Beltane 2023: Celebrate the Renewal of Life
Beltane 2023 is a Gaelic pagan holiday celebrating the season of Spring and the renewal of life. The fire festival of Beltane usually involves outdoor ritual gatherings, feasting, and dancing around a Maypole. Many pagans, witches, and spiritual practitioners honor the cycle of life and nature’s abundance during Beltane.
This is a season marked by happiness, fertility, and plentiful resources. Beltane 2023 is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate a fresh beginning. Let go of the old and usher in the new.
Flowers and greenery are often used to decorate altars and homes, and many people may participate in rituals to encourage growth and fertility in their personal lives.
Many Pagans, Witches, and those interested in Nature Spirituality celebrate the seasonal cycles. Sometimes referred to as the Wheel of the Year, and consisting of eight celebrations. Four of these festivals (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain) are rooted in Gaelic history and origins.
The other four (Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox, and Winter Solstice) represent the sun’s location. I created a complete guide to each season, including history, traditions, symbols, correspondences, ritual ideas, and how you can celebrate.
Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and referencing sources throughout AND at the bottom of this article.
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When is Beltane in 2023?
Beltane 2023 begins once the sun sets on April 30th in the Northern Hemisphere (October 31st in the southern hemisphere), and continues until sunset on May 1st. However, some people choose to the exact halfway point between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.
Remember, the ancient Gauls celebrated the start of a new day once the sun went down. This has been highlighted by Caesar’s writings about the Gallic Wars.
All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids.
For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night.C. Julius Caesar (translated)
How Do You Pronounce Beltane?
Beltane is typically pronounced “BELL-tayn”
Around the world you may find different spellings and pronunciations of this name including Beltaine, Beltain, Bealtaine, and Cétamain.
If you consider the seasons of the year, the choice of January 1 as the beginning of a new year seems somewhat arbitrary – it is a date in the middle of winter when there is no discernible change in weather or other natural conditions.
Some early cultures instead divided the year into two halves, a light half and a dark half. Summer, with its warmth and crops, was the center of the light half, and winter was the center of the dark half.
Viewed that way, the logical turning points in the year would be approximately May 1st (Beltane), and November 1 (Samhain).Forbes, Bruce – America’s Favorite Holidays
What is Beltane?
Beltane is a pagan holiday and festival in Ireland and Scotland that takes place on May 1st. Spring is officially here and at its peak. The warmer days continue to grow longer, and the sun is strong and powerful! Plants are blooming, and optimism is everywhere we look!
Beltane 2023 is the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, making it easy to see why Beltane is typically associated with creativity, prosperity, hope, fertility, and sexuality.
Beltane is the season of doing and achieving! During the season Beltane 2023, we celebrate fire, fertility, and the return of life after winter’s slumber. The natural world is awakening, and it’s essential to appreciate how we’re all connected.
In some areas, Beltane was also a time for honoring the fairies and spirits of the land, and offerings of milk and honey were left at sacred sites to ensure a bountiful harvest.
During Beltane, it’s believed the veil between this world and the spirit world is very thin (similar to Samhain). During Beltane, the Fae are very active, and now is an excellent time for offerings. If you’d like to work with the Fae or learn more about them check out Fae Meaning and Mythology Secrets or Types of Fae – Discover Their Folklore and Magic.
Beltane was first mentioned by Irish bishop and king Cormac mac Cuilennáin who died in the Battle of Bellaghmoon in 908. You may remember him from this post about the Celtic Goddess Brigid.
Cormac mac Cuilennáin wrote the Sanas Cormaic (aka Cormac’s Glossary); a tenth-century compendium of Irish oral history that often shares the stories and history of many Gods and Goddesses.
Cormac explains people in Ireland used to drive their cattle between two bonfires on Beltane night as a way of protecting them from disease before leading them into summer pastures.
Cormac derives the word Beltaine from the name of a god Bel, or Bil, and the Old Irish word tene, “fire.”
Despite linguistic difficulties, a number of 20th-century scholars have maintained modified versions of this etymology, linking the first element of the word with the Gaulish god Belenos (Irish: Belenus)Britannica – Beltane ancient Celtic festival
Is Floralia the Origin of Beltane?
Several cultures celebrated the longer days still to come, and many believe Beltane’s celebrations can be traced back to Roman’s annual celebration of Floralia held at the end of April and early May starting in 238 BCE.
The Floralia celebration was believed to help awaken Nature from her long winter hibernation.
Floralia was created as a celebration to honor the goddess Flora (the goddess of fertility, flora, and flowers). The six-day festival was a riotous event and consisted of games, striptease, feasting, sexual exploration, and lots of dancing and singing.
