(Also spelt Beltane) is one of the Celtic Fire Festivals. In
the Northern hemisphere it is held on the first day of May
(also known as May Day). Here we celebrate Beltaine around
the 1st of November.
with the other fire
festivals - Imbolc, Lammas and Samhain, Beltaine is also
known as one of the four "Cross Quarter Days" are roughly
mid-way between the solar
of the Solstices and Equinoxes and mark the highlights of
the Celtic year.
The god who was born at Yule and a
child at Imbolc is a youth at Beltaine (and is full of
youthful energy and mischief !)
are custom at this festival, and traditionally young women
would leap across small fires in hopes of gaining a good
Beltane the God is the Green Man, God of all growing things.
He too is the lover of all that lives, the protector of the
wild things and the guardian of the forest. Often he is
depicted as a leafy face peering out from the branches and
foliage. He even appears in many old Christian churches,
carved on pillars or decorating the altar screen.
Pagans, one of the great gifts of the Goddess is the power
of the earth to grow wonderful flowers and fruits and all
the things we eat. We are thankful fu the fertility of the
earth, and our job is to keep the land and the soil healthy,
to protect the animals and plants and trees so that
fertility can continue. The earth is a living being, and all
of her creatures are part of her body. Each has a place, a
purpose, a special part in the great dance of life.
known the Goddess as Mother and as Daughter. At Beltane, She
becomes the Lover of all living things. As Beltaine is a
time of Faerie Magic and the Queen of faeries is represented
by the Queen of the May. We could call her by some of the
ancient names of the Love Goddess: Aphrodite, Astarte,
Flora, Maia, Oshun. Many circles especially like to call her
Queen Maeve, the Faery Queen, who comes riding forth from
the Otherworld, the realm of dreams, imagination, spirits,
and visions, to teach us how to move between the worlds.
Probably the best known symbol of "May
Day" is the May pole, which in olden times would be raised
with great ceremony on the village green. The Pole would be
made of a stripped tree, the tallest that could be found,
which would be planted in the earth and crowned with a
wreath of ivy or
Long ribbons would be attached to the top of the pole and
couples would weave the ribbons round and round around the
pole, in an intricate dance. Here in Australia, it can
sometimes be envisioned as the great rainbow snake from the
Aboriginal dreaming, respectfully merging traditional Celtic
beliefs and symbolism with those of our indigenous brethren,
creating uniquely Australian traditions for a modern pagan.
May Day was
also the day that our ancestors would re-enact the Great
Marriage of the God and Goddess. The May Queen and May King
would be crowned with flowers and a day of feasting and
celebration would be followed by a night of love. Many
pagans wishing to explore a committed relationship choose
this time for a "Beltaine wedding", which might last
"a year and a day" or which might last only from sundown to
directly opposite Samhain on the wheel of the year. Like
Samhain and Midsummer's Eve, it is one of the times of the
year when the doors between the worlds are opened. It is not
uncommon for faeries to be seen on this day. Beltaine
is also the time when we
celebrate the joys of being alive. We give thanks for all
the different kinds of pleasure our bodies give us, for
without our bodies we couldn't see, hear, touch, taste,
smell, run, dance, jump, sing, dance, or swim.
for Beltane can be a simple arrangement of flowers in bloom
at this time. May baskets can be made of paper strips or
created from existing baskets. Branches of Hawthorne (the
May tree) or oak leaves and branches (sacred to the Greenman)
can form a green background. You might also want to include
pictures of the Fair Folk. And be sure to set out a bowl of
milk or cream for them at night. Don't worry if the cat
drinks it - she's probably a Faery in disguise!
Colours - Bright colours abound at this time of year.
Some especially connect the colours of purple and green with
Beltane - the deep plum of grape wine, the peridot and
hunter greens of the forest - and the gold of the sun
shining through the trees are natural choices for Beltane
Herbs and Woods -
used for Beltane should be intoxicating, heady, and erotic.
Rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, peach, musk, and vanilla. If you
want to use herbs to make an incense or spell powder to
throw on the fire, woodruff, fern, rose, chamomile,
wormwood, and galangal are good choices.Often you will read
about the nine sacred woods used in kindling the balefire.
Obviously, the trees should all have strong connections to
magick, but substitutions can be made depending on where you
Oak would be the first choice, the backbone of the fire, so
to speak. To that add eight other types of wood. Any and all
of these are acceptable: apple, Hawthorne, birch, elder,
ash, thorn (blackthorn), grape vine, rowan (mountain ash),
holly, willow, cedar, yew and hemlock.
Activities & Craft
morning, you may wish to wash
in the morning dew, as it is said a woman who washes in the magical dew
of May Day is said to gain beauty (according to the famous mother goose
"The fair maid who, the first of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day,
And washes in dew from the hawthorn-tree,
Will ever after handsome be."
