Beltane is one of my favourite pagan holidays because it represents fertility, abundance and growth. Like Samhain, the opposite holiday on the Wheel of the Year, this is also a time when the veil between the realms is thin, and a good time to communicate with the spirit world, especially nature spirits.
A festival of fun and merriment, a time of feasting and Maypole dancing, as we celebrate the woodland union of The God and Goddess it is a time of rejoicing in the Earth’s fertility. A beautiful time of year, often some of the sunniest warm days and surrounded by May blossoms, bluebells in the forests the whole world blooming with new life.
Beltane is associated with the Celtic God Bel, also known as Balor or Belenus. He is a God of Light and Fire, and associated with the Sun (akin to the Greek Apollo). Fires were the traditional symbol of Beltane.
Maypole dancing, originally a trunk of a fir tree with side branches removed, but you can use any large branch to tie your ribbons on its great fun. It also represents the ancient phallic symbol of fertility and the God aspect. The cauldron represents the goddess for love romantic and well as self love.
People would jump over the sacred Beltane fire, the young, unmarried men would leap the bonfire and wish for a wife, while young women would leap to ensure fertility.
Beltane fire ritual
Build a fire outside make sure it’s somewhere safe and dance round it with your partner or friends. In ancient times this was done naked after drinking a fair amount of wine. It was probably more fun that way! Anyway, fully clothed is more an expectable way to have a fire ceremony.
Designate a May Queen and King of the Forest to lead the celebrations and dancing. Invite your loved ones and friends to celebrate and together you eat and drink.
Beltane is here, and we welcome the time of fertility.
We greet this season of fire, love, and passion
with open arms and loving hearts.
We come together to create life
to honour the Divine union between masculine and feminine
from which all life flows.
As the Earth grows and creates life, we shall grow and create life.
So mote it be.
Gods and Goddesses of Beltane – Green Man, Spring Maiden, May Queen.
Prepare a crown of flowers for the May Queen/Maiden.
Prepare a crown of greenery and a staff with bells, long ribbons and leaves for the Green Man.
Beltane Incense: Mulberry, lilac and frankincense.
Candle Colours: Yellow and White.
Ritual Colours: Green and Yellow.
Decorate your Altar with green and yellow, May blossom and young Oak leaves.
Kindle a bonfire, make and cook your own oatcakes.
Create your own Maypole, crown with a circle of young leaves, fresh May blossom and flowers, decorate with ribbons and bells. Go dance and enjoy
Decorate your altar in vibrant flowers you can use roses and flowers in any rainbow hues, and don’t forget your crystals.
Make your own sacred maypole using found wood, rainbow ribbons, and topped with a quartz point you can also place this on your altar.
If you’re looking to attract a new love, light a purple or green candle on the evening before May 1, and again on May 1 night, while you visualize the relationship coming into your life, asking that it manifest for the highest good of all.
So it is, so it shall be, and so it has always been. As you celebrate this special day, let the colours of nature inspire you to remember that all things bloom again, and a time for lovers to find each other again.
May you find yourself, your spirit, your passion, remember it’s never too late for you to become who you are intended to be.
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MABON is one of the eight annual holidays, referred to as ‘Sabbats’, which are observed as part of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. Mabon/Autumn Equinox (22nd September). Solstices occur when the Sun enters Capricorn and Cancer; Equinoxes when the Sun enters Aries and Libra.
This is a time of balance, at the Autumn Equinox, the Sun enters the sign of Libra bringing balance and harmony and, of course, change and transformation. Autumn is a season of reflection, darkness is growing and daylight wanes this is the doorway to winter. The harvest has been gathered and safely stored.
Mabon is a time to prepare for winter, to release the past and move forward. At this time when day and night are in balance, it is a time for us to reconcile our opposites and understand that they are part of the whole use this time to embrace the whole of ourselves, honour them, accept them and celebrate the season, which allows us a chance to start again.
The Goddess slowly withdraws from the land to reside in the Underworld, awaiting the birth of her child at Yule. At Her departure, the Earth withers and dies and the trees burst into fiery colour like torches, marking her departure until Her Spring return.
The gathering in of the Harvest was a time for rituals to the Corn Spirit and Mother Earth. The last sheaf gathered in by the harvesters was sometimes known as Bride or the Corn Maiden, corresponding to the Spring Goddess, Brigide and was wrapped in magic. In Scotland, the Harvest Supper was known as the Feast of the Maiden, the man who cut the last sheaf was known as the ‘Lord of the Harvest’ and given the seat of honour next to the Master (the farmer who laid on the supper for his workers). The young woman who had made the Corn Dolly sat next to him as ‘the Lady’ – she was treated with the greatest respect and the man was treated as her consort. After eating and drinking, there would be dancing and singing until dawn.
Old Harvest customs have gradually waned to be replaced by the Christian Harvest Festival. However, the Pagan rites survive and flourish.
Gods and Goddesses of Mabon- Lord of the Underworld, Queen of the Dead, Persephone, Osiris.
Mabon Incense – Pine Resin, Oak Bark, Blackberry Leaves, Patchouli, Dried Apple.
Candle Colours – Orange, Brown.
Organic Materials- Nuts, Apples, Seasonal Vegetation.
Mabon Harvest Display – Collect Autumn leaves, nuts, seeds, fruits and berries and display on cloths of Autumnal colours or woven baskets decorated with ribbons, proudly display in your house.
