In ancient times, the Celtic people of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Mann marked the changing of the season in a celebration called Beltane. This celebration has lived on for generations, becoming celebrated by pagans across the globe. Beltane falls midway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Some groups will begin their celebration on April 30th, but most stick with the traditional day of May 1st. It marks the beginning of summer. There are numerous ways to celebrate Beltane including huge feasts, dancing, singing, re-enactments, and many different kinds of rituals.
Regardless of which you choose, there a few key elements that cannot be ignored. Beltane must be celebrated with a huge bonfire. Beltane means bright fire and this celebration is a fire festival. Second, fertility is the key element. All around the natural world is waking up to the longer days. The plants are stretching to drink in the golden rays of the sun and the blossoms are awaiting pollination. In ancient Celtic tradition, Beltane was a night of unchecked promiscuity and sexuality. Even married couples participated. On this single night, their wedding vows would be suspended and they were both free to engage in whatever behavior they chose. The countryside would be filled with couples wrapped in steamy embraces until the morning light.
The next morning was considered a time of magick, especially water magick. People would gather the morning dew, take water from sacred wells and sacred springs for personal use. Some would bathe in it, others would drink the sacred water, or use it in ritual workings. Also the May pole would be erected and danced around on the 1st of May. The festivities were great and grand, as the human world participated in their own version of a return to vitality.
The Fire Ritual
This ritual is expected to be performed outdoors, but unlike our usual set up, the Beltane ritual will require two bonfires. Please use extreme caution when choosing your location. Assign people to keep watch over the fires to ensure safety.
What you’ll need to prepare for this ritual (as written)
Alter decorated with summertime items (flower buds, greenery, colors of summer, etc.)
Quarter Candles (4 total) in these colors – Red (South), Yellow (East), Green (North), and Blue (West)
Deity Candle – One that represents all Gods and Goddesses of Fertility
Sacred Drinking Vessel
Sacred Well Water (if you are unable to source well water, find a spring or other moving water source, or moon water, or other water intended for ritual use)
Flower Crown making ingredients (craft wire, fresh flowers, greenery, floral tape, scissors, floral wire (green))
Ritual leader should understand that any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions for them and should not be spoken aloud. It is recommended that the leader read through the ritual completely before performing.
Look yonder to the East, for there you will find strength in the power of the rising sun. There you shall draw hope from the dawning of each new day. With that strength and hope, we shall rise up from our slumbers. We shall engage in useful actions, positive change, and self-improvement. The Spirits of Air shall accompany our ventures, if only to whisper words of wisdom and caution along the way. Humankind was not put on this earth to remain still, and the wind gives us gentle reminders of such. <light yellow candle>
Now turn to the South and seek out the great sources of heat, light, and warmth. Many have spoken of the fires of creation, where that which was molten and without form, was transformed into a structured order. The Spirits of Fire are tending the forges, continuous lighting new torches that shall be passed to ambitious humans. Have no fear when a torch is placed in your hand, for you are worthy of it. Be that one who lights the way, not only for you and yours, but for all those who fear darkness or require guidance. Attend to this task with humility, honor, and righteousness. <light red candle>
Shift your gaze to the West. Feel the great pull of the tides, the waves, and the ever shifting seas. The lessons are many and the outcomes are positive for those who become students. The Spirits of Water teach us flexibility in our actions. That no obstacle can stop those with enough time and determination. And that we may change our outward appearance to survive and thrive as the world changes, yet we remain true within. Drink deeply from the pools of knowledge and the lessons that will shape your future. <light blue candle>
Focus your sight in the North, where the magnetic energy of the land pulls the attention of all living beings. Embrace the connection that you have with the land, let the energy flow through you and commit to becoming a part in the great collective. The Spirits of Earth are scattered among the forests, hidden in the trees, and peeking out from behind great boulders. Do not fear them. All things are important and all things have a place on the pathway of the great wheel. As life begins to thrive once again, take time to share your knowledge with a budding flower, a green shoot, or a growing child. <light green candle>
The Gods and Goddesses of Fertility
We celebrate fertility at Beltane, nothing is more sacred than life itself and without fertility, life would cease. And so, we honor a great gathering of Celtic Gods and Goddesses and ask for their company. We humbly call upon Bel, Anu, Druantia, Cerridwen, Arianrhod, Cernunnos, Epona, Brighid, and Dagda <light Deity candle>
<for authenticity, consult the appendix at the end of this ritual for the pronunciations of each God and Goddess, and what they are known for>
Hail and Welcome to our Beltane 2022 ritual!
