Sunday, 29 April 2018
Celebrating Beltane/May Day
It's almost time for Beltane again! This year it's on a Tuesday (1st May), although some celebrate it on 30th April, so in that case it's tomorrow. :) I believe that some people consider sabbats to last from sundown to sundown. So Beltane would start at sunset on 30th April and finish at sunset on 1st May. It's also called May Eve.
Note: If you're in the Northern Hemipshere it's time for Samhain! Check out my Samhain Celebration posts here:
Last year I did a post on Beltane celebration ideas which you can read here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/04/beltane-celebration-ideas.html
This year here are more ideas for celebrating and I thought I'd also include some ideas for May Day, the modern counterpart which is still celebrated in many places, including the UK. The first Monday in May in the Early May Bank Holiday here; this year it's 7th May.
May Day info
In The Real Witches' Handbook, Kate West mentions that Beltane was originally celebrated as May Day but was outlawed by Cromwell.
You can read a bit about May Day here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3324669/may-bank-holiday-2018-when-may-day-date-uk/
More on Beltane
So as I mentioned in last year's post Beltane is the 2nd spring festival on the Wheel, and the fire festival of the Fire/Sun God Bel. Its themes are the God and the goddess coming together, fertility, springtime and renewal, new life. It's similar to Oestara but Beltane marks the start of summer. It's also the counterpart to Samhain (which is now Hallowe'en as well) and like at Samhain, it's a time when the veils between the worlds (this one and the spirit/fairy world) are said to be thin. But it's more a time of "trickster" spirits, whereas Samhain is about honouring those who have died.
Here are a couple of links with more info about this festival:
In the White Goddess article they mention braiding your hair as a way to celebrate the union of man and woman and Goddess and God. (Note: If you're gay, bisexual etc., don't think you can't celebrate, we all have masculine and feminine in us and I believe that Wicca in general is inclusive). :) I also loved what Erin, at The Seasonal Soul, wrote about celebrating your body. She also has some questions for you think about and journal on, if you want to.
There's a good post from Demi of Rockstar Priesstess about the shadow side of Beltane (Samhain):
Marietta from Witchy Words has some good celebration ideas for solitary witches:
I especially like No. Two, Write self-love letters and No. Ten, Reflected Self-Love.
And finally here are a couple more links:
The first one is a video from Tess Whitehurst about gazing into the light during Beltane and illuminating hidden parts of ourselves. Then the second is an overview of this time of year- the middle of spring, moving into summer.
I also enjoyed this video of Tess' last year about celebrating Beltane all day: https://tesswhitehurst.com/how-to-celebrate-beltane-all-day-no-matter-what-else-youre-doing/
Let's move on to more ideas for celebrating. :)
I usually celebrate the sabbats by making food and/or drink. For Beltane I tend to make salad and have an elderflower drink, although last year I had lemonade. For the past couple of years I've made guacamole using a recipe from The Kitchen Witch, and I like to have it with salad and a couple of other bits for my lunch.
Light a bonfire or candle
Since Beltane is a fire festival you could have a bonfire (please do this in a safe place and make sure you have permission first!) or just light a candle. You could light a green candle because green is a traditional colour for this sabbat or white if you don't have green, or any colour you like really. Although it's fun to use colours that fit the sabbats theme, if your favourite is something else, then why not light one in that colour? It's up to you. You'll still be celebrating light and fire. :)
Celebrate love and relationships
Beltane is a fertility festival and also wedding season is starting, so now is a good time to celebrate love and relationships. Traditionally young men and women would "go a maying" in the woods, supposedly to gather Mayflowers (Hawthorn) but the real intention is thought to have been finding a lover! You can read a bit more about that in relation to the children's folk song Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May, here: https://www.mamalisa.com/blog/about-the-song-here-we-come-gathering-nuts-in-may-and-may-day/
Some pagans have their handfastings at Beltane or during late spring. It's a nice time of year to spend time with your partner/lover if you have one. If you don't (like me) you could focus on self love (as mentioned in the Witchy Words post, or the love you have for family and friends.
An old custom was wearing green to announce your intention of meeting someone. So you might like to wear something green to attract love, or just to celebrate Beltane itself.
Attend an event
There are often May Day events in the UK, such as May fairs and festivals and performances by Morris dancers. If that's something you're interested in, look out for events in your area. Not all fairs are on May Day itself, in the past I've danced with my belly dance troupe at a May fair event later in the month. So keep an eye out for the whole of May.
Dance around a Maypole
We did this when I was at school and when we performed it at a May fair, I was one of the May Queen attendants. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to dance! There are people who teach Maypole workshops (we discussed having one the other year in my dance group, although we haven't so far). I did a quick search and found a website run by a man in Hertfordshire: http://www.mikesmaypole.co.uk/
Hope that gave you some ideas. :) I will share my Beltane celebrations next week. I enjoy celebrating spring but it's not feeling very spring like at the moment! After what felt like a long winter, and snow in early spring (even in Sussex where we don't normally get much), the weather turned hot and summer like earlier this month, but now it's back to being chilly and rainy again! I think it's more typical for this time of year. It's supposed to be warming up during May though. During the hotter spell I took some some spring photos at the park and beach, which you can see here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/spring-photos.html
I'll finish with another article from The Seasonal Soul about planting seeds for an abundant summer:
Happy Beltane! (Or Happy Samhain, depending whereabouts you are). :)
Photo: Blossom tree in Hove Park. Moonsparkle 2018.