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Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.
The Sabbat of Beltane is celebrated on this date by Witches worldwide. Beltane is also known as Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain), May Day, Walpurgisnacht, and Rood Day. Roodmas, the medieval Church's name for the holiday, came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people's allegiance from the Maypole, Pagan symbol of life, to the Holy Rood - the Cross - Roman instrument of death. Beltane ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. This month is named in honor of the goddess Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, later identified as the most beautiful of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. By Zeus, she is also the mother of Hermes, god of magic. Maia's parents were Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.
Beltane is the old Celtic name for this holiday (in its most popular Anglicized form), and is derived from the Irish Gaelic "Bealtaine" or the Scottish Gaelic "Bealtuinn.," each meaning "Bel-fire." Bel-Fire is the term for the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). In turn, He may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal.
Although some traditions have taken to this, there is no historical justification for calling May 1st "Lady Day". For many centuries, that title was proper to the Vernal or Spring Equinox (approx. March 21st), due mainly to that date's associations with the fertility Goddesses Eostre and Ostara. The non-traditional use of "Lady Day" for May 1st is quite recent (within the last 20 years), and seems to be mainly confined to America, where it has gained widespread acceptance among certain segments of the Craft population. A glance at a dictionary ("Webster's 3rd" or Oxford English Dictionary), encyclopedia ("Benet's"), or standard mythology reference (Funk and Wagnalls' Standard Dictionary of Folklore & Mythology") confirms the correct date for Lady Day as the Vernal Equinox.
Beltane was originally a Celtic or Druidic festival of fire, celebrating the union of the Goddess and the Horned God, and the fertility in all things. In ancient days, cattle were driven through the Beltane fires for purification and fertility. In Wales, Creiddylad was connected with this festival and often called the May Queen. The Maypole (originally a phallic symbol) and it's dance are remnants of these old festivals. Although for Pagans of old, this was a 'floating' holiday, it is May 1 that Neo-Pagans consider the great holiday of flowers, Maypoles, and greenwood frivolity.
Other May Day customs include: processions of chimney-sweeps and milk maids, archery tournaments, morris dances, sword dances, feasting, music, drinking, and maidens bathing their faces in the dew of May morning to retain their youthful beauty.
One of the most beautiful customs associated with this festival was "bringing in the May." The young people of the villages and towns would go out into the fields and forests at Midnight on April 30th and gather flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their homes. They would process back into the villages, stopping at each home to leave flowers, and to receive the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. This custom is somewhat similar to "trick or treat" at Samhain and was very significant to the ancients. These revelers would bless the fields and flocks of those who were generous and wish ill harvests on those who withheld their bounty.
Writers Janet and Stewart Farrar indicate that the Beltane celebration was principally a time of "...unashamed human sexuality and fertility." Such associations include the obvious phallic symbolism of the Maypole and riding the hobby horse. Even a seemingly innocent children's nursery rhyme, "Ride a cock horse to Banburry Cross..." retain such memories. And the next line "...to see a fine Lady on a white horse" is a reference to the annual ride of "Lady Godiva" though Coventry. Every year for nearly three centuries, a sky-clad village maiden (elected Queen of the May) enacted this Pagan rite, until the Puritans put an end to the custom.
The Puritans, in fact, reacted with pious horror to most of the May Day rites, even making Maypoles illegal in 1644. They especially attempted to suppress the "greenwood marriages" of young men and women who spent the entire night in the forest, staying out to greet the May sunrise, and bringing back boughs of flowers and garlands to decorate the village the next morning. One angry Puritan wrote that men "doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst maidens, to set bowes, in so much, as I have heard of tenne maidens which went to set May, and nine of them came home with childe." And another Puritan complained that, of the girls who go into the woods, "not the least one of them comes home again a virgin."
Long after the Christian form of marriage (with its insistence on sexual monogamy) had replaced the older Pagan handfasting, the rules of strict fidelity were always relaxed for the May Eve rites. Names such as Robin Hood, Maid Marion, and Little John played an important part in May Day folklore, often used as titles for the dramatis personae of the celebrations. And modern surnames such as Robinson, Hodson, Johnson, and Godkin may attest to some distant May Eve spent in the woods.
It is certainly no accident that Queen Guinevere's "abduction" by Meliagrance occurs on May 1st when she and the court have gone a-Maying, or that the usually efficient Queen's guard, on this occasion, rode unarmed.
Some of these customs seem virtually identical to the old Roman feast of flowers, the Floriala, three days of unrestrained sexuality which began at sundown April 28th and reached a crescendo on May 1st.
Modern day pagan observances of Beltane include the maypole dances, bringing in the May, and jumping the cauldron for fertility. Many couples wishing to conceive children will jump the cauldron together at this time. Fertility of imagination and other varieties of fertility are invoked along with sexual fertility. In Wiccan and other Pagan circles, this is a joyous day, full of laughter and good times. It is still versed and sung about to this day. As recently as 1977, Ian Anderson included the following lyrics in his May Day song on the Jethro Tull album "Songs from the Wood" which contains many references to Pagan customs).
For the May Day is the great day,
Sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did ley
Will heed this song that calls them back.
