There are eight Sabbats through the year, celebrating the turning of the wheel of the year and the change of the seasons. The eight Sabbats consists of four solar holidays and four cross-quarter days, marking the shift from one season to the next. The four solar holidays of the year are Ostara – Spring Equinox, Mabon – Autumnal Equinox, Yule – Winter Solstice, and Litha – Summer Solstice. The four pagan cross-quarter holidays are Samhain, which is also considered the witches new year, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh.
Beltane – or Celtic May Day, April 30th/May 1st.
Season + Elelemt: the transition to Summer and the element of Fire
Incense: Floral, woodsy, lilac, frankincense.
Stones: Emerald, Rose Quarts, Bloodstone, Sapphire, Orange Carnelian, Citrin, Moonstone. Yellow Jasper, Fire Agate, Moss Agate, White Agate.
Food: Cherries, strawberries, Red wine, Honey, Dairy, Oats, Sweets.
Decorations: Wildflowers, flower crowns, baskets, egg, fertility symbols, fire, lanterns, may pole, ribbons.
Colors: Red and white
Deities: Aphrodite, Brigitt, Artimes, The Horned God, Eros, Pan, Cernunos.
Corresponding Moon: Gibbous Moon – symbolizing refinement, energy, passion and focus.
The Celtic fire and fertility festival, Beltane, is one of the four quarter day festivals, and officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve. This day marks the beginning of the third quarter (or second half) of the wheel of the year, and is a day where communities come together to celebrate the return of the fertility of the land and the beginning of summer. Beltane is all about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, and with an emphasize on the union between heaven and earth, the God and the Goddess, as well as between man and woman, this Sabbat is a popular day for Pagan marriages, or handfastings. Together with Samhain, Beltane is considered on of the two “spirit-nights” of the year.
According to the legend Beltane was the time where the young God blossomed into manhood, and thus the Goddess took him as her lover. Together, they were learning all the secrets of the sensual world, and through their union, all life begins. This makes Beltane a time to embrace and celebrate your own sexuality and sensuality as well as new life and the beautiful unity of woman and man which fosters it.
There are many ways to celebrate and honor the day of Beltane, but being the time of the year where our mother earth – the goddess – opens herself to the fertile seeds of the god, this festival nearly always includes fertility rituals and prayers that the union of the god and the goddess may bring about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around.
Beltane is a time of both fire and fertility, and the word Beltane itself roughly translates into “bright fire” making a bonfire or fire ceremony one of the most important rituals of Beltane. Come together with your tribe and create a roaring bonfire in celebration, or simply light a candle in honor of the Goddess and the God. Big or small. a fire ceremony cleanses, purifies and heals, and is the perfect way to transition from one season to the next.
May Pole Dance
Dancing around the May Pole is one of the ancient original ways to celebrate Beltane. It is a bit of work for one person, but if you have a group of friends who would like to have fun on the May day, have a read here as to how you can set up your own May Pole.
With spring the fertility of the earth awakens.Planting seeds is a simple rite that celebrates the fertility of the earth and the planting season. Create a ritual in solitude, or come together a small group to honor the life-giving powers of pachamama and the sacred feminine energy of the universe. Plant seeds in the fertile earth and plant seeds in your soul, and as the season turns towards the summer, give your attention and love, and watch how the earth, heart and soul blossom when the sun stands high on the summer solstice.
Declare your love
Beltane is the season of maturing life and deep found love. This is the time of vows, handfastings and commitment. The Lord and his Lady, having reached maturity, come together in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to celebrate the joy of their union. This is a time to celebrate the coming together of the masculine and feminine creative energies. This day of fire and fertility is the perfect day to tie the knot. If you are not into the modern day weddings, why not try Pagan/Wicca a handfasting ceremony instead. Curious if this might be something for you? Have a read here.
Renew our altar
Beltane is also a time to redo and renew our seasonal altar. The best days to change your altars are during the cross quarter days, as they mark an initiation into the energies of the season. Red and white ﬂowers, such as daisies, roses, peonies and lilies, and read and white candles, symbolize the feminine fertility (red) and the masculine fertility (white). You can also add crystals such as rose quartz (herat, love, frendship) and clear quartz (amplifier), and red wine in a chalice symbolizing blood (red wine) and fertility (chalice). Use your imagination and follow your gut. What feels right for you and your altar around this time?
Taking time to journal and contemplate
As always, the Sabbats are times of reflection. Life is busy, and these days are all opportunities for us to stop, breathe and check in with ourselves. Just like the earth goes through seasons, the moon through its cycles, we do too. So on these special days of the year; take time to honor where the earth – our beloved pachamama – is in her cycle, and take time to honor where you are too.
- What are you passionate about? What brings you to life?
- What new parts of yourself are being birthed this spring? Give yourself the permission to blossom!