Beltane – it’s one of the biggest holidays of the Pagan year, rivaled only by Samhain. And yet for many, it is one of the most difficult holidays to relate to. The emphasis placed on (hetero!)sexual activity and fertility can be alienating for many groups of people, including our own children. This is not simply a morality issue – whether parents and guardians want their children exposed to sexual themes and imagery – though that certainly is one part of it. The biggest issue with children and Beltane is that they simply do not understand the themes presented. Children before puberty generally do not think of passion in terms of finding a mate, and they do not relate sex to emotional or physical bonding. A huge part of the holiday goes completely over their heads, entirely unrelatable.
That’s not how I want my children to experience my spirituality. I don’t want them to feel as if they cannot take part, or that they can’t understand it until they’re older. I want my children to celebrate with me, to grasp at least partially the emotions and feeling behind the things that I celebrate. To help with this, I’ve tried to isolate a few of the major themes of Beltane, things that many groups or solitaries will be focusing on this time of year, and re-frame them in a way that instinctively makes sense to kids.
- Love – love is a huge part of Beltane, and it’s not just sexual or love for a partner. Talk to your children about their love for family, friends, and the world around them. Plan a ritual involving a brother/sister deity pair, or a parent/child relationship. Celebrate that love comes in many forms.
- Passion – what is your child passionate about? Sexual passion is certainly not the only kind there is! What is your child strongly interested in, fiercely dedicated to? Do they spend hours practicing piano, drawing pictures, writing stories? Turn that into a ritual! Invite the patron deities of what they’re passionate about, ask for their blessings on your child – this will help them understand the concept a thousand times better than attending a symbolic Great Rite.
- Creativity – when you break it down far enough, the magic of fertility is all about an act of creation. Plan a rite that features a craft of activity that gives your child an opportunity to make something, to bring something new into the world. It can be anything! Plant a few seeds, sculpt with salt dough, anything your child will be excited and proud to have made. Younger children may not understand the magic and mystery inherent to baby-making, but making an awesome finished product from simple ingredients is just as magical for them!