May 1 was celebrated as Beltane in earlier times and still is today by Pagans and Witches. It is based in part on the old Roman festival of Floralia, dedicated to Flora, Goddess of Flowers. Many more know it as May Day. A wealth of customs and rites has survived from early times. May Day was also the date the Romans honored the Lares, or household and family guardians. Wreaths were hung before their altars, incense burned and the family attuned to its spiritual essence. Lilacs and hawthorne are traditionally brought into the home on May Day, which is unusual because both plants are generally viewed as ill-luck bringers in the house. On this day, though, the spell is broken. The flowers of May - bluebells, yellow cowslips, daisies, roses, marigolds, primroses and hundreds of others are still brought inside to release their powers and connect the home with the living world outdoors.
To guard your home against the intense magical powers at work on Beltane, mark a cross in the hearth ashes with a hazel twig, or carry elder twigs three times around the house, then hang them up inside or place outside over the door. At dawn on May Day, go to a garden or out in the woods and gather dew from plants and flowers and grass. Bathe your face in this dew, and it will highlight your beauty.
It is considered unfortunate to give away fire or salt on May Day, since these were at one time the two most sacred substances. Thus, give them away on May Day, and you give your luck away.
Beltane marks the beginning of summer, when all nature reaches a crescendo of power and energy. The day and night were thought to be dangerous for the unprepared because of these excessive vibrations. Due to this phenomenon, it was deemed a good practice to sleep at home this night.
The time of Beltane it is now drawing near
Inhibitions really have no rightful place here
Gather your dreams and wishes and your desires
Allow them to alight with your Beltane Fires
Weave your ribbons of wishes among the leaves and trees
Celebrate with our Goddess, let your spirit fly free.
Let the Beltane Fires burn!
In the wood and in our blood
As cold to hot the season's turn
And life renews in bud.
Beltane Fertility Spell
Beltane is a Celtic and Germanic holiday that celebrates the beginning of summer. Beltane honors life and fertility, marking the return of vitality and passion. Rituals associated with Beltane include marriages, fertility rites, bonfires in honor of the Sun God, dancing around maypoles to symbolize male and female energies entwining, and wearing adornments of braided flowers and grasses. Pagan lore holds it as the time of the Great Rite where the god who emerges into manhood desires the goddess. They fall in love and unite among flowers and grasses, becoming pregnant with life.
In pagan traditions Beltane is exactly opposite Sowain, its fall counterpart. This is the only other holiday when veils between worlds are thinnest. These most magickal times are when it is easiest to win favor with spirits and deities. This is a Beltane fertility spell for couples. It must be preformed on May 1, the traditional observation of Bel tane. Set a small altar near the bed as a sacred space for both you and your mate to take part in the spell workings. Once the spell has been cast, consummate your love in the energies that abound for a fertile pregnancy.
You Will Need:
freshly collected grasses and wildflowers
1 white pillar candle
1 medium-sized cast iron cauldron
1 blue taper candle
1 red taper candle
The freshly collected grasses and wildflowers symbolize traditional woven elements and adornments during Beltane. It also symbolizes where god and goddess finally consummate their love in the fields. The white candle symbolizes the new spirit that is about to be conceived. The blue candle is goddess and female energy, also representing the element of water for the waters of the womb. The red candle is god and male energy and raw sexual passion. The cauldron symbolizes the pot of creation, the womb itself.
Enjoy a relaxing walk in a special place you both enjoy to collect long grasses and wildflowers.
Assemble all of the ingredients and set up a small altar near your bed.
Remember to smudge.
Place your candles.
Center the white pillar in the cauldron in the center of your altar.
Place the red candle on the left and the blue candle on the right, both with appropriate holders.
Decorate remaining space with grasses and flowers in and around the altar.
Ground and center.
Ponder the holiday of Beltane.
Share in this magick together by speaking aloud to one another about the sexual passion and wonderful fertility that this day holds.
Hold your hands over each of your candles and charge.
For the male, visualize raw sexual passion and virility, the creation energies of the god.
See this energy as red.
For the female, visualize the comforting healing waters of the womb.
See a fertile area for a new life to grow.
Visualize and feel emotional and unconditional nurturing and love pour into the candle.
See the energy as blue.
Each of you let your hands hover over the white pillar candle and infuse it with both your energies.
Visualize creating a new spirit together, a portion of each of you, balanced in every way.
Feel it grow strong, healthy, and happy.
For the red candle, repeat the following incantation.
Only the mate representing masculine energy lights it.
Oh god of gods, power and might,
Bless this energy with all your light,
Sexual virility and passion in sight,
You are the creator and consummate knight.
I invoke thee! I invoke thee! Three times three.
Blessed, blessed, blessed be.
For the blue candle, repeat the following incantation.
The mate representing female energy lights this candle.
Oh goddess of goddesses, radiant and kind,
Bless this energy for hearts entwined,
Sex and love together they shine,
You are the mother and nurturing kind,
I invoke thee! I invoke thee! Three times three.
Blessed, blessed, blessed be!
Together light the pillar candle with each of your candles while saying the following incantation:
Two souls in love to share their flame,
Begin new life we now proclaim,
Enrich our lives and share our love,
Grow healthy, strong, blessed from above.
