Traditions: love/sex magic, leaping the bonfire to bring luck, dancing ‘round the Maypole, honoring garden and house spirits, fertility magic
Pagan Lore: The Maypole…in ancient Irish history there was a sacred tree believed to be the forerunner of the maypole. It was thought that dancing around this tree on Beltane would send energy to the womb of the Earth and awaken her.
May Day Baskets…comes from the ancient Beltane Eve tradition of a young man leaving a garland of flowers at the door of a young woman who has caught his eye. This was an invitation, and if accepted, the young couple would steal away for a night together in the forest, awaiting the Beltane sunrise. In modern times, the garland was replaced with a basket of sweets.
Youth and Beauty…it’s said that at sunrise on the morning of Beltane, those women wishing to recapture their youth, as well as all women wishing to retain their beauty, should go out into the grass at the break of dawn, sweep up the morning dew within their hands, and bathe their faces with it.
This holiday is one of the most Pagan. It is a celebration of fertility. To the modern world, it’s more commonly known as May Day.
What the Roman Church tried so hard to control, to portray as evil, sinful, or dirty is the very thing celebrated at Beltane…human sexuality. The ancient rites of Beltane celebrate the copulation of the God and the Goddess (the priest and the priestess); and in some Wiccan traditions this celebration of sexuality is honored with a ritual known as The Great Rite.
What was once considered wonderfully human, delightful, a miracle of life, and in some cases a spiritual act, was degraded by the Roman Church, the same church which branded women as evil and with it the emotions of lust and passion.
Modern-day Pagans have reclaimed the celebration of human sexuality and the miracle of fertility that accompanies it. People still dance around the Maypole, a phallic symbol, while they hold brightly colored streamers spilling from the top of this pole, symbolic of the creative force of sex.
Correspondences for Beltaine
Herbs: cinquefoil, frankincense, marigold, meadowsweet,
Altar Flowers/Herbs: daisy, hawthorn, lilac, primrose, wildflowers, rose
Feast Foods: barley cakes, oat cakes, red fruit, elderflower drinks, herbal salads
Animals: honey bees, cats, horses, rabbits, white cow
Incense: frankincense, lilac, passion flower, rose, vanilla
Rituals/Spells: bale fire, fertility magick, sex magick, handfasting, beauty magick, love spells, The Great Rite
(From “Natural Magick the Gray Witch Way”
by Amythyst Raine © 2011)