Ruler: Neptune, Venus
One of the most powerful aphrodisiacs, oysters represent the female genitalia and are eaten by women to increase orgasmic pleasure. Men eat them to make themselves more intuitive and better lovers. Oysters are also eaten for fertility.
Witches usually celebrate Beltane on May 1, although some prefer to mark it around May 5, when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Taurus. The sabbat is named for the god Baal or Bel, sometimes called “the bright one.” In Scottish Gaelic, the word bealtainn means “fires of Belos” and refers to the bonfires pagans light on this sabbat. The joyful festival celebrates the earth’s fertility, when flowers bloom and plants begin sprouting in the fields. The Christian Church adopted this ancient holiday as May Day, and some of Beltane’s old rituals (sans the overt sexuality) are still enacted today.
The Holiday’s Significance
The second fertility holiday in the Wheel of the Year, Beltane coincides with a period of fruitfulness. To ancient and modern pagans alike, this holiday honors the earth and all of nature. In early agrarian cultures, farmers built fires on Beltane and led livestock between the flames to increase their fertility.
Sexuality is also celebrated on this sabbat—the Great Rite has traditionally been part of the holiday’s festivities. In pre-Christian days, Beltane celebrants engaged in sexual intercourse in the fields as a form of symbolic magick to encourage fertility and a bountiful harvest. Children who were conceived at this time were said to belong to the Goddess.
Ways to Celebrate
It’s best to celebrate Beltane outside in order to appreciate nature’s fullness. Because Beltane is a fertility holiday, many of its rituals contain sexual symbolism. The Maypole, around which young females dance, is an obvious phallic symbol. Witches often decorate the Maypole with flowers in recognition of the earth’s beauty and fruit fruitfulness. Sometimes a woman who seeks a partner will toss a circular garland over the top of the pole, signifying the sex act, as a way of asking the Goddess to send her a lover.
Another fertility ritual utilizes the cauldron, symbol of the womb. Women who wish to become pregnant build a small fire in the cauldron, then jump over it. If you prefer, you can leap over the cauldron to spark creativity in the mind instead of the body.
How To Hold a Beltane Bonfire Rite (Group Ceremony)
The tradition of the Beltane bonfire goes back hundreds of years ago, and is still celebrated today in many places.
The Beltane bonfire is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. The fire was more than a big pile of logs and some flame. It was a place where the entire community gathered around — a place of music and magic and dancing and lovemaking. It was customary to light the fire on May Eve (the last night of April) and allow it to burn until the sun went down on May 1. The bonfire was lit with a bundle made from nine different types of wood and wrapped with colorful ribbons. Once the fire was blazing, a piece of smoldering wood was taken to each home in the village, to ensure fertility throughout the summer months.
Time Required: Varied
- This was typically the time of year when fairs and markets were held, and as most country villages had a common or a green of some sort, there was always room for merriment. Depending on where you live, you might not have enough space for a big bonfire or dancing — and that’s okay. Just make do with what you have. An alternative to a large bonfire might be a small fire bowl (they’re usually available at discount stores and home improvement chains) or even a tabletop brazier. If you’re in an apartment and space is at a premium, consider building your fire in a small cauldron or other heat resistant bowl.
- Beltane is the spring counterpart to Samhain. While in the autumn, everything is dying, in spring it comes alive, glorious and bursting free from the earth. Beltane is about fertility and sex and passion and life. This ceremony is designed for a group, and includes a symbolic union of the May Queen and the King of the Forest. Depending on the relationship between the people playing these roles, you can get as lusty as you like. If you’re doing a family-oriented Beltane celebration, you may choose instead to keep things fairly tame.
- For this ritual you’ll need the following:
- A bonfire — set it up ahead of time, and designate someone to be in charge of lighting and tending it
- A May Queen — if possible, select a woman to play this part who is still within her childbearing years
- A King of the Forest — any adult man can play this role, but it’s even better if he’s someone who is actually partnered with the woman playing the May Queen
- Drums and other noisemakers
- Optional: a crown of flowers for each of the females present
- Optional: a headdress of antlers for each of the males present
- First, have the group circle around the fire, with the May Queen and the King of the Forest on opposite sides. The High Priest (HP) or High Priestess (HPs) should welcome everyone with something like this:Beltane is here! It is a time when the earth is fertile and full.
