Beltain (fire in the sky), celebrates the spring holiday and is a significant fire and fertility festival that begins at sunset on 30th April. Halfway around the year from Samhain, when we honour the dead, Beltain is the festival that honours all of the living.
During Beltain the young God has blossomed into manhood, and the Goddess takes him on as her lover. This is a time to celebrate the coming together of the masculine and feminine creative energies.
It is the second most important Sabbat after Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is once again at its finest. During Beltain it is believed that mischievous elves and fairies make themselves known and care should be taken during magical practices.
Beltain is a time of Fairy Magic, and the Queen of fairies is represented by the Queen of the May. With her consort at her side, she rules over the celebrations and serves as a representative of the Goddess.
Fires were burned as beacons across the land to symbolize the sun’s return to the sky and fertility to the land. Livestock were driven between the fires to protect them from disease. Fertility to the ancients was a matter of life and death, and so the sick and frail passed between the fires to obtain the sun’s healing blessings.
In Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn means May Day. The word originally meant “Bel Fire”, and Beltain is associated with the Celtic God Bel. Fires were traditionally built at Beltain, and people would jump over the fire. Wishing for a husband or a wife, young unmarried people would leap the bonfire, and young women would leap it to ensure their fertility, couples leaped it to strengthen their bond. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. Women would braid flowers into their hair, and men and women would decorate their bodies.
Beltain is a time of self-discovery, love, union, and developing personal growth. It is a time to look forward to the future and to prepare for the warm summer months ahead.
- Dancing around a bonfire
- Scatter ashes from the bonfire in the fields as a fertility charm. Women wishing to conceive can tie a bag of ashes around their necks.
- Collecting flowers
- Erect and decorate a May Pole.
- Enjoy a meal of fruits and vegetables.
- Spend time outside enjoying the weather.
- Private Meditation.
- Make May Baskets to give to family and friends.
- Gather the first wild herbs of the season.
- Wash your face in dew at sunrise on Beltane for beauty in the coming year.
- Braid flowers in your hair.
- Make a wish at the hawthorn tree, a tree associated with fairies.
- Make love in the woods. Beltane is the time of year when the Goddess and God consummate their passions.
- Commune with the fairies.
- Mark the boundaries of your circle with oatmeal, a traditional Beltane grain.
- Decorate your home with fresh flower garlands or greenery.
- Send flowers to loved ones,
- Plant new gardens,
- Spring cleaning is a traditional Beltaine gesture.
- Light a fire in the fireplace at sundown to invoke the Sun God.
- Serve an evening meal of breakfast foods to invoke the fertility of the Sun God. Pancakes, eggs, milk, cheese, bacon, sausage, and honey are good options
- Division: Major Sabbat
- Other Names: Beltane, May Eve, May Day, Samradh,, Walpurgisnacht, Walpurgis Eve, Rudemas, Celtic Summer, Floralia, The Great Rite, Giamonios, Bhealltainn.
- Southern Hemisphere Date: Oct 31
- Northern Hemisphere Date: May 1
- Associated Holiday: May Day
- Associated deities: Stag Lord, The Green Man, Jack in the Green, May Queen
- Associated herbs: frankincense, roses, lemon balm, lemon thyme
- Associated stones: Sapphires, quartz crystal, sunstone, orange calcite, malachite, and rose quartz.
- Symbols of Beltain: Fresh flowers, May Pole, May Baskets, Crossroads, Eggs, Butterchurns, and Chalices
- Foods of Beltain: Dairy, Custard, Vanilla Ice Cream, and all kinds of Sweats. Also, Cherries and Strawberries, Green Salads, Oatmeal and Barley Cakes
- Drinks of Beltain: Red or Pink Wines or Punch.
- Incense of Beltain: Frankincense, lilac, passionflower, rose, or vanilla.
- Ritual Oils: Passionflower, Rose, Tuberose, Vanilla
- Colors of Beltain: Red, White, and Dark Green, or Yellow, Soft Pink, and Blue.
- Taboos: None
- Plants: Primrose, Cowslip, Hawthorn, Rose, Birch, Rosemary, Lilac
- Element: Air
- Activities: Wrapping May Pole, The Great Rite, Gathering Flowers
- Animals: Goats, Rabbits, Honeybees, Swallow, cats
- Mythical Creatures: Fairies, Pegasus, Satyrs, Giants
- Celebration of: The Lord and Lady consummate their relationship.