Beltane is my favourite of all the festivals because it hails the beginning of summer and takes us up to the longest day. You can physically see Mother Nature in action as the blossom fills the trees, aromas fill the air and the birds busy themselves feeding their youngsters and watching them learn how to fly and feed themselves. It fills us with the hope and anticipation of a long and wonderful summer (often not forthcoming in Scotland but we live in hope as you have to be an optimist to live here!)
What is the Sabbat of Beltane all about? It is May Eve, at Dusk. Every village would light a huge balefire. They were honouring the Earth, who would produce their crops, and the Sun, who would ripen them, and the best was to PARTY – all night. This, however, was the ancient custom that the Christian church outlawed the most, but was the hardest to ban. People who celebrated and depended on the laws of nature still lit their Beltane fires, even when they had been “converted”to the church beliefs, as they still did not want to anger the Sun. Green was the symbol of Earth and was the customary colour to wear at Beltane. To assist the banning of it, the Church declared that green was “unlucky” and the union of the male and female “sinful and dirty”. However, the thing that the Ministers fought against was the way that the ordinary people honoured the Goddess and the Horned God. This is the naughty one folks, the one the people didn’t want to let go of, no matter how Christianised they were made to be, because this was one of the “fun” festivals…
This was the festival of lust and passion as witches and pagans honoured the body and the physical relationship between men and women – a necessity for the continuance of the human race. Fires would be lit on the hilltops at dusk and the village would party till dawn, then celebrate all the next day too. Couples would “make love” in the fields to ensure the success of the crops and the village, and any babies resulting from this night was a blessing from the Goddess herself. It did not matter if the woman was in a relationship, married or alone, as the pregnancy was deemed an honour, and the baby a “chosen one”. Of course, in Celtic society, the female was the head of the household and chose her partner, owned the land and made the decisions, including whom she slept with. Any marriage was reviewed on a yearly basis, at the end of which, if one partner was not happy, they both walked away or continued for another year or however long they decided. What a great system (though nowadays we don’t need to increase the population anymore, so lets not go there guys – have the fun and frolic but wisely and safely thank you)
Couples would also get wed on May Eve and jump the Beltane fire as part of the ceremony, and for luck and fertility. On the way home, the women would wash their faces in the dawn dew to ensure their beauty would remain. This was also the time the farmers would take the cattle and drive them through the centre of the ashes to purify the herd.
A great symbol of Beltane is the maypole – the largest phallic symbol a village could display I think. The pole was placed into the earth, symbolising fertility (obviously), and the dancers would weave their ribbons down the pole symbolising the circle of life. On May Day, the village would have selected a maiden to be May Queen – this still occurred in England when I was a child, but here in Scotland we have a Lammas Fair Queen. The may Queen and her consort was connected to Maid Marion and Robin Hood – a fairy tale or myth which actually related to the Goddess of Nature and her Green Man, the fun-loving and mischievous Pan. For those who have visited my shop, you will notice Pan sits in pride of place at one door whilst a beautiful maiden sits at the other – what do you mean, you have never noticed before? You look next time you pay a visit –remember, there is more to living the magickal way than one day every 6 weeks – it is a whole way of life.
Things to do at Beltane...
"Don’t cast a clout till the May be out" was a saying my nan always used. I always thought she meant May as in the month, but in fact, it is the may flower Hawthorn. The may heralded the summer and until it flowered, summer hadn't begun and chillier weather could still be on it's way!! Beltane celebrations began when the first May flowered. Never pick before Beltane, as nowadays, we are ruled by the calendar, if you are lucky enough to live in a warmer climate than up here in Scotland, and some say never take indoors except on May eve, whilst others say leave at the door as a house protector. In days gone by, the doorway of all homes would be decorated with the Hawthorn blossom. The maidens on Beltane would dress their hair with the Mayflowers – maybe as a sign to the men that they weren’t spoken for.
Up here in Edinburgh, Beltane is still a huge celebration, with a monster fire on Carlton Hill. A procession of light and men pained red honour the Sun King, and the party goes on all night to see the dawn. Since the revival of the Old Ways, the celebration of Beltane has risen again. So, if there is no bonfire near you, light a red candle in a bowl of Earth and honour the Earth and the Sun and have your own Beltane Fire. Make your wish on the flame and let it burn all night. If you are really daring, then go somewhere with your partner to a safe, secluded spot, and rekindle the fire of the past, as it has always been, is now and will be again.