From those early Roman festivals of Floralia, the Irish and Scottish adopted a fusion of similar traditions known as Bealtaine and Bealltainn respectively. From these festivals grew the modern Beltane, we know today.
Beltane comes from the Celtic word meaning “bright fire,” and a fire was a large part of the celebration. There’s limited information on the rituals they celebrated, but from what we do know, they were primarily concerned with protecting their livestock, crops, and family.
In ancient Rome the month of May, consecrated to the ancestors (majores), witnessed the incursion of ghosts among the living. The key date of May 1 permits another opportunity for the fairy world to break through to the human world.
During antiquity and the entire Middle Ages, marriage was avoided at all costs during the month of May because of the greatk risk of taking a s a spouse a revenant or an enchanted woman from the Otherworld.Philippe Walter – Christian Mythology
Why is Beltane 2023 a Fire Festival?
Beltane is known as a fire festival because its most prominent tradition is the lighting of bonfires. These fires are believed to have purifying and protective qualities. The bonfires are often built on hilltops (Hill of Tara) and are surrounded by ritual go-ers who dance and sing around the flames.
Fire is believed to be a symbol of transformation and change, which is a key theme of Beltane. It’s believed fires represent the transformative power of nature and the cycles of birth, growth, and decay. The flames are said to help purify and renew the land, and to encourage fertility and abundance.
Fire worship was a cornerstone of Celtic practice and perpetual firest were kept on Druidic altars and in places of worship. As lovely as this image may seem, Druiditic fire worship wasn’t neccessarily pretty. Some Druidic rites are thought to have included the giant, man-shaped contraption made of wicker.
The legendary and infamous “Wicker Man” was supposedly stuffed with live animals and people, set afire to honor a Celtic Sun God named Bealtaine [Belenus], encouraging the fertility of the soil in the early days of May.Courtney Weber – Brigid History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess
Throughout history, Beltane has been celebrated in different ways across the regions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and more. Beltane rituals were centered around fertility, renewal, and the transition from darkness to light.
One of the most popular traditions was the lighting of bonfires, which were believed to have protective powers and could purify people and livestock. People would leap over the flames or walk between them to bring good luck for the coming year. You could easily recreate this tradition using Candle Magic.
While the Celtic traditions of Beltane have largely faded away, many of the customs have been adapted and continue to be celebrated in modern-day Pagan, Witch, and Wiccan communities as a way to connect with nature, honor the changing seasons and celebrate the renewal of life.
Dew on the grass and plants were considered sacred on the morning of Beltane. People would carve out stones to save the dew, and women would typically apply the water to their faces.
The morning dew was believed to improve skin complexions, attract a lover, and assist in physical healing. Locations near water wells, lakes, rivers, etc, were considered sacred.
Since fertility is a central aspect of Beltane, it’s not surprising that many phallic symbols can be found in decorations. One of those symbols is the Maypole, which was typically placed in the center of town and adorned with greenery and flowers. During the Victorian era, ribbons were added to the Maypole, and the ritual became more intricate.
Dances were held around the Maypole and involved people holding onto the ribbons and weaving in and out of each other as they circle the pole, creating a beautiful pattern. The Maypole dance is symbolic of fertility and new beginnings, and it was believed that the dance would encourage the growth of crops and livestock.
In some communities, the Maypole was even left standing all summer as a reminder of the Beltane celebrations.
Fertility is a common theme during Beltane. There were many romantic rendezvous where young couples would go into the forest on the eve of Beltane. They would spend the night together and return the next day with flowers and greenery to decorate the town. These escapades would sometimes be made permanent in an official wedding ceremony called Greenwood marriages.
During these ceremonies, the couple’s hands were bound together, which was known as handfasting. Some older married couples would also forgo their wedding rings (and the commitments promised to them) to engage in their own romantic rendezvous for this one night.
If you’re looking for a fertility ritual to include in your Beltane celebration, check out this Full Moon Fertility Ritual.
Pregnancies begun at Bealtaine allowed for the mothers to work through the pivotal harvest season. They would experience the least mobile part of their pregnancy during the darkest months of the year, where there was less work to be done and the comunity could collectively focus on rest.Courtney Weber – Brigid History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess
Beltane correspondences are very helpful when creating an altar, doing ritual work, meal planning, or decorating your home. Here are a few ideas to get you started whatever your spiritual path may be!
- Floral crowns
- The Fae
- Sacred bodies of water
Botanicals, Herbs, And Greenery
- Lemon Balm
Crystals, Stones, and Metals
- Rose Quartz
- Light Blue
Food and Drinks
- Honey cakes
- Spring Greens
- Recipes Including Milk or Dairy
Incense, Candles, and Scents
- Floral scents
Beltane Ritual Ideas
Beltane festivals are steeped in tradition and ancient rituals. Throughout history, various Beltane rituals celebrate the arrival of summer and the renewal of life. Honor your energy and soul by indulging in them!
