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Beltane

Lady Saoirse
By Lady Saoirse
May 02, 2023
Beltane
Beltane

Introduction

Perhaps the Sabbat that encompasses spiritual freedom meaning most is Beltane. An ancient holiday celebrated at the end of harsh winter that seemingly releases everybody from the grips of cold. The Beltane celebration has traditionally been a time of using psychic abilities and positive spiritual energy to cleanse, purify, and attract immense love.

Divination, merrily dancing a colorful Maypole to join the cosmic energies of creation to the earth, blessings, and most of all joyous fellowship define this Sabbat. This article will discuss the meaning of Beltane, the Beltane celebration, traditions around Beltane and more.

Lush green hillsides and happy people dressed for early summer, complete with garlands of flowers in their hair and platters of delicious foods to share with soul kin, are all things you will probably see at a Beltane ritual.

You might crown a May King and May Queen and join in as they lead a Maypole dance before blessing everybody. Blessed bonfires for sacred purification and psychic people who connect with the spirits and workings to draw romance, sex, and love are no less a part of the holiday.

Such an ancient celebration can be as meaningful to you and your loved ones today as it has been for centuries. Read on to learn all about the meaning of Beltane!

What is Beltane?

What is Beltane?

Beltane is one of four prehistoric Gaelic seasonal celebrations that have been celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. These include Imbolc on February 1, Lughnassadh on August 1, and Samhain on November 1.

Celebrated on May 1, Beltane falls between Summer Solstice and Spring Equinox. In ancient times, people who raised livestock marked Beltane as Cetshamain, or the beginning of summer, bringing the animals to the summer grazing fields out of the winter barns.

Purification to remove any spirit entity attachment that may have taken up residence in people, animals, and in homes over the winter was done, and the people and animals were then blessed. Bonfires that had been blessed were used for this, with a procession of people and animals walking between two fires, and the leftover ashes from these sacred fires would be spread over farmland or sprinkled on property to bless the land. Like at other holidays, the fires at home would be extinguished, and re-lit from a flame from the blessed fires to take blessings into the home.

The name is attributed to paying homage to the god Beli, and Beltane is said to mean “the fires of Beli”. He is also called Belanos or Belenus, and was worshiped in Spain, Italy, Denmark, France, and the British Isles. So Beltane may have originally started as a high day to Beli.

He is a god of healing, and his name is likely to mean “shining one”. It was believed he rode the sun across the sky in a chariot drawn by his sacred animals, horses. It is thought he is equated with the Roman Apollo, a god not only of the sun and healing, but also a god of prophecy.

The sidhe, aos si, “the people of the mounds” or who some call the fairies, are believed to be out and about a lot at this time of year, and gifts and offerings to appease them are left. The Sidhe are believed to be the ancient gods who were overcome in battle by the Milesians, who sent them to live underground.

It is believed the Sidhe live in a mystical place called The Otherworld, and that at Beltane, like Samhain, the veil that separates their world from the world of the living is thinner, and the Sidhe and other spirits roam the land of men more. While the Sidhe are respected and revered, they are also feared, so at Beltane, they are given gifts to appease them.

One Beltane tradition is placing white and yellow flowers in windows and doorways of homes, and these flowers may include marsh marigold, primrose, hazel, hawthorn, and gorse. The flowers were also made into garlands and cows, and the tools used to work with them can be adorned with the flowers as well. It is believed that the people saw yellow and white flowers as symbolic of the fires they blessed.

The only time of year these people believed it was acceptable to cut a hawthorn was when it was flowering, which is during the Beltane celebration. The plant is believed to have originated where lightning struck and thus protects against lightning. It was also believed to be a portal to The Otherworld, and the rowan, too, is considered a portal to the Otherworld, as well as offering protection against malevolent beings.

At Beltane, Imboilc, Lughnassadh, and Samhain, visits to holy wells, and what are called clootie wells are made. Clootie comes from the word clot, which is a strip of fabric or clothing, and people tie clots, or clooties to tree branches as offerings for healing at these sacred wells. Some say the practice replaced leaving offerings inside the wells, and many make a pilgrimage to these sites to be healed.

The clot is dipped in the water of the healing well, and after a prayer for healing, the clot is tied to the tree branch. What some do is dip the clot in the water and to wash or wipe the area of the body that needs healing, and then tie the clot to the tree branch, in the belief that as the clot disintegrates, the illness to be healed will disappear.

