Beltane is a celebration of Spring that’s been around for centuries. It’s a time when people come together to enjoy the company of friends and family and celebrate the new season.
Beltane is a time of celebration and rebirth. It’s a chance to let go of the old and usher in the new. But there’s so much more to it than that!
With this comprehensive post about the Beltane festival, you’ll have everything you need to know about this pagan holiday including rituals, history, traditions, correspondences, how you can celebrate, and more!
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 Celtic 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 2022?
Beltane in the northern hemisphere begins on May 1st (November 1st in the southern hemisphere). The celebration starts at sunset the night before and continues into the sunset on May 1st.
Many other cultures celebrate similar holidays to Beltane. The Welsh celebrate Calan Mai, and Walpurgisnacht is celebrated around the same time as Beltane in northern Europe and Scandinavia.
Don’t forget the last Black Moon of 2022 occurs on April 30th (this is a calendrical Black Moon since two New Moons occur in April). There will also be a Partial Solar Eclipse as well!
How Do You Pronounce Beltane?
Beltane is pronounced Bell-tay-n, (Beltine) Bel-tin, or (Belltaine) Bell-tin-uh
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 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! At Beltane, 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.
It’s believed during Beltane 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.
The Irish used to divide the year into two main seasons. The winter season (Samhain) and the beginning of the summer season (Beltane).
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
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.
“On the last day of the [Floralia] festival, a group of prostitutes would gather and perform a striptease in front of an audience. Other entertainments devised for the Floralia were equally exotic. Galba, who served as the Roman emperor from 68-69 CE, once hosted a tightrope-walking elephant at the celebration!”Beltane: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for May Day (Llewellyn)
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 Spiritual Journaling Prompts To Connect With The Season
It can be tough to find the time and energy to connect with the natural world, especially when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. These simple Beltane journaling prompts will help you connect with the season, recharge your batteries, and get in touch with your innermost thoughts and feelings.
- In what ways do you feel abundance?
- What are your favorite ways to indulge in pleasure?
- List your favorite things about the season of Beltane. Describe in detail using all five senses! Include a bucket list and include your favorite ways to be present, celebrate, and activities you enjoy most during this season.
- Think about someone you find very inspiring. What qualities do you admire most, and how can you start incorporating them into your life?
- Were your goals, dreams, and manifestations from Winter realistic? Do you think you’ll be able to accomplish them? If not, what can you do to change them or alter them?
Try conducting a ritual ceremony for Ostara and the Spring Equinox by immersing yourself in the traditions of your family heritage, such as making food, practicing divination, or lighting candles based on symbolism.
Dew on the grass and plants was 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, increase sexual beauty, well-being, and happiness. Locations near water wells, lakes, rivers, etc., were considered sacred.
Why bonfires were of great importance isn’t completely clear. Some believe that bonfires imitate the sun and celebrate the longer days ahead. However, others believe the bonfires destroyed any evil entities that may harm crops, livestock, or families.
Some early celebrations in Ireland involved building two large bonfires. Cattle and humans would walk between them to prevent diseases. People would also jump over the Beltane Fire, move through it, or dance clockwise to honor the sun to ensure a good harvest. During this festival, each household fire was lit by communal Beltane fires.
Beltane fires were enchanted and magical. It was considered good luck to have the smoke of the Beltane fire wash over you or your cattle. Once the fire burned down, its ashes were spread across crops to ensure a bountiful harvest.
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. Dances were held around it, which were believed to enhance fertility and bring good tidings.
During the Victorian era, ribbons were added to the Maypole, and the ritual became more intricate. Celebrants created an elaborate dance and braided the ribbon around the pole.
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 and 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 with 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.
How To Celebrate Beltane And Ritual Ideas
A seasonal holiday just isn’t complete without a proper celebration. Beltane respects the pleasures 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.
Now that’s my kind of celebration! Sex is an essential part of Nature. You of course don’t need to be sexually active to celebrate Beltane. However, a healthy expression of physical love between consenting people is completely ok. Hey, and it’s free!
Make sure and give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed! Make an effort to set the mood and pamper yourselves: light some candles, play some music, and maybe take a bath together.
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!
Manifesting “fertility” can be more than just sex. Take this time to meditate on something you’d like to manifest into your life.
This could be more creativity, abundance, positive energy, spiritual growth, simplicity, or any personal development you might be interested in.
