Summer’s a-comin’! Happy Beltane!
The Wheel of the Year turns once more to summer!
What is Beltane?
Beltane is the festival of May Day, usually celebrated on the 1st May, that falls equally between spring equinox and the summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere. It’s historically celebrated by the Irish, Scottish and Manx, but is also celebrated by pagans and Wiccans alike.
It marks the beginning of summer and is a celebration of light, life and growth.
Old Beltane rituals
Historically people would celebrate this time when nature is waking up and animals that had been kept inside all winter were sent out to pasture once again. Rituals would be performed to protect livestock and people, and to encourage growth of crops.
Bonfires – symbolic of both cleansing, and of the sun’s power growing once again - were a big feature of these celebrations and were believed to be protective. People would walk cattle around and between bonfires, and sometimes people would leap over the fires for luck and protection from disease. Fireplaces and candles in homes would be put out and then lit again from the Beltane bonfires.
Food – such as the Beltane Bannock, a special oatmeal cake – would be cooked at the bonfires and bits offered to the spirits to protect livestock and deter predators. When the bonfires died down, the ashes would be sprinkled on crops. Feasts would be held, and some of the food offered to appease the fairies, who are most active at Beltane and Samhain.
Flowers - Houses and farms would be decorated with yellow May flowers such as primrose, dandelion, gorse and hazel, to symbolise flames. Some communities also performed practices such as decorating a May Bush with flowers, ribbons and shells, or visiting holy wells.
How you can celebrate Beltane
Decorate a May Bush – deck out a tree or branch (thorn trees are traditional) with flowers, ribbons, shells and painted eggshells. Make sure that if you use non-biodegradable materials that you collect them again on May 31st. You can also decorate your home with yellow May flowers.
Leave an offering out for the fairies – put out some milk or food on your doorstep, or at a thorn tree, to pay your respects to the fairies and ensure you remain in their favour!
Get up early - get up before dawn on Beltane and wash your face in the morning dew and it’s said to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness.
Light a Beltane fire – if you can light a fire in your garden, all the better, but candles still symbolise the return of the sun.
How we’ll be celebrating at Suzie K
Our wonderful Turn of the Wheel events that we host here at Suzie K are highlights of our year. Our 2023 Beltane celebration is on Sunday May 1st, 2-3.30pm.
You can see all of our Turn of the Wheel dates for 2023 over at our events page – but they book up quickly, so get in early if you’d like to save your place. Each event is a spiritual celebration of the season – you can watch some of our 2022 Beltane event here.
However you celebrate, give thanks whilst you do for the abundance of new life in the coming season.
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