Beltane Sabbat is a major Pagan Sabbat. In the southern hemisphere it’s celebrated on 31 October – 1 November each year. In the northern hemisphere it’s celebrated on 30 April – 1 May each year.
This post focuses on the history and intent of Beltane and provides a sample ritual that you may follow for the celebration. A post that features family-friendly Beltane related activities will be published next week.
Purpose of Beltane
The Pagan Wheel of the Year (our calendar) is based on the cycle of life and death that occurs each year. Beltane celebrates the rebirth of life each year at the end of Winter when Spring begins. It’s thought that the veil between worlds is thin twice a year, at Beltane and Samhain. Beltane is the celebration of life, whereas Samhain is the celebration of death.
When the veil thins at Beltane it deepens our connection with nature. Some believe it allows us to connect with the Fae (faery folk) or that the Fae come to visit us.
Beltane celebrations honour our connection to the earth and all living things. It’s a time when I like to give thanks to mother nature for all that she provides.
Historical Origins of the Beltane Sabbat
The word Beltane is derived from a gaelic word that stands for ‘Bright Fire’. Rituals for fertility were commonly undertaken at this time.
Many years ago, a good crop or breeding season could’ve been the difference between life and death for farmers. So Beltane was a time for the farmers and for towns folk to celebrate the end of Winter and practice rituals they hoped would give them a plentiful season.
Beltane was also a common time of year for marriages. This is no doubt linked to the fertility aspect of the sabbat. The month of October is still a popular month for weddings in Australia!
Fire is a symbol of rebirth and it features dominantly in Beltane celebrations. Traditionally we use the log from the Yule tree (Christmas Tree) to light a bonfire. Australia is in the southern hemisphere so our Yule is actually June/July. I’m guessing that Christmas in July makes a little more sense to you now!
Dancing around a May Pole is also a Beltane Sabbat tradition. The weaving of the coloured ribbons represents fertility. Red and white ribbons represent the blood of life (female menstral blood) and the white represents a man’s sperm (sorry to ruin the imagery for you!).
As mentioned earlier, the Beltane Sabbat was a popular time for weddings or hand fasting ceremonies. Quite often people were hand-fasted at Beltane and they absconded to the woods to consummate their marriage while their guests danced around the bonfire.
Offerings are left for the Fae as part of most Beltane Sabbat rituals. Fae are thought to be mischievous beings. So if you’re concerned about what they might do the act of leaving them an offering is said to stop them from playing tricks on you. Common offerings include flowers, cakes, fruit and cream. It might be tempting to polish off these offerings after your ritual but I’d advise against it. You wouldn’t take a birthday gift back from someone would you?
Colours of Beltane
Green, red and white and silver are the colours of Beltane. Green represents growth and red symbolises strength and vitality. Whereas white represents the cleansing effect of fire and silver linked to feminine energy (birth).
Deities Associated with the Beltane Sabbat
At Beltane the Goddess represents fertility and love. You can give thanks to any goddess who represents these things to you. Depending on the path you follow you could choose Aphrodite, Astarte, Parvati, Arianrhod, Flora, Maia, Oshun, Frigg or Maeve.
The God represents growth at Beltane. He is the God of fertility protector of wild things and the guardian of the forest. He’s referred to as the Green Man, Cernunnos and sometimes Pan. He is usually drawn with a leafy face peering through foliage. If you look closely this imagery can still be seen carved on the pillars or altars of old Christian Churches.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be publishing a post next week that inlcludes some additional activities that you can undertake at Beltane. Some of these are great for including Children in the Goddess Lifestyle.
Please leave a comment below because I’d love to know what you thought of this post!. I’d also love to hear about your own experiences of celebrating Beltane!