In the traditions and footsteps of our ancestors, we shall once again celebrate Beltane. This is the celebration of fertility, vitality, and all things blooming. The time when the God and Goddess are equal in power and their masculine and feminine energies are united. As you see, we have two bonfires burning tonight. Our ancestors would build these bonfires using the nine sacred woods from nine sacred trees. They consist of the first nine named within the Celtic Tree Calendar; Alder, Ash, Birch, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Oak, Rowan and Willow.
On Beltane-eve, the bonfires were lit on hilltops across the countryside. Once the fires were burning, torches were lit from the bonfire, then carried down to the village. Every villager would take their torches inside to light their hearth fires, which had been extinguished in preparation for this special event. The fires of Beltane represents the return of the light as the days lengthen and the nights grow shorter. Renewal and purification rites are performed by jumping the bonfire. In medieval times, two bonfires were lit side by side and villagers drove their cattle between the fires and through the sacred smoke as a symbol of purification and protection of the herd as well as a blessing of abundance and a bountiful harvest ahead.
Music of Beltane 2022
Tonight we are reaching way back into the archives. Our featured performer is none other than Jethro Tull, performing their song, Beltane, from the remastered 1977 album, Songs from the Wood, re-released in 2003 with two bonus tracks, one being this awesome song.
Beltane Flower Crowns
No Beltane Ritual is complete without everyone wearing a crown of flowers and foliage. It might sound difficult, but in reality only takes four easy steps. You can pre-make them if you want to, but it’s really a lot of fun having everyone make one up around the bonfires. It brings out laughter, fun, creativity, and breaks the ice.
Here are the ingredients: Craft Wire – Cut to fit, Scissors, Flowers & Greenery, Floral Wire, Floral Tape
Take the heavier craft wire and wrap it around your head three times, with a bit of wiggle room – cut and wrap sharp ends with floral tape. Add fresh greenery and flowers around the crown, securing with floral wire or floral tape, whichever works best. If you have longer vine-like greenery, twist it in between the flowers to help add body to the crown. Wrap the spaces that aren’t filled with floral tape, making sure the heavier wire is completely covered.
Put it on your head and get your Beltane on!
Jumping the Fire
On the eve of Beltane the ancient Celts would drive their herds between the two bonfires. Letting the smoke fill the spaces around them so as to purify and protect them in the upcoming year. Once this task was complete, the villagers themselves would then leap over the Beltane bonfires for many reasons. The young single people jumped the fire for luck in finding a spouse. Anyone visiting or planning a journey jumped the fire to ensure safe travels. Pregnant women jumped the fire to ensure an easy delivery. The list goes on and on. Each person had their own reasons for leaping across the flames and no one passed on the opportunity. Finally, at the end of the night, when all the celebrating was done, but before the time of A-Maying, Rowan twigs were carried around the fire three times by homeowners. These sacred twigs would then be hung over family hearth to bless their homes.
We have two bonfires, but no livestock to drive, so we will only focus on the jumping across portion. Remember that the Beltane fire was a great source of purification, and healing. As you jump over the fire, keep those thoughts in mind and allow yourself to be blessed. Feel free to jump over one or both fires and jump as many times as you need to.
<the leader of the ritual should give specific and clear instructions to everyone on the flow of jumping as to minimize collisions or accidents. It’s also wise to have a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby just in case>
<have everyone who wishes to, jump over the fires>
Now the energy is high and everyone is filled with frivolity and glee. We must take a moment to gather our thoughts and embrace one another in fellowship. A fertility prayer we offer, for all who walk these lands and for those who will come in the future.
<have everyone join hands and gather as close together as they are able>
Humble stewards of the land,
Plowmen, Millers, Smiths, and Merchants
Space-holders, Scribes, Light-workers, and Healers
Nobles and common folk alike
Mothers, Fathers, Children and Infants
We gather on this Beltane Eve to celebrate,
But also to offer and receive blessings
From shoreline, to sea, and shoreline again
Mountaintops and canyons, grasslands and forests
From Beltane until the coming of Samhain
We humbly ask the Goddess
And the Great Horned God of the Green
Bless these lands and those who reside in them
Bless the crops, the herds, and the fodder
With blossoms, calves, and offspring
Bless the forage and all that grows wild
Green shoots, flowers, and sweet berries
Bless the waters and keep them pure
Protect that which we depend on
And those who offer us protection
Safeguard the harvest and the stores
Watch our flanks when we toil
Guard our homes and our pastures
Keep balance between our world and the world of the Fae
Sharp eyes on our little ones
Health, strength, and virility
Bless every thing and every one,
Fertility above everything
Sharing of the Sharing of the Sacred Water
Our ritual is coming to an end but the morning sun has not yet risen. But, to honor an ancient Beltane tradition, we will take a moment to share water from a sacred source. This cup contains water from several sacred water sources in Wales and Scotland and we offer it to each of you tonight.
