Yes, it’s cool and grey where I’m at. The spring flowers have bust their blooms so it looks like winter all over again. But if you want to be old and fancy about things, Beltane is beginning of summer! (At least for the Celts back in the Iron Age.) According to the fine folx at the Newgrange World Heritage Site, the ancient Irish would tend enormous bonfires to mark a period of purification and transition in hopes of a bountiful harvest later in the year.
It was also a great time to get pregnant. Women who conceived in early May could still help finish the planting and bring in the harvest. When they were at their biggest and most immobile, it was winter and most people were sitting inside by the fire, anyway. If they conceived in early May, they would give birth in early February at roughly the same time as the sheep beginning lactation, producing some of the first fresh food for community. Because they themselves could be better nourished, the women were more likely to produce more of their own milk and raise healthier babies, reducing infant mortality. This was common family-planning across Europe (and possibly in other parts of the world as well). Maypoles, which were common in the British Celtic world as well as central, northern, and Eastern Europe may suggest a phallic image. Dancing around it may have encouraged fertility.
Today, Pagans still get together to dance and celebrate the warmer days and the fertile earth. My favorite Beltane festival has long been Brid’s Closet Beltane in Cornwall, NY. Now that I’m on the West Coast, I won’t be attending this year, but I am thinking of all those bouncing bunnies in spirit!
But what if you can’t find a festival??? What if you have to work on the day and can’t go???
Don’t worry! No one is going to revoke your Witch card. My husband and I are having a quiet Beltane celebration just the two of us. In case you’ll be all on your own for Beltane this year, here’s a rite I wrote just for you!
What you’ll need :
- Two candles–red, white, gold, or light green preferably. Avoid darker colors at Beltane. It’s the season of a lightening world!
- A few fresh flowers–anything you find beautiful.
- A bowl of water with a pinch of salt mixed into it.
Take the salt water and sprinkle around in a Circle, marking your space as sacred.
Light both candles and sit or stand between them. These are your sacred bonfires!
With the flowers in your hands, offer the following prayer: Great Divine Sun, Blessed Earth, Sacred Sky, and Hidden Moon (if you do the rite during the day–if you do the rite at night, say Bright Moon and Hidden Sun), the time of growth is now! The time of growth is now! The time of growth is now!
Sit or stand in your place and offer thanks for every blessing in your life. Focus especially on the blessings you wish to multiply. For example, perhaps you are thankful for your health but might like to take the stairs a little faster without losing your breath. Focus on being thankful for the health that you have and envision yourself three to six months from now, even healthier.
When you are full of blessings and thanks, break the petals off the flowers. They can be spread in a garden, used in a bath (check the flowers you bought to see if they have a tendency to trigger allergies), or kept in a sachet. No matter what, you are encouraging your blessings to multiply through the fertile energies of Beltane.
Before you leave your sacred space, make an offering to the Divine. If you cannot leave cakes or ale on an altar for Them, offering a song is great. In many cases, I find the Gods prefer music to food and drink.
Now. Beltane is a fertility holiday. Sex is often involved! Consider creating some extra intimate time with your partner(s) over the next few days. Even if they’re not Pagan, having that intimacy will offer you deeper connection to the tides of the season. If you don’t have a partner or your partner is unavailable, pleasuring yourself is absolutely acceptable! If sex is not your thing at all, in any method, or if your body simply isn’t responding to it at the moment, finding another method of physical pleasure is also absolutely acceptable. Whatever it is, let it not only feel good, but leave you with some sort of release. Massage, yoga, walking through the park or simply getting outside to breathe in some fresh air are all good for this kind of thing.
Have I missed anything? What else do you all do for solo Beltane celebrations?