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Beltane is usually celebrated on May 1st,
but some celebrate it on the night of April
30th, depending on their tradition. It is one
of the greater Wiccan Sabbats.
Beltane is a festival of fertility, of
natural magick, offerings to the spirits of
wildlife and the elements. Beltane celebrations
include jumping on broomsticks, dancing around
the Maypole and jumping over the fire. It also represents the union of God and the Goddess, the sacred marriage, new life and fertility of all living things.
Beltane is the beginning of the bright half of the year and is controlled by the Goddess, while the dark half is controlled by the God. As Beltane is considered a Sabbat of fertility, this is a time when the God and the Goddess unite in marriage. It is also believed that at this time the God fertilizes the Goddess, because of their sexual connection on this day – which is symbolized by the Maypole.
In ancient times, the Maypole was made of pine wood, which was decorated by everyone on the Yule Sabbat, and most of its branches removed. Traditionally, there are red and white colored ribbons tied to the top of the Maypole. The red ribbons symbolize the Sun God or the Mother, while the white ribbons symbolize the Virgin Goddess. The participants dance around the Maypole while holding the ribbons. The men hold red ribbons, and the women white ribbons. When they dance, they weave and twist the ribbons to form a symbolic birth canal around the phallic tree, representing the union of the Goddess and God.
The Origins of the Beltane May Pole Dance...
Maypole dancing is a form of folk dance from Germany, England, and Sweden.
There are two forms. The first and most popular consists of dancers that perform circle dances around a tall, garland-festooned pole.
In the second, dancers move in a circle, each holding a colored ribbon attached to a much smaller pole. As they move around the pole, the dancers intertwine their ribbons either in a web around the pole or to plait it to the pole, itself. To unravel the ribbons, the dancers retrace their steps.
It is believed that the first maypole dance originated as part of Germanic pagan fertility rituals. Originally, the dancers danced around a living tree.
While dancers usually perform this dance in the spring on May 1 or May Day, those in Sweden perform it during their midsummer celebrations.
The second kind of maypole dance, with origins in the 18th Century, began as a traditional or artistic dance popular in Italy and France. Eventually, traveling dancing troupes performed it in London theaters, thus bringing this traditional dance to larger audiences.
An English teacher training school adopted the maypole dance and soon it had spread across most of central and southern England. The dance became part of the repertoire of physical education for girls and remained popular in elementary schools in both England and the United States well into the 1950s.
Many Wiccans choose this Sabbat to fulfill their own Handfastings or weddings. In addition to Beltane, Litha is another time for such rituals and ceremonies.
Beltane is a good time for spellwork and witchcraft, especially love, fertility, protection and prosperity spells, as well as spiritual communication with deities and divination of all sorts.
Beltane is a time for faery magick, when the fairy queen is known as the May Queen. The fairy queen runs the festival together with her husband, and is acting as a representative of the Goddess. In countries with temperate climate, flowers bloom, blossom or get completely covered with leaves, gardens grow, all hibernating animals awaken and birds make nests. Beltane is the holiday of fertility and it is up to us to preserve the land and keep it healthy, protect the animals, plants and trees and make sure this fertility continues.
Other names for Beltane: Beltaine, May Day, Festival of Fire, Witches Night.
Symbolism: Festival of fertility, natural magic and offerings to the spirit of wildlife and elementals.
Gods & Deities: Aphrodite, Arianrod, Artemis, Astrate, Venus, Diana, Ariel, Var, Skadi, Cybele, Freya, Rhiannon, Apollo, Bacchus, Bel, Pan, Cupid, Odin, Orion, Horned God.
Decorations: Maypole, phallic shaped candle, floral garland of daisies or other flowers, floral wreaths, colorful ribbons.
Stones: Sapphire, bloodstone, emerald, rose quartz.
Plants: Primrose, yellow primrose, hawthorn, rose, birch, rosemary, lilac, almond, angelica, ash tree, bell, cinquefoil, daisies, frankincense, ivy, claw, woodruff.
Incense: Frankincense, lilac, passion flower, rose and vanilla.
Colors: Green, pink, brown, red, yellow, white.
Food: Milk products, honey, leafy vegetables, fruits, berries, pies.
