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Beltane Lore

Beltane Lore 

Also known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again. Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds!

The beginning of summer heralds an important time, for the winter is a difficult journey and weariness and disheartenment set in, personally one is tired down to the soul. In times past the food stocks were low; variety was a distant memory. The drab non-color of winter’s end perfectly represents the dullness and fatigue that permeates on so many levels to this day. We need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out for the renewal of summer jubilation.

Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.

Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying”. Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring.
As Beltane marks this handfasting (wedding) of the Goddess and God, it too marks the reawakening of the earth’s fertility in its fullest. This is the union between the Great Mother and her Young Consort, this coupling brings new life on earth. It is on a Spiritual level, the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness. On the physical, it is the union of the Earth and Sun to bring about the fruitfulness of the growing season.

A wonderful reference for any sabbat Ritual is the book “A Year of Ritual” By Sandra Kynes.


All fertility, flower, song & dance, hunting, and virgin-mother Goddesses; Aphrodite (Greek), Artemis (Greek), Belili (Sumerian), Bloddeuwedd (Welsh), Cybele (Greek), Damara (English), Danu (Irish), Diana (Greek), Fand (Manx-Irish), Flidais (Irish), Flora (Roman), Frigg/Freya (Norse), Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian), Rhea (Greek), Rhiannon (Welsh), Venus (Roman).

All fertility, love, hunting, and young father Gods; Baal (Phoenician), Bel (Sumerian), Cernunnos (Celtic), Cupid (Roman), Eros (Greek), Faunus (Roman), Frey (Norse), The Great Horned God (European), Herne (English), Orion (Greek), Pan (Greek)


Youthful exuburance, sensuality, pleasure, crop blessings, creative endeavors.

Traditional Foods

Dairy foods, foods made with flowers, red fruits such as strawberries and cherries, green herbal salads, red or pink wine punch, maybowl (an icebowl decorated with spring flowers and filled with maywine), large round oatmeal or barley cakes (known as Beltane cakes or Bannocks), shellfish and other aphrodisiacs.


May Wine

1 bottle of white wine (German is ideal)
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
12 sprigs of woodruff, fresh

Pour wine into a wide mouth jar or carafe. Add the sliced strawberries and woodruff, and let sit for an hour or more. Strain and serve chilled.

Strawberry Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
red and green food coloring

Cream the sugar and shortening until fluffy, on medium speed if using an electronic mixer. Beat in egg, milk, zest, and extract. Sift flour and powder together in a bowl and gradually add to the other mix. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350:F. Half dough and put the other half back in the fridge. Form dough into flattened balls and roll to 1/8 inch on a floured surface. Using strawberry-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies, and cut out little indentations like strawberry seeds if desired.

Put 1 tablespoon of water into each of two dishes and add a few drops of each color of food coloring. Paint the cookies with a paintbrush using the colors, making the body of the strawberry red and the stem and leaves green. Bake them on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes, then cool on racks. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.

Yield: 5 dozen

Herbs and Flowers

Rose, elder, mugwort, mint, lily of the valley, foxglove, broom, hawthorne, almond, angelica, bluebells, daisy, marigold, frankincense, lilac, yellow cowslips, thyme.


Use lilac, passion flower, rose or vanilla. These can be used alone or blended as you like.

Incense Recipe – by Scott Cunningham

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 rituals on Beltane or May Day for fortune & favors & to attune with the changing of the seasons.


Emerald, malachite, carnelian, amber, sapphire, rose quartz.

Altar Decorations

Altars are generally adorned with seasonal flowers. Other appropriate altar decorations for the season include mirrors, a small May pole, phallic-shaped candles to represent fertility, and daisy chains.

Ideas and Activities

  • Arise at dawn and wash in the morning dew: the woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful; the man who washes his hands will be skilled with knots and nets.
  • If you live near water, make a garland or posy of spring flowers and cast it into stream, lake or river to bless the water spirits.
  • Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill, then give it to one in need of caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend.
  • Beltane is one of the three “spirit-nights” of the year when the faeries can be seen. At dusk, twist a rowan sprig into a ring and look through it, and you may see them.
  • Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck-but make sure you tie up long skirts first!
  • Make a May bowl, wine or punch in which the flowers of sweet woodruff or other fragrant blossoms are soaked and drink with the one you love.

May Eve

Walpurgis Night, the time is right,
The ancient powers awake.
So dance and sing, around the ring,
And Beltane magic make.

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

New life we see, in flower and tree,
And summer comes again.
Be free and fair, like earth and air,
The sunshine and the rain.

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.
This magic fire be our desire
To tread the pagan way,
And our true will find and fulfil,
As dawns a brighter day.

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

The pagan powers this night be ours,
Let all the world be free,
And sorrows cast into the past,
And future blessed be!

Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We’ll merry meet, and summer greet,
For ever and a day.

 Doreen Valiente
“Witchcraft For Tomorrow”, pp. 192-193