* Go to your
favourite grove or forest and have a picnic.
* Look for faery
rings and leave an offering of flowers, food or pretty stones. At
dusk twist a sprig of rowan into a ring. Look through it and you may
* Weave wreaths of
flowers to wear in your hair and spend time with the people you
* Make a Beltaine
basket full of flowers and love and give it to someone in need of
* Acknowledge the
importance of the God and Goddess in your life.
* Show joy in the
life you have been given and share that joy with others.
Materials Construction Paper cut
in 5cm squares (Pastel colours & white) Drinking straws
cut in 2cm pieces String or yarn (approx 1m for each
child) White glue or masking tape
Prepare string in advance by
dipping about 2cm of each end in white glue and allowing
it to dry OR wrap each end with
tape. This will give
the children a firm end to hold and will make stringing
the leis easier.
1. Fold each 5cm
square of construction paper in fourths and cut as illustrated to
form petals. Flowers may also be formed by tearing the petal shapes.
2. Punch a hole in
the centre of each flower
flowers and straw pieces, string your lei. It is easiest to start at
the centre and work toward each end.
4. When the string
is covered to within 3" of each end, tie the ends together in a
Leis are presented
on many occasions. The gift of a lei can mean "love", "friendship",
"welcome" or "goodbye". It is traditional when presenting the lei to
someone else to give a kiss on the cheek.
Paper doily or other paper cut in a 23cm circle
Stapler or glue
Small fresh cut
with stems about 10cm long
A piece or aluminium foil or plastic wrap
a slit in the paper from one edge to the centre of the
Overlap the cut edges and twist the paper so that a cone
is formed. Staple or glue the edge to hold the cone
Punch holes on opposite sides of the top of the cone.
hooks on both ends of the pipe cleaner and put the ends
through the punched holes to form a handle. Twist the
ends of the pipe cleaner around so that they stay in the
Dampen the paper towel and squeeze out most of the extra
water. Wrap the ends of the flower stems with the paper
towel, then wrap
with the aluminium foil or plastic wrap.
6. Slide the
wrapped flowers into the cone.
On Beltaine morning, hang the Beltaine basket
on the doorknob of
or neighbours. Ring the doorbell and hide to watch your friend's
reaction to the flowers.
Materials: a grocery bag full of flowers,
such as daisies, dandelions or other common flowers with flexible
Make a cross with 2 flower stems as shown.
Bend the stem of the top flower around the stem of the bottom
flower. Tie a knot with the flower stem and pull lightly to tighten.
Lay another flower over the joined stems and tie another knot.
Continue with steps 1-3 till chain is as long as you want it. Tie
the very last stem around the first one to form a ring. Wear as
crown or necklace.
1. Use a pin or your fingernail to make a slit in each flower
stem about 1" below the flower head.
2. Slip the stem of a second flower through the slit in the first
3.Repeat step 2 until the flower chain is as long as you want, then
slip the last flower through the slit in the first to form a ring
Fried Honey cakes
Wisteria's Faery Recipes)
cakes are not unlike those made on the night before
Beltane by women around the turn of the century.
cakes were left in the garden to please Faery visitors.
1/2 cup sweet
1 cup honey
2/3 cup flour
Oil for frying
Beat the wine & egg
in a medium bowl. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt & sugar in a
small bowl. Stir into the egg mixture. Let stand 30 minutes. Combine
the honey & nutmeg in a small bowl. Heat 2cm of the oil in a frying
pan until hot, but not smoking. Drop the batter into the oil 1
tablespoon at a time; fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Dip into the honey.
Yield = Approx 18.
And can also be eaten on Lammas and the Day of the Dryads.
(from Wicca:A Guide
for the Solitary Practitioner, by Scott Cunningham)
cup unsprayed marigold petals
to 2 inch piece vanilla bean
egg yolks, slightly beaten
tsp. rose water
clean mortar and pestle reserved for cooking purposes, pound
marigold petals. Or, crush with a spoon. Mix the salt sugar
and spices together.
milk with the marigolds and the vanilla bean. Remove the
vanilla bean and add the egg yolks and dry ingredients. Cook
on low heat.
mixture coats a spoon, add rose water and cool. Top with
whipped cream. Garnish with fresh marigold petals.
Elder Flower Fritters
1 teaspoon Rose Water (see following recipe)
2 cups elder flowers, freshly picked &
2 tablespoons brandy
Mix the egg, rose water, honey, & brandy in a medium
sized bowl. Stir in the flour & cinnamon; the batter
should resemble slightly thick pancake batter. If
the batter is too thin, add a little more flour; if
too thick, add more brandy. Fold in the elder
flowers. Fry like pancakes or drop by the teaspoon
into a deep-fat-fryer until golden brown. Serve with
a sprinkling of orange water & fresh lemon, or dip
into fresh sweet cream.
