Celebrating the Wheel of the Year: Beltane

April 28th, 2019 - filed under: The Farm » Family

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On the first day of May, we celebrate Beltane!

Beltane is a springtime festival of optimism, union, and community. Beltane marks the beginning of the pastoral season — literally putting the animals out to pasture — and this holiday has its origins in a simple series of rituals to safeguard the livestock, crops, and home.

Fire is often used in these rituals, as a symbol of protection.

The bonfires of Beltane are powerfully protective, and they’re also harbingers of good fortune. Pagans used to jump over the bonfires to bring blessings, luck, and fertility. Traditionally, all household fires are extinguished, and then re-lit using a torch from the Beltane bonfire. Once the bonfire was completely out, the ashes were rubbed into the skin, and sprinkled over the crops.

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♥ My Beltane altar, 2018. ♥


Legend has it that fairies are especially active during Beltane, and children may leave gifts of food and sweet drink out in the garden, as offerings for the fae.

The early morning dew of Beltane is also rumored to hold enchantment. Women collect the dew at dawn, and drink it or splash it on their faces to purify their spirit, and maintain their health and youthfulness.

The elderly would also visit holy wells on this day, and pray for health while walking “sunwise” (east to west) around the well.

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Fresh flowers and herbs from my dear Gretchen’s garden.


Making May Day crowns.


Cat in a box, naturally.


My Coven. Jennie, Gretchen, Ingrid, and me. Decades of friendship. And ain’t we been through it all together? I love them with my everything.

Ultimately, Beltane is a Celebration of Union.

One way to understand the wheel of the year is to think of it as representing a complete life. Gestation leads up to Imbolc, when the earth is still covered in snow — but hope is on the horizon. Imbolc would then mark the birth. Childhood follows, and passes through Ostara, the beginning of springtime. Spring is for children: for newness and for tender-footed exploration. But come Beltane, the days are long and warm and lush. The youngsters have blossomed into sexual maturity. This is a night for lovers.

Thus, Beltane celebrates union, and the union of all love. The coming together of creative energies makes Beltane a perfect time for vows, marriages, and commitments of all kinds — including friendships!


Rainbow ribbons and pink wine.

Beltane is a diverse holiday built of many disparate themes and rituals. Which means there are many ways you can celebrate, in these modern times! Here are a few of my favorite ideas for bringing Beltane’s spirit into your own busy life:

♥ Make a bonfire outdoors. Ideally you would use your old Yule tree, or some other wood that was felled in the previous year. ♥

♥ Make a May Pole! This is a very traditional, non-denominational “May Day” event, so look to your local community for an open-to-the-public May Pole celebration. Alternately, you can decorate your own “May Bush” by writing wishes on ribbons and tying them to a tree, bush, or fence. ♥

♥ Adorn doors and windows with yellow flowers, to invite in good luck. ♥

♥ Collect the early morning dew from your yard or garden, and drink it or use it to cleanse your face. I highly recommend this! ♥

♥ Find a well, spring, pool, or pond, and circle it sunwise while thinking of good health. ♥

♥ Make plates of offerings to appease naughty fairies — they like sweet things! This is a great one to do with your kiddos. ♥

♥ For cooking: oatmeal, milk, spring greens, and cherries. ♥
♥ For drinking: fruity red or pink wine. ♥



Last year on Beltane, we all wrote our wishes on ribbons — wishes related to their color correspondences — and tied them to my front yard fence. The next morning when I opened my door to leave for work, I was greeted with those ultra-bright colors, fluttering in the wind. That morning, and every single morning since, they have been there to remind me of that night. Of love and friendship, of wishes and magic, of connection to my dearest people and to my precious earth. Every day, a little kiss from Beltane’s spirit.

Wherever and whoever you are, however you celebrate (or not!), I wish for you the same sweet kiss. May your connections be strong, and may all your wishes come true.

Happy Beltane!

♥ ♥ ♥