Beltane to Litha

Litha Comments & GraphicsBeltane to Litha


Beltane (a greater Sabbat named for a Celtic God, which is otherwise known as either May Eve or May Day) hails the coming-together of the Horned God, now in the Phallic Lord, and the irresistible Godddess in a rapturous celebration of light and life. It is as though all of nature—not least the birds and bees—is abuzz at this time of year, energized by a potent combination of irrestible physical attraction and an equally compelling urge to procreate.

—-The Wicca Book of Days

And last but not least (especially if you aren’t celebrating to much) a few things you can do…

Beltane Comments & Graphics

General Preparations
Beltane, May Day, May 1st, Walpurgis Nach, Neopagan Celebrations

1.  Clean up your garden, rake leaves, water as needed, put down fertilizer.  If you last frost date is in April, then you can begin to plant seeds and seedlings.  Do work appropriate for your agricultural Zone.  I live in Red Bluff, California, USDA Zone 9, Northern Hemisphere.  My April gardening chores might be quite different from yours, depending upon where you live.

2.  Do spring cleaning in your home.  Wipe up the dust.  Wash windows.  Give away unneeded items.  Scrub walls.  Bring in some potted plants.  

3.  Working and meditating in the garden is an important facet of my spiritual path.  I need to regularly reconnect with the earth and with the beauty and energy of the Spring season outdoors.   Tend your garden daily.  Water your garden each day.  Weed your vegetable garden.  Harvest from your late winter garden if you can grow on.  Review your own lists of chores for April and May, and act accordingly.      

4.  Read about Beltane, May Day, Walpurgis Nacht and other mid-Spring celebrations around the world.  Add notes and links to books, magazines, and webpages on the subject.  See my bibliography and links above.  Visit your local public library or college library to obtain access to books, media and magazines on the subject.  Study about ancient Indo-European religions.  I update my Months webpages on April and May. 

5.  Add some appropriate Beltane, May Day, Walpurgis Nacht and mid-Spring songs, chants, prayers, reflections, invocations, or poems to your Neo-Pagan Craft Journal, Book of Shadows, blog, website, or Ritual Handbook.  Write in your personal journal.  Most spiritual seekers keep a notebook, journal or log as part of their experimental, creative, magical and experiential work. 

6.  Stay at home.  Improve your home, backyard, or garden.  Eliminate long driving trips.  Do you really need to “Go” anywhere?  Do you really need to fly by airplane to another country?  Explore your backyard, neighborhood, local community, nearby city, county wide area, regional area within 50-100 miles.  Visit a local “sacred site.”  For us, for example, this could be Mt. Shasta, the headwaters spring of the Sacramento River in Mt. Shasta City, the Sacramento River at Woodson Bridge Park, a long walk in the forest below nearby Mt. Lassen, sitting on the shore of Whiskeytown Lake, sitting in my backyard in the moonlight, or visiting a beautiful church or college or park that is nearby.  Watch a DVD on a spiritual subject, sacred place, or inspirational topic.  Learn more about your local environment. 

7.  Read solitary or group rites for Beltane, May Day, Walpurgis Nacht, Easter or other mid-spring celebrations available in books and webpages (see above).  Create your own ritual for Beltane.  Practice the ritual.  Conduct the ritual at a convenient time for you, or your family and/or friends, as close to the day of  May 1st as possible.  Attend a public Beltane ritual of a local NeoPagan group. 

8.  Improve your indoor home altar.  Clean and shine everything up on the altar.  Place a fresh offering on your home altar every day in April.  Add fresh flowers to the altar.  Bring in branches of trees that are budding out.  In Ireland, and were Celtic traditions are popular, the word “Bel” refers to a bright fire, a large bonfire, white, or bright, the month of May, and the beginning of the warm and bring summer season.  Therefore, lighting candles will be an essential aspect of home piety.  My home altar includes Druid, Roman, Wiccan, and Western Magickal influence.

9.  Key a close eye on flowering tree and shrub branches and leaf budding tree and shrub branches in yards and gardens.  This rebirth or resurrection of vegetation is essential to the meaning of this season.  Many gods and goddesses are associated with this rebirth, e.g., Persephone, Attis, Osiris, Jesus Christ.  Bring some of these reborn branches into your home and home altar.


Just a few ideas in case you didn’t already have enough on your plate, lol!

Healing Arts and Pagan Studies ~ Beltane/May Day

Beltane Comments & Graphics

Healing Arts and Pagan Studies ~ Beltane/May Day


May Day is the ancient festival of Beltane, the midway point between the vernal (spring) equinox and the summer solstice. The days are growing longer, coaxing the earth to open to the life-giving qualities of the sun and to bring forth every kind of fruit. Beltane is a celebration of the fertility of the earth and the fertility of our own souls. It is a call to gratitude that everything in the universe is continually being re-created, including ourselves.

