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Beltane: Beauty & Bounty

April 29, 2018

Beltane: Beauty & Bounty

by Rebecca Farrar of Wild Witch of the West 


If there were a “Sexiest Season” award, then it would definitely go to spring, mostly thanks to Beltane.

Beltane comes from Proto-Indo-European bhel- meaning “to shine, flash, burn” and also the name of the Celtic Solar God Bel, and ten related to “hot.” And things definitely heat up with Beltane, and I’m not just talking about the weather ;). Originally Beltane was the Celtic holiday honoring the mating of Green Man and the Earth goddess that marked the beginning of summer. This sacred union symbolized the necessary act to bring about Earth’s fertility.

The traditional rituals of Beltane were also full of erotic imagery and delighting in the senses. As the name would suggest, fires were a huge aspect of the holiday, an ultimate symbol of sexuality- with the rubbing of two sticks and sparks galore. During the bonfires unmarried men and women jumping over the fire wishing for partners and fertility. When we think of Beltane, or May Day, which is actually the Irish Gaelic name for Beltane, the Maypole comes to mind. This dance represented the wrapping of the ribbon (female energies) around the pole (phallic form).

In modern days May Day is celebrated May 1, in ancient times it was closely associated with the full moon, which would have been April 28/29 of this year (2018). Because of differences in various calendars throughout history, the traditional date of Beltane is not the same as its astrological date. The astrological Beltane occurs on May 5, when the Sun is at 15 degrees Taurus halfway between Spring Equinox (Sun moves into Aries) and Summer Solstice (Sun into Cancer). Though traditionally the Beltane festival lasted for several days or weeks depending on location. For the record, I plan to celebrate from the full moon through May 5 just to keep the good juju going as long as I can. 

No matter when you observe Beltane it is a time to honor fertility, mating, sensuality, creativity, and abundance. Celebrate the beauty and bounty of Beltane with some of these ideas below:

  • Create a Beltane altar with flowers, fruit, candle, and other representations of fertility
  • Perform random acts of beauty and kindness such as giving away flowers
  • Wear a flowery shirt, skirt, or accessory (hello flower crown)
  • Dance and sing around an outdoor bonfire
  • Braid ribbon, with or without putting it onto a Maypole, with prayers for the season
  • Plant a tree or flower outside or in your home, a great excuse to purchase a new plant
  • Spring cleaning of anything and everything, closets, cars, and fridges
  • Sex! Nothing says happy spring like enjoying pleasures of the flesh!
  • Meditate or sit outside and notice the new growth, buds, and blooms

If you choose to make an altar, use green, pink, and red candles to enhance fertility and energy, or choose a scented candle, such as rose or jasmine, to increase sexuality. Bouquets of dried flowers such as lavender or rose are great for both altar decor and incense

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