In the early morning of Beltane, it is traditional to wash your face in the morning dew. It is believed that dew is especially powerful at making you beautiful and brings good health and luck. The dew is sometimes saved in a jar that is left in the light of the sun, and then filtered to be used later. It is believed to make you especially attractive to prospective lovers and helps to keep your skin healthy for the year.

Modern people like to have a pageant where a man representing the father god, and a woman representing the mother goddess have a procession to increase the fertility of the earth and participants at the gathering. They dance around a Maypole, to bedeck it. Blessed bonfires are used with participants seeking to leap the flames to be blessed, and feasting, divination, and fellowship are enjoyed. The practices that date back generations are for the purpose of spirituality, but what does Beltane mean spiritually?

What Is the Spiritual Meaning of Beltane?

What Is the Spiritual Meaning of Beltane?

Beltane is a holiday to celebrate freedom, having been delivered out of the cold wintertime that can be devastating for us in so many ways. It represents looking forward to better times, and using the energy of the producing earth to bring that vitality in our own lives. It represents being ritually purified and then protected, and it also represents psychic protection.

Furthermore, it represents fertility, or having the ability to make good things happen, and to be productive in our own lives. There is spirit attachment release, which is letting go of things both physical and spiritual that do not serve you, and Beltane traditions are about joy, and gathering with loved ones to celebrate all of these amazing things.

Some people see Beltane as an ancient holiday they celebrate to stay connected with their ancestors, while others see it as a time to get together with like-minded individuals.

For some people, it is a very holy time when they connect with the father god and mother goddess and venerate their union that they believe creates everything in the universe. Some find meaning in connecting with the beings of the Otherworld, and others see it as a time to do extra powerful divination.

Psychic Powers and Beltane

Psychic Powers and Beltane

Why is it believed that divination and psychic abilities are extra strong during Beltane traditions? As the veil separating the land of men from the Otherworld thins, psychic people get more messages for divination, meaning from the spirits who bring us messages.

It is believed that at Beltane time, the dead return home to visit the living, and messages from them can be accessed more clearly. As Beltane is connected to Beli, who is also a god of prophecy, extra psychic access to receive messages from the universe is possible. Even people who do not practice as a professional psychic can harness the powerful divination of Beltane by getting a psychic reading.

One way to do Beltane divination to ask about love is with an apple. Take a knife and peel an apple all in one strip, or in as few pieces as possible. Then wish to know the name of your true love. Throw the apple peel behind your back and turn to look at it.

If the powers that be allow it, the first letter of the person’s name will be in the shape of the peel. Another form of divination about love at Beltane is to pull one card or one rune, asking about your love life, and what is to come. You can also ask the spirits and the powers that be to give you signs of what to do to be more open to attract committed love.

What is Spiritual Freedom?

What is Spiritual Freedom?

Spiritual freedom meaning is different for different people. Basic spiritual freedom definition is the liberty to practice your own form of spirituality as you see fit without anybody else controlling it.

At Beltane, exercising that right emulates the sense of freedom the animals would have felt after being cooped up in barns and other buildings to protect them from the cold.They were then freed to roam in the sunshine and beautiful warm weather of the summer pastures.

Winter keeps people away from nature quite often, and some feel disconnected from the earth entirely. To be reunited with the earth, and to dig into the ground to plant, is something that makes some people feel connected to the spiritual power of nature.

Other people feel connected with nature when they are out walking, eating outdoors, or just opening their windows and allowing the fresh air to come into the house. Being freed from being confined by the cold gives a lot of people a sense of freedom to enjoy creation again. At Beltane, the weather has usually warmed up enough, so people can have that time outdoors to enjoy being at one with creation again.

Symbols of Beltane

Symbols of Beltane

While there are plenty of symbols of all the Sabbats, there are a few very meaningful ones to discuss. Those are the Maypole, the May King and May Queen, and the feast!

The Maypole

Although the Maypole is associated with Celtic Beltane celebrations, it did not originate in Celtic lands. It came from the Germanic's and was first recorded as being used in the British Isles in the mid-fourteenth century, although it was possibly used there much earlier than the written record was produced.

It symbolizes the father god in the form of a phallic symbol, and one end is buried in the earth, which represents the mother goddess. Not only that, but it is then “danced” and adorned with ribbons and sometimes flower garlands, representing the union of the goddess and god to create all life together. Dancing the Maypole is a Beltane ritual ceremony to join people with that creative process, and it helps people to draw in part of that creative life force to themselves.

