Bright Blessings, Witches! Now that we’ve gone over the History of the Beltane Sabbat, let’s talk about some ways in which you can celebrate it. In the modern times we live in, it is rare that you would need to pass cattle through bonfire smoke in order to bless them and their fertility for the coming season. However, there are plenty of other rituals you can perform. Let’s get into it!
10 WAYS A MODERN WITCH CAN CELEBRATE BELTANE IN 2022
- BUILD A BELTANE ALTAR
As always, I recommend a dedicated altar to kick off any Sabbat celebration. Even if this is the only thing that you do, it’s such a powerful ritual that it keeps the mindset of the season front and center. And remember, it can be as big or as small as you want it to be. There’s no real right or wrong way to do it – unless you subscribe to a particular path that has rules to follow.
Physically clean and spiritually cleanse your altar space. You always want to start with a clean slate to welcome in the turn of the wheel. I like to practice some visualization and then get into setting up the new altar.
Here are some Beltane correspondences you can include when building your own altar:
- Blue, green, orange, pink, red, white, or yellow altar cloth
- Amber, aventurine, carnelian, emerald, malachite, rose quartz, sapphire
- Besoms, candles, cauldron, maypole, ribbons
- Fallen twigs from Ash, Oak, and/or Hawthorn trees
- Flowers: all blooming flowers, lily of the valley, roses, yarrow
- Herbs: foxglove, hawthorn, ivy, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff
- Food: Bread, Cake, Cherries, Dairy, Honey, Salad, Wine
- Animals: Blue jays, cats, doves, leopards, lynxes, robins, squirrels, swallows, swans
- Deities: Aphrodite, Artemis, Diana, Flora, Freya, Hera, Venus, Apollo, Bacchus, Bes, Cernuous, Dionysus, Faunus, Green Man, Odin, Pan
Remember that as it’s your altar, arrange it how you are called to. Make it personal to your taste and your path. It doesn’t have to be large or elaborate. You can even construct a jar altar where you place small representatives of Beltane in a container and place it central in your home. Follow your intuition and get creative!
- PERFORM A BELTANE MEDITATION
A Beltane meditation is another way you can celebrate the Sabbat. I like to perform a meditation for every holiday to center myself and align my intentions for the coming season. This doesn’t have to be extraneous in length or complicated. In fact, the simpler it is the better.
A great thing to focus on is the summer months ahead. Contemplate what you want to see grow in your life as the sun grows simultaneously in power. Think about all of the lessons learned during Imbolc and Ostara and how to apply it towards your summer goals, intentions, and anything else you wish to experience.
- CELEBRATE WITH A MAYPOLE
What the maypole represents is still debated in our modern times. Some say it represents what’s known as the Axis Mundi – or world center – where the earth, sky, and four cardinal directions meet. Others interpret the maypole being symbolic of a phallic emblem due to Pagan fertility rites. Regardless of how you see it, the maypole is a traditional symbol of Beltane and its dance a celebrated custom.
It was normal for Beltane celebrations to start the night before with a huge bonfire. It wasn’t uncommon for folks to be overcome with lust and take a roll (or two or three) in the hay with one or multiple partners by the end of the night. The next morning, everyone would come together to perform the maypole dance.
While this is a traditional custom, it can still be put to use in your own modern practice and observance – with or without the lusty interlude. You can even turn the maypole dance into a communal activity by prepping for the event with all expected participants. Keep in mind that you will need to be able to host it at a place where you can dig into the earth and erect the pole.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- a shovel
- a hole at least three feet deep and large enough to accommodate a 15-20 foot pole
- a wooden pole anywhere from 15-20 feet long
- ribbons ~20 feet long by 2-3 inches wide, enough for each participant
- metal eyelet screws, enough for each ribbon
Dig the hole. Put in the metal eyelet screws and attach the ribbons. When the pole is prepped, raise the maypole vertically and insert it into the hole. Pack the base of the pole tightly with dirt to ensure it will not shift, veer, or fall during the dance. Please be diligent during this step to secure everyone’s safety!
THE MAYPOLE DANCE
I will do my best to describe how to carry out the maypole dance. Please note that this is only one way to do it. There are quite a few variations, so if this doesn’t sound like one you want to do, a quick Google search will yield other options. I also suggest heading to YouTube for a visual demonstration if my words aren’t clear enough.
