or between two fires for purification and fertility blessings.
In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places; later times, Christian priests kindled it in fields near the church after peforming a Christian church service.
Rowan twigs were carried around the fire three times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.
In the past, Beltane community fire purification customs included symbolic sacrifice of effigy knobs on the Beltane Cake (of barley) to the fire, or, in medieval times, mock sacrifice of Beltane Carline (Hag) who received blackened piece of Beltane Cake; Maypoles in Spain were each topped with a male effigy which was later burned. Contemporary Pagans burn sacred wood and dried herbs as offerings in their Beltane fires.
Rolling in May Eve dew or washing face in pre-dawn May Day dew for health, luck, beauty.
Getting head and hair wet in Beltane rain to bless the head.
Blessing springs, ponds, other sacred waters with flowers, garlands, ribbons, other offerings.
Collecting sacred waters and scrying in sacred springs, wells, ponds, other waters.
TO CELEBRATE BELTAINE TODAY...
Arise at dawn and wash in the morning dew: the woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful; the man who washes his hands will be skilled with knots and nets.
If you live near water, make a garland or posy of spring flowers and cast it into stream, lake or river to bless the water spirits.
Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill, then give it to one in need of caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend.
Beltane is one of the three "spirit-nights" of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them.
Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luckbut make sure you tie up long skirts first!
Make a May bowl wine or punch in which the flowers of sweet woodruff or other fragrant blossoms are soakedand drink with the one you love.
Sources: Circle Sanctuary/ Selena Fox, Celtic Spirit, Magick Mamma's Website