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The Cottage April/Beltane 2002


Tbe Merry Month of May
Flowers, Herbs, and the Faeries of May
Beltane Ritual
The Crones Kitchen
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Beltane~ May 1stalso known as: Mayday, Walburga, Galan Mai, Shenn da Boaldyn, Bealtinne, Beltine, Beltain, Beal-tine, Beltan, Bel-tien, Beltein, Bealtuinn and Bealtaine

Beltaine is here!  The days lengthen and  warm, we are greeted by the rebirth of the earth. Trees are budding, spring  flowers blooming , birds  sing as they build their nests. All around us are symbols of fertility, growth, warmth and light. It is the perfect time to celebrate the greening of the earth . This festival celebrates the height of Spring, the coming of Summer, and the flowering of life. Beltaine is about consumation.

Beltaine is a time of new beginnings, of celebrating new ventures, and new starts. We rejoice in the new life around us. Beltane marks the return of vitality and passion. The projects inspired and planned for at Imbolc, and begun at Ostara are now alive and growing. We celebrate and thank the deities at this time.

Traditionally, Beltane festivities began days before May 1st or "May Day," when villagers traveled into the woods to gather the nine sacred woods needed to build the Beltane bonfiresand the maypole. The tradition of "May Boughing" or "May Birching" involved young men fastening garlands of greens and flowers on the windows and doors of their prospective ladyloves before the fires are lit Beltane night. As with many Celtic customs, the type of flowers or branches used carried symbolic meaning, and much negotiating and courting could be worked out ahead of time. 

Beltane was a time of fertility and unbridled merrymaking, when young and old would spend the night making love in the Greenwood. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night.  Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. They would process back home, stopping at each house to leave flowers, and enjoy the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. In every village, the maypoleusually a birch or ash polewas raised, and dancing and feasting began. Many communities elected a virgin as their "May Queen" to lead marches or songs. To the Celts, she represented the virgin goddess on the eve of her transition from Maiden to Mother. Depending on the time and place, the consort might be named "Jack-in-the-Green" or "Green Man," "May Groom" or "May King." The union of the Queen and her consort symbolized the fertility and rebirth of the world. This is the Love Dance of the Gods, the Wedding of Heaven and Earth, the Bridal feast of the Goddess! It is customary that Handfastings, for a year and a day, occur at this time. These are the trial marriages that typically occur between a couple before deciding to embark on life eternal. It was understood by our ancestors that one does not really know another until they live with them, and things change. With this understanding unions were entered upon, first as a test period, and then a further commitment. It was kept in mind that only through the choice of both to remain, could the relationship exist.

A large part of the Beltane festivities revolved around  dancing the maypole.The danced Maypole represents the unity of the god and godess, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum.

Forms include pole, tree, bush, cross; communal or household; permanent or annual. * In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. * In England, permanent Maypoles were erected on village greens * In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households. * Maypole ribbondances, with two circles interweaving; around decorated bush/tree, clockwise circle dances.

May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health. .
May Waters
Rolling in May Eve dew or washing face in pre-dawn May Day dew for health, luck, beauty. * Getting head and hair wet in Beltane rain to bless the head. * Blessing springs, ponds, other sacred waters with flowers, garlands, ribbons, other offerings. * Collecting sacred waters and scrying in sacred springs, wells, ponds, other waters.*


Activities for Beltane:

  • Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Choose the contents using symbolic correspondences for what you wish to bestow upon the recipient
  •   Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors.
  • Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within.
  • On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it.
  •  Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck.
  •  Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.
  • Arise at dawn and wash in the morning dew: the woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful; the man who washes his hands will be skilled with knots and nets. If you live near water, make a garland or posy of spring flowers and cast it into stream, lake or river to bless the water spirits.
  • get in touch with the sensual nature of your body as well.  Make love to yourself. Do things that make your body feel good. A nice hot bubble bath will do it for some people; eating ripe and juicy fruits, or any other foods that make you feel wonderful is in order. Go out dancing if that kind of movement feels good to you. Although you can't dance a Maypole by yourself, you can certainly dance alone in your living room. In fact, some people need to dance alone in their living rooms in order to entirely lose their inhibitions and let their sensual nature come to the fore. Whatever it takes, enjoy your body and the life it contains as part of your Beltaine celebration.
  • tie ribbons to a tree to celebrate Beltane make a wish for yourself and your loved ones as you tie each ribbon
  • leave a dish of fruits nuts and goodies outdoors for the animals and the fae
  • repare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill, then give it to one in need of caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Beltane is one of the three "spirit-nights" of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them.
  • Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luckbut make sure you tie up long skirts first!Make a May bowl wine or punch in which the flowers of sweet woodruff or other fragrant blossoms are soakedand drink with the one you love.


Symbolism of Beltaine:
The Union of the Goddess and the God, Fertility in all things. A time of making things fertile

Symbols of Beltaine
Maypole, Mayday baskets, Festivals, Bonfires, Flowers,  ribbons, flower crowns, fairies

Deities Fertility Gods and Goddesses, Flower Goddesses, Pan, The Green Man, Flora, Diana, Artemis, Faunus and Nymphs

Herbs:Rose, elder, mugwort, mint, lily of the valley, foxglove, broom, hawthorne, almond, angelica, bluebells, daisy, marigold, frankincense, lilac,  yellow cowslips and thyme

Colors:Grass green and rainbow colors

Insence:Rose, sandalwood, frankincense, lilac, and mint

Stones: Emerald,malachite, carnelian, amber,sapphire, rose quartz

Animals: cat, lynx, goat, horse, leopard, swallow, dove, swan

Energies: youthful exuburance, sensuality, pleasure, crop blessings, creative endeavors

Tarot Card: Wands (esp 4 of wands)

Decorations: maypole, lots of flowers, flower wreaths, ribbons

Food: dairy foods, foods made with flowers, red fruits such as strawberries and cherries, green herbal salads, red or pink wine punch, maybowl(an icebowl decorated with spring flowers and filled with maywine), large round oatmeal or barley cakes (known as Beltane cakes or Bannocks), shellfish and other aphrodisiac type foods

Ritual Features:

A Beltane ritual should feature flowers, seeds and seedlings. People could wear flower wreaths on their heads  People can also bedeck themselves with ribbons and little bells.