I think one of the most important things we can do as a community is share how we worship, celebrate, and observe our most sacred days. I asked our writers at Patheos Pagan for their Beltane thoughts and got a variety of thoughtful and inspiring replies. Whatever you do and whatever you celebrate this time of year, we hope it’s joyous.
Annika Mongan (Born Again Witch): Beltane has always been a holiday for me since childhood because it is my birthday. I sometimes saw maypoles growing up in Germany, but I never knew what they were. As a child, I always begged my parents to host large parties outdoors, preferably under trees, with lots of games, singing, and dancing. That hasn’t changed. Nowadays I like celebrating Beltane and my birthday together and dancing the maypole at public rituals. Dancing with friends and strangers is a perfect mix of hilarity (up? under? under again? really?? oops! wait, what?!?) and deep magic. I’ve woven Beltane spells that have changed the course of my life.
Recently I’ve been tapping more into the sexual nature of Beltane. I still love frolicking around the maypole in public, but I am adding private rituals with my lovers. The intersection of spirituality and sexuality is one of the things I love most about the Pagan path and Beltane is the perfect time to explore it in greater depth.
This year I’m really looking forward to celebrating another year of life well lived and responding to birthday wishes by wishing everyone a lusty and joyous Beltane.
Gwion Raven (The Witches Next Door): Favourite Beltane Ever – She took me out to the coast. A place where the scent of bay trees and coyote bush intermingled deliciously. A creek bed giggled. Perhaps it knew what was in store. The leaves whispered sweet everythings and in the distance, the sounds of the ocean could be heard pounding the shore and raking the rocks and stones back into the brine. She lead me down a trail and then abruptly said “chase me” as she disappeared around a bend. I caught her. She caught me. We caught each other. We’ve never stopped catching each other.
Jenya Turner Beachy (Dirt Heart Witch) My Beltanes have always included at least one big blow-out public ritual. We’ve brought a bed into circle for the priests carrying Goddess and God, which is lifted high into the air by the priestesses of Earth and Air and Fire and Water, as a way of signifying the contribution of the elements in all of new life. We’ve danced Maypoles, yes, yes, but a few years ago, we danced 3 Maypoles at once, set in a triangle and linked by ribbons to a 4th Pole in the center, where all of our wishes were tied. We’ve enacted the moment when the Gods turn from Spring to Summer, and realize there is something more to all this innocent play. In that ritual, they are counseled by elders to allow their Wild Selves to run free. Carrying the Wild Goddess in that rite was amazing.This year, we are focusing on our relationship with the land and the spirits thereof. We will honor the power of the natural forces and find those powers within ourselves. Through deep connection, movement and song, we will raise those energies high, then offer these gifts back to those powers. Oh, and I’m priesting this one, with an amazing team. So, if you find yourself in Santa Cruz, California, on 4/30, come on by. I guarantee your socks will be knocked off.
Morgan Daimler (Irish-American Witchcraft) Bealtaine is a big one for my family. We do a May Bush, which is a large-ish branch we place by the front door and decorate with yellow ribbons and flowers, which is probably the kids favorite part, and represents for us the return of summer. We start celebrating at sunset of the night of April first and I usually make offerings to the Good Neighbors (fairies) then. On the actual day I go out before dawn and collect some standing water, if I can, and usually look for any omens. Then we do our family ritual during that day. Its usually a lot of fun all around, although we do use the day as a transition point of the year to also do major cleansing and protecting of the house and yard.
Megan Manson (Pagan Tama) For me, Beltane is the Sabbat that feels the most “Pagan.” I’m not sure why, but there’s definitely a strange kind of wild energy around at Beltane.
I also feel Beltane is the Sabbat most closely linked to environmentalism, because it falls close to Earth Day and Midori no Hi (“Greenery Day” in Japan) and because the Green Man, Nature personified, is a Beltane symbol. Finally, Beltane for me is all about celebrating masculine energies – not only because of the Maypoles and links with male deities, but also because it’s close to Kodomo No Hi in Japan – the festival on May 5th often called “Boys Day” because it celebrates the healthy growth of boys.
Rev. Catharine Buck Clarenbach (Nature’s Path) Flowers, flowers, flowers. I get all kinds of flowers and festoon the house with them. And I make love with my wife. The tender fierceness of Beltane is something I feel very keenly, and I am caught up in it nearly every year. For many years, I attended Four Quarters’ Beltane, which I powerfully recommend to anyone within an eight-hour drive. Forty-foot Maypole with a gorgeous wreath, tons of people in the dance, and the first fire of the season. Wonderful.
Jason Mankey (Raise the Horns) I feel a lot like Megan does, I think Beltane is the most Pagan of all the sabbats. Samhain is Witchy, Beltane is Paganism on steroids; it’s all about the Earth and earthy things. It’s a time to sing, and howl, and love, and dance and all of those “body” things that we do so well.
It’s also big and loud. I’ve had a lot of small, sober and somber rituals over the years but very few around Beltane. Beltane is bright, colorful, and nearly always joyous.