Finalize the spell immediately with lovemaking.
Extinguish the candles after lovemaking.
Relight in the correct fashion explained above each time you wish to empower your lovemaking with fertility.
Repeat the ritual until the white candle has completely burned down into the cauldron.
Enjoy this exploration in bedroom magick as it leads you down a sensuous and exciting road with your partner.
Powerful energies can be raised in a bedroom through sexual magick.
These raised energies of pure love and intensity will add strength to any spell work.
Energy work and lovemaking in bedroom magick aids in relieving stress and blocks within a relationship.
Lovemaking on its own is a very important part of any relationship.
Enjoy yourself and your mate as you explore finding love on a whole new level.
Beltane Love Spell
Beltane is the ancient Celtic holiday of the 1st of May, or Mayday that we still celebrate in many forms today throughout the British Isles. The word 'Beltane' it is thought, maybe derived from the old solar god Belenos and the Beltane holiday is derived from his name, being the celebration of his return to our spring skies. Belenos could be compared to Apollo and has through the centuries been humanized and turned by writers and historians into Kings such as King Bellin who was said to have built a fort beside the Thames, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth. So with this Beltane love spell you would be invoking Belenos power by casting on his day. This love spell is perfect for those who wish to see renewal or blossoming of the love in their relationship.
You Will Need:
On Beltane, light a candle outside (use a storm lantern in it is windy). Your candle represents Belenos, the sun, and then as you look into the candle flame.
On this Beltane day, now it is the first of May,
Belenos you have returned and now all reborn will be,
May my lover's love for me, alos be reborn as are the leaves of the tree,
May my lover love me more so that (insert their name) their heart for me does soar,
May our love be twice born, on this perfect Beltane morn,
An it harm none, so mote it be.
Now visualize your relationship being renewed and strengthened, your love for each other overflowing.
Beltane Spell For Warding Off Disease
Beltane is an appropriate time to perform spells to ward off disease, as the ancient Celts once drove their livestock through the smoke of their sacred Beltane bonfires to keep disease at bay.
To perform this spell you will need a piece of white chalk and a white candle that has never before been burned. With the chalk, draw a pentagram on the floor about four feet wide. Light the white candle and hold it in your right hand. Step into the pentagram, face east.
Say 3 times:
Beltane, fire of enchantment, burn without and within.
Let this sabbat spell begin!
Ofano, Oblamo, Ospergo, Hola Noa, Massa Lux Beff, Clemati, Adonai, Cleona, Florit, Pax Sax Sarax, Afa Afaca Nostra, Cerum Heaium, Lada Frium.
So mote it be!
A Fairy Spell For Beltane
In a woodland clearing, spread a clean green cloth. On it place small cakes and flowers, especially primroses, in a circle. Imagine the magick around you.
O Fairy Queen,
Upon your white steed,
Within me plant
A magic seed.
From you may spring
Many new beginnings.
Accept these offerings.
Leave the items and walk around the altar three times.
Slowly walk the path back to your home.
Listen for the sound of laughter and bells and know you are blessed.
Beltane Eve Fairy Spell
Tis the eve of Beltane and the fairies are out in force. Here is a fairy spell to work in your own garden or backyard. Gather together violets, St. Johns wort, and clover. The violets are a fairy favorite. The St. Johns wort will protect you from becoming fairy-led or tricked, and the clover is for prosperity and good luck. Gather these plants together, forming a little posy, and then tie it up with green ribbons. Blow the fairies a kiss and leave the posy as a gift. Now go and sit in the garden and try to meditate or to communicate with the fairies.
Fairies from far and wide,
I offer you a gift,
Tied up in green for luck,
And sealed with a kiss.
I can sense you
If I'm pure of heart,
Bless me with good luck
To boost my Witch's art.
A phallic pole planted deep in the earth representing the potency and fecundity of the God, its unwinding ribbons symbolized the unwinding of the spiral of life and the union of male and female - the Goddess and God. It is usually topped by a ring of flowers to represent the fertile Goddess. Paganhill, near Shroud has one of the tallest maypoles. The Puritans banned maypoles during the 17th Century.
It was a Celtic tradition to fell a birch tree on May day and to bring it into the community. Crosses of birch and rowan twigs were hung over doors on the May morning, and left until next May day.
Colors of Beltane
The most common colors associated with Beltane are white and dark green, and red but also appropriate are all the colors of the rainbow spectrum itself. Stones to use during the Beltane celebration include Sapphires, Bloodstones, Emeralds, Orange Carnelians, and Rose Quartz.
How to Make Beltane Incense
You Will Need:
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Sandal wood
1 part Woodruff
1 part Rose petals
a few drops Jasmine oil
a few drops Neroli oil
Burn during Wiccan rituals on Beltane (April 30th) or on May Day for fortune and favors and to attune with the changing of the seasons.
(The above recipe for "Beltane Incense" is quoted directly from Scott Cunningham's book "The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils & Brews", page 60, Llewellyn Publications, 1989/1992.)
Prepare a May Basket
Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors. Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within. On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it. Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.
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