The King and Queen

The May Queen and May King represent the mother goddess and father god. Participants can vote on who they feel best represents the deities, and they are crowned by the participants with crowns made of leaves and fresh flowers. The May Queen should represent the mother goddess in her youthful beauty and the splendor of her most fertile.

The May King should represent the power and charm of the father god as a strong young man, ready to be a lover to the magnificent goddess. Some people have a Priestess and Priest emulate the union of the goddess and god by inserting a ceremonial dagger into a chalice. The May King and Queen lead the Maypole dance, and afterward, everybody is blessed in the way the tradition calls for, and there is feasting.

The Feast

On every high day is a feast after a Beltane ritual. Many today have a potluck, while others will go out to eat together after the ritual celebration. Feasts were held in ancient times as well, and often animal sacrifice was made as a way of gifting life to the gods.

The meat was cooked and became the celebratory meal for the people, and this is how the people shared a meal with the gods. Most people don’t butcher their own meats and the focus is on seasonal produce. At Beltane, garlic and spring cabbages are harvested, and butter is a food supposedly stolen by the Sidhe, so it can be gifted to them. It is also worked into your potluck dishes as buttered fresh vegetables or something sweet like sugar cookies.

Early spring sees some lettuces and peas begin to be available and can be incorporated into the Beltane menu as well. Eat well, and be sure to leave a plate out for the Sidhe to include them in the feast.

Places to Connect to Green Earth Energy

Places to Connect to Green Earth Energy

The energy of our planet has been described as a growing, ever living light that many identify as a green color. Green spiritual meaning is of prosperity, luck, growth, fertility, and new beginnings. Green light spiritual meaning is of growth and renewal.

Energy that is green, meaning spiritual prosperity and rejuvenation, is more easily accessed around Beltane celebrations than during winter because the growing power of the earth can be channeled to help you towards the magic you are working. There are some historic sites you can visit, but of course there are ordinary places whose sacred power is plenty strong enough for you to unite with the green power of nature.

The Hill of Uisneach

A sacred center of spirituality where it is believed people gathered at Beltane for many generations is called the Hill of Uisneach. The name means “place of cinders” or “place of the hearth” perhaps describing the sacred fires burned at Beltane. It is almost exactly in the middle of Ireland and is considered the sacred center of Ireland in ancient times.

Spread over two kilometers are burial mounds, a possible megalithic site, a medieval road, holy wells, and is it believed the ancient gods, the Tuatha Dé Danann are buried there. Twenty different monuments are currently visible, and at least twenty that are underground have been identified to date.

The hill was said to be the exact point where all the provinces of Ireland met, and every seven years, a massive Beltane gathering where all were welcome was said to be held. This site was linked to the Hill of Tara, where a huge Samhain gathering was held every seven years.

Evidence of large fires complete with charred animal bones have been unearthed at Uisneach, and it was also seen as where the earth and the Otherworld met. In 2022, a big festival was held there, and it ran day and night, complete with sacred fires. You can watch some footage here .

Of all sacred places, you might like to go to Uisneach at Beltane. If you do, make sure to book a tour beforehand as it is on private property where they run a working farm, and you cannot access the site without a tour appointment and guide. Touring with a guide is helpful because they can walk you through the area and tell you some of the rich history of the site.

Beltane Cleanup

Another Beltane tradition is to take part in a Beltane cleanup. One easy way to connect to the earth at Beltane is to touch the earth to heal it. You don’t have to do a lot to make a difference, and one of the simplest ways to do that is to either join or organize a cleanup somewhere in nature. Litter overruns roadsides, all parts of nature including animal habitats, and the ocean.

According to Keep America Beautiful, there are more than 51 billion pieces of litter on roads each year, and that is an average of 6,729 pieces per mile. Almost half of that is tobacco products, but also food packaging, pieces of metal and glass, plastic, and paper products. Some pieces from construction materials and debris from cars also litter.

None of this counts over five trillion pieces of litter we have dumped into the ocean, or that has blown there. My Eco Panda states that over one hundred thousand marine birds and other animals are affected by trash annually, and dolphins and whales can die due to eating trash. Over half of the amount of ocean turtles have ingested trash. All forms of wildlife are strangled by trash, and some are injured by it. All of this happens because trash is not properly disposed of, and we can make a difference.

Any amount of cleaning up litter you can help with makes an impact. You can take it upon yourself to pick a day every month to pick some trash up, or organize a gathering on Beltane to pick up litter. Each bag of litter you pick up and dispose of properly is one less bag of trash that harms wildlife.

