As the Earth bursts forth in green abundance, we give thanks for all the many gifts of nature, from the newborn animals to the unfurling buds. Beltane celebrates the union of the Goddess and the Green Man – the coming together of male and female energies to create new life. Symbols we are familiar with might include the leafy face of the Green Man, the Maypole, the May Queen and abundant flower baskets. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a special time of year. Even people whose lives are fairly unconnected to the natural world tend to notice a change in their energy levels and feelings of productivity around this time of year. It’s as if the natural world is urging us to wake up, to enjoy our human bodies – dancing, running, playing, making love – and to harness our wonderful potential to create. Whatever you intend to bring the fertile energy of Beltane to, you’ll find that connecting to nature’s wild and free spirit enhances all your endeavours.
These are just some of the ways you might like to celebrate this festival. It’s primarily a time of celebration: one to share with family, friends and community.
Light a Beltane fire – Traditionally, fires were lit at Beltane. The word itself originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’, and the Gaelic word ‘teine’, meaning fire. A special fire was lit for Beltane, with all other fires extinguished and then re-lit with the Beltane fire. Couples jumped the fire as an act of union, hoping that it would bring the blessings of fertility to their lives together. Why not light a fire in your garden and invite friends and family to share it with you. Feast on fresh nourishing spring foods, and spend some time thinking what you’d like to ‘bring to life’, be it a project, an idea, a relationship, or even a baby. Energise each other’s plans and dreams by listening to them and then take turns jumping the fire. If you’re in a relationship, Beltane is an excellent time to renew your intentions or vows to one another, and to leap the fire hand in hand. It goes without saying that little people should be given assistance to leap big fires!
Create something together – Beltane is a festival of fertility. It is a time of giving thanks for the fertility of the Earth, for the fruits and flowers we enjoy at this time of year, and for the miraculous ability of humans and animals to create new life within. You can also harness this wonderful energy by creating something new as a family: planting a garden; writing a story; making a sculpture…whatever it is, breathe new life into it at this magical time.
Seek out the faeries – Just as Samhain (Halloween) is a time when the ‘veils are thin’, so is Beltane. It is a time of magic and wonder, when miraculous things seem to happen. You might like to set off an adventure looking for faeries with your children, seeking out discarded hats (acorn caps) on a riverbank or soft bedding (moss) in the woods. Why not make little faery houses for these reclusive creatures to live in, complete with bark furniture and leaf pillows.
Go camping – getting outside at this time of year is energising and restorative, and one way to enjoy it is to get as close to the Earth as possible. That means lying on your back (with a camping mat if needs be!) gazing at the stars and connecting with the Earth’s energies. Toast some marshmallows on the fire, tell stories, watch the sunrise, and give thanks for the gifts of life.
Leap, dance and go wild! – the lambs have got the right idea at this time of year. Look at most animals and they are frisky with the returning warmth and sense of playfulness that spring engenders. Put some music on and have a dance. Find some wide open spaces and let the kids run wild. Leap up and down, laugh out loud, and chase one another about until you’re exhausted.