Note 1: If you are not using self-rising
flour, add 1 teaspoon baking powder & 1/2 teaspoon
Note 2: The French use elder flowers to pack
apples. They claim that this enhances the flavour.
Variation: If you can't find elder flowers,
substitute 1 cup finely diced apples & a hint of
fresh mint for similar magical effects.
Magical Attributes: Protection from Faery
folk, trust, beauty, energy for attraction, &
magical ambience. Can also be eaten on Lammas, St.
Valentines Day, or Hallow's Eve
Yield: About 24
1 Dishpan full of young dandelion leaves
3 Eggs, hard boiled, diced
Wash, drain, and cut up tender dandelion leaves.
Brown bacon; remove drippings and crumble
Combine sugar and flour. Add egg, salt, vinegar, and
water and mix until smooth.
Pour into bacon drippings and heat, stirring constantly
until mixture thickens.
Pour warm dressing over dandelion.
add crumbled bacon and hard boiled eggs. Toss lightly
and serve immediately.
1/2 c Butter or margarine
3 c Sliced fresh or frozen
1. Mix together oatmeal, flour and brown sugar.
3. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly.
4. In another bowl, mix strawberries and white sugar together.
5. Grease a 20cm square pan.
6. Spread half the crumb mixture on bottom.
Cover with strawberries.
8. Spread remaining crumb mixture over top.
9. Bake at 175°C for 45
Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or
softened cream cheese
Beat cream cheese and butter
teaspoon grated lemon peel
Mix in flour.
Gather dough into two balls, chill one hour.
Roll out dough, cutting 5cm disks out with
cutter. Spoon 6-7mm of jam into centre of
disc. Gather edges into three equally spaced
corners--like a tricorn hat--and roll points
over slightly, pinching shut. Bake at 190°C
degrees until golden brown (about 15 to 20
rhubarb ginger, apricot, cherry, etc.
- A Child's Beltaine
The sun comes up
The sky turns blue
Put on your clothes
There's lots to do.
Run out the door
And smell the air
The grass is wet
But we don't care!
Pick flowers to crown
Our new May Queen
Dance in a circle
Laugh and sing
Run and play
We've had such fun,
We're sorry when
The day is done.
Sit on the hill
Turn out the light
Watch the fires
On Beltaine Night
The vibrations of new life
Burst forth in ten thousand different directions.
I wear bright ribbons and a dress of green.
I dance in the sun and rain
And feel within my breast
To spread my wings and fly.
A Story - MEAGAN'S BEALTAINE
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Meagan. She lived with her
mommy and daddy, her big brother Corwin
cat named Starweaver. One day in April
Meagan came home and found her mother
and Nana making baskets. "What are you
doing?", asked Meagan. "Well, soon it
will be Beltaine", said her mother
Elizabeth, "it's also known as May Day.
A long time ago people would celebrate
May Day by making baskets and filling
them with flowers. Then they would take
the baskets to the houses of friends,
leave them on the porch, ring the bell
and run and hide. Then the friends would
have to guess who left them the
baskets." Elizabeth's mother Nana
nodded, "That's right, I used to get the
most beautiful baskets from your late
grandfather. I mentioned it to your
mother and she thought that it would be
a very fitting way to help celebrate
Beltaine. Of course, I still can't keep
all your holidays straight."
"Oh!" said Meagan excitedly, "I know! Beltaine is a fertile...fertul...fertility
ritual!" "That's right," said Elizabeth,
"and what else
Beltaine?" Meagan thought for a minute.
"Hmmm. Oh! It's when the Goddess takes
over the year again from the God and She
starts dating the young God!" Elizabeth
and Nana laughed. "Exactly right, my
love," said her father Michael from the
doorway. He was carrying a large basket
full of beautiful flowers from the
garden. "Were these what you wanted?" he
asked Elizabeth. "Perfect!" she said
smiling, "As soon as we finish up these
baskets we can start filling them.
Meagan, what else do you think we could
put in them?" Meagan thought very hard.
"I know!" she said, "We can put crystal
and ribbons on the baskets and maybe
Once Corwin got home everyone worked hard to finish making and decorating
the baskets. They wrapped ribbons around
handles. They put soft grass and straw
in the bottoms of the baskets. They put
flowers and crystals and small presents
in the baskets. Meagan made a basket for
her best friend Cindy. Elizabeth made
one for Cindy's mom Anna with herbs in
it because Anna was an herbalist. They
made a basket for Michael's parents,
Gramma Lee and Granpa Scott. Gramma Lee
and Granpa Scott were Christian and they
wouldn't like hearing about the family
celebrating Beltaine but they wouldn't
mind having May Day baskets. "Is there
anyone missing?" asked Corwin, "Look,
there's one basket left over" They
checked all the baskets but no one could
think of anyone they had forgotten.
