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Forums -> General Info -> Beltane

Beltane
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Post # 1
History

Beltane( spelled variously Bealtaine, Bhealtyainn, Bealtuinn and similar) is Opposite Samhain, as one of the main turning points of the year. April 30 marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. The Pagan celebrate the symbol of her fertility in ritual.

Beltane (also known as May Day) has long been marked with feasts and rituals.

Maypoles, supremely phallic symbols, were the focal point of old English village rituals. Many people rose at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens, using them to decorate the Maypole, their homes and themselves. The flowers and greenery symbolize the Goddess, and the Maypole the God. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion and hopes consummated. Maypoles are used by Pagans today during Beltane rituals, but the cauldron is a more common focal point of ceremony. It represents, of course, the Goddess-the essence of womanhood, the end of all desire, the equal but opposite of the Maypole, symbolic of the God. Any spring flower, especially the rose, is a symbol of Beltane. Beltane is the time to appreciate and accept the love and affection in your life given by a partner or even by the Lord and the Lady. Like Ostara, it may even be considered a time to dwell on new beginnings, new concepts or new ideas that have just been impregnated.

Correspondence table

Foods of Beltane:
May Wine is served on May Day. In Germany, May Wine is the quintessential summer drink. It is usually flavored with Sweet Woodruff (Waldmeister or Maikraut), perhaps because it improves the taste of thin, new wine. May wine is also the name for any wine punch flavored with herbs, fruits, berries and occasionally flowers. To make May wine, pick sweet woodruff that does not have open blossoms the day before you want to serve the wine. The herb has more flavor when slightly dry. Tie the stems of a bunch with cotton thread and hang it in a bottle of wine so the leaves are covered. After ten or fifteen minutes, remove the woodruff. I have seen other recipes for May Wine that tell you to leave the woodruff in the wine for days, even weeks. However, woodruff contains coumarin, a substance similar to coumadin which is prescribed to thin blood for people suffering from clots. Also too much can cause a headache, so it is best to use only enough to flavor the wine. Woodruff can also be used in the same way to flavor milk or apple juice. The traditional Mai Bowle also has strawberries in it.

The Seven Virtues:
In Abruzzo, a special minestrone called Le sette virtu is made on May Day from all the leftovers in the larder. It contains seven kinds of leftover dried pasta, seven kinds of dried beans, stock made from seven types of preserved leftovers of pig (such as the feet), seven kinds of fresh vegetables (including artichokes, fennel and fava beans) and seven fresh herbs. In Fruili and Piedmont, the dish to eat on May 1st is frittatta primaverile Verde alle sette erbe, a fritatta flavored with sage, parsley, thyme, basil, mint, marjoram and a bitter herb known as amarella. This must be a very old tradition for on Nawruz, Persian New Year, which coincides with the spring equinox, Iranians serve seven dishes which start with S. This is also the time when Kabbalists spend seven weeks studying the seven attributes of God represented in the Kabbalah. Create your own tradition of a meal based on the number seven.

Symbols
Many pagans represent Beltane with fresh flowers all around and a cauldron filled with flowers. All of the following flowers are symbolic of Beltane: roses, bluebells, marigolds, daisies, primroses and lilac. Mirrors are also appropriate. Altar decorations may also include a small Maypole or phallic-shaped candle and a daisy chain. Plaiting and weaving straw, creating in wicker and making baskets and fabrics are traditional arts. Other symbols are the traditional full-sized Maypole (about 10 feet tall), May baskets, crossroads, eggs, butter churns and chalices.

Gemstones Sapphires, bloodstones, emeralds, orange carnelians and rose quartz.

Gods and goddesses
All virgin-mother goddesses, all young father gods and all gods and goddesses of the hunt, of love and of fertility. Some Beltane goddesses to mention by name include Aphrodite, Arianrhod, Ariel, Artemis, Astarte, Cybele, Diana, Freya, Rhiannon, Shiela-na-gig, Skadi, Var, Venus and Xochiquetzal. Beltane gods include Apollo, Bacchus, Bel/Belanos, Cernunnos, Cupid/Eros, Faunus, Frey, the Great Horned God, Herne, Odin, Orion, Pan, Puck and Robin Goodfellow.