The air and Earth begin to warm, Spring has arrived in full force and is making way for Summer. The leaves and grass have greened and the flowers are in full bloom (as are the allergies for some!) Man and woman begin to start their lives together, new loves are born, new lives are created.

The word “Beltane” in modern Irish means May. Beltane comes from the meaning “fire of Bel”, in which Bel is the “bright or shining one”. In his honor, the Ancient Celts set two large fires made up of nine of the sacred woods:

During this time, the herds of cattle were driven through these fires to clean off the ticks and mites and also as a symbol of purification to protect them. They were left to graze in the pastures until the new year and winter. Witches’ celebrate the fruitfulness of Mother Earth in the union between Witches’ celebrate the fruitfulness of Mother Earth in the union between Her and the young Horned God. This coupling symbolizes the new fertility of the Earth, the beginnings of Spring going into Summer.

May or Beltane, has traditionally represented the sensuality and revitalization of love-making in all living things. This is why many couples traditionally marry around this time of year. In ancient Celtic days, couples would live together for a year and a day, after which they may decide to get married or part ways. The Celts believed in the idea of marriage, but understood people and nature grow, change and sometimes move apart. This is not to say they did not believe in the family unit and still remain together as a family.

In some cultures, the May pole traditionally represented a fertility symbol – specifically a phallic symbol – dancing around it in celebration was a ritual of thanks for the time of season with which all life begins the cycle. From GrannyMoon’s Morning Feast 2002

Beltane/CetSamhain/MayDay – The first day of May is celebrated in many parts of the world. It is believed it evolved from ancient agricultural and fertility rites of spring. There are signs of the first celebrations in Egypt. However, the majority of the current traditions stem from the Roman Festival, Floralia. This was a five day festival to honor the Goddess Flora with offerings of flowers, dancing, ringing bells, May Queens and erecting a Maypole.

The May Queen would oversee crops and rule the day. Some places also selected May Kings. The crowns were typical made of twigs, leaves and flowers.

The Maypole was typically fabricated the night before. The men would strip down a birch tree and plant it in the ground; this ceremony was symbolic of fertility rites. The next day both men and women danced about the Maypole. Several longs ribbons hung from the top of the Maypole holding up a crown of colorful flowers. Each dancer held an end of one of the ribbons. The dancers alternated man and women. All the women would dance in one direction and the men danced in the other direction. The dancers would go under the first person and over the next weaving the ribbons about the tree and lowering the ring to the ground. Today this tradition is still practiced but danced mostly boys and girls.

The Celts had a similar celebration known as Beltain, Beltane, or Bealtaine which in Gaelic means “Fires of Bel” or “Bright Fires”. The ceremony honored the god of the Sun and the rebirth of the earth. Feasting, games and bonfires, began on the eve of May Day and continued through the next day with a day of bonfires and merrymaking. It was customary for couples to walk through the fires smoke or leap over the flames to insure a successful relationship. Faeries were (and are) abundant on the first day of May. Windows were decorated with flowers and food was left on the doorstep to keep the mischievous faeries out.

Those traditions created a wonderful medieval holiday that is still celebrated today. We still elect May Queens and Kings and dance around Maypoles. During this time women would wash their faces with the May Day’s morning dew believing it would bring a good complexion and everlasting beauty.

“The fair maid who, the First of May, Goes to the field at break of day And washes in the dew from the hawthorn tree, Will ever after handsome be.”

People began gathering twigs and flowers to decorate their homes and the lovely tradition of May baskets began. Children would leave baskets made from twigs and filled with flowers on their neighbor’s doorstep, knock and then hide waiting to see the expression of the lucky recipient.

From Folklore, Magic and Superstitions )0(

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The Witches Almanac for Friday, May 1st, Beltane

Beltane Comments & Graphics

The Witches Almanac for Friday, May 1st, Beltane

Friday (Venus): Love, friendship, reconciliation and beauty.

Beltane • May Day



Waxing Moon

The Waxing Moon is the ideal time for magick to draw things toward you.

Moon phase: Second Quarter

Moon Sign: Libra

Libra: Favors cooperation, social activities, beautification of surroundings, balance, and partnership.

Incense: Rose

Color: Coral


Did you know…..

Beltane Comments & Graphics
“Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane.  It is one of eight solar Sabbats.  This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing).  Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May day, whiles others begin their celebration the eve before or April 30th. Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times. In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods “A-Maying,” and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.”
–  Beltane by Herne 

Beltane to Litha

Beltane Comments & Graphics

Beltane to Litha


Beltane (a greater Sabbat named for a Celtic God, which is otherwise known as either May Eve or May Day) hails the coming-together of the Horned God, now in the Phallic Lord, and the irresistible Godddess in a rapturous celebration of light and life. It is as though all of nature—not least the birds and bees—is abuzz at this time of year, energized by a potent combination of irrestible physical attraction and an equally compelling urge to procreate.


