Gathering of the Ancients: Beltane Lore

beltane lore /

The bonfires were lit on the hills and in the sacred groves. The bards were playing their lyres as the priestesses prepared offerings and libation for the sacred union.

In the villages, the maypoles were planted in the ground as the maidens danced and strung them with ribbons. And in the forests, lovers wandered hand in hand under the boughs, flushed and filled with the excitement of lust.

The festival of Beltane is here again. The celebrations begin on the eve of April 30th (though traditionally, on the eve before the sun is in 15 degrees of Taurus).

It is a day that heralds a magical month, when the unseen can be seen, when the sun waxes almost full, and the life-force of nature is at its highest. It is a time of magic, joy, nature, and possibility, and you can feel its vibrations tingling in the air.

It is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, heralding the arrival of summer as the goddess weds the god, conceiving the holy child and bringing new life and hope to the world.

Handfasting ceremonies were held: couples would leap over the fire, professing their love for each other and committing to their union for a year and a day. Human sexuality and sensuality were unabashedly honored and celebrated as a natural expression of love and life force.

On this day, it is considered lucky to write your wishes on ribbons and hang them from a tree. The druids would build two smoking fires using the nine sacred woods (oak, ash, rowan, alder, willow, hazel, hawthorn, birch, and holly) and farmers would drive their livestock between them, blessing, purifying and protecting them as they were put out to pasture.

You, too, can light sacred wood and bless your home and family, calling on the collective spirit of the druids to aid you.

Beltane was second to Samhain (Hallowe’en) in terms of festivals of importance. The two festivals, on direct opposite sides of the Celtic Wheel of the Year, marked the beginning of summer and winter.

In both sacred months, May and October, the veils between the worlds and realms are thinnest. Portals of initiation, magical travel and alchemy are opened, and the sightings of faeries, strange creatures, and ancient spirits are common.

The pagan holy trinity or triskele of human/nature/divine was ALL to the people of old. They honored the seasons, the turning of the wheel, the fae and spirits of nature, and the whims of the gods through ritual, ceremony, prayer, libation, bonfire, and feasting.

Contrary to fear-based modern imagination, there were no blood offerings, only those of bread, sweetened milk, burned wood, and love-making. And in return blessings bestowed upon the livestock and crops, the coming harvest, the family, tribe and land were sought.

Beltane, also known as May Day or Faery Day, is an age-old joy-fest, full of magic, color, fun, and hope. It’s a magical day where blessings can be sought and magick can be wrought for our dreams, our goals, our health, our abundance, our love lives, and our family.

On this day, many moons ago, the Tuatha De Denaan first landed on the Irish Isles. They were the gifted children of Dana, great mother goddess and queen of the fae, who disappeared into the woods and underground grottos, becoming the mythical elves we hear talk of today.

Like the little peoples of the wild woods, we too have hidden secrets and powers within us. Take time today to rejoice in your own magic, your relationship to nature and the gods.

Light a candle, burn some sacred smoke, hang a ribbon on a tree, and raise a glass to your dreams. Join the joy-fest and align yourself with the gathering of the ancients.

Additional Beltane magic + activities:

  • Journey back in time to Avalon, receive a blessing from the goddess Dana, be initiated into your power by the Lady of the Lake, and work a faery charm.
  • Wear a wreath of flowers or put flower accessories in your hair
  • Create little faery gardens or faery furniture for your windowsill
  • Burn a silver candle for the goddess and a gold candle for the god
  • Bake honey bread and leave an offering outside for the faeries
  • Place fresh flowers in your home: dandelions, violets, tulips, lily of the valley, foxglove, roses, marigold, lilac
  • Plant pots of herbs, especially mint or mugwort (great for psychic abilities and dreaming!)
  • Create a little altar to celebrate fertility gods and goddesses, inviting their blessing and benevolence into your home. Some suggestions include: Aphrodite, Maia, Bast, Diana, Dana, Pan, Bel, Aengus, Freyr, Tammuz
  • Work with totem animals sacred to god/desses of this time: swallows, doves, swans (swans mate for life and are therefore also beneficial for love & soulmate magic), cats, cattle, ducks
  • Start seeds for planting after the last frost
  • Have a feast that highlights breads, grain, dairy, wine, cider, ale, or summer fruit juices
  • Make your own Maypole
  • Tie colored ribbons to a tree and write your wishes on them. It is considered VERY good luck to make wishes on Beltane.
  • Bake a Scottish Beltane Bannock and eat it on the morning of Beltane to bring abundance your way 
  • Jump over a flame and declare your love for someone for a year and a day! Ps. Self-love thought: this someone can be YOU! <3