Animals: Cat, lynx, leopard, swan, pigeon, rabbit, bee, horse.
Mythical Creatures: Pegasus.
Wiccan Altar: On Beltane can be decorated with flowers that bloom at this time of year. Small May poles can be easily constructed and placed on the altar.
We know the Goddess as a Mother and a Daughter. On Beltane she can be called Queen Mab, a fairy queen, who arrives from above on a horse from the other world, from the reality of visions and spirits, to teach us how to how to move between worlds. In Irish mythology, Mab was harsh and beautiful Goddess, respecting her husband Ailill, because she was generous, kind and not jealous. She was associated with the sacred hare, which brought magick and inspiration.
The Beltane God is the Green Man, God of all plants. He is also beloved by all the living creatures, the protector and guardian of the wild forest. He is often portrayed as a face on a leaf, looking out of branches and foliage. One of the oldest names of the Green Man is Robin Hood, a hunter who lives under the Greenwood tree. You might be familiar with the story of Robin Hood, but the name’s origin is actually from this old Pagan God. Robin Hood means “Rob in Hood” – a hood which good people and fairies wore. He was dressed in green and lived in the wild woods with his brothers, who defended the poor.
Updated: 24 Apr., 2017
Solitary Beltane Ritual...
One tall Green candle (for God)
One tall White candle (for Goddess)
4 corner candles
Cauldron for Balefire (if performed outdoors, make a Bonfire)
Ritual candles - different shades of green
Rose incense to burn with sage in cauldron
Cup of water
Bowl of salt
Chalice of wine or juice
Athame (for The Great Rite) and/or wand
Flowers to decorate altar
(Cast circle and call the corners then light the incense)
INVOCATION OF THE GOD: (light tall Green candle)
“I now do call upon the eternal God in the ancient way, as Young Lord and Oak King - Horned One of the Forests. I bid Ye welcome and ask Thee to come forth and join Thy Lady Goddess in the Holy Rite of Sacred Union. As it is willed, so mote it be!”
INVOCATION OF THE GODDESS: (light tall White candle)
“I now do call upon the eternal Goddess in the ancient way, as Lovely Maiden, Mother and Crone – Three-fold Goddess be. I bid Ye welcome and ask Thee to come forth and join Thy Lord God in the Holy Rite of Sacred Union. As it is willed, so mote it be!”
“Blessed be this day of Beltane,
Wedding day of the Goddess and God;
Holy day of sacred marriage,
Holy night of sacred union.”
Light the surrounding green rituals candles and say –
“Tonight I celebrate the union of our Mother Earth to Her consort, our Father God, the Green Man and Great Lord of the Forests, as nature rejoices in a blaze of color and life.”
Go to the altar and pick up the cup of water, hold upwards and say –
“Blessed be the sacred union which manifests all creation!
Behold the womb of the Mother,
The entity from which all life flows,
Blessed be the Lady!”
Go to the altar and pick up the athame, hold upwards and say –
“Behold the phallus of the God,
Fruitful principle of the universe,
Blessed be the Lord!”
THE GREAT RITE (Symbolic) –
(Pick up chalice of wine or juice then say):
“Blessed be you, my Lady,
The Holy Bride of Heaven and Earth,
Come unite with Thy Lord in the ancient rite of sacred marriage!”
(Pick up athame and then say):
“Blessed be you, my Lord,
The Holy Groom of Heaven and Earth,
Come unite with Thy Lady Goddess in the ancient rite of sacred marriage!”
While slowly dipping the athame into the chalice, repeat:
“Chalice to athame,
As Goddess is to God;
Father is to Mother,
As man is to woman,
Behold the sacred union of The One!”
Replace the chalice and athame back on the altar and say:
“By this act of love, all life comes to be;
By this act of faith, I proclaim my place on the eternal cycle of life,
The Lord and Lady reign eternal!”
Now toast to the Lord and Lady by drinking from the chalice and breaking off a piece of the bread – setting aside a portion to give back to the Earth later.
“I am a child of deity,
I am part of the creative life force which moves the universe;
I am part of all that is –
Though we are apart we are always together,
For we are one in the spirit of our Goddess and God;
Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again –
(Close ritual, thank the deities and remember to give back to the Earth)
Update: 24 Apr., 2017