Beltane is one of the most celebrated pagan events each year. It falls midway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. The holiday has it’s origins in ancient Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, but is widely practiced across the modern world. Typically, celebrations start on the last day of April and continue into the daylight hours of May 1st (in the northern hemisphere). There are numerous ways to celebrate including huge rituals, bonfires, dancing, singing, re-enactments, and rituals about the Fae, but the focal point is always fertility. Throughout the years, our Beltane rituals have covered many of the traditional activities, but with the world going through so much change lately, this year it’s dedicated to the Fae.
Those who follow the old ways know that the veil between our world and the world of the Fae grows very thin but a few times each year; on Beltane and Samhain. On those nights, all sorts of creatures from the faerie world can and do cross over into our world. Likewise, brave humans can enter the other side, if they dare. The Fae usually avoid humans, but sometimes they decide to have a little harmless fun at our expense. Some humans find themselves feeling bold and may try to ‘play the game’ with creatures from the other side, but this almost always ends up bad. History tells of mischievous faeries who trick humans on this night and they are never seen again. It’s very important to keep in mind that the Fae are not to be toyed with. Don’t make deals, enter into any arrangements or make promises you cannot fulfill. Every interaction is an exchange and payment is expected in one form or another. But, don’t let this deter you from interacting with the faeries, just be cautious and make sure you present an appropriate offering.
Our Beltane 2021 ritual is focused on welcoming the faeries to our lands, our pastures and our gardens. If we show them our appreciation, they will bless us with their gifts and there will be harmony.
This ritual is written to be performed by a group, outside, with a bonfire.
What you’ll need to prepare for this ritual (as written)
Alter with fairy themed decorations and enough open space for each participant to place an offering
Quarter Candles (4 total) in these colors – Red (South,) Yellow (East,) Green (North,) and Blue (West)
Goddess Candle – Large White Candle (I use a three wick candle for the Goddess)
Bonfire or fire circle of some sort
In order for success, please inform all guests that part of this ritual is about making an offering to the Fae, and that they should bring something special, of their own choosing. Also there is a meditation portion which may be lengthy, so a chair or yoga mat might also be in order.
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions that the ritual leader should perform rather than be spoken aloud.
<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>
“Let it be called, let it be cast, this sacred circle both present and past; a meeting place, a spiritual space, where we welcome all members of the human race”
Join Us As We Call the Beltane 2021 Quarters
As the spring winds slip ever so gracefully across the land, we turn our eyes to the East and give high praises to the great spirits of Air. We welcome you to our circle on this night when the veil is very thin and the fairies are starting to move across the land. Guard us from any mischief this night and help to guide those who are lost so that they may find a safe refuge until morning. <light yellow candle>
The last of the warming rays of the sun have just dropped beneath the horizon as we turn to the South, where the great Fire spirits make their home. We give thanks for your attendance in our circle tonight and offer high thanks and praises for the gift of light which you’ve bestowed upon us. Keep our path illuminated as we move from place to place so that no harm or accident will fall our way. <light red candle>
Old ones of the West, mighty spirits of Water, we call upon you to join us in our circle tonight. Bathe each of us in your cascading and cleansing waters so that we may regenerate our spirit and carry forward with renewed hope for the future. <light blue candle>
Great ones of the North, magical spirits of the Earth, we extend our greatest wishes and honors and ask for you to join us as we celebrate all things associated with the land. As the world around us rises, grows, and reaches to the sun, we see fertility in each direction. We ask that you pull forth the positive energies of the planet to feed our crops and our souls, so that we may once again renew our relationship with everything in nature. <light green candle>
Brigid, Great Goddess of spring, the dawn, and fertility; protector of mothers and children, we call upon you to grace us with your presence at this Beltane celebration. You are the fire in the heads of the Bards, the heat in the forges of the mighty Blacksmiths, and the cleansing flames of the healers. Join us tonight in our ritual, hail and blessed be! <light Goddess Candle>
Introduction – Beltane
Even though our ritual is about the Fae, we cannot forget the reason why we are celebrating. If we look back into history, one thing is crystal clear, the great fire festival of Beltane honors life. This celebration is known by many names, including Belt-an-a in Ireland, Bealtunn in Scotland, Shenn do Boaldyn on the Isle of Man and Galan Mae in Wales; it’s also commonly known as May Day. Beltane represents the peak of spring and the beginning of summer; the bright half of the year and the coming warmth. It’s a celebration of the return of life and fertility to the physical world which surrounds us. It’s a time for sexual awakening in humankind with new relationships, marriages and the adventures of young adulthood.