It was always traditional that females on their way home from the Beltane celebrations washed their delicate skin in the morning dew of the Hawthorn to ensure their beauty remained. Even Queen Guinevere rode out on Beltane to gather the Hawthorn for their May Day celebrations.
Beltane is a feast of celebration, joy and happiness looking only to the future. Your very celebration of this night is the spell for Beltane. On this night, there should be merriment, not sadness or solemnity. I am sorry, but feeling sorry for yourself or unhappy with your lot is NOT ALLOWED at Beltane. What you year ahead holds depends on how you see in the dawn. So, the Green Witch’s spell for Beltane is to wear green, ladies get hawthorn in your hair, go and have fun, make your wish on the fire, forget your worries and celebrate what you want the future to hold – not what the past has dished out to you. But, remember, for your luck to hold out, you must sleep in your own bed at sometime on this night (or morning).
As this is the night of the marriage of our Lady and Lord, and the festival of passion, for those of you still waiting to find love, here is something for you. For those in a relationship, you can use this to enhance what you have.
Have a bath with Ylang Ylang, patchouli, jasmine or rose oil, our oils of love and play romantic music to entice the mood. Dry and dress. Put flowers in your hair, as above, and adorn yourself with any of the oils above, diluted in jojoba oil to make a perfume, and place on wrists, heart and neck.
For passion, take a red candle, for love a pink one. With a crystal point, draw two intertwined hearts on the candle and anoint with love oil or one of the oils above. Now visualise being held, loved and kissed, but do not see a face as you cannot decide who comes into your life. (For those in a relationship, then see your partner). Place pink and green stones in a circle on your altar and place the candle in the centre. As you light it with a match, smile and say a few words in rhyme, such as:
Lady of the Moon, Mistress of the Night,
Bring to me with all your Might,
A man to love, who will love me,
This is my will, so mote it be.
As this candle begins to burn,
A lover true, I will earn.
Leave the candle to burn and know happiness is on its way.
A few words of warning, as those who know me will be able to quote – be careful what you wish for, as you might just get it and it may not be what you wanted at all. You have been warned. Love is the one area you must be careful – What goes around comes around x3. Remember this well. Don’t take what ain’t yours…
Lighting the Bel Fire
The lighting of the fire is the magickal part of the night. Wear something green on Beltane and the ladies can put flowers in their hair. It can be as simple or as spectacular as you want it to be as long as it is safe. It can be a simple orange or yellow straight candle lit in soil within your cauldron, the candle representing the male and the cauldron the female, or it can be a bonfire in the garden attended by family and friends. The important thing (to me) is the lighting of the fire/flame before the sun sets and keeping it going through the night (if possible). This represents the magickal energy of the sun and the beginning of summer and we are heading for the longest day when the light is at its most powerful over the dark!! The magickal flame can be used to bring things to you or take them away. Wish on the flames, or write down what you need to come or go to or from you, throw the paper into the flame and state something simple to the flames such as
‘Fire fire take (bring) this from (to) me, this is my will so mote it be’. Simple but effective!!
So, if you want a partner or good health or love or a baby or give up a bad habit…whatever, use this night to solve your problems, then celebrate in a manner that it be done…enjoy and look forward!!
Fire is the element of the Sun, the South, of strength, of change and of passion…and is obviously a fire sign. I love this element. It represents power, energy, creativity, inspiration, motivation, vitality and transformation. It can motivate people into doing things they would not normally do. It has the power to change things. It can destroy everything in its path but can ignite new beginnings, so you can use it to burn away old desires and bring on the new ones. I once drove through an area of Majorca that had been completely destroyed by fire, but marvelled at the tiny new fans of greenery appearing from the blackened tree stumps whilst the area was still smoking from the devastation. The old trees were dead but the new were appearing instantly…fresh growth fanning out from the flames with hope and optimism and Nature was recovering at an alarmingly fast pace…amazing!!
It can do that in your life too. It can rekindle passion in your life, as it has done at Beltane for centuries. Make an incense using frankincense with mustard seeds, black pepper and galangal to bring the passion of the Sun into your home. If you don’t like incense, blend the fire oils and add to an oil burner for a fabulous empowered home! This is the time to make changes if you are not content with your lot and some fire motivation and determination can help you on your way this magickal mystical Beltane.
