Beltane (30th April)

Beltane has got to be one of the best pagan sabbats. Love is in the air! It is also one of the only sabbats that is usually celebrated during the day. This is the day for pagans and wiccans alike to laugh and have fun. The Faeries are afoot! They dance in the hills and roll in the grass, reveling in the joy of warm May breezes. Our spirits are high with the lust and heartiness of spring. New life is stirring and appetites are keen. Beltane is commonly recognised as May Day ( the start of Summer) by non-pagans. Beltane is also a time when many pagans get "handfasted" (pagan marriage). This is a time of self discovery, love, union and developing your potential for personal growth.

In Celtic tradition, the two greatest festivals of the solar year are Samhain and Beltane, celebrations of death and rebirth, respectively. Love is in the air at Beltane. In our rituals, we celebrate the union between the Great Mother and her young Horned God. The Maiden of Spring and the Lord of the Waxing Year meet in the greening fields and rejoice together under the warm Sun. Their coupling brings fresh new life on Earth. Some form of this Great Rite is enacted on this sabbat in nearly every modern pagan circle. The Great Rite symbolizes the sacred marriage, or sexual union, of the Lord and Lady. Often the rite is performed symbolically by a male and female who place a knife (a phallic symbol) into a chalice (a female or yonic symbol).

In Old Europe, whole villages would celebrate May Day by slipping away into the woods for indiscriminate sexual encounters. Any children conceived during this occasion were known as "merry-begots" and were considered children of the gods. These "greenwood marriages" were acts of sympathetic magick believed to have a positive effect on their crops, animals, and themselves. Fires were traditionally built at Beltane, and people would jump over the fire. Young, unmarried people would leap over the fire and wish for a husband or a wife, young women would leap it to ensure their fertility and couples leapt it to strengthen a bond. Cattle were driven through the ashes or between two Beltane fires to ensure a good milk yield. The maypole represents both the God and the flowers and the greenery represent the Goddess.

Drape the altar in a green cloth and decorate it with blooming flowers and herbs. It's a traditional time to go out in the fields and pick spring flowers. Incense that can be used, lilac & frankincense. Cover your altar in ribbons & flowers