Honouring the Wheel- Student Article

Honouring the Wheel of the Year: Beltain May 1st

Fay Johnstone

It’s such a joy to connect with Mother Earth and give thanks for her generous bounty especially at this time of year when the promise of Summer is in the air. Holding a ritual or ceremony to celebrate the season is a great way to do this and strengthen your connection with the Earth at the same time.

Beltain is the festival of Fertility, a time to celebrate the sacredness of love and sexual union and deep connections of the heart. It is the gateway to Summer. On the wheel of the year it sits opposite Samhain (also known as Halloween) which is a time when we honour the dead, so now the opposite is true, it is the time to honour life. Just look around you at the abundance of green, trees have new fresh leaves they may be even blossoming, birds are singing. The evidence of life is bountiful at this time and this fertile energy is everywhere.

earth

You don’t need to be a follower of a specific spiritual path to appreciate or experience a sense of this energy at this time of year and there are no right or wrong ways to hold a ceremony. Here are some ideas for creating a Beltain Ritual.

  • Gather alone or with a group of friends on the last full moon of the month of April/early May.
  • Gather branches and greenery and create a Green Man to represent the spirit of the Green Kingdom.
  • Build an impressive camp fire – this is key to a celebration like this. Gather your wood with the intention of bringing healing energies and fertility to the celebration.
  • Wear green to honour Mother Earth
  • Make and then wear simple natural headdresses woven from branches of willow and decorated with flowers.
  • Create your sacred space with the fire at the centre. You may like to smudge with sage or other purifying herb like hyssop.
  • Honour the directions E, S, W and N as well as Father sky, Mother Earth and your spirit within. You might like to do this by simply turning to face each direction and welcoming it to your ceremony or you can use a rattle or drum.
  • Open the circle with a prayer of intent, this can be something simple like “as we gather here by the light of full moon at Beltain, we honour and give thanks to Mother Earth and reach out to her for love and guidance. We welcome beings of light, nature spirits and spirit guides who are here with us tonight  and trust that we will receive and learn from their wisdom”.
  •  Use a talking stick, stone or feather to pass around the circle so that everyone present can share their thoughts and intentions.
  • Share love poems and songs
  • Play music or drum to energise the ceremony and encourage dancing.
  • Enter into quiet meditation time to connect with the fertile energy of Beltain, this can be to the beat of the drum if someone is willing.
  • Examine what you are currently manifesting, will it lead to the harvest you wish for? How can you help the abundance? If you don’t like the way things are headed for you, now is the time to nurture new seeds for growth. Envision your desires. You may like to focus on your heart chakra. You may like to focus on the balance of female and male energy within you or your relationships.
  • Make a wish to Venus if you can find the planet in the sky
  • Dance around a May Pole if you have made one.
  • Jump the fire, this is an old tradition and should be carried out when the fire has died down a bit. Take turns jumping over the fire shouting out loud what you wish to leave behind. Couples can jump holding hands together to pledge themselves to each other for the following year.
  • Close the ceremony by coming together, you may like to pass around the talking stick to give everyone an opportunity to share their experience. Give thanks to the directions and the guiding spirits. Say a prayer if you feel like it or sing a song which embodies the spirit of Beltain.
  • Make wonderful herbal infusions, beer or wine to using the local herbs that are in season around you. Bless your food and drink and share your feast.

They key point with all festivals and ceremonies like this is that they are celebrations. So relax, have fun and get creative because that’s what the essence of Beltain is all about.

To learn more about the Wheel of the Year, I suggest reading: Earth Wisdom by Glennie Kindred or The Celtic Druid’s Year: Seasonal cycles of the Ancient Celts by John King.

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