Customs and myths
Wrapping the Maypole is a Beltane tradition. In the old days, the Maypole was often made from a communal pine tree decorated at Yule, with most branches removed for Beltane. In some traditions, the ribbons around the top are red and white; the white can represent the Virgin Goddess and the red the Sun God, or the white the Maiden and the red the Mother. The participants dance around the Maypole with the ribbons -- the males holding the red and the females holding the white. As they dance, they intertwine the ribbons to form a symbolic birth canal around the phallic pole, representing the union of the Goddess and God. Many Pagans choose this time to perform their own handfastings; others hold that the Goddess frowns on marriage in this month. Another great choice would be the next Sabbat at the Summer Solstice.

The Great Rite, jumping the balefire, blowing horns and gathering flowers are other Beltane traditions. Solitary practitioners might weave ribbons as an alternative to dancing around the Maypole. It is considered taboo to give away fire or food on this day.

Herbs
Almond, angelica, ash trees, birch trees, bluebells, cinquefoil, daisies, frankincense, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, marigolds, primroses, rosemary, roses, satyrion root, woodruff and yellow cowslip.

Colors:

White: A balance of all colors. Symbolizes peace, purity, innocence, and power of higher nature.

Green: The color that connects to nature, fertility, and rejuvenation.

Rainbow: Represents the wonderful colors of all the flowers of this season.

Incense:
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Woodruff
1 part Rose Petals
A few drops Jasmine oil
A few drops Neroli oil

Burn during Wiccan/Pagan rituals on Beltane (April 30th) or on May Day for fortune and favors and to attune with the changing of the seasons.

Pathworking:
Take a holiday walk. As you move through the area you?ve chosen, think of how you move through life. Observe the nature scene around you, and breathe deeply of the spring air. Plan your own special way to celebrate this holiday, either on our own or with a partner.

Take a ritual bath. Splurge on a fresh rose or two, and scatter the petals on the water. Add a few sprinkles of salt, for purifying. Light candles, and burn a favorite incense. Rub your body with oil, and caress all the parts, giving special attention to those areas you have previously judged yourself by. Remember that the Goddess and God made you the way you are, right now, for a reason. Let yourself see yourself as desirable. Enjoy yourself in any way you feel inclined to, and when the bath is over and the water is draining away, let any judgments, doubts, or fears you hold about yourself slide down the drain with the water.

Purchase or pick some fresh flowers, and bring them into your personal space. Tell yourself they are a gift to you, from you. You deserve them.

Go shopping for ritual garb, make your own, or do some sketches of what you think you might like. Be sure to smudge and bless the garment if you buy something. You can also just go window shopping for these items, as well as for ritual jewelry. Just getting an idea of what you might like is good---and you can make or purchase your ritual garb and jewelry a little at a time.

Decorations

Make Your Own May Pole

You can make your own small tabletop version of the May Pole, this apparently ancient pagan agricultural symbol around which much festivity and dancing ensues. Most agricultural cultures seem to have similar institutions.

Needed:

Paper Towel Roll
Paint
Cardboard
Ribbon or streamers
Tape
Scissors
Flowers (optional)

Paint the paper towel roll a bright color and let it dry. Tape one end of the painted roll onto a small piece of cardboard so it stands up straight. Wrap colorful ribbon around the roll and secure with tape. Cut lengths of ribbon or streamer to hang on the outside of your May Pole. The ribbon pieces should be just a little longer than the roll. Going around the roll, tape one end of each ribbon length to the inside top edge of the roll. If you like, decorate the top of your May Pole with flowers.

Make a Faerie Chair
Some people believe that Faeries inhabit their flower gardens. If you think you've got friendly Fae out there, this craft project is a great way to get kids into gardening at the beginning of spring. You'll need the following items:

An old wooden chair

Some primer paint

Exterior paint in your favorite Faerie color(s)

Polyurethane or sealant

Seeds for a climbing flower, such as morning glory or clematis
A sunny spot in your garden

To make this cute outdoor project, start by applying a coat of primer paint to the chair. It's really easiest if this is in white or another light color. Next, apply a coat of your favorite Fae-attracting color -- pastels look very pretty, such as lavenders or sunny yellows. Decorate the chair with designs in acrylic paints if you like. Once the paint has dried, apply a coat or two of polyurethane to protect the chair from the elements.

Find a sunny spot in your garden, and loosen the soil a bit. Place the chair where you want it, but be sure that it's the right spot, because it's going to become a permanent fixture. Once the chair is in place, plant seeds around the base of the chair, just a few inches away from the legs.

Water the soil each day, and as your climbing plants appear, twine the vines up through the legs of the chair and around it. Pretty soon, you'll have a chair covered with leafy greens and bright flowers. It's the perfect place for your kids to spot a Faerie!
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