Long ago, our ancestors planted their fields at Beltane.
The fields that lay fallow for months are now warm and waiting.
The soil that was dormant for the winter now begs us to plant our seeds.
The earth is awakening and ripe, and this is a season of love and passion.
It is a season of fire.
- At this point, the fire starter should begin lighting the bonfire. The HP or HPS continues:As our fires grow, lighting up the night sky, the fire within us grows stronger.
It is the fire of lust and passion, knowing that like the earth, we too are fertile.
Tonight, the God emerges from the forest. He is known by many names –
he is Pan, Herne, Cernunnos, the Green Man. He is the God of the Forest.
Tonight is the night he will chase and capture the maiden.
She is the Queen of the May, Aphrodite, Venus, Cerridwen.
She is the Goddess of fields and flowers, she is Mother Earth herself.
- As the HP introduces the God of the Forest and the May Queen, they should each step forward into the circle. The HP says: Bring fertility to the land! Let the hunt begin!
- At this point, the May Queen and the God of the Forest begin the chase, traveling sunwise around the circle, weaving in and out of the other participants. Remember, the May Queen wants to make love to the God of the Forest. This is a fun chase, a joyful courtship, not a mock rape; make sure both parties understand this and prepare accordingly. She can even allow him to get close to her, pretending she’s ready to join him… and then slipping away at the last second. They should travel the circle three times in the chase, and finally stop at a point in front of the bonfire — hopefully, it will be burning well by now.
- While the God of the Forest is pursuing his lady love, everyone else in the circle starts drumming. Start of slowly — after all, a courtship can take some time to get started. As the couple begins to speed up, increase the tempo of the music. If you’d like to chant instead of or in addition to drumming, go ahead. There are many popular traditional chants in Wicca and Paganism, and nearly all sound good when you sing them with a group. When the May Queen and the God of the Forest finally complete their three-times journey of the circle, the drums should stop abruptly.
- The HP says:Fire and passion, love and life, brought together as one.
At this point, the May Queen says to the God of the Forest:
I am the earth, the womb of all creation.
Within me, new life grows each year.
Water is my blood, air my breath, and fire is my spirit.
I give you honor, and shall create new life with you.
The God of the Forest replies to her, saying:
I am the rutting stag, the seed, the energy of life.
I am the mighty oak that grows in the forest.
I give you honor, and shall create new life with you.
- The couple kisses, long and passionate. If they’re feeling really lusty, they can fall to the ground and roll around for a while — feel free to cover them with a blanket if you like. This kiss (or more) is the symbolic union of the male and female spirit, the great rite between man and woman. Once the embrace is broken, the HP calls out:The earth is once more growing new life within! We shall be blessed with abundance this year!
- Everyone else in the circle claps and cheers — after all, you’ve just guaranteed that your village will have hearty crops and strong livestock this year! Celebrate by dancing around the bonfire, drumming and singing. When you are ready, end the ritual.
- * Note: if you have a woman in your group who is trying to conceive, she is absolutely the best choice for the role of May Queen. Her partner or lover may act the part of the God of the Forest, or another man may stand in as a symbolic consort.
What You Need
- A bonfire
- A couple willing to play the parts of May Queen and God of the Forest
- Drums and noisemakers
Setting Up Your Beltane Altar – What To Include on Your Beltane Altar
By Patti Wigington
It’s Beltane, the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas — obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.
Colors of the Season
This is a time when the earth is lush and green as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy. Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colors — the yellow of the daffodils, forsythia and dandelions; the purples of the lilac; the blue of a spring sky or a robin’s egg. Decorate your altar with any or all of these colors in your altar cloths, candles, or colored ribbons.
The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of his fertility include antlers, sticks, acorns, and seeds. You can include any of these on your altar. Consider adding a small Maypole centerpiece — there are few things more phallic than a pole sticking up out of the ground!
In addition to the lusty attributes of the god, the fertile womb of the goddess is honored at Beltane as well. She is the earth, warm and inviting, waiting for seeds to grow within her. Add a goddess symbol, such as a statue, cauldron, cup, or other feminine items. Any circular item, such as a wreath or ring, can be used to represent the goddess as well.