—-The Wicca Book of Days

All About Beltane

April’s showers have given way to rich and fertile earth, and as the land greens, there are few celebrations as representative of fertility as Beltane. Observed on May 1st (or October 31 – November 1 for our Southern Hemisphere readers), festivities typically begin the evening before, on the last night of April. It’s a time to welcome the abundance of the fertile earth, and a day that has a long (and sometimes scandalous) history. Depending on your tradition, there are a number of ways you can celebrate this Sabbat. First, you might want to read up on:

Rituals and Ceremonies

Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Beltane, but the focus is nearly always on fertility. It’s the time when the earth mother opens up to the fertility god, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around.

Here are a few rituals you may want to think about trying — and remember, any of them can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group, with just a little planning ahead.

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Customs and Folklore

Interested in learning about some of the traditions behind the celebrations of May Day? Learn why the Romans had a big party, and who the popular fertility gods are.

Beltane Magic

Beltane is a season of fertility and fire, and we often find this reflected in the magic of the season. Let’s look at some of that spring magic, from ritual sex to fertility magic, along with the magic found in gardens and nature.

Crafts and Creations

As Beltane approaches, you can decorate your home (and keep your kids entertained) with a number of easy craft projects. Start celebrating a bit early with fun floral crowns and a Maypole altar centerpiece.

Feasting and Food

No Pagan celebration is really complete without a meal to go along with it. For Beltane, celebrate with foods that honor fertility of the earth. Enjoy light spring soups, Scottish bannocks, fertility bread loaves, and more.

Related Articles

Beltane: Its History and Modern Celebration in Wicca in America

by Rowan Moonstone

The celebration of May 1st, or Beltane as it is known in Wicca Circles, is one of the most important festivals of our religious year. I will attempt here to answer some of the most often asked questions about this holiday. An extensive bibliography follows the article so that the interested reader can do further research.

