Beltane

Upcoming Beltane class: 4.21.2022

Watch the most recent Beltane Class here

“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” – Jeanne D’Arc

Beltane season is here!

Nearly every group under the broad umbrella “Pagan” celebrates Beltane, stretching back into the ancient past. The central symbolism of this festival is fertility and virility. In other words, bringing opposites together and having some friction occur that produces a thing.

Beltane marks the halfway point between Spring Equinox (March 21) and Summer Solstice (June 21). The festival begins in earnest on the eve of the Sabbat, at the sight of the rising moon. True Solar Beltane – the actual halfway point on the Earth’s orbit, currently aligned with 15º Taurus in western astrology – falls on May 5th. Interestingly, some ancient groups mark this day, as with the Irish observance, the Veneration of the Thorn, which is, of course, the Holly King, who is coming into power at the next Sabbat, Litha or Summer Solstice.

Jack In The Green, Alistair Hendy

Pagan groups witness the rise of Spring at Imbolc, Ostara, and Beltane, with more emphasis added to a particular Sabbat depending on where they are on the globe and how quickly or slowly the light and heat comes back. But no matter where they are, by Beltane, the Sun is rising, the warmth is returning, and the Earth is coming back to life.

Where Ostara embraces symbols of Nature’s return to life and the vitality of the flora and fauna world, Beltane brings that focus to the world of humans.

This is The Holly King, Jack-in-the-Green, The Green Man, Pan, Bacchus and dozens of other vegetation Gods. This is also the energy in all of us to thrust forward and push into the world. The portions of us that are extroverted that lust for results, and seek to assert our dominion in the world.

Sex and sexuality are at the forefront of much of Beltane symbolism. The Maypole is one example.

An apparent phallic symbol, the Maypole represents the form of God energy that is virile, rising, surging. Pagans often centered this around an evergreen tree, and the Maypole could be erected by individual families or the whole village. Some Maypoles were temporary, others permanent. Many times, it was the young unmarried men and boys of the town who cut down and raised up the maypole, staying up all night to guard it. The pole would be topped with a flower garland and streams of ribbons.

The Maye Fete, Wisconsin, 1917

The unmarried youth of the village who were entering adulthood would then assemble in two circles and alternate weaving back and forth as they circled the pole, holding a streamer. The result was two-fold; the celebrants braided a lovely pattern down the outside of the pole, and as people wove the streamers, the circles became tighter and tighter, bringing these folks closer together. The flowers and streamers represent Goddess energies, enveloping and blessing the Godform.

The village chose the May Queen and May King from among these people, to oversee the proceedings. Beltane, then, is an initiatory festival for youthful energy that is maturing, developing self-determination, and entering the world.

With all this sexy and sensual energy, it’s no surprise that marriage proposals are typical for this time of year, handfastings, which last a year and a day, as well as “Greenwood Marriages” which only last one beautiful night. Such trysts have any number of people involved, and exemplify the Wiccan phrase, “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.” They are for the joy, pleasure, and vitality of anyone who wants to consensually join.

Flowers actually play a particularly important role in this holiday.

The May Queen, Beltane Fire Society

Marry making, or Going A-Maying was an ancient form of worship and is still one of the most traditional. Dressing up in colorful clothes, wearing flower crowns, and secretly leaving baskets of flowers for people are all sacred acts. Picking wildflowers and then looking up their meanings when you get home is a form of Beltane divination. Nature energies are closer and easier to communicate with, creating an air for divination. Also, this is one of two days in the year (the other, Samhain) that Thee Furious Host or Wild Hunt ride out in the mortal world. There are many folktales about folks stepping into a circle of mushrooms on May Day and the Wild Hunt suddenly appearing to haul off the unwitting heathen. Speaking of mushrooms and thinning veils, intoxicants like mead made from flowers, absinthe, and hallucinogens are also traditional for this Sabbat.

Another important symbol of Beltane is The Bonfire.

Beltane Revelers, Beltane Fire Society

Welsh Pagans sometimes lit one, sometimes two fires. When two were lit, it was called the Eyes of Anu. Named for a Welsh Goddess who was a combination of Brigid and Callaich. A group of men who had no sin or guilt among them had to start the fire. And they had to light it using a form of friction, like rubbing wood together. Nine holy kinds of wood were used; Ash, Oak, Hawthorn, Holly, Rowan, Birch, Willow, Hazel, and Alder. Cattle would be driven through the fires twice; once to purify and protect, and the second time to ensure plentiful milk production. Counting the number of Beltane fires one could see on the horizon was another form of divination.

