Beltane is the Celtic fire festival marking the beginning of Summer and honoring the God of the Sun. The celebrations at this time extend all over Europe and also further into Phoenicia and Mesopotamia. It is commonly observed in most cultures with sacred fires celebrating the dead and ancestors, purifications, sexual union of the Sun God and the young Goddess, and heightened fairy activity.
From these common observances, traditions such as the Maypole dances wearing of bells (to frighten the mischievous fairy folk which in Celtic lands were not considered friendly), dousing all fires in the community to be relit from the sacred fires, passing between or over fires, or through the smoke for purification are derived. Sexuality was expressive and performed in honor of the God and Goddess. Today, Beltane is commonly known and celebrated as “May day” and the dance of the maypole still observed in many European cultures and the United States.
As at Samhain, this is a heightened time of activity for the dead and the veils are also thin between the realms. Contact with them and fairy activity is high. It was at this time that it was believed that children would be stolen away from by the sidhe in Ireland and they were watched very closely to not run off during the feast and celebrations.
Rituals for prosperity, fertility, and remembrances of the dead are ways to continue the traditions forward with feasting, flowers, joyfulness, and perhaps some lusty fun.
One tradition practiced in Ireland was the dousing of the hearth fires and then relighting them with a torch from the Beltane fire. This would signify the blessing of the hearth with the ritual fires that blessed and purified the crops, animals and people.
I like to keep this tradition and encourage my Grove members to also do so in a modern manner. I do this by shutting of the power to my home during a house blessing ritual and then turning it back on.
The ritual is simple and one that I find really blesses my home. I usually do it after the Grove Beltane ritual so I can take a piece of wood home that has been burned in the Beltane fire. Though I’m not bringing back live fire or coals, I’m bringing the essence of that blessed fire.
Preparation: I make 4 bundles of herbs to place at the corners of the property on which I live. (if someone is in an apartment, you can place these in the rooms of your apartment). I leave them the whole year. The bundles I use are of lavender, rosemary, and basil. You can determine the herbs used in the bundle based on what your own work with them. These have protective, purifying, and cleansing properties. A sage bundle, the Beltane stick, and offerings for the Kindred.
Ritual: Since my practice is ADF, I use the core order of ritual to set my space. After the space is set and I’ve given offerings to the Kindred, I meditate and give thanks for my year of blessings. Then I call upon my Patron God and Goddess and give thanks to them for all that they have done for me during the year. Then ask for their blessings for the coming year and give them offerings.
With the lit white sage bundle, I go from room to room and cleanse it of any negative energy and dedicate each room to its use. I also acknowledge the house spirits that are with living with me. After I’ve gone through each room, I go outside and begin a circle around the property with the bundles. (Apartment dwellers can leave the bundles in the four corners of their apartment during the room cleansing, or even leave the bundles at the four corners of the building if it is feasible). In each direction I ask for the energy of it to bless my home and property and for me to be honorable in what I do while I am there. I also dedicate the grounds to the land spirits and sprites and invite them to dwell and visit.
Upon reaching the power box of the house, I honor the ancestors and how they doused their hearth fires. I then turn off the main switches to the power in the house. I complete my circle of the property and laying of the protection bundles then enter the house. At this point, I give thanks for the use of the property and house and again dedicate it and myself to the Gods and to the community, asking for wisdom and integrity in my craftwork. I take an omen using runes (you can use the divination tool you are most familiar with – ogham, tarot, scrying, etc). After contemplating on the message, I go outside with the stick from the Beltane fire. I write the runes on the power box, dedicate the home again to the Gods and turn on (reignite) the power.
At this point, the rite is complete and I thank the Kindred and end the rite. For me it is a really neat way to modernize what my ancestors did and continue the tradition.
The Coast Oak Grove celebrated Beltane on 1 May at the fire pits at Crown Point. We had a wonderful turnout of people. Members of our grove were joined by members of the Circle of the Silver Vale and from the San Diego Pagan Meetup from the community. It was really a neat blessing to have them with us. After being blessed by a special Beltane incense created by two of our members, we danced around the fire and some jumped over it. The Goddess and God were Brigid and Beli Mawr whom we honored. Dedicant Richard gave his oath after completion his first year Dedicant Program. A nice accomplishment.
I also led a crossing over for a friend, RS, who died last month at the age of 47. Since he often told me of his connection to his Irish Druid ancestry, I wanted to send him over with a Druid blessing and the warmth and connection of friends and Grove community.
The Kindred gave us this blessing for the time until Solstice using the Irish Ogham.
From the Ancestors – Muin – Communication. The ancestors warned us to be careful in upcoming contracts, negotiations, deals etc. Take time to think them over, get advice from trusted sources and not jump into anything. Exercise caution.
From Nature Spirits – Beith – Purification. The Kindred have received our offerings and are bathing us in the purifying and cleansing of the fires. We are cleansed, holy and pure. Be open to creative projects and inspiration from the Kindred.
From the Gods/Goddesses – Gort – Growth/Fertility/Abundance. Our Gods and Goddesses have a lot to give us. We need to find the haven in them, be open to them and receive what they have for us. Be prepared for an outpouring.
I wish you all a bessed Beltane and a year of abundance. Thank you for following and looking at my blog. I shall endeavor to have weekly posts and keep up on the Pagan Blog Project.