Beltane – A Celtic Fire Festival of Fertility; the Beginning of Summer
All life is frisky at this time – the flowers are bursting with new colourful life; the birds are singing for their mates; and people are removing the layers and venturing out into the open. Beltane, which marks the start of Summer, celebrates this fertile time of abundance.
The name comes from a mix between the name of a Celtic God, ‘Bel’ (meaning bright one) and the Gaelic word for fire, ‘teine’. There are various spellings and names used for this time but all point to the same thing – fertility.
Beltane, like its darker counterpart, Samhain (Halloween), is a time of renewal, a time of great change in the cycle of the year, symbolised by the fire. Like Samhain, it is also a time when the ‘veil’ between us and the Otherworld is thin. Both dates represent a coming together, a sacred union, which, is markedly potent at this fertile time of Beltane.
During Beltane, the horned God (the King of the Forest) and the Goddess of creation (the May Queen) are brought together; physically on the Earth; symbolically in celebration and in manifestation through ceremony. In the Celtic tradition this union is represented by Sheela-na-Gig (a goddess open and ready to receive the seed of the male) and Cernunnos (a horned, or horny, stag-like male).
Here’s how you can celebrate and work with this frisky fertile time in your own way:
Creating the Space:
Altar’s are a great way for bringing this potent symbolism into your home.
Use the colours of nature at this time – the fresh greens of trees, dandelion yellows, and the great wash of bluebells. You can bring parts of the plants in, or use candles, cloths or ribbons in the same way – to represent this fertile year in your home.
Spring flowers are great, as are branches from an Oak (the Oak King is often portrayed as a fertility god, symbolising power and victory), Birch (associated with rebirth, regeneration, creativity, fertility, healind and protection) or Hawthorn (fertility and sexuality). You might simply add some incense from these symbolic plants, also including sandlewood, pine and holly.
Bring in fertility symbols too. Antlers, sticks, seeds and acorns are all potent male items. A circular item like a cauldron, cup, wreath or ring could be used to represent the female counterpart. Always find a way to incorporate the blazing fire element too – with a candle or colour to represent such.
At this fertile time, consider what you’d like to bring to life – a project, idea, relationship or baby. This is your time to integrate the fire into your hearts, burn through the darkness and ignite your true passion. Consider what you need to let go of in order for this seed to bloom – what the fire has to burn through to ignite your real desire. Write down what you want, with detail, including what you need to let go of and set fire to in order for this to blaze.
Prepare your ceremony first – whether you’re going to simply light a candle at your alter and silently manifest, or if you’re going all out with a floral headdress and bonfire (more about that below). Consider your intention thoroughly and bring in physical items to represent your meanings (such as those described for the alter).
Whether alone or in a group, read out your intention – state your desire. Take some time to visualise the facets of such and be open to receive guidance. Then place your written intention in the fire or candle (taking care, of course) – set it ablaze at this potent, fertile time and allow the magic to unfold.
Offer thanks to the fertility of the Earth – for the trees which help us breath and the fruits and vegetables that we eat; for the water and sun.
Remember your connection to the Earth and all life, whether human, animal or plant that co-exists with you.
Offer blessings to your ancestors and spirit guides – to the great unknown, divine will; the bigger picture at play.
Bow your head in reverence and gratitude and offer your intention to this wonder.
AM BEANNACHADH BEALLTAIN (THE BELTANE BLESSING)
Bless, O threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse, my children.
Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession,
Bless the kine and crops, the flocks and corn,
From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.
Be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
Taking possession of all to me belonging.
Be the Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest,
Protecting me in truth and honor.
Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones,
Blessing every thing and every one,
All my land and my surroundings.
Great gods who create and bring life to all,
I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.
You might also:
Plant seeds – Literally and symbolically.
If you’re looking to attract a mate then put rose or bay leaves under your pillow and allow your dreams to guide you. If you’re looking to conceive then place thorns from a Hawthorn tree under your mattress or pillow., This is a highly magical tree, associated with fertility and sexuality.
Light a bonfire
Have a Cacao Ceremony – Chocolate is an aphrodisiac and, in its most pure, raw nature (as used in Ceremony), it works to open to the blood flow to your heart and heart; giving your greater insight and feeling.
Sexually ignite the fertile fire within you
Remember, you have masculine and feminine qualities within each of you, regardless of gender. Try being the masculine, holding force for yourself – take yourself on a wild adventure or simply dancing round your living room. The feminine is nurturing – you could give yourself a massage or a full pamper session. I encourage you all to share or self-pleasure from both aspects too, regardless of gender – give to yourself or another in a masculine way; receiving in the feminine and try it the other way also. Let go of shame, fear, guilt, shoulds, moulds, identities.