Flowers and Faeries
Beltane is the time when the earth is greening once again — as new life returns, flowers are abundant everywhere. Add a collection of early spring flowers to your altar — daffodils, hyacinths, forsythia, daisies, tulips — or consider making a floral crown to wear yourself. You may even want to pot some flowers or herbs as part of your Sabbat ritual.
In some cultures, Beltane is sacred to the Fae. If you follow a tradition that honors the Faerie realm, leave offerings on your altar for your household helpers.
Because Beltane is one of the four fire festivals in modern Pagan traditions, find a way to incorporate fire into your altar setup. Although one popular custom is to hold a bonfire outside, that may not be practical for everyone, so instead it can be in the form of candles (the more the better), or a table-top brazier of some sort. A small cast-iron cauldron placed on a heat-resistant tile makes a great place to build an indoor fire.
Other Symbols of Beltane
- May baskets
- Honey, oats, milk
- Antlers or horns
- Fruit such as cherries, mangos, pomegranates, peaches
- Swords, lances, arrows
||Spirit Runes are most commonly used for questions about mysticism, spirituality, and religion. Dagez means daylight, and represents divine light. This rune generally refers to dawn (the initial sparking of energy) or to midday (the climax of energy). Both dawn and midday are symbolic of change, but unlike the changes in the perpetual circle of the year which are slow and subtle, the changes over a day are much faster and more dramatic. The breaking of a new day is symbolic of the rapid illumination of dismal circumstances, and is suggestive of Satori. Be careful – although this rune generally suggests a positive change, the symbology of a peaking point suggests that there must be a change downward as well. Fortunately for some, this rune is cyclic and irreversible, and so permanence is not promised – the only thing you can be sure of is an exciting ride.
||Gold Runes are most commonly used for questions about business, career, and property. Berkana represents the birch tree. The birch is frequently symbolic of renewal, rebirth, birth, growth and fertility. This rune is a joyous one, representing good outcomes from ventures undertaken. It is the rune of the family and of a good household.
||Ice Runes are most commonly used for questions about struggle, conflict, and achievement. Inguz is the rune of completion and fertility. The presence of this rune suggests that tasks which have been initiated will come to fruition. This rune is associated with Ing and Frey, it is this connection that explains its connotations of both fertility and sexuality. The variant of this rune shown here is reminiscent of the twin strands of life, and of the challenge and rewards of bringing together things complimentary.
RITUAL FOR FERTILITY
Moon Phase: Waxing to Full
Time of day: The time you are usually most creative, for me it is the morning
Props: Sandalwood incense for mental fertility, Peach incense for physical fertility.
Tools: Incense burner.
Gods/Goddesses to Call (choose 1 or 2): Diana, Freyer, Ishtar, Liber, Liberia, Brigit, Cerridwen, Cernunnos.
Food and Drink: Salad of shredded carrots, cucumber, and rice with an olive oil and garlic
dressing (served cold, use brown rice) a banana for dessert.
Do what you need to do to prepare for ritual. cast a circle and invoke your deities.
State your purpose and goal. Make it VERY specific.
Light your incense. Imagine the incense filling that part of you that you wish fertility to touch.
It must fill you, grow around you and touch every part of you.
Starting in the east you face each of the four directions imploring them:
East: “Watchtowers of Air send your winds to wash the stagnant part of me away”
South: “Watchtowers of Fire send your heat to fire my (brain, womb, loins)”
West: “Watchtowers of Water fill me with fertility
North: “Great Goddess, Mother, I make me as fertile as your rainforests, your oceans
you are fill me with life and hope”
Lie on the floor head toward the north arms and legs outstretched. If you are not alone
have your significant other or coven mates place their hand above your loins (not touching)
or head and send you healing energy.
“Oh great _____ I implore you to fill me with ripened fruit that I may bear __________.
Fill my (womb/loins/mind) with power and light.”
Feel your body fill with power. Feel the power emanate from the place you wish to be fertile.
Kneel before your alter: The HPs blesses the food and tea.
You eat the food with your fingers imagining the food feeding that which about you is infertile,
you then drink the tea in one draught. (This is not meant to be a meal, merely fill you with the
energy of the food).
Close your circle in a normal manner. Ground and center.
If you are doing the spell to be physically fertile be sure and have unprotected sex within 24 hours.
*for female physical fertility this spell should be done 14 days after a woman’s cycle begins.
For a man it does not matter.