Beltane Blessings with the Highland Hedgewitch
May Day, it brings to mind sunny days, Maypole’s, dancing, flowers, and laughter. Well it does to me, I grew up in a small village where a fete was held and there were stalls, country dancing, and playing outside way past my bedtime. It’s strange how the sun always seems to shine in my rose-tinted memory of it.
As a Pagan I still celebrate the first of May, however to me it’s Beltane, one of the eight Sabbats (festivals) of the year. Spring is at its peak and so it marks the start of summer, of better weather and longer days. On the wheel of the year Beltane is the mirror opposite of Samhain (Halloween). Beltane is about life, light and joy whereas Samhain is all about death, darkness and remembrance. During these two festivals it is said that the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest so you can expect to feel the magic in the air and to experience the unexplainable
Beltane: Spring is at its peak and so it marks the start of summer, of better weather and longer days - Highland Hedgewitch
Ancient Times & Traditions
I lived in Padstow, Cornwall for a few years, and May 1st was the Obby ‘Oss, a fertility rite going back many years. It involved much merry making, singing, dancing, and the whole village was decorated with flowers tied to shops, cottages, lamp posts, and fishing boats! It was a wonderful family get together, and come rain or shine a good time was had by all. The whole idea was for young maidens to run under the skirt of the ‘Oss (a strange looking beast) to help her conceive a child in the coming year. I couldn’t possibly comment on whether or not it worked, but there was much hilarity involved!
In ancient times, herds were driven between two Belfires so they were bathed in the smoke to purity and protect them during the coming year, and to promote fertility. Also couples would do the same, or jump the flames, and the ashes would be smeared on their faces, and then spread over the fields.
It was a time to honour the returning life to the land, to the woods, fields and homes of the villagers. They would often select a May King and Queen to represent the sacred union of the Maiden and Green Man. Their reign was a rather short one, from Beltane Eve to twilight on Beltane, they were in charge of announcing the games, or dancing that took place.
Beltane Unions. . .
Unions weren’t always make believe, or that short lived. Handfastings (a Pagan wedding) were often carried out at this time of the year. And even if you didn’t make things that formal, couples would often take to the woods and enjoy a night of passion, lust and coupling. Of course this was none too popular with the church and they did their best to put an end to that!
So, if you aren’t in a mind to run off into the woods this May Day eve, or jump over a bonfire, how can you join in the seasonal festivities? Perhaps you’re into crystals, there are many associated with this Sabbat. Rose quartz with its pastel pink colouring is one of my favourites. Why not give it to a loved one, tying in with the theme of romance, love and joy.
Another simple way to celebrate and one the younger members of the family can join in with is making a flower circlet to wear in your hair. All you have to do is go outside into the garden and pick some daisies and make a simple daisy chain, or perhaps use the sunniest weed, the humble and gorgeous dandelion with all its golden petals. Be sure to give thanks for the flowers and when you are done with them, return them to the garden, to return to the earth.
Make Your Own Beltane Celebrations
Not everyone is lucky enough to have outdoor space to hold a Belfire, so here are a few ideas on how to bring the spirit of Beltane into the home.
How ever you spend the festival, I hope that it brings you joy, happiness, and all you hope for.
Bright Beltane Blessings to you x