Beltane is perhaps one of the most significant sabbats, as it celebrates the beginning of summer and all the fertility, passion and new life that comes along with it. It is a time of great celebration, feasting and merrymaking. The name Beltane (pronounced "bell-tayne") co
mes from the Gaelic "Bealtaine" meaning "bright fire" or "lucky fire". The celebration involves lighting bonfires, dancing, and performing rituals to honour the bountiful gifts our earth provides us with.
Origins of this festival can be traced back to Indo-European times - when, some time between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, they would practice transhumance - the seasonal moving of cattle and livestock to greener pastures so they can graze over the summer until the fall of Samhain, when they were bought down again for the village to feast on. As this cycle continued, it evolved - with some Celtic sources stating that shepherds and farmers would herd their livestock between two fires for blessing and protection - a practise that continued way into the 19th century. People believed that by dancing around or jumping through fire that they too would not only become blessed and purified but also that the ritual would bring good luck and protection from harm. Hence why the imagery of witches jumping over a bonfire became synonymous with the festival of Beltane.
These festivities are also a time to celebrate the renewal of life and fertility. Some couples may choose to handfast over this period. Handfasting is a traditional practice that dates back to the ancient Celtic times, where couples would make a commitment to each other for a year
and a day. During this time, they would live together as husband and wife, and at the end of the period, they could choose to either renew their commitment or go their separate ways. Handfasting during Beltane is particularly popular among couples who are looking to start a family or who are hoping to renew their commitment to each other. It is a meaningful way to celebrate the season of renewal and the promise of new beginnings. If you are considering handfasting during this time, there are many ways to incorporate the themes of fertility and renewal into your ceremony. You could include symbols of growth and new life, such as flowers and tree branches, and incorporate rituals that celebrate the cycles of nature. Whatever you choose, handfasting during the spring equinox is a beautiful way to honor the traditions of the past while creating new memories for the future.
Another Beltane tradition is the decoration
of May Bushes. Some people believed that trees and plants had magical powers. The Hawthorn was particularly significant as it was associated with fertility and rebirth, which made it a popular choice for decorating during Beltane. It was believed that the decorated bushes would bring good luck and prosperity to the community. In addition to decorating the bushes, they were also used in a procession
where people would dance and sing around them. This was a way of celebrating the arrival of spring and the renewal of life. Cutting such a bush would be seen as unlucky at any other time of year. The procession would often end with the burning of the bushes, symbolizing the end of the old and the beginning of the new. Today, the tradition of decorating May bushes is still practiced in some parts of the world. While the Hawthorn is still a popular choice, other types of bushes and trees are also used. The tradition serves as a reminder of the importance of nature and the cycles of life.
While Beltane is seen as a festival of fertility, there is more to fertility than sexual reproduction. To some, Beltane may signify the evolution of a plan or project coming into fruition. There are many ways that you too can celebrate Beltane. An obvious way would be to have a bonfire, but this may n
ot be achievable for some. Should you not be willing to set your back garden alight, consider partaking in some incense magic. Have the incense represent the bonfire and step over it (carefully!). Feel renewed with blessings and protection and look forward to the long summer nights ahead. Peach, rose, vanilla and jasmine are good incense to use for this thanks to their calming and cleansing aroma. These incense are also great to use at your altar, for cleansing or for other magical workings at this time.
With the increased vibrations of the earth, crystals such as rose quartz, emerald and sapphire can amplify their metaphysical prop
erties, making them more powerful tools for magic and manifestation - becoming more advantageous in spells, grids or simply at your altar.
Here are some ideas on how you can use these crystals during this time:
Rose quartz: This crystal is known as the stone of love and can be great for attracting romance or enhancing relationships. You can wear it as a pendant, carry it in your pocket, or place it on your altar.
Emerald: This gemstone is associated with the heart chakra and is said to promote healing, balance, and abundance. You can use it in a crystal grid or place it in your workspace to help with creativity and productivity.
Sapphire: This crystal is often used for protection and can help with psychic abilities. You can meditate with it to enhance your intuitio
n or carry it with you when you need extra protection.
Remember to cleanse and charge your crystals regularly to keep their energy strong. May-eve is a great time to do this, as the energy of the festivities can help to amplify the power of your crystals. Whether you're casting spells, meditating, or just enjoying the beauty of these gemstones, they can be a wonderful addition to your spiritual practice or even a meaningful gift to a loved one at this time.