I’ve got a lot of heart for Beltane. Earth’s fertility feels most tangible: She accessorizes with flirtatious first flowers and sticky buds, teases with the first tendrils of climbing vines. Her wild, showy reemergence tempts us beyond frail hope into courageous, playful, intimate relationship with what’s possible in our lives.
“At Beltane, your journey of soul is all about embracing the delicious, transformative energies of the wild world.”
Karen Clark, The Path of She: Book of Sabbats
A heap of lore surrounds Beltane; different cultures and traditions feature varied stories anchored in ancient lore.
In my tradition, Beltane is first and foremost a fire festival, so I’m more about the bonfire than the Maypole.
While I celebrate the return of the May Queen and her consort, the Green Man, my Beltane rituals especially reflect a sense of emerging magic, the return of the enchantment around me that I can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. For while winter has her delights and comforts, I am a witch who finds her magic in the woods, on water, at the creek bed, under trees, at the hedge, and on the trails.
The more I see life teeming–and faeries coming out of hibernation–around me, the more profoundly I am reminded that I, too, am alive, rich in possibility and full of desire.
It’s a good time to remember that you are sexy. (So easy to forget, amIright?) It’s a good time to remember feelings of playfulness, innocence, and not-so-innocence. It’s a perfect time to feel powerful, especially if you have been struggling with feelings of powerlessness.
It’s a good time to be alive–and to contemplate all that entails.
Because to be alive is to have the power to change the world.
In our space, Beltane delivers its magic inside and outside of the house. In the days around the night (April 30th and May 1st), we plant new flower seeds. While we may indulge a few edibles here and there, I prefer to focus on colorful flowers that will ignite my garden in a variety of hues and shapes. I sow the seeds of a summer feast for my eyes and the bees.
If we haven’t done so already, we also fill and put out our hummingbird feeders. Hummingbirds are masters at enjoying life’s simple pleasures. They drink the sweet nectar of existence and reflect gorgeous color and light. The hummingbirds in our neighborhood typically return on April 19th; we make sure their feeders are out and full at Beltane.
On the-night-of, I wrap messages, journal musings, and other wishes and things in colorful yarn for burning in the Beltane bonfire.
I also like to throw in a handful of dandelion flowers for the wishes still unwritten and unspoken.
To appease the fire-weary around us, we usually burn our fire in a modest fire pit. It keeps the flames contained and serves as a kind of cauldron for the magic happening within.
As we prepare for our feast, I sip chamomile and lavender tea. According to Ellen Dugan, chamomile offers comfort and patience; lavender, “devotion, success, and luck.” Their respective energies support, nurture, and encourage our preparations for the feast itself.
For our meal, we highlight several of the foods and food groups relevant for the celebration. In keeping with the festive nature of the sacred union between the May Queen and the Green Man, the return of the faeries, and the emerging abundance of the season, there are fresh vegetables, dairy, and some special treats.
Inevitably, lusty asparagus makes an appearance.
With its aphrodisiac reputation, suggestive shape, and green (hello, Green Man!) color, asparagus is a must.
For balance between the male and female aspects, try both asparagus and artichoke. The delicious flower of the artichoke makes a wonderful association for the blossoming feminine.
We’re particularly fond of both asparagus and artichoke with a cold dressing made of egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and avocado oil with a pinch of tarragon. A delicious hollandaise sauce would also be perfect for feasting on asparagus and/or artichoke at Beltane.
In keeping with the sweet, lusty, indulgent nature of the secret union, we do not mess around with dessert. This year, it will be honey and lavender creme brulee, a creamy, luscious ramekin of flavor and texture.
To toast, there is champagne with lavender syrup.
We make ours just for the occasion using the simple recipe below:
A sweet, simple syrup with the unmistakable flavor of lavender. Adds a special touch to foods, drinks, and desserts.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups organic sugar
- 2-3T culinary lavender
- Step 1 In a large pot, heat the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves but before the mixture boils.
- Step 2 Remove from heat and add the culinary lavender buds.
- Step 3 Cover immediately and steep for one hour or more.
- Step 4 Strain and chill.
- Step 5 Pour over ice cream, on top of fresh fruit salads, in the bottom of champagne cocktails.
If you’ve no time or lavender syrup and you engage spirits of the alcohol variety, you might entertain a cocktail with an elder flower liqueur. Ellen Dugan likes elder for “enchantment and good luck.” Raven Grimassi credits elder with “healing, prosperity, and protection.”
Lastly, no Beltane would be complete for me without a gift for the Fae.
For over 20 years, I have loved and leveraged Patricia Telesco’s fried honeycakes recipe.
These simple “fairy folk fritters” are delicious bites for us and wonderful treats for the faeries; we leave half the batch around the property as thanks to the wee folk. Oddly, the cakes left near the emerging lilies of the valley are typically the ones that disappear first…
Beltane is truly about an untamed lust for life. As Karen Clark plainly realizes,
At Beltane, life comes courting, gathering every one of us into its lover’s embrace.
As the wide, wild world begins to get its sexy on in earnest, I hope you have cause to feel passionate, beautiful, playful, appreciated, and celebrated.
It’s the perfect time to see the magic in yourself, remember your power, and ritualize your most compelling and relevant passions. Don’t play small.
This is a time of wild, ecstatic, sensual transformation.
Nature is inviting you to play, get on the dance floor, raise your arms, and say your name. She has her groove back. How’s yours? If you could use a little more disco in your step about now, let this Beltane be about turning up the volume and stepping out of the shadows.
Don’t leave Her waiting when She asks you to dance. Shake it!
You may find joy in dancing around the kitchen, delight in sensual indulgences, comfort in a deep, contemplative meditation, or inspiration in a catch-up conversation with a remote friend. However you find magic today, I send you blessings from our fire.
Bless and blessed be!