Be Ready to Celebrate Beltane
The flowers are in full bloom, passions are running high, the heavenly energy descends, and the earthly energy rises. All around is abundant life, as the light gets brighter and the days get warmer and longer. Spring is melting into summer and the name Beltane, which means “brilliant fire,” accurately describes the increasing presence of the light. The nights are shorter, so you’ll typically be sleeping less and spending more time awake during the longer days. If you’re not already doing so, make it a point to spend some time outdoors each and every day.
It’s the season of Mother’s Day and the sacred marriage of the May King and the May Queen. The fertility of the King and Queen is reflected in the land, crops, animals and people. It’s also another one of those quarter days where the early peoples lit a bonfire, which served the purpose not only for cooking the feasts and providing light and warmth, but also for blessings, healings, fertility, and preventing diseases. A Celtic tradition was to “leap the Beltane fires,” which was for good luck and the fulfilment of wishes. It was also to heat up one’s loins and carnal desires, since this was also an intensely erotic time.
It’s the season for the Maypole and for May baskets. The dance around the Maypole honors the life-giving fertility of the Earth. In days gone by, men and women would dance in a spiral while holding colorful ribbons, moving ever closer to the middle, where not only the ribbons intertwined, but their bodies would mingle as well. This rite was also an elaborate form of foreplay during this season where lusty passion was unabashedly expressed.
Commemorating Beltane—Passion is the strongest theme of this seasonal festivity. Not only sexual passion, but also sensual passion—aromas, sights, and sensations of the Earth’s flourishing bounty. As the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, says, “It’s important to be happy and easygoing and not hold grudges, so that the energy can flow freely and communicate between the external and the internal.“ Take it easy and don’t get stressed! If you do, just go outside and soak in the warmth of the expanding summer.
If you take part in only one or two of the more elaborate seasonal celebrations, make this one of them. Hold a May Day celebration, with a Maypole dance and plenty of flowers to decorate the May baskets. Devise and produce games, perhaps borrowing from your childhood memories of family picnics. The women and the girls can make crowns of flowers for their hair, and for the men, garland necklaces from the Spring grasses.
And music, music, music! Flutes, guitars, harps, drums—instruments and music that express playfulness and passion. Have a Maypole dance, where the participants hold brightly colored ribbons that are tied to the pole as they do a spiral dance, wrapping the ribbons around the Maypole. Most of all, have fun!
Build a bonfire. For the early Celts, bonfires were essential for each of the quarter days, most especially for Beltane. Hold a fire ceremony, and find a place where you can safely do it outdoors. Have feast with it, and if possible, build the fire as the night falls, following your May Day celebration. You may even want to “leap the Beltane fires,” if you can do so safely.
A drumming circle, whether as part of the larger ceremony, or independent of it, can be a great way to celebrate and honor this season. Get some friends together, ask them to bring percussion instruments of any kind, and provide whatever instruments you have. Gather in a circle. One drum starts the beat, and others join in as they feel like it. Encourage people to get up and dance, as they feel so moved. In fact, take every opportunity you have to dance.
With passion being the primary theme, if you’re in a relationship, set aside some time during Beltane for lovemaking. If you can, make love outdoors, and augment the setting with your own touches, such as candles, additional flowers, blankets, and essential oils. If you prefer, do this inside, and prepare the room such that it will provoke the senses, such as spreading rose petals on the bed. Start the ceremony by taking a ritual bath together, washing one another’s bodies, anointing them with oils of your favorite aromas. Some of my favorites are Jasmine, Lavender, Cinnamon, Patchouli, and Frankincense. Take your time, and spend a lot of time caressing and kissing.
I’m sure you’ll know what to do from there.