Beltane Fire safety:
I think Beltane is the most fun of the celebrations as it is simply about enjoyment and fun and staying up all night, plus, if you have a partner, a little outdoor loving if you can manage it. A fire has to be lit at dusk for this Sabbat and kept alive till dawn, so whether you light a candle, BBQ or a bonfire, care must be taken that we don’t set the whole world alight. I don’t want to take the fun out of Beltane but it seems that, since the rise of the New age and Witchcraft, there has also been a rise in domestic fires, so, after consultations with our local Fire Brigade, here is some advice to have a carefree but safe Beltane and I am not referring to the safe sex bit
These are just a few safety suggestions so use your common sense – another wee tip that I have done myself is to not place crystal spheres anywhere where the sun can shine through. The shop isn’t on the sunny side of the street but just before and after midsummer, we get the sun in our windows just at teatime. However, I have burnt various material, plus 2 sets of tarot cards, so imagine what can happen if you place a crystal ball in a sunny window!!! Stay safe, use your noggin and have a fun–filled but safe Beltane…please!!
Talking of wishing...
The Hawthorn – tree of magick and of Beltane
The hawthorn is very distinctive with its small white flowers in May and its bright red berries later on, being covered with the thorns that give it its name and leaves that look like smaller oak leaves. The leaves, taken as a tea, are good for circulatory and cardiac problems and those suffering from emotional distress and have been used in folk medicine for centuries. The wood is knotted and not really much use to a woodworker and doesn’t even burn well in fires – in fact, it carries a lot of superstition and hawthorn should never be taken into the home! However, you can usually find lots of these trees around the fairy mounds (maybe why you don’t take it into the house as it may contain one such being!) The tree’s gnarled appearance indeed makes it enchanted in its own right but despite this, it is a very pretty tree when in full bloom. Also, the fairies use the hawthorn as a symbol of their territory (part of the triad of Oak, Ash and Thorn) and to protect their mound and as such, to leave their trees alone.
Strange things seem to happen to those who disturb and destroy such trees. In fact, in an up-to-date story, the failure of the DeLorean cars was put down by the Irish people to the fact that he personally bulldozed a fairy mound and removed the Hawthorne trees to put up his factory as the builders wouldn’t touch it. If you do remove anything from a tree, just remember the leave an offering to the tree and the little people for the gift. It would always have been used to decorate the maypole at Beltane and even into bridal flowers at this time to promote fertility in the marriage. However, when leaving to go to battle, the man would also put hawthorn under the mattress to ensure his wife’s celibacy in his absence! Those who are sad, unhappy or depressed should carry some around to magickally promote happiness whilst should any fishermen be reading this, some hawthorn leaves carried on your fishing trip helps to ensure a good catch!
Any bad habits etc....
If you have any bad habits, illness, or problems the Beltane fire is certainly one of the best times to deal with them. If your problem can be utilised into a symbol, then you simply throw the symbol into the fire (i.e. pack of cigarettes to stop smoking) but if it is more complicated than that, write it down in symbols (body with a hammer hitting the head for migraines etc). The fire will consume the symbol or paper and thus the power they have over you has been destroyed by the element of transformation. As it burns, simply state “Problem, be gone from me - this is my will, so mote it be”. Go on, magickally expel those habits and know you will feel better!!
Your Outside altar...
It is a good idea to set up an outside Beltane altar where you are celebrating Beltane. I am lucky to have my fire-pit in the garden weather permitting that we can celebrate outside. You also need to set up good quality full-bodied red wine, a plate of fruit such as strawberries & grapes and maybe oatcakes and fine cheeses.
As this is also the night of the fairies, don’t forget their treat too: kids will love to do this. If you have a fairy house or door in your garden, do this there, otherwise pick a nice spot.
Mix together rose petals and fairy dust and make a circle about 10-12” wide. Place some walnut halves or nut shells within the circle filled with cider and wee treats to let them to celebrate when they come out to play. If over the next few days, when the sun is shining and not a cloud in sight but you feel rain on your face, the fairies are saying thank you for their treat!!
This holiday is all about fun and can last several days – hence why some places have their Mayday festival along with May Queen, maypole and dancing men and we even get an extra days’ holiday to help with the hangover!!
Purple and green are the Beltane colours so dress with the season and decorate your altar accordingly.