Beltane Simmer Pot
A simmer pot is an excellent way to celebrate any Pagan holiday, set spiritual intentions, or simply fill your home with an amazing scent!
All you need is a pot of water on the stove and some ingredients that represent your intentions. This can be herbs, flowers, vanilla extract, citrus peels, etc. Here’s a photo below from one of my own Beltane simmer pots!
It’s important to note Beltane is a festival celebrating fertility and the renewal of life, but there’s no evidence indicating sex rituals were a part of ancient celebrations in the same way they’re practiced today.
However, some modern Pagan, Witches, and Wiccan communities have incorporated sex magic and rituals into their Beltane celebrations. These rituals involve the use of sexual energy to create and manifest desires and can be performed between couples or within a group setting. The idea behind these rituals is to tap into the powerful energy of creation.
Sexual rituals during Beltane can take many different forms, depending on the tradition and beliefs of the spiritual practitioners. Some practitioners use tantric techniques to build up sexual energy. It’s important to note these rituals aren’t for everyone and should only be practiced when there’s enthusiastic consent and participation. It’s also important to practice safe sex and to respect the boundaries of everyone involved.
This is a great time to try new things! Maybe a new position, or a new toy. Don’t be afraid to indulge in sensual and exciting pleasures that you and your partner(s) enjoy. This is a great time to celebrate your body and revitalize your sexual energy!
Ultimately, sex rituals during Beltane are a personal choice and can be a powerful way to connect with your spirituality and celebrate the beauty of life. Hey, and it’s free!
Pagans, witches, and other spiritual practitioners know the sun will still shine if we don’t light bonfires and burn sacred offerings. However, meanings and spiritual traditions can still be enjoyed and applied in modern times! Since the roots of Beltane lie in the protection of family, livestock, and crops, why not use this time to do the same for your household?
Now is a great time to schedule a health checkup! Evaluate your home and see where you can add some additional security. Consider new door locks or smart doorbells to stop package theft.
You could add heavy wooden dowels in your windows or repair some fencing to make sure your pets stay in your yard and ensure others stay out. Add lighting to your property with solar-powered lighting or outdoor lighting on a timer. Beltane is also a great time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms!
Create your own sigils or bind runes to aid in spiritual protection. These can be easily and secretly placed around your home under doormats, around windows, or even on your altar! Hag stones and the Evil Eye are also excellent for protection!
Fire Festival Ritual
Fire is a powerful symbol of transformation and renewal, making it a central element in Beltane rituals. Backyard bonfires are fun to do with family, friends, and little ones!
While large bonfires may not be practical for everyone to incorporate into their celebrations, there are still many fire rituals that can be done at home to honor the spirit of Beltane.
One simple ritual involves lighting a candle or small fire and meditating on the energy of transformation and renewal. Focus on your intentions and desires for the coming months, and visualize the flame burning away any obstacles or negativity that may be blocking your path. Remember to always practice fire safety and never leave any flames unattended.
You can also practice fire divination by seeing what faces, images, letters, numbers, or symbols appear to you. Remember to record your experiences and feeling in your journal or grimoire.
Since the Veil is considered to be thin during Beltane, use this time for a bit of divination work. Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge or guidance from the Universe, spirits, deities, or higher powers. Set aside a quiet and sacred space and focus on your intentions. Shuffle oracle cards, cast your runes, or utilize a divination method of your choice.
Ask a specific question or seek guidance for the coming season. Trust your intuition and interpret the messages coming through as symbols and images. Remember to always show gratitude for any guidance you receive.
Due to the origins of Beltane, consider using Celtic Oghams for divination. Each Ogham alphabet symbol derives its name from Celtic mythology and metaphorical tree meanings.
You can also try using a pendulum board! When it comes to divination, the pendulum board is a popular spiritual tool and metaphysical art form that is very beginner-friendly!
Take A Walk In Nature
Earthing or Grounding is when you connect your bare skin to the ground. Walking barefoot on the grass in your backyard or at a local park can help bring you in harmony with the earth’s electrical field.
Earthing has many health benefits, including lowering cortisol (stress hormone) levels, helping the body rid itself of electrical pollution from cell phones, laptops, etc., and giving your immune system a fresh supply of electrons.
Whether or not you believe the health benefit claims, I think we can all agree walking outside can be a huge stress reliever. Even just spending a peaceful walk outdoors can lift some weight off your shoulders.
Spend as much time as you are comfortable just relaxing, being present at this moment, and enjoying the elements of Nature. Don’t forget to watch for signs of Fae nearby!
