Beltane is one of the major Sabbaths of the pagan tradition. The celebration of this festival starts on the eve of April 30th and extends to May 1. The origin of Beltane can be traced to the Druids who celebrated fire and light.
The “Bel” means brilliant and “Teine” means Fire. This celebration is done to commemorate the fertility of the soil, mark the abundance of harvests and the passage from the darkness of winter into the light of spring. This celebration is syncretized to the Saint Walburga in the Christian religion so it is also referred to as Walpurgis Night.
The symbols :
- Day: May 1st.
- Incense: lilac, lily of the valley, verbena, oliban, hawthorn.
- Flora : Roman goddess of flowers.
- Diane : Goddess of the Moon
- Pan : Greek god of the woods and fertility.
- Pink, soft green, mauve, yellow.
Trees: fruit trees in bloom, willow, hawthorn.
Flowers:lilac, lily of the valley, buttercup, May flowers.
May (Hawthorn) trees were and still are, decorated with ribbons and charms at this time of year. If you haven’t a Hawthorn near you, you could place sprigs of another blossoming tree into a vase and hang the decorations on those.
Yellow flowers, thought to imitate the sun, were often worn by people, on animals and sometimes tied to doors and windows.
TIP: Wear a yellow flower this Beltane or decorate your home with some wreaths of flowers.
Stones: emerald, sapphire, rose quartz.
During this celebration, bonfires are lit to keep away evil spirits. The lightening of fire and welcoming of the sun ensures the fertility of the land. In the Celtic tradition, the worshippers leap around the fire for purification and fertility purposes.
- Create a sacred flame with a red candle by carving a symbol of protection into the wax or chanting.
- Use the flame to light a lantern or carry it in a jar.
- Walk around the outside of your home chanting, verbally or silently to ensure protection and energy to fulfil your ambitions, projects and dreams.
- Walk round a red flame/candle – candles can be used indoors and sing and dance around it.
In recent times, the celebration of Beltane is done around the Maypole which is a phallic symbol planted deep into the earth and decorated with colored ribbons.
This pole represents the potency and fecundity of God and the unwinding ribbons are symbols of the union of the god and goddess. The worshippers drink and dance around this pole.
Significance of Beltane
This is a season of cultivation of seeds and rearing of animals. In ancient Sweden animals were let out for grazing.
It is also the time to bind one’s destiny to another person in an annual relationship. The Celtics and ancient Pagans are known to mark this season with a hand fasting.
The tradition is that on the morning of May 1st, the couple wander in the woods and exchange their vows of fidelity and love for a period of one year. The man picks flowers for his beautiful woman and braids a crown that he offers to her.
The woman picks oak leaves for her lover’s crown. In some tradition, they use a ribbon to fasten their hands together before pledging loyalty to one another for a year. At the end of the one year period, they might decide to break up or renew their commitment.
During this celebration, the goddesses of fertility are revered. People seek for blessings of fertility for their animals, land and themselves. Barren women mate on this night with the hope of getting pregnant.
Celebration of Beltane in Czech Republic:
To the people of Czech Republic, Beltane is seen as a season of love. Huge bon fires of about 8 meters are set up preferably at the top of the hills. Pagans gather around the bon fire to drink, dance, make love and make merry. When a black and dense smoke formation leave the fire, the people cheer it as “a witch flying away”.
On Beltane Night as on Halloween strange things may happen. One of such is unbridled sexuality as worshippers consider this time ideal for reproduction.
Beltane night is also a time to use your energy to show kindness to people around you and heal the sickly ones. You can also prepare amulets of protection that will serve you during the year.