he wheel turns once again and we find ourselves at Beltane. Beltane, also known as May Day falls on May 1st. Though really what we are saying is May Day kicks off the Season of Beltane, with the thinning of the veil most prominent around May 5th. There is a quickening of spring energy that pushes animals and people to pair up, bees have awoken and are starting to pollinate the spring flowers and trees. We look for the sign of burgeoning spring in the apple blossoms to know when to plant our carrots, beans, peas and cabbages. There is so much creative energy spurring a frenzy of activity and we are holding hopes of creative and fertile abundance to manifest in our lives. This is still also a liminal period where a profusion of starting buds and blooms can be killed off by late frosts and still need to be safeguarded. The Sacred Marriage is the focus of Beltane where we celebrate the fiery and passionate union of the God and Goddess that energize the earth and put the fertile fire of creativity into our bellies.
April’s showers continue into May, though gentler and a bit warmer. This winter has seen a lot of snow in the mountains and the colder temperatures have kept snow longer in the foothills surrounding our home. However the grass grows lush, rich and green for the horses, sheep, deer and elk. The surge of new life can be seen in the prevailing apple blossoms and spring bulbs while the rabbits chase each other around our stone circle in their frenzied mating dance.
Beltane is a rite that takes as much preparation as Samhain and has a special importance as it is the brightening of life when the veil is the thinnest. We honor deity by adorning our altars with pink and green candles, early rose buds, honeysuckle, apple blossoms, hawthorn, lilacs and ivy. Stones of malachite and rose quartz along with a drinking horn bring the beauty and frequency we are aligning ourselves with for the season. Ivy wreaths have been wrapped with pink, purple and green ribbons. The bonfires have been laid ready for lighting and the ribbons have been attached to the oiled maypole awaiting the dance. Offerings of milk, honey, cinnamon and woodruff have been left out in a beautiful bowl on our sun dial.
Sacred woods of apple, willow, birch, hawthorn, oak, ash, elder, holly & hazel have been gathered and bundled for the ritual need fire. Each and every wood has a purpose and frequency that when combined have a power all its own to bestow great blessings upon its maker. This wood is of course all chosen with specific intent and gathered in a sacred way with many offerings. As pagans we work diligently to listen and read the signs around us, not taking what has not been offered and always giving something back.
In the PNW, May is an extremely beautiful but contrary month for us in regards to weather. For that reason we always start our rituals indoors and set our sacred ring. We move outdoors to leave an offering to the Outsiders as well as a libation to our Maypole, the symbolic phallus of the Lord of the Rite. We circle the pole and dance the ring, reveling in the bawdy joy and sensuality of the season. With ribbons unfurled and wrapped around the pole in song and dance the ritual hieros gamos plays out and the piercing of the veil commences with the drifting down of the virginal ivy crown. The doorway has been ritually and energetically opened so that the welcome presence of the Lord and Lady is made manifest in our earthly realm. The energy by now is running very high and there is a tangible quality of connection and vibrancy among covenors, especially among mated pairs. Some of the energies are kept under wraps until festivities later in the evening, since we have children who are in attendance. After we have danced the Maypole and planted our fairy charmed tree (all between the raindrops on many occasions) we light our three ritual needfires and head back in to expand upon our rite of celebrating the magical union of polarities both externally and internally. We call forth fertility, passion, joy, a new birth, good-fortune and creativity as we jump through the purifying and blessed powers of the balefire (remember to be careful what you wish for). Sometimes we might have a lovely handfasting ceremony to add to the festivities. Once our rite is closed and the feast is had, children are put to bed or head home. Couples depart and participate in the Great Rite among the gardens or orchard or possibly on a spicy ride home. There is nothing like riding high on the energy that has been raised in circle and grounding it in the promise of future manifestations for our family, kin, Mother Earth and our fellow beings.
Another small project we like to do during the season of Beltane is to place the red eggs that have been planted on Ostara with nasturtium sees calling forth blessings for our beloved kin and tribe as well as those whom there is no love lost and those who are searching seed.
We do this on the first family ritual of the month along with a mini Maypole that has been kissed by all the ladies is planted in the pot. It is later watered with holy water and the blessed alchemy of the Great Rite. We then set the pot out of doors to enjoy the light of the sun & moon and await the growth of each of the blessings we have called upon.
How do you celebrate the Season of Bel?
Blessed be in this season of Beltane!