Weaving and plaiting are traditional arts at this time of year, for the joining together of two substances to form a third is in the spirit of Beltane.
Foods traditionally come from the dairy, and dishes such as marigold custard and vamilla ice cream are fine. Oatmeal cakes are also appropriate.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Beltaine (May 1) – Also called May Day, Beltaine merges both Gaelic and Germanic traditions and marks the high point of fertility in the natural cycle. This is a day of love, and has historically been a time for the arrangement of engagements and marriages.
Wicca. The Practitioner’s Introductory Guide: Symbols, herbs, history, spells, shops, supplies, clothing, courses, altar, ritual, and much more all covered!
May 1 was celebrated as Beltane in earlier times and still is today by Pagans and Witches. It is gased 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 hawthorn 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, 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 pared because of these excessive vibrations. Due to this phenomenon, it was deemed a good practice to sleep at home this night.
The Magical Household: Spells & Rituals for the Home
Scott Cunningham; David Harrington.
Celebrate Beltane Lore
Arise at dawn and wash in the morning dew: the woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful; the man who washes his hands will be skilled with knots and nets.
If you live near water, make a garland or posy of spring flowers and cast it into stream, lake or river to bless the water spirits.
Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill, then give it to one in need of caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend.
Beltane is one of the three “spirit-nights” of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them.
Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck—but make sure you tie up long skirts first!
Celebrants sometimes jump over broomsticks, especially at Handfastings which are very common during this season, or dance around May Poles, as both of these are symbols of fertility.
Traditional activities include blowing horns, and gathering flowers. Solitary Practitioners might consider the weaving together of ribbons as an alternative to creating and dancing around the May Pole.
Many like to celebrate Beltaine by decorating their homes and themselves with fresh flower garlands, or by stringing up greenery around their homes and places of work.
Sending flowers to loved ones, planting new gardens, cleaning out the cupboards and general spring cleaning are all traditional Beltaine gestures.
Plaiting and weaving straw, creating things with wicker, making baskets and fabrics are traditional arts for this turn in the Wheel of the Year.
Making a Wish Box Charm
Beltane is a good time for bringing hopes, dreams and aspirations to life, and here is a truly beautiful charm to help you bring these into manifestation.
You will need:
A small shallow cardboard box. Shoe boxes are good.
Sunflower seeds and/or poppy seeds
A piece of willow bark or piece of willow, an acorn or oak leaf
Something that represents your wish (see below)
Take a piece of paper and write your wish on it while visualizing your wish coming to life and growing. You can do this alone, with friends, or as a family. If you want to, decorate the lid of the box, with a triple moon, pentacle, heart, or any symbol of your choice. Poke a few holes in the lid – this will help your wish/plants, to grow. Take your box and sprinkle some earth into it. Put in your paper wishes, wish symbol (see below), and seeds/bark/acorn. Cover with another layer of earth. Mix the rose petals with the seeds and scatter them on top. Cover with a final layer of earth and place the lid on top, leaving enough of the rose petal/seed mixture to scatter on top of the box when you are planting it.
Planting Your Wish Box
The best time for planting your Wish Box is just after a fresh cleansing rainfall as this gives you a bright new start, but if the season is dry just give the earth a good watering the night before. Dig a hole two inches deeper than your wish box and lower it into the earth carefully while concentrating on your chosen wish, visualizing it coming to fruition. Imagine your wish growing with the flowers reaching skyward. As you cover the box with earth say:
“Dream that lies within the earth awaken now. Hope that sleeps awaken now. The stars await as so do I. Grow true, grow strong, toward the sky.”
If you don’t have a garden you can make a mini wish pot that can live on a window ledge and it works just as well. Just replace the box with a terracotta pot – one wish and one symbol per pot following exactly the same instructions as above. Remember that wishes are only to be used for positive motives.
Suggested Symbols For Your Wish Box:
Love & Marriage – gingerbread
New Job – copper coin
Abundance – silver coin
Difficult Task – glove
Hearth & Home – thimble
Seeking the Truth – sprig of rosemary
Health, Healing, Renewed Strength – blue & green ribbon entwined
Happiness, Good Luck – cinnamon stick
Seeking Knowledge – apple
To Find A Lost Item – feather
Protection – key (an old iron key is best if you have one)
Charm donated by our Counter Enchantress from her own family traditions
Think carefully what you wish for! The general rule of thumb is a brown egg for wishes involving animals and white for wishes involving people and plants, for example healing a sick animal, person or plant. Eggs with white shells are difficult to come by now as chickens are generally given feed which produces the desired brown shell, but in recent years some of the supermarkets are making white eggs available at this time of year so they are worth looking out for.
