If you need a dose of joy and cheer to end your week, you’re in luck. Today is May 1, the Pagan holiday of Beltane, a “springtime festival of optimisim.”
Falling approximately mid-way between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice, Beltane marks the transition point of Spring, when we emerge from the darkness that characterizes the first phase of spring into the light, when life bursts through the surface of the ground and color returns to the land.
Although Beltane is an ancient festival, it’s new-ish to me; I only first learned about it a few years ago. I love learning about different holidays and festivals outside of my religion, especially when they can offer insight into how to infuse life with greater meaning and purpose.
Beltane is a fun and joyous day, which we could all use right now. It’s a perfect fit for the latest installment of Feel Good Friday!
Here are some fun facts about Beltane, and some tips for practical application of the themes of the day.
Healing and Protection
Beltane is a Fire Festival. The name Beltane means “fire of Bel”; Belinos is one of the names for the Sun God. It also means “to banish,” used in the sense of cleansing and purifying.
Traditional celebration rituals included lighting a big fire, to symbolically invoke the growing power of the sun, as we approach the longest day of the year at summer solstice.
Rituals were performed at Beltane to protect cattle, crops and people and to encourage growth. People and cattle would jump over the fire, walk between two fires, or dance around it.
Crossing over the fire symbolizes that at Beltane, we cross a threshold, celebrating passage through the darkness into the light. The flames were considered to have a cleansing effect, driving out the accumulated bad spirits and pestilence from the winter.
Standing by the fire could also “burn out” sickness, or other energies you wanted to discard, including old habits or thoughts.
Life and Fertility
Beltane honors life and fertility. Earth energies are their strongest and most active. This is when we see animals preening to attract mates, and insects pollinating flowers. It is customary to decorate doorways and windows with yellow May flowers.
The Sacred Union of the Goddess and God were celebrated at Beltane. It’s a day that celebrates sacred sexuality and all the pleasures of life.
On Beltane, we celebrate the Maiden coming into her fullness. In the 2019 We’Moon datebook, Susa Silvermarie wrote that Beltane is a day when we reclaim the original meaning of Virgin: a woman who belongs only to herself, who is faithful to herself.
Beltane is a festival of pure joy, a time to celebrate our existence and the delights of the universe. Notice all the ways that the Universe is saying YES to life: birds chirping, flowers blooming, signs of life emerging throughout nature. This is a day for us to say YES in return.
Wear a flower wreath and frolic in the forest.
Some Practical Implications
And if wearing a flower wreath and frolicking in the forest isn’t your thing?
Well, maybe that’s a reason to do it. 😉
You can at least take a walk outside armed only with your natural curiosity and sense of wonder, looking at the world through the eyes of the Maiden, or the Fool, the archetype of spring in the Tarot. (Don’t forget your face mask, though).
Beyond merely celebrating a joyous day (which is practical and productive in its own right), here’s a more linear approach to applying the magic of this day.
Beltane is a time to plant seeds and conceive. Not just planting seeds in the garden or conceiving in the physical sense, but also in the metaphoric sense.
The benefit of living by the wheel of the year is that we get multiple opportunities to pause and take stock of where we are and where we want to go. This is one of those times; a sacred pause to listen to what wants to be birthed through us, to plant seeds and conceive ideas and projects that we will eventually birth into the world. It is a time for re-emergence and renewal.
Your Next Action: Journaling Prompts
Some prompts for you to consider and journal on this weekend:
- what choices can you make in response to the needs of this sacred moment?
- what idea seeds do you have on hand that you can plant in the fertile soil of the spring earth?
- what ideas have been on hold that may be ready to re-emerge?
- what in your life needs a refresh or renewal?
- what is it that you value and how can you align your life with that?
- Bonus: how can you reclaim your “virginity” by being faithful to yourself?
Renewal comes when we dare to look at life through fresh eyes, to see what maybe we’ve missed in our moments of cynicism. To celebrate life you don’t have to believe in faries or engage in any rituals at all (although it certainly imbues meaning and fun).
You only need to believe in the power of a fresh perspective.
- At least in the Northern Hemisphere. ↩