A Brief History of Beltane
Beltane (aka "May Day") is one of the biggest holidays for witches (the other being Samhain). It takes place from the evening of April 30th through May 1st, but really it's a celebration for the whole month! It's considered the halfway marker of the witch's year, not quite winter and not quite summer, but the Earth is waking up and feeling goooood. Beltane is all about that verdant, luscious, and dare I say sexy season when flowers bloom, the weather gets warmer, clothes get skimpier, and even if you've been out of school for years and years the anticipation of summer break is sweet like honey. It almost makes you wanna dance around a Maypole ;)
But historically, Beltane wasn't exactly about getting ready for a season of leisure. It was a sexy holiday, but it was about getting ready to WORK and be happy about it, tending crops and getting everything prepared for a restful winter. It was a day (and night, but we'll get to that!) of celebrating fertility and abundance, a day for letting your own energy mimic the fecund energy of nature. A good Beltane party meant a good growing season... but if we don't do much farming these days, what does Beltane mean for us?
Well, it means a good excuse to party down. It also means that we're the plants. We're the seeds that were and are being planted and watered, we're the community coming together, we're the baby bunnies hopping along on brand-new feet. We're more than the work that we do, and we know that fulfilling our most extravagant whims even for a day is actually really, really important for being functioning human beings the rest of the time. Maybe we won't be sweating in the fields for the next few months (or maybe you will, I don't know your life!) but there's plenty of work ahead and it's been a long, weird year. So party on, witches.
Bonfire: Beltane bonfires were said to be super-magical and even LUCKY for the folks dancing around it- or jumping over it! While we don't recommend getting reckless with your fire-appreciation, bonfires and campfires are powerful liminal spaces (much like the liminal space that Beltane occupies between winter and summer). Imagine you're there right now: It's dark, you can't see anything except what the flickering flames want to illuminate for you, and you're dancing your lil heart out. If that sensation doesn't scream "witchcraft" I don't know what does! If you don't have access to a safe outdoor fire, you can still create a sacred flame with a candle! Focus your gaze on the burning wick and ask for visions of the season ahead.
Gathering Flowers: Traditional Beltane celebrations included flower crowns, garlands, bouquets, wreaths, and basically any other shape you can bundle flowers into. Flowers mean the plant is happy and healthy, and bringing those blooms into your home can lend a sense of lusciousness to your space. You can also be a Beltane superhero by making the world a better place for the flowers in your neighborhood. Take a walk to pick up litter, or at least tell the flowers still on their branches how much you appreciate them. They might not want to go home with you, but your gratitude is important.
Maypole: The most iconic Beltane tradition, Maypoles were a pretty unsubtle phallic representative at celebrations. Take or leave that symbolism, but definitely consider the powers of dance and adornment! Much like casting a sacred circle before spellwork, the maypole acts as a focal point for the celebration, a special decoration just for today. You can bring maypole energy into your Beltane by dressing up yourself and your space with brightly colored paper chains, flowers, face paint, hair dye, whatever says "it's party time!"
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