Last but not least, at the heart of Beltane symbolism is sensuality and abundance. Delighting the senses and revealing in the physical world. Eat, drink and be merry!

Pink luscious rose in bloom Beltane season is here! Roses are great for connecting to Taurus, Venus, and Beltane energy
Luscious pink rose in bloom. Roses are great for connecting to Taurus, Venus, and Beltane energy

WITCH’S WORK
Fertility, Sexuality, Union, Initiation, Love, Purification, Divination

PLANT HELPERS
Rose, Jasmine, Apple Blossom, Holly, Cypress, Amber

STONE HELPERS
Rose Quartz, Copper, Emerald, Selenite, Kunzite, Salt

THEMES FOR MEDITATION
How can I bring more pleasure into my life?
How does sexuality contribute to my vitality?
Thinking on all the ways I bring beauty into the world, list five things that are unique or beautiful about myself.
When I hear the phrase, “The Dance of Life” what does that make me think and feel?

Beltane Season Work

Spinning The Wheel weekly Podcast

Join me for my weekly romp through the Season’s astrology, holy days, and lunar work!

The Hierophant and The Empress Cards: Tarot for Beltane Season

Indicative of the energies we are interacting with at Beltane Season, the Hierophant and The Empress can teach us a lot about growing, and structuring growth.

However. A lot of people don’t like seeing the Hierophant card come up in readings, and there are a few reasons… we must reconcile that while this archetype is neutral at its heart like any other, it currently plays a role in our world that is, at best alienating and at worse, the smiling face of what some might call evil… Read more

Empress Card – Tarot Circle Livestream

This is an incredibly potent archetype to work with here in the green heart of Spring. For Pagans, Witches, Heathens, and anyone working with Springtime and Taurus Season altars, meditating on the symbolism of this card can be a pathway for developing a relationship to the energies of this season of surging growth. Watch here

Five of Pentacles – Everyday Living in the Minor Arcana

As we progress through Ostara, Beltane, and Spring, as we roll through Taurus season, we get an opportunity to work with the 5, 6, and 7 of Pentacles. There is a short list of cards that people are almost universally not happy to see, and the Five of Pentacles is definitely one of them. In the fives, we have arrived at our first real challenge on our adventure. The cards that come before this, the fours, talk about our decision to make “the thing” real, the thing being whatever our process is; getting a job, starting a relationship, changing a mental habit, examining our beliefs… Read more

Six of Pentacles Meaning – Everyday Living in the Minor Arcana

In the Six of Pentacles, the scene has improved from the Five of Pentacles, but only somewhat. The snow is gone from the ground at least, and the sky is simply grey and flat. But the city, where we get our fundamental understanding of how things work, is far off. We are a long way from home, leaning on the kindness of strangers. The two mendicants from the last scene are now sitting on the ground with their hands out in an asking or begging gesture. They are in better-looking rags, though one person, wearing faded yellow, still seems to have their head bandaged. People with bandaged heads come up a few times… Read more

Seven of Pentacles Meaning: Everyday Living in the Minor Arcana

What does the Seven of Pentacles mean?
It may not seem like it at first glance, but we are finally making some progress in the Seven of Pentacles. For example, we see a healthy-looking person in clean clothes. Compare this image to folks in the Five of Pentacles or Six of Pentacles. They look at a bush covered in growing coins, green leaves, and curling vines. The big green leaves let us know this system is healthy and functional. The curling tendrils imply a type of curiosity for the potentials inherent in the situation. In the Sevens, we are at a point where we take a moment to breathe, rest, and maybe even dream of what we could do with what we have managed to grow so far… Read more

Gemini Divine Twins Holy Couple

Gemini – Divine Twins/Holy Couple

As we move into the last four weeks of Beltane Season we encounter Gemini, the sign of The Divine Twins. We can find the concept of The Divine Twins around the world. It is a powerful concept that, like its astrological equivalent, Gemini, takes on many forms. The Twins are depicted as two beings. Men, women. A man and woman. Two figures with multiple genders, or are beyond gender. Moreover, they are often interchangeable, with interchangeable genders, roles, and powers… Read more