The ancient tale resonates today just as it did in the past. At Beltane, the Maiden Goddess has reached her fullness of womanhood. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal; called Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen, or the May Bride. The Young Oak King, also known as the May King, Jack-In-The-Green, or the Green Man, falls in love with her and wins her hand. Their union is consummated and the Goddess becomes pregnant. This sacred union symbolizes the Sacred Marriage of Earth and Sky and has been re-enacted by humankind throughout the centuries. Just as the May Queen will be the source of new life, so can we bring life to our brilliant ideas, hopes, and dreams on Beltane.
If you are a regular follower of our rituals, then you know that we try to include a music selection in each one. Sometimes it’s a stretch to find an appropriate song to play, while other times it’s a snap. This is one of those other times. Our selection is called Beltane Fire Dance by Loreena McKennitt. Start the music and skip down to the Fire Jumping section.
Jumping the Bonfire
On the eve of Beltane our Celtic ancestors would build two large bonfires, created from the nine sacred woods; oak, birch, ash, alder, willow, hawthorn, holly, hazel, and rowan. These fires were deemed to have protective properties and were considered sacred. All the livestock would be summarily rounded up and driven in between the two fires so as to purify and protect them in the upcoming year. The villagers themselves would then leap over one of the Beltane bonfires, but for different reasons. The young, unmarried villagers jumped the fire for luck in finding a spouse, travelers jumped the fire to ensure a safe journey, and pregnant women jumped the fire to assure an easy delivery. Couples would jump over hand in hand to ensure their union stayed strong. This is not a complete list though. Each person had their own reasons for stepping across the flames and no one passed on the opportunity. <instruct the group on fire safety and take appropriate measure to make sure no one gets injured, then have everyone who wishes to, jump over the fire>
Think about what you wish for in the coming year while you’re carefully crossing over the flames.
Welcoming the Fae
In ancient Ireland there lived a race of people of the Goddess Danu, called the Tuatha Dé Danann. These people were the earliest magick users known to the world, having been cast out of paradise because they were becoming too powerful. From high above they descended to the Island of Ireland to live out their lives, unimpeded, but when the island was invaded by the Milesians, they went underground. They continued practicing magick and eventually evolved into what we now call the Fae. They developed abilities to remain hidden from humans and lived in caves or other secret places, which they jealously guarded. History tells stories of the rare human who found access to those hidden places and would never be heard from again.
And yet we also hear a multitude of stories from the past where the Fae would have positive interactions with humankind. Usually these begin with a generous offering of milk, honey, yogurt, pastries or other sweet delicacies. Small tables, toys, fabric and other shiny objects may also be used to attract faeries. But, the single most important part is to listen to the natural world around your area. When you become sensitive to all parts of nature, you’ll begin to hear more and more and you’ll make that connection. The Fae can tell who is sincere and who isn’t, and they aren’t on a time schedule. It may take some time, but don’t give up.
Tonight as part of our Beltane celebration, we shall present the faeries with an offering. Each person should place their item on our alter as a token of friendship and compassion toward all things from the other side of the veil.
<Ritual leader should allow as much time as necessary>
Now that we have prepared an offering, it’s time to listen to nature.
<Have everyone meditate and listen to the world around them. No one should speak or move around, just listen. This can last as long as you wish>
Now each of you may state a high praise to the faeries and introduce yourselves to them formally.
<Have each person speak out to the Fae as they see fit>
As we prepare to close, remember this moment and take it with you everywhere. The more open your mind is, the more nature will reveal.
Closing our Beltane 2021 Circle
Magickal spirits of the Earth, we again offer thanks for sharing this festive evening with us. Tomorrow we shall survey our lands and have a renewed sense of comfort for a prosperous growing season and bountiful harvest. <extinguish green candle>
Mighty spirits of Water, our praise is never-ending. We offer prayers on the banks and shores and across all the great bodies of water so that you can see and hear our feelings of gratitude. <extinguish blue candle>
Legendary spirits of Fire, as we leave here tonight, we carry new memories of illumination; not just physically, but also spiritually and emotionally and we shall walk with more confidence and understanding. <extinguish red candle>
Whispering spirits of Air, our faith is renewed as we watch the thin tendrils of smoke rise and glide away on your invisible currents. We realize that we do not always need to see something to believe in its power and understand its magnitude. <extinguish yellow candle>
Great Goddess of spring, we bid you the kindest and move loving farewell as this night comes to a glorious ending. Bless us as we leave and protect us. Farewell and blessed be! <light Goddess Candle>
“This circle is open but never broken”
If you want to delve further into meeting & understanding faeries or other Fae creatures, here are a few places to get you started in the right direction.
- Mabon 2021 – Celebrating the Second Harvest on the Fall Equinox - September 20, 2021
- Full Harvest Moon – Looking Forward Rather Than Behind - September 17, 2021
- Witch Tools – A Shopping List For Witches - September 15, 2021