Sow The Seeds For Creativity
Beltane’s fertility can also be about creativity and imagination! Here are a few ideas to get you started –
- Start or finish a project you’ve been dying to get to, but just haven’t found the right moment
- Spend some time journaling what your intentions are for the coming season (feel free to use the prompts above)
- Go camping
- Try planning some new self-improvement goals
- Create an indoor or outdoor altar
Now can be an excellent time to connect with the Full Flower Moon of May because it embodies all the spirit and energy of the Beltane and Spring. Additionally, May of 2023 includes a Black Moon which can make a lovely ritual for the season of Beltane.
How To Celebrate Beltane
For an awesome and delicious Beltane spread, use anything fresh, colorful, and in season! Organic greens, ripe juicy fruit, and savory herbs.
Flower And Herb Spread
This flower and herb spread is so delicious and one of my favorite recipes to make during Beltane! What I love most are the gorgeous colors and textures. I added some yellow rose petals to symbolize the Sun.
It’s a pretty easy recipe that makes a big impact and would be great to double or triple for a party. I sliced up a baguette and kept a butter knife nearby to spread on top.
You can also watch a how-to video of the recipe here.
Beltane Bundt Cake
Bundt cakes are so easy to make and taste great! For the bundt cake shown below, I decided to decorate mine with red and yellow flowers to symbolize the sun. I also sugared the berries and some of the rose petals.
I’d love to try adding a wooden pole in the center of the bundt cake and decorate it like a Maypole with ribbons and greenery. Remember to only use flowers that haven’t been treating with any chemicals since you’ll be eating this bundt cake.
Another ritual for Beltane can be the creation of a small altar. This can be simple or elaborate, but should include elements that represent Beltane to you! This can be with flowers, greenery, and symbols of fertility and growth.
You can also include dried herbs or a smoke cleanse. Light the herbs or smoke cleanser, allowing the smoke to purify your space and set your intentions for the season of Beltane. You can also add small offerings of food or drink to honor the land and spirits of nature. Remember to always practice fire safety and never leave any flames unattended.
Don’t forget to include symbols you find meaningful like sacred geometry, a pentagram, the Theban alphabet, or Norse Runes!
Flower Crown and Garlands
Creating your own flower crown is such a fun way to personalize what you wear on Beltane. There are so many tutorials on Pinterest, and you can make them unique to you and your style. It’s a fun way to get little ones involved too!
It’s believed flower crowns were often worn during Floralia to represent the goddess, Flora.
A representation of Flora’s head distinguished only by a floral crown, appeared on coins of the republic. Her name survives in the botanical term for vegetation of a particular environment.Britannica – Flora Roman mythology
Wreaths are one of my favorite ways to change up the seasons in my home. I love to focus on giving love and protection to those who enter. Sometimes I’ll add charms or symbols that are meaningful to me.
The wreath pictured below is the one I made for Beltane a few years ago. I added yellow flowers to honor the sun and the days that continue to grow longer.
Mine is pretty easily created by using an embroidery hoop, fake eucalyptus leaves, fake flowers, floral wire, and a glue gun. Use your creativity and intentions to craft your own! For a fun challenge, try using only items you can collect in Nature for free!
May Day Baskets
The May Basket is another popular tradition where handmade baskets of flowers, candies, or small treats were left on the doors of neighbors and loved ones to show love and goodwill.
Flowers are also very prevalent during Beltane, typically yellow ones as they are closely associated with the sun and bonfires. Although any spring colors and pastels can be wonderful to use too!
Such a wonderful way to let family, friends, or neighbors know you care! This doesn’t need to be spendy or elaborate. You could also check your local thrift stores for some small baskets and keep them eco-friendly! Fill the basket with flowers or small gifts and leave it on their door.
I hope you found this article about Beltane 2023 helpful! Lots of love to you and remember as always…
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Beltane”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1 Mar. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Beltane.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Flora”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Apr. 2013, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Flora-Roman-mythology.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Belenus”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 16 Feb. 2018, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Belenus.
C. Julius Caesar. Caesar’s Gallic War. Translator. W. A. McDevitte. Translator. W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper’s New Classical Library.
Emick, Jennifer. The Book of Celtic Myths: From the Mystic Might of the Celtic Warriors to the Magic of the Fey Folk, the Storied History and Folklore of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales. Adams Media. 2 December 2016.
Forbes, Bruce David. America’s Favorite Holidays: Candid Stories. 8 April 2016.
Walter, Philippe. Christian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins. Inner Traditions. 20 November 2014.
Weber, Courtney. Brigid History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess. Weiser Books. 1 May 2015.