Beltane sanctifies the wheel turning towards summer, and is a festival of fertility, life and abundance. All of spring’s potential will be conceived as the season passes into the height of the sun's warmth. This is a time of sensuality, joy and revelry and a scared moment to move from planning to action towards any goals or dreams you may desire. The earth is fertile and flowing with life.
Beltane is most commonly held on May 1st, or halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice and marks the beginning of summer. This sacred day along with Samhain (marking the beginning of winter) are thought to have been the most important of the four Gaelic festivals.
How to celebrate Beltane
There are many ways to celebrate this ancient pagan fire festival, even in our modern lives. From intimate personal rituals, to rites steeped in folklore - the smallest ceremony can help connect you back to the wilds and the roots of your ancestors. Honour the seasons. Follow the old ways.
Light a Beltane fire
The earliest mention of Beltane is in Old Irish literature from Gaelic Ireland. According to the early medieval text, the druids would make two fires "with great incantations" and drive the cattle between them to protect them from disease. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and bring fertility. Couples leapt over flames together to pledge themselves to each other. According to one theory, the great fires were meant to symbolise the Sun and to ensure a needful supply of sunshine for men, animals, and plants. The fires were meant to symbolically burn and destroy all harmful influences. Light a small fire in your garden or a large candle indoors and feed the flames with anything you wish to be rid of in your life. Write a note speaking of all you wish you banish, and watch the fires reduce any fears to ash. Revel in the heat.
Dress your home in greenery
Yellow and white spring flowers invoking the sun such as primrose, rowan, hawthorn, gorse, and hazel are traditionally placed in doorways and windows. Sometimes wildflowers are made into bouquets or garlands to decorate the home or crafted into a crown to be given to a loved one. Fill your space with colour and life. Decorating a May tree is another ancient custom, and thorn trees such as the Hawthorn are especially sacred at Beltane. Find a tree local to you and adorn the branches in paper ribbons, dried flowers and natural offerings. Feel the abundance of life as you decorate the tree, and give thanks to all that you receive.
Wash your face in the morning dew
As the sun rises on Beltane, the mornings may still be chilled with the last bite of winter. Women have traditionally collected the fresh morning dew from the grass and flowers of a Beltane morn to cleanse their faces. This elixir embued with life is said to purify and bring great beauty to all who wash with its waters. You could even be lucky enough to collect enough to add to a bath. Add fresh herbs and wildflowers to truly celebrate your luxurious nature.
Take your lover into the wilds
Beltane is a festival of sensuality, sex and passion. To go "A-Maying" is a time-old tradition, where lovers disappear into the forest and fields, not to return until the morning with arms full of wildflowers to decorate their homes. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere isolated, make the most of it. Feel the sun on your skin, and don't return until dawn.
Fill your day with decadence and sensuality
Tune in to all of your senses. Eat the richest, sweetest, honey-glazed foods. Fill yourself on ripe fruit and fresh greens. Adorn yourself in jewels, perfumes and dress for the occasion. Wear your softest, silkiest fabrics. Anything that has been saved for best, should be used today. Listen to music that fills you with energy. Honour your own life force.