A Magickal Wish Box for Beltane...
Plan your Beltane fire, whether a bonfire in the garden or beach, or an orange sphere candle on your altar.
Beforehand, get a small wooden/pretty box. Fill the bottom with dried Orange flowers and frankincense. Sit quietly and think carefully of all the things you would like to materialise in your life…and be specific: (don’t just write “pay off debts” – put the amount of money and to pay what!!). Write down all those things you wish for you and yours to take your lives forward over the next few months or even years. Make two identical lists. We have used Lodestone for spells in the past – well, time to use it again to attract those things to you, so look it out. When dusk arrives on Beltane, light your candle or bonfire, however you have chosen to represent the Beltane fire for your household. Sit and think about what you have written (be careful what you ask for as it may just happen and may not be what you wanted at all…). When the list is finalised, put one folded list in the box on top of the herbal mix and sit the lodestone on the top. Close the box. Take the other list to your fire, set it alight and let it burn, whether thrown into the fire or carefully set alight by the candle. Take your wish-box and pass it through incense, (frankincense, fire or sun), saying out loud “By the power of Fire, please bring to me, these wishes and desires, so mote it be” and place the box on your altar. Light incense on altar weekly until it be so.
Spells for Beltane...
Decorate your altar with spring flowers and of course, hawthorn if you can find it, but not till the night of Beltane itself. Place Hawthorn over your doorway as well. Use pink candles on your altar, as this is to signify the love and fertility both in relationships and nature that ensures a bountiful harvest. Balance this with a bright orange one, your representative of the Sun, as this is a fire festival and nature can only be bountiful if both male and female play equal parts – something often forgotten today. Bathe with ylang ylang or jasmine or rose oils for a loving aura.
For the spell, you will need a pink candle and holder, some hawthorn and jasmine flowers and greenery and a small item of clothing belonging to each of you to tie together.
To strengthen an existing relationship and enhance your love, take a pink candle and carve two interlinking hearts, with your initial in one and your partner’s in the other. Anoint your candle with Love oil – if none available then use Palma Rosa, lavender or Ylang Ylang oil - then hold it in your power hand (the one you write with), close your eyes and see the two of you so happy together – you know that togetherness only couples know. Pour all this into the candle and then place in the holder. Surround with rose quartz or other pink/green love stones and some hawthorn and jasmine (this also flowers at this time with an aroma to beat no other and is a powerful aphrodisiac as well). Light the candle.
Now, take an item (secretly) of yours and one of your partner’s –flexible items that aren’t too big – and tie them together in front of the lit candle. This simply binds you together as a couple and strengthens the relationship. Do not use if there is no relationship – it is for existing couples only. As you tie them together, visualise your relationship as you wish it to be and pour it into the knot you are creating. Now, hide these linked items where they cannot be found – the relationship can only be strengthened whilst the knot is in place. I know, a bit sneaky, but you should never reveal your spells to anyone until they have been fulfilled anyway. Reveal this or the knot undone and the spell is undone too.
If it is a child you want to bring to your relationship and have not been blessed yet, then simply do the above but add a baby item as well. After all, the primary reason about this Sabbat is the celebration of life itself and this is the most positive time to ask our lady to bless you.
Spell for Fidelity at Beltane
I decided that, as Beltane is a promiscuous festival, a spell for fidelity would ensure peace of mind – well, it is what I have had questions on just lately! I have also had a few enquiries when partners are working away, that sort of thing, so here is my suggestion.
Take a nutmeg and cut it into 4 pieces. Now we are going to use the elements to ensure trust. Bury the first quarter somewhere where it can be left undisturbed, throw the second into the wind off a high building or a cliff if you live near the sea, burn the third (in your Beltane fire), and boil the last to make an elixir. Drink a sip from the liquid and then retrieve your last piece and keep it with you at all times (including putting it under your pillow at night). You have done all to ensure your partner remains true for as long as you are apart.
Another Spell for Beltane - how to attract a lover
Here is a spell for all those ladies that will be wearing green on Beltane (or men for that matter).
When doing any work to find a partner, do not visualise a face or you limit the field. Also, remember you cannot alter anyone’s path or this is regarded as bad and karma will follow. So the best thing when wanting a partner to love is to select on personality. Imagine the good points of the partner that you want. Don’t go for a 6ft blonde fireman with muscles but for someone who will make you laugh and treat you like the goddess that you are.