Meagan remembered the old woman whose
house she walked by everyday from
school. "Mommy?" she asked, "Could we
make one for that lady who lives on the
corner?" Elizabeth hugged Meagan while
Corwin looked surprised. "Oh Meagan,"
she said "I think that is a lovely idea!
Mrs. Hanson has been all alone since her
children moved away. Would you like to
make it yourself?" Meagan nodded and got
busy making a basket for the old woman
who lived on the corner. She hadn't know
the woman's name before. She hummed
while she worked and hoped that Mrs.
Hanson would like her surprise.
Soon it was May Day. Beltaine was on a Saturday this year and so they
would be having Circle at their house
that night. Meagan
the baskets around to her friends. But
she saved Mrs. Hanson's basket for last.
She crept up to the door, keeping low so
that Mrs. Hanson wouldn't see her from
the windows. She set the basket beside
the door so that it wouldn't be knocked
over when Mrs. Hanson opened the door.
Meagan rang the doorbell and ran quickly
to hide behind the bushes to wait. Mrs.
Hanson opened the door. "Yes?" she said,
"Who's there?" She looked puzzled and
almost closed the door when she spied
the basket on her porch. "Oh my!" she
gasped, "A May Day basket!" Mrs. Hanson
took the basket and sat down with it on
the porch's rocker. She started crying.
Meagan ran up to her. "I'm sorry!" she
said, "I didn't mean to make you cry!"
She was scared that she had hurt Mrs.
Hanson's feelings. "You made this for
me?" asked Mrs. Hanson, looking
astonished. Meagan nodded, "My mommy was
helping me make them for my friends and
I thought that you would like one too.
Mommy said that people used to do this
all the time." Mrs. Hanson dried her
eyes, "Your mommy is right. But I
haven't had a May Day basket in a very
My children used to make them at school for me. I'm not upset with you
dear, it's just that seeing this basket
brought back many
memories for me. I miss my children and
grandchildren. They all live very far
away and I don't get to see them very
Meagan gently put her hand on top of Mrs. Hanson's hand. "Would it make
you feel better if I came to visit you
once in awhile?"
"Oh," said Mrs. Hanson, "you don't have
to do that child, but if you decide you
want to, I'll try to have some cookies
ready for you when you come. So long as
it's alright with your parents. If you
really want to come by sometimes have
them give me a call and let me know that
it's okay for you to come." "Okay," said
Meagan, "I'd better get back home now
but I'll have mommy or daddy call you".
Meagan waved to her new friend as she
ran back home. She told her parents
about what Mrs. Hanson had said. They
called Cindy's mom Anna and talked to
her for a while. Then they called Mrs.
Hanson and talked to _her_ for a while.
They told Corwin and Meagan that they
were allowed to go visit Mrs. Hanson
anytime they wanted on the way home from
school so long as they didn't stay more
than 15 minutes. Then they said that
they could also visit her at other times
so long as they told one of the grownups
in the house where they were going and
called when they got there. Just like
they had to do whenever they went to
visit friends. Meagan found out that
Cindy had been given permission to visit
Mrs. Hanson too. She was excited about
sharing cookies with her new friend and
her best friend.
Soon it was time to decorate the altar for Beltaine. Meagan was excited.
They had made a May Pole with ribbons to
also a fire pit dug in the Circle area.
"What's that for?" she asked the High
Priest Jeremy. "Back in the old days
people used to run the cattle between
two fires on Beltaine to make them
fertile and help the herd increase. They
would also jump over the Beltaine fire
for luck. We don't have any cattle to
make fertile but some of us will jump
the fire for luck tonight. You're still
too small to jump by yourself but we can
pass you over the fire by putting you in
a chair carry just like we will for
Gwennie. You know that she's pregnant
and we don't want to take the chance of
her falling in the fire." Meagan nodded.
She was very excited. So was Corwin. He
was still too young to jump completely
by himself but Michael said that he
could jump just holding arms with
Michael and one of the other men. Meagan
smiled to herself as she put a flower
circlet on her head and got ready for
Circle to begin.
After Circle was over Meagan was very tired. She had had a busy day.
Meagan kissed her parents and brother
good night and
Starweaver. "Mommy! I can't find
Starweaver" she said. Meagan's parents
smiled at each other. "Don't worry
dear," said Michael, "Beltaine is a time
of fertility and Star must be helping
out. You'll understand when you're
older." Meagan stomped up the stairs. "I
hate it when they say that" she thought.
But she still smiled when she thought
about what fun she had had dancing
around the May Pole. She climbed into
bed and snuggled down. It had been a