Prepare a hearty Autumn Equinox feast for friends and family. Place your Corn Dolly in the seat of honour, be sure to give thanks for the bounties of life and the Earth.
Make fruit wines, jams and preserves, reflecting the abundance of the season.
Wash your crystals and put them out under the Harvest Full Moon to recharge.
Make time for meditation and connection to your inner self.
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Lammas: July 31st/Aug 1st/ August 2
This is an Irish Gaelic name for the feast which commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of the Sun. In the mythological story of the Wheel of the Year, the Sun God transfers his power into the grain, and is sacrificed when the grain is harvested. So we have a dying, self-sacrificing and resurrecting god of the harvest, who dies for his people so that they may live.
Lammas is a festival celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the fruits of our labours, and seeing the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold so rituals will be centred around this. Lammas is an early Christian festival, “lammas” means loaf mass and represented the first loaves baked from that years crop. These were taken to church and laid on the altar.
It’s a time for bread-making and corn-dollies. Goddesses celebrated around this time include Demeter and Ceres. Trees associated with lammas are Hazel and Gorse and herbs are Sage and Meadowsweet. Colours associated with lammas are golds, yellows and orange for the God and red for the Goddess as mother.
LammasLammas is traditionally first harvest. Look around you and you will see various trees namely Rowan yeilding bright red berries and brambles showing ripening fruits alongwith apple and pear trees. In this day and age when food is mass produced and imported so we get fruits and veg and corn no matter what time of year it is, it is easy to loose touch with the natural cycle of things.
Creating and or decorating ritual items such as a Stang. Walk through the woods to spend some time meditating in beautiful surroundings. Making bread, make a wicker man and put all of your bad habits that you want to be rid of inside him and throw him in the bonfire. Making corn dollies.
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Litha: Summer Solstice – 21st/22nd June
Litha (Midsummer, Gathering Day, Summer Solstice, Alban Heffyn, Feill-Sheathain)
Incense: Sage, mint, basil, Saint John’s Wort, sunflower, Lavender
Decorations: Dried herbs, potpourri, seashells, summer flowers, and fruits.
Colours: blue, green, and yellow
The Fire Festival of Litha
Midsummer or the Summer Solstice is the most powerful day of the year for the Sun God. Because this Sabbat glorifies the Sun God and the Sun, fire plays a very prominent role in this festival. The element of Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation. It can burn, consume, cook, shed light or purify and balefires still figure prominently at modern Midsummer rites.
Most cultures of the Northern Hemisphere mark Midsummer in some ritualised manner and from time immemorial people have acknowledged the rising of the sun on this day. At Stonehenge, the heelstone marks the midsummer sunrise as seen from the centre of the stone circle.
In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was a fire-festival of great importance when the burning of balefires ritually strengthened the sun. It was often marked with torchlight processions, by flaming tar barrels or by wheels bound with straw, which were set alight and rolled down steep hillsides. The Norse especially loved lengthy processions and would gather together their animals, families and lighted torches and parade through the countryside to the celebration site.
The use of fires, as well as providing magical aid to the sun, were also used to drive out evil and to bring fertility and prosperity to men, crops and herds. Blazing gorse or furze was carried around cattle to prevent disease and misfortune; while people would dance around the balefires or leap through the flames as a purifying or strengthening rite. The Celts would light balefires all over their lands from sunset the night before Midsummer until sunset the next day. Around these flames the festivities would take place.
In Cornwall up to the mid 18th century the number and appearance of fires seen from any given point was used as a form of divination and used to read the future.
Astronomically, it is the longest day of the year, representing the God at full power. Although the hottest days of the summer still lie ahead, from this point onward we enter the waning year, and each day the Sun will recede from the skies a little earlier, until Yule, when the days begin to become longer again.
Agriculturally, the crops are in full growth. They are reaching the pinnacles of maturity and coming closer to the harvest time. Most wild herbs are fully mature by Midsummer and this is the traditional time for gathering magickal and medicinal plants to dry and store for winter use. In Wales, Midsummer is called Gathering Day in honour of this practice.
Since this sabbat revolves around the sun, a candle should be lit for the entire day, especially if it is cloudy or raining. The fire represents the sun and is a constant daily reminder of the power of the God. Rituals should be performed at noon, when the sun is highest in the sky. The best rituals to perform on Midsummer are those dealing with masculine issues, masculine energies, or issues dealing with solar influence.
Many pagans choose to make protective amulets, in the week before the Sabbat, which are later empowered over the Midsummer balefire. Some witches choose to bury their protective amulets each Midsummer’s eve and construct new ones. Rue, rowan and basil, tied together in a white or gold cloth, is a good protective trio that can be carried in your pocket year round.
Midsummer is the time to formalize any relationship and couples that have been together a year and a day since the previous Beltane can make their marriage final. This Sabbat is also an excellent time to re-new wedding vows.
Sage, mint, basil, Saint John’s Wort, sunflower, mistletoe (specifically the berries which represent semen), oak, rowan, and fir.
Suggested activities for Litha:
*Rededication to the Lord and Lady
*Divination related to romance and love
*Light a white candle in front of a mirror and say your own Lithia prayer over it, then allow the candle to burn out.
*Float paper boats with blessings on a river/stream to bring luck and love to whatever may find it, or to the land.
*Singing and dancing around a bonfire
*Outdoor picnic feasts
*Create crowns out of flowers
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