1. Blow the egg. Using a fat needle, pierce a hole in both ends of the egg, making one hole larger than the other. Using the needle pierce the egg yolk gently and swirl it around to break up the yolk. Place a small drinking straw in one end and gently blow through the other hole to help gravity do its work.
2. Paint Your Egg Talisman. When your egg has thoroughly dried out place it on top of a little mound of blue tack to hold it in place and you are ready to go! Choose a symbol to represent your wish – a heart for love, coin for prosperity, a candle for wisdom, whatever is meaningful for you. Or you can paint the whole egg in a corresponding colour – red for love, green for prosperity, purple for wisdom and so on. Another way to do it is to stick rose petals on for love, or feathers for fertility – again it is what is meaningful to you that is important.
3. When it is ready find a suitable place for it and prepare for it for hanging by threading a thin thread (embroidery thread, thin wool) through the two holes and secure it with a large knot, a bead, or even a matchstick at the bottom to hold it steady.
4. Clear your mind and focus on your desire for abundance/fruitfulness and its place in your life:
‘Little charm made of shell as I hang you here may all be well. May all things grow. May all things flow. Blessings for the turning of the Wheel.”
Use these words or any others that you are comfortable with – remember this is all about your intention.
Egg charm donated by our Counter Enchantress from her own family traditions.
The Fae at Beltane
For many Pagans, Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin. In most European folktales, the Fae kept to themselves unless they wanted something from their human neighbors. It wasn’t uncommon for a tale to relate the story of a human being who got too daring with the Fae — and ultimately paid their price for his or her curiosity! In many stories, there are different types of faeries.
This seems to have been mostly a class distinction, as most faerie stories divide them into peasants and aristocracy.
Early Myths and Legends
In Ireland, one of the early races of conquerors was known as the Tuatha de Danaan, and they were considered mighty and powerful. It was believed that once the next wave of invaders arrived, the Tuatha went underground. In hiding from the Milesians, the Tuatha evolved into Ireland’s faerie race. Typically, in Celtic legend and lore, the Fae are associated with magical underground caverns and springs — it was believed that a traveler who went too far into one of these places would find himself in the Faerie realm.
Another way to access the world of the Fae was to find a secret entrance. These were typically guarded, but every once in a while an enterprising adventurer would find his way in. Often, he found upon leaving that more time had passed than he expected.
In several tales, mortals who spend a day in the fairy realm find that seven years have passed in their own world.
In parts of England and Britain, it was believed that if a baby was ill, chances were good that it was not a human infant at all, but a changeling left by the Fae. If left exposed on a hillside, the Fae could come reclaim it.
William Butler Yeats relates a Welsh version of this story in his tale The Stolen Child. Parents of a new baby could keep their child safe from abduction by the Fae by using one of several simple charms: a wreath of oak and ivy kept faeries out of the house, as did iron or salt placed across the door step. Also, the father’s shirt draped over the cradle keeps the Fae from stealing a child.
In some stories, examples are given of how one can see a faerie. It is believed that a wash of marigold water rubbed around the eyes can give mortals the ability to spot the Fae. It is also believed that if you sit under a full moon in a grove that has trees of Ash, Oak and Thorn, the Fae will appear.
Are the Fae Just a Fairy Tale?
There are a few books that cite early cave paintings and even Etruscan carvings as evidence that people have believed in the Fae for thousands of years. However, faeries as we know them today didn’t really appear in literature until about the late 1300s. In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer relates that people used to believe in faeries a long time ago, but don’t by the time the Wife of Bath tells her tale. Interestingly, Chaucer and many of his peers discuss this phenomena, but there is no clear evidence that describes faeries in any writings prior to this time.
It appears instead that earlier cultures had encounters with a variety of spiritual beings, who fit into what 14th century writers considered the archetype of the Fae.
So, do the Fae really exist? It’s hard to tell, and it’s an issue that comes up for frequent and enthusiastic debate at any Pagan gathering. Regardless, if you believe in faeries, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Leave them a few offerings in your garden as part of your Beltane celebration — and maybe they’ll leave you something in return!