The Beltane season is upon us! Whether you celebrate on May Day Eve (April 30th) or May Day (May 1st) the light half of the year has officially begun. Beltane is generally treated as a fertility festival with a heavy emphasis on sexuality. That’s not my interest in this Sabbat, however. In fact, fertility in the traditional sense is about the last thing that this Pagan couple wants. Additionally, I wanted to come up with a list that works for families with kids and LGBTQ folks who (must) feel excluded from traditionally hetero/Wiccan celebrations, especially Beltane. Witchcraft and paganism is for everyone folks, not just heterosexuals. I know a lot of people celebrate Beltane without the kids, as well, but we try to include them in some type of seasonal activity for every Sabbat.
Regardless of how you choose to observe the Sabbats, below are eight ideas for Beltane celebrations to add to your seasonal activities, be they solitary, in pairs, with kids, in a coven, or conducted from inside the “broom closet.” Remember that Beltane is a season and not just one day; these activities can be done any time in the six weeks between Beltane and Midsummer.
1. Ancestor Work: When you think of ancestor work you are probably going to think of Samhain. However, in the southern hemisphere, Beltane is Samhain. The veil is just as thin on Beltane as it is on Samhain, and each kicks off their respective halves of the year (Beltane for light and Samhain for dark). Because of this you can still communicate with the departed, ask for their blessing, or give them an offering. It’s a nice time to check in and update your ancestors on how you’ve been doing over the last six months. One way to do this is to write them a letter, address the envelope with their name(s), and then burn it in your cauldron or a fire safe container. Offerings to the deceased are traditionally burned as burning items releases it into the ether.
2. Aromatherapy: When you live in a place where the seasons don’t change much, using seasonal fragrances can make it feel like the Wheel of the Year is still turning. We aren’t super strict about it, but generally lavender is a spring/Imbolc scent whereas patchouli is used in the fall/Samhain season. Some suggested scents for Beltane include gardenia, honeysuckle, jasmine, lilac, lily, rose, and any other floral that you enjoy.
3. Candles: No witch is a stranger to burning candles, as they are an integral part of so many Sabbats, rituals, and spells. Fitting colors and their correspondences for Beltane would be: brown (animal and Earth energy), green (verdant growth, plant energy, light half of the year, prosperity), yellow (solar energy), and white (purification and protection). For crafty types, making candles can be a very enjoyable way to celebrate the season. You can see a candle that we made for Beltane here; we chose a rich, grassy green and the fragrance is “meadow,” which is a combination of cut grass and flowers. For those who have issues with smoke or fragrance, LED candle are just as effective and can be decorated with seasonal wraps. FrogBirdsHouse on Etsy sells some of my favorites, and yes, I have bought from them many times, and recommend them highly.
4. Decorate: For the Beltane season there are a huge variety of items that you can decorate your house with, especially flowers. Beltane was also the festival of the Roman goddess Flora, and she makes her way into many Pagan May Day celebrations. Wearing a flower crown for the Sabbat is a fun way to bring this tradition into your circle and honor the Queen of May. Crafty types can make crowns from live or silk flowers. Frame some of your pressed flower collection, or make floral potpourri sachets. Flower garlands and silk flower arrangements are festive and can be used year after year. Flower wreaths can be purchased or made, then hung on doors or around the home. Wreaths represent the Wheel of the Year, but are so common that you can safely display one even if you’re in the broom closet. If you’re out of the broom closet and want everyone to know, add a pentacle to the center. You can also buy cut flowers or collect flowers outside (see Nature Walks below) and dry them once they have started to wilt. There are also stunning traditional decorations available, like the “Mayday’s Magic Circle” print from Poison Apple Printshop. A mini-Maypole can be created or purchased for your altar. Additional altar decorations include making a Beltane flower jar from dried bouquets, small indoor plants, and flower-shaped candles. Hate flowers? I’m confused, but I guess it’s possible. Beltane is also associated with the fire of protection. If it’s still cold where you live, use the fireplace; if it’s hot where you live, make a (safe, responsible) bonfire on the beach. Use the fires to make offerings and perform protection magick.
5. Divination: Every Sabbat is appropriate for divination. Using the tarot, or your divination tool of choice, you can ask for guidance on what to work on during the Beltane season, general advice, or what the season holds for you. Remember to record it in your Book of Shadows and review it just before Midsummer. Flower divination, called Floromancy, is another enjoyable Beltane activity with many variations. You can ask a question and then interpret the answer from the color of the first flower you see, its condition/quantity, or number of petals.
6. Nature Walks: With many flowers in bloom, Beltane is the perfect season for nature walks. Flowers can be collected and used for a lot of the other activities listed here. Remember to only take one flower from each bush/shrub to minimize the impact of your flower gathering. Flowers can be floated in a bowl of water, pressed, or allowed to dry naturally. Unless you grew them yourself, be very wary of eating flowers that you find outside, as they could have been treated with pesticides. Never eat flowers that you buy as commercially available bouquets. Other nature walk activities include animal divination, meditating under trees, picking up litter, or leaving offerings (see Offerings below).
7. Protection: Protection magick is a natural part of the Beltane season as protecting livestock through the summer was one of the major and original aspects of the Sabbat. Protection magick can be done for yourself, your family, home, car, or pets. To make a protection charm bag you can use an organza bag or cloth pouch, then add protection herbs to it, and a sigil or list of what you would like to have protected. Ideally, the protection charm is created in a circle, and then charged at the next Full Moon. There are many herbs and flowers that can be used for various aspects of protection. You can look up the properties of any flowers you collect on your nature walks (see Nature Walks above) and see if any have protective aspects that you want to include.
8. Offerings: Offerings are a part of every Sabbat, especially when feasting is involved, but Beltane is a particularly wonderful time to make offerings to faeries. Offerings made to God/desses may be burned in a cauldron, offerings to nature spirits can be put in the woods, and offerings to faeries should be placed in a special offering bowl. Yes, faeries are very particular! Remember, if you invite them into your house, you need to maintain them, lest you incur their mischievousness.
I hope that you all found my list useful, and I hope you have a beautiful Beltane, friends!
Beltane: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for May Day by Melanie Marquis