Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day

Happy May Day and Blessed Beltane

April's showers have given way to rich and fertile earth, and as the land greens, there are few celebrations as representative of fertility as Beltane. Observed on May 1st, festivities typically begin the evening before, on the last night of April. It's a time to welcome the abundance of the fertile earth, and a day that has a long (and sometimes scandalous) history. Depending on your tradition, there are a number of ways you can celebrate this Sabbat. First, you might want to read up on:

Beltane History

Rituals and Ceremonies
Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Beltane, but the focus is nearly always on fertility. It's the time when the earth mother opens up to the fertility god, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around.

The Maypole is one of the traditional symbols of Beltane, and let's not kid ourselves about its purpose: it's a giant phallus.

Because Beltane festivities usually kicked off the night before with a big bonfire, the Maypole celebration usually took place shortly after sunrise the next morning. This was when couples (and probably more than a few surprised triads) came staggering in from the fields, clothes in disarray and straw in their hair after a night of bonfire-inspired lustiness.

For some wonderful photos and information on the Maypole please visit this page
Winding the Maypole

The following information is from

It's Beltane, the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas -- obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.

Colors of the Season
This is a time when the earth is lush and green as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy. Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colors -- the yellow of the daffodils, forsythia and dandelions; the purples of the lilac; the blue of a spring sky or a robin's egg. Decorate your altar with any or all of these colors in your altar cloths, candles, or colored ribbons.

Fertility Symbols
The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of his fertility include antlers, sticks, acorns, and seeds. You can include any of these on your altar. Consider adding a small Maypole centerpiece -- there are few things more phallic than a pole sticking up out of the ground!

In addition to the lusty attributes of the god, the fertile womb of the goddess is honored at Beltane as well. She is the earth, warm and inviting, waiting for seeds to grow within her. Add a goddess symbol, such as a statue, cauldron, cup, or other feminine items. Any circular item, such as a wreath or ring, can be used to represent the goddess as well.

Flowers and Faeries
Beltane is the time when the earth is greening once again -- as new life returns, flowers are abundant everywhere. Add a collection of early spring flowers to your altar -- daffodils, hyacinths, forsythia, daisies, tulips -- or consider making a floral crown to wear yourself. You may even want to pot some flowers or herbs as part of your Sabbat ritual.

In some cultures, Beltane is sacred to the Fae. If you follow a tradition that honors the Faerie realm, leave offerings on your altar for your household helpers.

Fire Festival
Because Beltane is one of the four fire festivals in modern Pagan traditions, find a way to incorporate fire into your altar setup. Although one popular custom is to hold a bonfire outside, that may not be practical for everyone, so instead it can be in the form of candles (the more the better), or a table-top brazier of some sort. A small cast-iron cauldron placed on a heat-resistant tile makes a great place to build an indoor fire.

Other Symbols of Beltane
May baskets
Honey, oats, milk
Antlers or horns
Fruit such as cherries, mangos, pomegranates, peaches
Swords, lances, arrows



Blogger Willow Goldentree said...

Happy Beltaine!

May 1, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Beltane greetings to you Patty!

May 1, 2008 at 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joyous Beltane !!!

Blessed be

May 1, 2008 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Leanne said...

bright blessings to you this beltane Autumn!

leanne x

May 2, 2008 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger solsticedreamer said...

belated beltane blessings to you

May 2, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I, too, say Belated Beltane Blessings. I totally forgot about it yesterday. That's because it was so darn un-springlike here: Cold, cloudy and WINDY. And still no rain.

Thanks for this, sweetie.

May 2, 2008 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

Belated Beltane Blessings! Thanks for the Maypole Postcards site, I love them!! I've never seen a postcard over here with a maypole dance. I could make one from or own dance on Thursday; it was great, we had lots of fun!

May 4, 2008 at 2:48 AM  
Blogger Nydia said...

Happy belated Beltane, Autumn! Thanks for this cool post, it's never too much to learn more!

May 7, 2008 at 3:01 PM  

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