Pagan Origins of Beltane

Beltane or May Day takes place on May 1st and is another cross-quarterly festival that marks the mid point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. This is also exactly six months since Samhain and is the half yearly festival.

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Beltane is the Pagan Spring fertility festival. This is the time of year when new life in the ground and the trees are taking hold and flourishing. The early Spring daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops have now all gone without a trace of them ever being there. Instead they are being replaced with the glowing green hedgerows, new shoots on the trees, woods full of bluebells, colourful tulips and most symbolically are the cherry tree blossoms showering the ground with their pink snowflakes.

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This festival is all about honouring life and this is the time when the Earth is starting to reach its peak of fertility.

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Traditions of Beltane. 

Fires. 

Fires represent the sun. To light a fire is to give energy to the Sun God, for him to bless the harvest and the fertility of the crops and land. Fires are also very cleansing and to jump a fire is said to purify oneself. Fires support fertility and couples use fire jumping or running around fires to bless the marriage with prosperity and children. Charcoal and remains of the fire would be taken to light the next one.

Handfastings. 

Beltane is the union of the God and Goddess who bring life to the land. Therefore this is the season of handfastings. Marriages are blessed with fertility, prosperity, good fortune and new beginnings.

Maypole.

The Maypole is a fertility ritual. The pole representing the phallus, sticking the pole into the ground is a symbol of the God giving potency to the Earth. The flowers and greenery represent the Goddess and the spiralling of the ribbon around the pole represents the union of the God and Goddess.

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Maypole decorations like this can be found here.

This festival is a celebration of love. Flower collection is abundant, headdresses of flowers are made and hawthorn is collected. Beltane is the only time Hawthorn is brought into the house for decoration. Throughout the year it’s thought to be bad luck except for Beltane where it brings good luck.

As I mentioned Beltane is exactly six months since Samhain, where Samhain is said to be the most important festival in the wheel of the year, Beltane is the second. This is because like Samhain, Beltane has the thinnest veil between the two worlds. Let’s not forget Paganism is a nature religion and going by the seasons then Samhain is celebrated on 1st May in the southern hemisphere. Thin veils make for mischief. Beltane is all about the faeries and fae magic.

Blessed Be )O(

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