<ritual leader should hold the cup high overhead and say the following>
As our ancestors would seek out the sacred wells of the land and draw forth the water on the morn of Beltane, so shall we share in that tradition. We call upon the Goddess to bless this libation, combining the spiritual energy with the earth energy already within. We consume this water for cleansing and purification of our bodies and to wash away all negative energy and influences.
Closing the Beltane 2022 Circle
Once again we look to the North; the energy is rising as the days lengthen. Choose to be part of the great cycle of life in any way possible. Plant something, nurture something, or conserve something. As we depart from this circle, remember that this beginning provides you with the foundation to renew all things in your life, should you choose. <extinguish green candle>
Turn to the West again my fellow citizens of the world. You are invincible. Your spirit is strong enough to erode all that stands in your path. You are the difference-maker in your life and with the knowledge of flexibility, can withstand anything. Walk the path the you and the Gods and Goddesses have chosen for you and do not stray.<extinguish blue candle>
In the South we always see light. This light is great and powerful light and shall forever be your guide as you move across the lands. The footsteps of your ancestors will be your trail and the whispers of a thousand generations your compass. Be the one that carries the torch for another, whether to light their darkness, aid in their discovery, or illuminate their achievements. <extinguish red candle>
And in the East we pause to put the events of this Beltane celebration into our permanent memory. We have honored our Gods and Goddesses and shared fellowship and joy. Our spirits are energized and our faith in the return of vitality and fertility once again has been renewed. We are but small branches on the great tree of life, but never shall we forget that every piece, no matter the size, has meaning and value. <extinguish yellow candle>
Gods & Goddesses
We once again offer humble thanks and highest praises to the many Gods and Goddesses who have entered our circle and shared in our celebration. Together we offer gratitude for the safety and comfort we are provided with throughout the year. We ask for continued blessings on our families, our children, our crops and herds, and pledge to live our lives as honorable souls. <extinguish Deity Candle>
Now is the time for those of you who plan to go A-Maying to find your place among the flowers and trees, for the night is yours and without limitations!
Our Beltane Circle in Now Open
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Celtic Gods and Goddesses Referred to in the Beltane Ritual
Anu (An-oo) – Goddess of fertility, prosperity, comfort, health, and cattle.
Arianrhod (Ari-an-rod) – Goddess of beauty, fertility, and reincarnation.
Brighid (Breet/Breed) – Goddess of fire, fertility, the hearth, all feminine arts and crafts, martial arts, healing, physicians, agriculture, inspiration, learning, poetry, divination, prophecy, smithing, animal husbandry, love, witchcraft, occult knowledge.
Bel (Bel) – God of science, healing, hot springs, fire, success, prosperity, purification, crops vegetation, fertility, and cattle. God associated with Beltane and closely associated with the Druids.
Cernunnos (Ker-noo-nos) – God of virility, fertility, animals, physical love, Nature, woodlands, reincarnation, crossroads, wealth, commerce, warriors, hunt, magic, and sacrifice. Also known as the Horned God or the Green Man and plays a critical role in the story of Beltane.
Cerridwen (Cara-dwin) – Goddess of fertility, regeneration, death, inspiration, magick, astrology, herbs, science, poetry, spells, knowledge, wisdom, past lives, divination.
Druantia (Dr-uan-tia) – Goddess of fertility, passion, sexual activities, trees, protection, knowledge, creativity. Commonly known as the Queen of the Druids.
Dagda (Dag-da) – God of fertility, protection, warriors, knowledge, magic, fire, prophecy, weather, reincarnation, the arts, initiation, healing, regeneration, prosperity, harps, magicians, artisans, and knowledge. The Dagda is a Father God, not “the’ Father, but a God whom everyone saw as a fatherly figure.
Epona (Eh-poh-nah) – Goddess of fertility, maternity, protector of horses, horse-breeding, prosperity, dogs, healing springs, crops.