Make a garland for your hair to wear on Beltane made from twisted ivy and one single piece of May if you can find it, otherwise perhaps some rosemary. This is to celebrate the marriage between our Lady and Lord on this night and your hope as you craft this circle, that next year you won’t have to wear the green (men can do this too, but with oak leaves and maybe honeysuckle). Now prepare your spell ingredients outside at your Beltane fire, on your altar or in the garden at dusk (this can be carried out on a full moon for the rest of the year):
Take a pink candle, some love oil, a rose and cup of water, an emerald placed between 2x small Herkimers in a spiral (for wearing later) and some rosemary & set on your altar wherever you have decided to carry this out. Hold each item separately and infuse with the feeling of being in love but no particular face…now…
Fill the cup with the water and place the rose into the cup and say:
“By this rosy cup of love, I draw love from up above”
Engrave the candle with two entwined hearts and anoint with love oil or rose oil, set behind the cup, light the candle & repeat the above saying for the 2nd time.
Place the spiral of diamond and emerald through the candle flame, into the water and onto the rose (leave in the rose if possible, otherwise sit between the candle and the cup). Now sprinkle rosemary around all and repeat the above saying for the 3rd & final time.
Let the candle burn for at least 9 minutes (3x3) before snuffing to burn nightly or leave to burn down. Take the crystal spiral and wear on a necklace under your clothes to attract your lover to you. If you are partying the rest of the night, you can anoint yourself with love oil & wear your love rose and you are all set for your magickal Beltane celebration. Continue to wear your magickal crystal spiral until your new lover has come to you.
Spell for bringing a lover..
If you are on your own and are ready for someone to come into your life, use the Beltane fire to make this happen.
First, get together some rose petals and a nice piece of writing paper. Write on the paper all those attributes you require in your next love. Be careful what you wish for…you might just get it!!
Once you have filled in all those requirements, sprinkle the rose petals in the centre of the paper and then carefully fold up. Now put the paper with the petals in your Beltane fire saying:
Power of Fire; please bring to me a love that is true, so mote it be…
Now let it burn…and now we wait…the motion has been set...
Hawthorn Spell for Beltane...
To perform a spell at Beltane, find your own personal magickal Hawthorne tree – easy for me to say as I can access them by the dozen but those of you in cities may have to visit a park). On Beltane or when the moon is full, visit the tree and take with you various small strips of cloth in colours to match your needs and wishes plus a gift. Now, in the quiet of the night, attune yourself to the tree’s vibrations. You are asking the tree to grant you your wishes so you must give it your time.
When ready, and the spirit of the tree is aware of your presence, hold a corresponding piece of cloth and ask of the tree your wish. Visualise what it is you are after and speak a little poem. So, if you need money, then take a green piece of cloth and ask: “Spirit of the Hawthorne tree, grant to me prosperity, this is my will so mote it be.” You then pierce the cloth onto one of the thorns. Are you with me? If it is love you are after, then you would use pink cloth and chant
“Charm of rose and hawthorn tree, bring my true love unto me, this is my will, so mote it be.”
Just make up as simple or as fancy a poem as needed. If you don’t want to use the “so mote it be” then you don’t have to but I always do so I included it. You can make as many wishes as you like, each one requiring a separate piece of cloth and a separate thorn. If something is very urgent, you can repeat the request several times. When you have made all your requests to the tree, leave a gift such as wine to its roots and when a wish materialises, return to the tree with another offering.
Getting rid of worries...
Gather some dried weeds, dried lavender or yarrow and a little frankincense resin and, before dark, light your magickal fire outside, made with 13 sticks. Once the fire is burning, by the light of the fire, write your worries, one by one, on separate pieces of paper in as fewer words as possible. If a person is making your life hell, just write their name, not the whole story…are you with me??
Now, close your eyes and visualise yourself sat inside a magickal sphere with your fire, protected by a blue light. Open your eyes, and throw the weeds on the fire. One by one, put each worry on the fire, stating what it is you have written.
Once all has been burned, throw on the lavender or yarrow and frankincense, saying “Worries be gone, let happiness come, so mote it be” and watch your fire burn down. Your worries won’t be gone by the morning but it has set things in motion so you can now stop fretting. Worrying does nothing except give you high blood pressure – only action can change things around you and the time for that is now…