It may not feel quite like it at the moment, but summer really is a coming in. This is the end of the hardships of winter.
This is Beltane.
Beltane means “Bright Fire” and it is celebrated on 30th April into May 1st. At this time, spring is in full flow and we welcome the first days of Summer. Fire is central to this festival – maybe you and your family could light a bonfire and sit outside for the evening? There are lots of activities you can do together…
Traditionally people would ‘jump the fire’, however this may not be suitable for you to do just yet, little one. They would do this for healing, transformation and to increase fertility in all its forms. The Earth is at its most fertile and so are our dreams and ideas. Whatever you give your focus to will grow. Move with boldness and clear intention. Stand next to the fire and imagine the side that you are on represents all that you wish to leave behind and the opposite side is all you wish to focus on – everything – even your wildest dreams – start now! If the fire is too big to jump over, you can write your thoughts down, burn them, walk around to the other side and do the same again. Find a way that works for you and most importantly be safe! You could even have a boogie to this song too..
“We jump the fire for kicks and for feelings”
Have you noticed how the Earth is covered in lush green? The leaves, the grass, the hedgerows and woodlands. You can honour the Earth, the abundance and the growth by wearing green.
This time of year is all about union, traditionally there would be greenwood marriages at Beltane. We can celebrate our partners but also our family and friends. Maybe you’d like to make a card or a little present for the special people in your life to show your gratitude. Or simply let them know how much they mean to you. Speak from your heart centre, filling yourself with love so that you may give openly and generously.
In the celtic tree calendar the Willow is the tree for Beltane. Willow weaving is a great activity – you can make crowns, dreamcatchers or wands. Or you can simply sit with a nearby willow tree and think about its properties and the teachings it has for you. Willow can increase our intuitive powers and allow our dreams to be more vivid and open to interpretation. It is a feminine tree ruled by the Moon and has an affinity to water. How fitting there is full moon this Beltane! Our emotions are able to move more freely with Willow and we learn to surrender to them so that they may be released. From Willow we gain the power to move forwards, to be confident and to trust ourselves.
As I mentioned earlier this is a time when what we focus on grows abundantly. If you are unable to have a bonfire, you can find a tree – one that you can walk easily around. Or collect a branch and bring it into the home. As you walk, imagine your dreams and plans as if they are already so. As you do, tie a ribbon for each dream to the branches of the tree – when you have finished you have created your wishing tree.
This really is one of my favourite festivals and I have many traditions for this time of year. Growing up I remember reluctantly shuffling off to bed on May Eve, Mamma would be downstairs laughing with her friends, staying up all night, ready to go to dance the sun up and the summer in. Finally, around the age of 15, I was allowed to go with her. We didn’t stay up all night in those days but I did go and see the sunrise. I grew up around Morris Dancers and this was my favourite of our traditions. We would arrive in the dark and dance… until we saw a glimmer of sunlight on the horizon, then we would pause and stare in wonder. Once the sun had risen we would sing ‘Hal an Tow’ and the horn would be blown to all four corners of the horizon to wake everyone up. Summer is here! We’d go for breakfast in the local ‘greasy spoon’ and on returning home, I would wash my face in the may morning dew – why both me and my sister have been blessed with great skin!
Years later, my cousin and I, found ourselves in the same county again for the first time since we were little. She was studying in Oxford and the students there have a great May tradition – albeit a little more ‘modern’ and maybe, little one, one that you should save until you’re 18 to partake in. They basically go out dancing and drinking all night and then congregate for 6am in the street outside Magdalen Tower and listen to the Magdalen College Choir sing the May in. I remember cycling in the cool May morning through the streets of Oxford and feeling once more like a total Witch.
Beltane is all about Life, Love and all things good. This year I have celebrated by seeing my dear friends and setting intentions for my future plans. Blessed be for all that I have….
And the Wheel Turns