Typically celebrated on May 1 or May 5 or the first moon in Taurus depending on tradition.
The Basics of Beltaine
Also Called: Beltane or Beltaine - in American
traditions; Bealtaine - Celtic traditions; Bealtinne - in Caledonii
traditions; Rudemas - Mexican Craft traditions; Festival of Tana -
Strega traditions; Walburga - Teutonic traditions.
Also known as Mayday, Bealtaine is the last of the 3 spring fertility holidays. While Mayday is traditionally celebrated on May 1st, where Bealtaine is celebrated any where between May 1st and May 5th.
- Symbolized in the May pole.
- This holiday represents the time when people, plants and animals prepare for the summer months. The time of love, and union. Specifically the union of the Lord and Lady, the male and female aspects of the divine God. It is a time of joining two halves to make a single whole, the 3rd entity. Could this be a sign of the spiritual trinity? The season is represented by bright blue, lavender, pink, yellow and white. Ribbons around a favorite tree in your yard, or a wreath for your door using flowers for the seasons colors and ribbons to show off their natural beauty is a great addition.
Bealtaine is the third of the Spring holidays that ring in the festivals for fertility. Not just fertility of self and body as many non-believers believe. But fertility of the earth for an abundant crop, and garden, a fertile mind for imagining new ideas and concepts; perhaps for work or home. Depending on which sect of Wicca you chose to follow, Bealtaine can occur on May Day, May 1st, up to May 5th.
This is the festival of union. It is the time of love, when the God and the Maiden Goddess join together on a life of commitment. The perfect season for weddings and celebrations of handfasting.
It is the holiday of love and family.
This festival is most commonly celebrated through a ritual known as the Great Rite. It is ceremony that symbolizes the both the masculine and feminine essence of creation. The joining of the parts into the larger completeness of the "All-Power" of life. This is a day when couples can renew their commitments to each other. Those with children can include them in this special ceremony symbolizing the fertility of Divine union and spiritual growth. All the children to make their commitment of love to parents and family. Single parent homes are not left out of this festival either. A single parent plays both parts of father and mother, a commitment to self, balance and fairness can also be stated.
A single witch is not out of the ritual either. There may not be a partner to share your love and commitment to the union with, but you are part of the "All-Power" within yourself, within your home and within the universe as well. Thus your commitment to the balance of energies within and around you are equally important.
Span the light shades of red to white for your decorations. A basket of red roses flowers and pink carnations is one of our favorites. Colored eggs can be added to the alter as magically charged symbols of fertility. An athame and silver chalice are also added to the alter as symbols of the masculine and feminine energies respectively. You can use these later in your Great Rite ceremony.
Lastly, we make small pouches as gifts for anyone who joins our circle. Inside we give seeds for the coming planting season, such as lily of the valley (a common May flower), lettuce symbolizing the unfolding growth of the female spirit, and carrots or cucumbers for the representation of the male spirit.
Traditionally Sabbat festivals begin at sun set on the eve of the Holiday. You can use the daytime hours of this holiday eve to clean up your ritual area and set the alter. We like to use this day to bake cakes and prepare our ritual wines for the evening ceremonies. We like to symbolize the spirit of the festival in the offerings we prepare. On this holiday we make cucumber sandwiches, carrot cake and some type of salad, or slaw. As for the alter, choose a special white candle as your center piece to represent the purity of the Maiden Goddess. Along side chose a red candle to represent passion and love the God. Around the circle we like to place light pink candles to represent the compassion and love of the spring season, much like we did during Ostara.
You can place a mauve cloth covered with a vanilla colored lace over the dining table and/or alter. Some witches include crystals to enhance the energy of the season. Rose Quartz (a pink stone) can be used to enhance love, self love, positive outlook, joy and oneness. Garnet (a red stone) can be used to stimulate happiness, peace, balance, patience, and inspiration. Gold or brass serving trays and goblets for ritual offerings are also placed on or around the alter for easy access. Along with a bridal flower arrangement to further mark the occasion.
Dancing around the May Pole is another custom of Celtic rituals. Although ribbons today come in a variety of colors, the ancient custom was to use white , red, pink and perhaps a faint yellow. The ritual involves weaving the ribbons around the pole, to symbolize the union of the God and Goddess. By the way, this is a common custom on Mayday within and outside of Paganism. But the purpose of the game was still the same. The joining of the female and males aspects of God and the renewal of life.
There are several ways of conducting a ritual. Each witch should learn many different methods and then construct your own within the boundaries of the festival.