As you leave Winter behind, what can you let go of? Self-doubt, clutter, or other bad habits? How can you become more aligned with your values and with nature?
Those that celebrate nature spirituality know the sun will still shine if we don’t light bonfires and burn sacred offerings. However, the principles can still apply! 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 a smart doorbell to stop package thefts.
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!
There are many ways to add fire to your celebration. Do a backyard bonfire (also fun to do with family and little ones), use your fireplace, or light a candle!
Practice some fire divination by seeing what faces, images, letters, numbers, or pagan, witch, or Wiccan symbols appear to you. Take some time to journal about it!
Divination and the Spirit World
Since the Veil is considered to be thin during Beltane, use this time to connect with the universe and the spirit world either through solo meditation or with a group using a Ouija board.
Since Beltane is an Irish holiday, consider using Celtic Oghams for divination. Each Ogham alphabet symbol derives its name from Celtic mythology and metaphorical tree meanings.
Another popular divination choice is using Elder Futhark Runes; the oldest known Norse Rune Alphabet. 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 some time to sit in nature on a colorful quilt and take in the fresh sights, smells, and sounds of Spring. Areas near water are considered sacred, so if you can find a spot by a lake, river, ocean, or pond even better! Don’t forget to bring some loved ones along!
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 in this moment, and enjoying the elements of Nature. Don’t forget to watch for signs of Fae nearby!
Sow The Seeds For Creativity
Beltane “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 the Spring season.
A luxurious bath to relax and unwind in? YES PLEASE!! This might also be a good time to meditate. I love adding different herbs and flowers to my bath, but I hate the clean-up. I recommend using a small tea filter, to avoid a messy clean-up!
Milk baths are very popular during Imbolc, but since Beltane represents fertility and pleasure, I think it’s great to add now as well! I personally add milk & honey bubbles to my bath.
Beltane Food & Recipes
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! You can check out the recipe here to make it yourself!
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.
Sun Tea For The Win
Making sun tea is the ultimate warm weather refreshment! Drink it plain or mix it with some lemonade for a sweet treat! You could also add some strawberries, mint, or any of your favorites! Yum!
I also love eating macaroons, they have such beautiful spring colors! Perfect for Beltane!
Make your Favorite Libation
Celebrate with your drink of choice. This year I decided to infuse some vodka with strawberries. I added about 3 Tablespoons of the infused vodka to a flute, and topped it off with champagne! So yummy and sweet!
Next time I might make strawberry daiquiris by swapping out the rum with the infused vodka!
Wine is also a very popular choice for Beltane!
Leafy Green Salad
Making a salad using fresh herbs adds so much flavor! I love adding seeds to symbolize fertility for Beltane. I also grilled up some mushrooms and zucchini with a little bit of garlic on top. It hit the spot!
Bundt cakes are so easy to make and taste great! 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 think it would be a great idea to add a wood pole in the center of the bundt cake. It would be a great fertility symbol. You could decorate it like a Maypole with ribbons and greenery.
Beltane Crafts & Decor
Taking the time to craft and create something special for Beltane is such a personal and wonderful way to celebrate. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Revisit your altar or meditation space. Add some crystals, hag stones, flowers, candles, herbs, or seeds that represent what Beltane means to you. Maybe something symbolic of fertility, love, or growth.
Create garlands made up of yellow, green, or pastel-colored flowers to symbolize spring or romance. Use these to decorate fireplace mantels, stair railings, or altars.
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
Make a doll out of natural items and decorate it with fresh flowers. Can be placed among garlands of greenery or added to an altar.
You can create some magical DIY fire-starters to place in a bonfire. Burn wood and herbs as offerings. Collect twigs and pinecones from your yard or while out on a nature walk.
Wreaths are one of my favorite ways to change up the seasons in our home. I love to meditate while making it and focus on giving love and protection to those who enter. Sometimes I’ll add charms to them that are meaningful to me.
The wreath pictured below is the one I made for Beltane this year. I added yellow flowers to honor the sun and the days that continue to grow longer.
I made mine pretty easily using an embroidery hoop, fake eucalyptus leaves, fake flowers, floral wire, and a glue gun. I personally like to keep them natural-looking, but use your creativity and make it your own!
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 helpful! Lots of love to you and remember as always…