  1. Where does the festival of Beltane originate?Beltane, as practiced by modern day Witches and Pagans, has its origins among the Celtic peoples of Western Europe and the British Isles, particularly Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  2. What does the word Beltane mean?Dr. Proinsias MacCana defines the word as follows: “… the Irish name for May Day is Beltane, of which the second element, ‘tene’, is the word for fire, and the first, ‘bel’, probably means ‘shining or brilliant’.”1 The festival was known by other names in other Celtic countries. Beltaine in Ireland, Bealtunn in Scotland, Shenn do Boaldyn on the Isle of Mann and Galan Mae in Wales.2
  3. What was the significance of this holiday to the ancients?To the ancient Celts, it symbolized the coming of spring. It was the time of year when the crops began to sprout, the animals bore their young and the people could begin to get out of the houses where they had been cooped up during the long dark cold winter months. Keep in mind that the people in those days had no electric lights or heat and that the Celtic countries are at a much more northerly latitude than many of us are used to. At that latitude, spring comes much later and winter lasts much longer than in most of the US. The coming of fair weather and longer daylight hours would be most welcome after a long cold and dark winter.
  4. How did the ancient Celts celebrate this festival?The most ancient way of observing this day is with fire. Beltane, along with Samhain (Nov. 1), Imbolc (Feb. 1), and Lughnassadh (Aug. 1), was one of the four great “fire festivals” which marked the turning points of the Celtic year. The most ancient records tell us that the people would extinguish all the hearth fires in the country and then relight them from the “need fires” lit by the druids (who used friction as a means of ignition). In many areas, the cattle were driven between two great bonfires to protect them from disease during the coming year. It is my personal belief, although I have no documentation to back up the assumption, that certain herbs would have been burnt in the fires, thus producing smoke which would help destroy parasites which might make cattle and other livestock ill.
  5. In what other ways was this festival celebrated?One of the most beautiful customs associated with this festival was “bringing in the May.” The young people of the villages and towns would go out into the fields and forests at Midnight on April 30th and gather flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families and their homes. They would process back into the villages, stopping at each home to leave flowers and to receive the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. This custom is somewhat similar to “trick or treat” at Samhain and was very significant to the ancients. John Williamson, in his study “The Oak King, the Holly King and the Unicorn” writes: “These revelers were messengers of the renewal of vegetation, and they assumed the right to punish the niggardly, because avarice (as opposed to generosity) was dangerous to the community’s hope for the abundance of nature. At an important time like the coming of summer, food, the substance of life, must be ritually circulated generously within the community in order that the cosmic circuit of life’s substance may be kept in motion (trees, flocks, harvests, etc.).”3 These revelers would bless the fields and flocks of those who were generous and wish ill harvests on those who withheld their bounty.
  6. What about maypoles?The maypole was an adjunct to the festival of bringing in the May. It is a phallic symbol, and as such represented fertility to the participants in the festival. In olden days, the revelers who went into the woods would cut a tree and bring it into town, decking it with flowers and greenery and dance around it clockwise (also called deosil, meaning “sun-wise”, the direction of the sun’s apparent travel across the face of the Earth) to bring fertility and good luck. The ribbons which we associate with the maypole today were a later addition.
  7. Why was fertility important?The people who originated this custom lived in close connection with the land. If the flocks and fields were fertile, they were ableto eat; if there was famine or drought, they went hungry. It is hard for us today to relate to this concept, but to the ancients, it was literally a life and death matter. The Celts were a very close tribal people, and fertility of their women literally meant continuity of the tribe.
  8. How is the maypole connected with fertility?Many scholars see the maypole as a phallic symbol. In this aspect, it is a very powerful symbol of the fertility of nature and spring.
  9. How did these ancient customs come down to us?When Christianity came to the British Isles, many of the ancient holy sites were taken over by the new religion and converted to Christian sites. Many of the old Gods and Goddesses became Christian saints, and many of the customs were appropriated. Charles Squire says,” An ingenious theory was invented after the introduction of Christianity, with the purpose of allowing such ancient rites to continue with a changed meaning. The passing of persons and cattle through flame or smoke was explained as a practice which interposed a magic protection between them and the powers of evil.”4 This is precisely what the original festival was intended to do; only the definition of “evil” had changed. These old customs continued to be practiced in many areas for centuries. “In Scotland in 1282, John, the priest in Iverkething, led the young girls of his parish in a phallic dance of decidedly obscene character during Easter week. For this, penance was laid upon him, but his punishment was not severe, and he was allowed to retain his benefice.”5
  10. Were sacrifices practiced during this festival?Scholars are divided in their opinions of this. There is no surviving account of sacrifices in the legends and mythology which have come down to us. As these were originally set down on paper by Christian monks, one would think that if such a thing had been regularly practiced, the good brothers would most certainly have recorded it, if for no other reason than to make the pagans look more depraved. There are, however, some surviving folk customs which point to a person representing the gloom and ill fortune of winter being ostracized and forced to jump through the fires. Some scholars see this as a survival of ancient human sacrificial practices. The notion that animals were sacrificed during this time doesn’t make sense from a practical standpoint. The animals which had been retained a breeding stock through the winter would either be lean and hungry from winter feed, or would be mothers nursing young, which could not be spared.
  11. How do modern day pagans observe this day?Modern day pagan observances of Beltane include the maypole dances, bringing in the May, and jumping the cauldron for fertility. Many couples wishing to conceive children will jump the cauldron together at this time. Fertility of imagination and other varieties of fertility are invoked along with sexual fertility. In Wiccan and other Pagan circles, this is a joyous day, full of laughter and good times.
  12. What about Walpurgisnacht? Is this the same thing as Beltane?Walpurgisnacht comes from an Eastern European background, and has little in common with the Celtic practices. I have not studied the folklore from that region and do not consider myself qualified to write about it. As the vast majority of Wiccan traditions today stem from Celtic roots, I have confined myself to research in those areas.


  1. MacCana, Proinsias, Celtic Mythology, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, London, 1970, p.32.
  2. Squire, Charles, Celtic Myth and Legend, Poetry and Romance, Newcastle Publishing Co., Van Nuys, CA, 1975, p.408.
  3. Williamson, John, The Oak King, the Holly King, and the Unicorn, Harper & Row, NY, 1986, p.126.
  4. Squire, p.411.
  5. Hole, Christina, Witchcraft In England, Rowman & Littlefield, Totowa, NJ, 1977, p.36.


  • Bord, Janet & Colin, Earth Rites, Fertility Practices in Pre-Industrial Britain, Granada, London, 1982.
  • Danaher, Kevin, The Year in Ireland, The Mercier Press, Cork, 1972.
  • Hole, Christina, Witchcraft in England, Rowman & Littlefield, Totowa NJ,1977.
  • MacCana, Proinsias, Celtic Mythology, The Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., London, 1970.
  • MacCulloch, J.A. Religion of the Ancient Celts, Folcroft Library Editions, London, 1977.
  • Powell, T.G.E. The Celts, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1980.
  • Sharkey, John, Celtic Mysteries, the Ancient Religion, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1979.
  • Squire, Charles, Celtic Myth, Legend, Poetry, and Romance, Newcastle Publishing Co., Van Nuys, CA, 1975.
  • Williamson, John, The Oak King, The Holly King and the Unicorn, Harper & Row, New York, 1986.
  • Wood-Martin, W.G., Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Kennikat Press, Port Washington, NY, 1902.