There will be two groups; we’ll call them Group 1 and Group 2. Group 1 will move deasil – clockwise – and Group 2 will move widdershins – counterclockwise. Have everyone hold their ribbons with the hand that’s closest to the maypole. As the dancers move in a circle, Group 1 will pass on the left first, and then the right with Group 2 passing on the right first and then the left.
Dancers passing on the outside will hold up their ribbon so that the dancers on the inside can pass underneath it. The dance continues until there is no more ribbon to wrap around the maypole. Tie the loose ribbon ends making sure to knot them well at the bottom.
Again, if it does not make any sense, check out YouTube and Google for other examples, tips, and tricks. And don’t forget the music!
- FLOWERS, FLOWERS, EVERYWHERE!
Weaving flowers into crowns is a great way to celebrate Beltane. Alternatively, braiding buds into your hair works just as well. This can work in tandem with a festive picnic followed up by picking wildflowers.
Pack some tasty honey bread and cake, cherries, cheese, salad, and wine in observance of the holiday. Take your time and really enjoy being outside, appreciating all that the turn of the wheel has to offer us. You may even want to reserve some of the flowers you pick to display in your home after retiring from your celebration.
- HONOR THE FAE
For those who work with the Fae – or wish to – Beltane is their time to shine. With the appearance of flowers in full force, the start to summertime demonstrates the Good Folk are keeping their noses to the grindstone. Head out to your yard or garden to offer them treats, foods, and trinkets to pay your respects.
Please note that if you don’t have any experience working with the Fae, they should be approached with caution and respect. Check this post out for more information.
- LIGHT A BONFIRE
As we talked about in the History of the Beltane Sabbat, bonfires were the number one go-to activity. It makes sense as this is one of four greater fire Sabbats. As such, hosting or attending a bonfire is a great way to celebrate Beltane in modern times.
Bonfires offer a way to cleanse and purify. By dancing around one or even leaping over it – with caution – the flames and smoke can deterge and free you from lingering negativity you’ve accumulated during the past season. You could also burn petitions for things you wish to release. And of course, bonfires are great for making s’mores!
- PREPARE MAY BASKETS
This one is an excellent Beltane activity that gives back to your community. A May basket is essentially a gift basket themed around who you’re giving it to. One idea is to choose items that help the homeless. You don’t have to use an actual basket; instead, use a reusable tote or backpack that the recipient can continue to use.
Another type of May basket you can make would be intended for a neighbor. You could include baked goods, a sweet note, and maybe some of those wildflowers you picked during your Beltane picnic. Or you could make a gift bag for a friend who may be feeling under the weather or who you haven’t connected with for awhile.
- HOLD A QUEEN BATTLE
This one is a neat idea if you and yours like theatrics. Some Wiccan paths believe that Beltane is when the Queen of Winter and the May Queen battle it out to see who will reign supreme. Borrowed from traditions of the Isle of Man, both queens have their own group of supporters who compete against one another to try and win the competition for their queen.
You and your friends could split into two teams – one for the May Queen and one for the Queen of Winter. For the battle, you could compete in a game of dodgeball, steal the bacon, tag – any game where there’s a ultimate winner. Have fun and get creative. You could even host a grand feast afterwards to celebrate the Sabbat further.
- TEND YOUR GARDEN
The theme of fertility continues with this idea. A lot of modern Pagans choose to plant and sow their seeds with the early May flowering. This paired with thoughts of the cycle of birth, growth, death, and then rebirth really drives the message of Beltane home.
Even if you don’t have a physical garden, you could approach this idea on the spiritual level. Tend to your metaphysical garden. Make time for reflection, journal, spend some time outside and think about your inner garden and ways that you can nurture it.
- MAKE MAGICK
If you’ve been contemplating attracting fertility or abundance into your life, Beltane is the perfect Sabbat to approach it. Other types of magick that work well this time of year include:
You may even feel encouraged to try your hand at some new methods of casting. Have fun and experiment!
Well, there you have it Witches! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and maybe even learned something new. Do you celebrate Beltane? Is there something you do that wasn’t on this list? Let me know in the comments. And as always, Bright Blessings and Happy Crafting!