What’s not to love about the summer? The days are getting longer, little lambs frolic in the fields, the summertime blooms are taking over pastures and cities alike. Well, for witchy folk, pagans, Wiccans and those following Gaelic/Celtic traditions, there’s another, even better aspect of the celebration of the commencement of the Summer season – the fire festival of Beltane.
Much of the traditional pastimes associated with Beltane come from the pastoral traditions of the Gaelic herdsmen and farmers, who marked the beginning of the warmer months by casting protection over their animals and crops. For spiritual folk, we still celebrate Beltane with protection, growth and prosperity in mind. As well as that, however, there is a definite, shall we say, romantic element to this Sabbat. Mythically, this is the time when the God has reached sexual maturity, and can now court the Goddess.
While, in times gone by, farmers would drive herds of cattle, sheep and goats between two bonfires to bless and protect them, we are less likely, for the most part, to have that many animals on hand. So how can we celebrate this festival in a more modern way? Let’s first look at the core elements of this festival.
Colours: Red, white, green, brown, pink
Food: Seasonal fruits, grains, salads and cool dairy such as yogurt and cheese
Planetary Ruler: Venus
Themes: Love, passion, sex, fertility, prosperity, growth
Plants: All flowers, especially roses, foxglove, bluebell, marigold; Rowan, Birch and Hawthorn trees; Frankincense, Mugwort, St John’s Wort, Thyme, Mint
Crystals: Rose Quartz, Bloodstone, Amber, Red Jasper, Green Adventurine, Moonstone, Green Moss Agate, Fire Agate, Citrine, Ruby, Yellow Jasper.
Tradition: Tending and Jumping the Fire
In more ancient times, we would have built up large bonfires, representing protection and blessing for our crops and livestock. All household fires were doused and re-lit using embers and flame from the Beltane fires. These days, especially in 2020, it might not be possible to get out and build a fire. Instead, light a symbolic Beltane candle, and use it to light other candles, each associated with an aspect of your life. For example, a green candle for prosperity and/or fertility; red for passion; pink for love; orange for business and so on. Set all these candles on your altar.
Instead of jumping the fire, work with what you have available to you. If it is safe to do so, perhaps jump over your Beltane flame candle, or, if you are not comfortable with open flames on the floor (you are wise), or you don’t have the space, indoors or outdoors, jump over a small cauldron instead. The cauldron is symbolic of fire; be safe, be mindful and intentional.
Tradition: The Maypole Dance
Again, if you have the space and capacity, dressing and dancing around the Maypole is a beautiful tradition. But if, like me, you are living in an apartment with no outside space and some neighbors who might call the police on you if you tried to erect a Maypole in the carpark, there are other ways to honor this tradition.
For a Maypole celebration on a smaller scale, why not create a Beltane wand? Ask a nice tree for permission to take a small branch or stick from its boughs (Rowan, Hawthorn or Birch are ideal, but any tree will do), and lovingly dress it with bright, beautiful ribbons in green, red, white, yellow, pink (or whatever you have on hand). It’s the thought and intention that counts – dress it with crystals, if you like, leave ribbons that dance through the air when you wave your wand; or honor the tradition of weaving and wrap the ribbons from the top to the bottom.
Because Beltane is a celebration of love, consummation and passion, it is a popular time for weddings in witchy, pagan or Celtic traditions. There is no need to throw a last-minute wedding, however; just celebrate your love. If you are partnered, you can celebrate together by re-affirming your love, being generally romantic and, ahem, passionate. If you are single, then you can still celebrate love! Celebrate and honour the other relationships in your life; conduct a ritual to love on yourself. Beltane is a great time for sex magick, love magick and general celebration of the people in your life.
I wanted to share with you the recipe for an oil I mixed for Beltane this year:
4 drops Rose Oil
3 drops Ylang Ylang Oil
2 drops Rosemary Oil
2 drops Lavender Oil
1 drop Sweet Orange Oil
Dilute in a carrier oil and use to dress your candles, anoint yourself and diffuse.
All in all, take in the season. Eat, drink, be merry and love yourself and others. Celebrate another turn of the Wheel.
xxKWritten by: onebosswitch.com/
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As the lockdown eases around the world, and we are slowly allowed to get outside more, it has been precious to see the sunshine making an appearance this month. Litha 2020 is promising to be a little more flexible than Beltane, and, while we can’t necessarily do all the things we might like to do to celebrate this Sabbat, we do have the freedom to breathe in the air of Mother Nature and observe the growth and abundance that the Earth provides in the Summer.
There is some difference in precisely when Litha is celebrated, according to different traditions. Astrologically, Litha occurs at the time when the sun is at its highest point, which, in 2020, occurs on the 24th June. However, Litha is traditionally celebrated in many traditions at the midpoint of the Summer (Midsummer), which occurs on June 20th or 21st. As with all things spiritual, there are no hard and fast rules about how you conduct your own practice, so go with what feels right for you.