Some people think of the earth as being a separate entity than the animals who live on it, but all of us are a part of the earth too. Anything that hurts the earth hurts every other being living on it, and when the creatures are hurt, the earth is hurt. You can do a small part to make a difference during Beltane celebrations by doing a cleanup, and every other day of the year by putting trash in its place.

Your Own Land

Some people think they have to leave their homes to find a sacred place in nature to connect to the earth for Beltane, but that’s not necessarily true. Your own land is as much a sacred place as anywhere on earth, and it is very much a part of your personal sanctuary. Going outside to do some yard work is a simple way to connect to the power of the earth at Beltane, but there is something else you can do.

You can plant some things as an offering to the land. You don’t necessarily have to plant something like a rowan tree to celebrate Beltane, and planting anything that is meaningful for you is just as good.

Planting things and tending them, ensuring they grow well, is a way to connect to the creative forces that made all the world, and a way to help keep the earth healthy. Things that are not frost-tolerant will have to wait until last frost dates where you live, and oftentimes that is later in May. You can prepare the earth for these plants, however, by tilling the land or buying new soil if needs be.

However, plenty of frost-tolerant things can be planted including peas, broccoli, carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, spinach, kale, chives, and leeks. Gifts for wildlife like birdseed can be left out as offerings as well. Your own property is a sacred part of the earth you can visit every day, not just at Beltane.

How to Celebrate Beltane

How to Celebrate Beltane

Not everybody practices paganism, but everybody can partake of the seasonal high day, no matter who they are. 

An easy way to connect to the spirits some call the Sidhe is to sit out offerings for them, and quietly watch for signs of them later on after they have had a chance to accept the offerings. They might be noticeable in your garden at night in the form of tiny lights you cannot identify, and they may flit by as a sweet perfume on the wind. They might surprise you by lifting their voices in bird song, or you might catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of your eye.

Remember, the Sidhe can harm as well as be benevolent to humans, and never follow if you feel they are beckoning you. Offering gifts and the rare possibility of seeing them is more than enough.

Another way to connect to spirits at Beltane is to speak with your dead. You can remember ancestors by cooking a dish they loved, or by visiting their graves with gifts of flowers. You can play their favorite songs or watch their favorite shows and movies in memory of them. Other ways to connect with them is through dreams.

Before bed, light an electronic tea light candle near your bedside, and speak aloud to your loved one who has departed. Tell them you love them and miss them, and ask them to visit you in your dreams. You can also write a letter to them and burn it, releasing the ashes to the wind as a way to send them messages.

Release Energy Attachments

How to cleanse your life force at Beltane is simple. You can always pray over a candle to bless it, and then walk in a circle around it, visualizing that the blessed candle is absorbing all impurities and negativity that may be within or around you, including things like sadness, fatigue, and self-doubt. You can anoint your forehead with holy water, even if it is water you pray over to bless it yourself, and you can smudge yourself with incense.

An even simpler way of releasing things that no longer serve you is to consciously let go of them, and no spell work is needed for that. In ancient times, it was believed wintertime allowed malevolent energies and life forms to stay snug in the homes and bodies of people and animals, and at Beltane, Priests bless people and animals to take those energies and beings away. Today, we associate habits with things that harm us.

Have you been trying to quit smoking? Work with your doctor to break the habit. Have you been wanting to get back into your nightly reading, but you have been doing other things instead? Begin by reading for five minutes a day and bump it up five more minutes per week until your reading is back on track. Whatever it is you want to discard, and do instead, get started at Beltane because the energy of the season will help you succeed.

Attract Love and Gather

Beltane is a time of fertility that many associate with romantic love and attract sex affirmations are made. While you can always do attraction magic, rest assured that love will find its way to you in many forms, and the very best way to draw love to you is to gather with others. A lot of people start going out in nicer weather more than they did in winter months, and Beltane is a great time to find things to do and places to go to meet people and gather with people who are like you.

Think of the things you want to experience for the warm months before winter comes again, and make plans and go do those things. Whether it be a trip to a nation you have always wanted to visit, or a family reunion, going somewhere you are excited about will create happy moments. People are drawn to the positive energy you emanate when you are doing what makes you happy. If there are classes or new activities you have wanted to become involved in, Beltane is a fantastic time to sign up when the energy of growth is abundant.

Conclusion

No matter how you celebrate Beltane, may the season bless and cleanse your spirit. May the fertility of the earth endow you with the vitality to meet all your goals. May you never hunger. May you never thirst. May you have good health, boundless wealth, great love, and may nothing ever stand in the way of your dreams coming true. So be it.

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