It's May 1st and that means it's Beltane! So what exactly is Beltane and why is it important? Most people haven't heard of Beltane but I guarantee you've heard of the holiday. Many people know it by May Day and chances are that you celebrated it in school, with family, at church, and so on - yes, Christians celebrate a huge Pagan holiday. It marks the beginning of Summer and all of the fertility and abundance to come.
May 1st is known as Beltane, the Gaelic May Day festival. It's the holiday between the Spring and Summer solstices, it's one of the eight Sabbats, and is a festival celebrated all over the world. 'Beltane' roughly translates to 'bright fire' and is one of the most important rituals from ancient traditions. Fire is seen as a purifier and a healer. The ritual involves a large fire that was walked and danced around or even jumped over by those in attendance. Farmers would move their cattle between bonfires to cleanse and protect them before they were set back out to the fields. In the home, the hearth fire was doused and a new one was lit. The communities connected with each other over this practice of relighting the life-giving fire in the home.
Colorful costumes are donned by those participating in the ritual as well as someone representing the May Queen and Green Man, who light the bonfire. There is lots of food and drink, laughter, and celebration.
So How Can You Celebrate Beltane?
Beltane can be celebrated in many ways, even if you don't have a huge bonfire. Lighting a green or yellow candle, eating foods you love, and being around friends and family, all are small things that you can do at home to celebrate.
Of course, lighting a fire in a fire pit or a traditional bonfire is a wonderful way to celebrate as well.
Redoing your warding and protections around your home, cleaning out ritual spaces, cleaning your kitchen (the hearth), and opening up your windows to allow the fresh air in are all other ways that you can celebrate and get ready for the summer.
Herbs For Beltane
For those of you who love herbs, incense, and tea, here are some of my favorite herbs for Beltane:
Hawthorne: Hawthornes bloom right around May and are called the May bush. They mark the beginning of Beltane. The plant is a connection to the spirit world and a gateway to the past. The tree itself was usually a meeting place for celebrations of all types and was the traditional item to decorate before the May Pole was invented. The tree is said to house fairies and is sacred, so you weren't allowed to touch the tree on certain days. Hawthorne was planted to protect crops, livestock, and the home from evil. Some say that witches used the tree to make broomsticks. The flowers are for emotional healing and spiritual renewal, berries are good for physically healing the heart.
Mugwort: Since Beltane is one of the two times of the year when the veil between the realms is thinnest, mugwort is a key herb. Mugwort helps to communicate with the other side by allowing you to 'crack' the veil enough to travel through. A mild psychedelic herb, mugwort is a visionary herb and used in dream pillows, crystal balls, and all types of divining tools. Mugwort is used to help contact the spirit realm during Beltane for protection, blessings, and offerings.
Birch: Birch is also one of the herbs and woods that is traditional for both Beltane and Samhain and holds amazing cleansing and fertility properties. Birch was normally used as a May Pole when the tradition began and many Beltane fires were made from birch. The tree is a symbol of divine beauty, rebirth, new beginnings, manifestation, and driving out evil. As an herbal remedy, birch is amazing for migraines, nerve pain, dizziness, and issues with the gut.
Other great herbs and items to use to celebrate Beltane include: roses, anise, violets, ivy, orange peels, and nettle. Honey is also a great addition and offering.
How I Will Celebrate Tonight
Tonight, and really all day, I will be celebrating with all of you - those who make my life amazing. I will hold a long live this afternoon on TikTok and YouTube, hand-dipping candles, making Beltane jars, making tea, and laughing and just enjoying everyone. This evening, I will also celebrate with family and friends. There will be another live at 8:30 pm, where I will dress up, light a traditional Beltane fire, and offer up prayers for those who have asked to the universe and the old gods.
Being a spiritual leader and someone who has practiced for a very long time, Beltane is one of my favorite holidays and I hope that it becomes one of yours as well.