"Its May, its May, the lusty
month of May...."
"Its May, its May, the lusty month of May...."
That line from a song from the musical Camelot pretty much sums it up.
May Day. Time to dance around the maypole and go off into the woods
to...um...gather flowers. Yeah, thats what all those couples are
going into the woods for, to gather flowers. Funny how they all seem
to lose them on the way back.
Beltane is one of the fire festivals, celebrating the beginning of
summer and the beginning of planting season. The rituals at this time
had a lot to do with fertility, fertility of the Earth mainly. The success
of the crops meant the difference between surviving the long winter
or facing starvation. Using symbolic rites of fertility were meant to
ensure fertility of the crops. If the May Queen became pregnant from
the night's activities, that meant the Gods have blessed the town with
fertile fields. If many young girls became pregnant, they viewed it
as a sign of a successful crop. And more children meant the town itself
Now, Im not telling you to grab a partner and go at it. This
is a different world today and unfortunately sex is not always safe.
We also are not as connected to the success of our crops, which is sad
really. When we celebrate Beltane these days we acknowledge the passionate
vibes in the air but the fertility we celebrate is not always something
tangible. It can be about a new project or career move. It can be about
a new idea that needs sharing. Anything your mind can "give birth"
to needs to be nurtured and this is the time to symbolically fertilize
it. Wait, that didnt come out right : )
A good way to become connected to this energy is to work with plants.
If you have room to plant a garden or space for flowers, get out there
and work that soil. As you prepare the soil, think of the change of
season, how the ground that was frozen only a month ago is now soft
and squishy from the rain. Notice the color of the soil, is it a deep
brown of rich soil, is it reddish from iron (like in the UP), or is
it a light sandy color. When you plant your seeds or seedlings, ask
the Earth Mother to bless them and/or the Green Man to watch over them.
You could bury a crystal in your garden as an offering or gift. Green
fluorite, moss agate, or tree agate are good choices as these stones
benefit plants. As you work, enjoy the spring air and notice the beauty
As I stated in the last newsletter, I do not use chemicals on my lawn.
While picking dandelions for our ritual, I noticed another plant in
my lawn. It is a deep blueish green color with small purple flowers.
And there is another yellow weed growing that is really
pretty. This might be hawk weed as I know that grows in my yard too.
Too many people are concerned with the greenest, healthiest lawn and
they kill these wonderful plants. If it were not for community rules,
I would let an area of my lawn grow all year without cutting to enjoy
these plants. If possible, do not use any form of weed killer on your
lawn. Not only is this poison, but the wildflower and plants of Michigan
have rights too!
Another custom at this time is to visit holy wells and leave an offering
while asking for health and healing. No holy well in your area? Create
one. Fill your cauldron with water and bless it in the name of Bridget
or your favorite healing Goddess. Decorate the outside with flowers
in Her honor. When the well is completed, you can then drop a coin or
small stone in while asking for health and/or healing in the coming
year. This is a great thing to do as part of your Beltane gathering.
Be sure you have enough coins or stones, or let everyone know to bring
one. Make it part of the ritual, having each person walk around it 3
times while whispering their desire and then dropping the offering in.
Sometime after the ceremony, pour the cauldron water into moving water
like a stream or into a lake if possible. If not, use it to water your
garden. Let the offerings fall where they may. Or, if you do not want
a bunch of coins in your garden, let them dry and then hand them out
at your next ritual gathering as blessed coins to bring health for the
When you drop the offering in the well, you can say a small spell if
you like. Make up your own or use this one from A Year of Ritual
by Sandra Kynes:
"Holy well, enchanted land,
Take this coin from my hand,
With my wish now set free,
Make it real, so mote it be."
Look at the Pretty Fire
This is a fire festival so of course, you need to incorporate fire
into your festivities. For those of you lucky enough to be able to
have a bonfire you have it covered. If forced to be inside then you
need plenty of candles (while being aware about candle safety). If
you have a cast iron cauldron or other heat proof container, you can
create an indoor fire. All you need is rubbing alcohol. What is cool
is rubbing alcohol will produce blue flames. Not all blue, but some
blue ones will appear. I found a reference to using equal parts rubbing
alcohol and Epson salts to create a blue flame but in my experience,
either way you get a mix of blue and normal flames. Last night at
our ritual we experimented with salt substitute and rubbing alcohol
to create purple/violet flames. You need salt substitute which contains
potassium chloride (which is also water softener salt) or potassium
chloride and potassium bitartrate. While I have not had a problem
with the rubbing alcohol or Epson salts, the salt substitute combo
will set off your smoke detectors so be warned.
A half cup of rubbing alcohol will give you a good 15 minutes of flame.
Do not fill the cauldron or container! When using Epson salts
I used equal amounts. When we used the salt substitute I put a tablespoon
salt substitute into a half cup of rubbing alcohol. This burns very
hot so the container will need to cool before it can be moved and make
sure no one touches it.
Again, safety is key. Nothing ruins a good ritual like having to explain
to the nice firemen why you are all in robes and carrying knives. Be
sure your cauldron or container is on a heat proof surface. I have found
the feet on my cauldron create enough air space so that no real heat
goes to the table but I still have a trivet under it. If your container
does not have feet but touches the table/altar you might want to try
this set up. Take two bricks place them on your table/altar, horizontally
not vertically. Place a trivet or other heat proof surface on top of
the bricks. Place your cauldron on top of that.
Be absolutely sure nothing flammable is near your cauldron. Keep yourself
and others at a distance from it, absolutely no standing over it or
peeking into the container as the fire sometimes will flare up. If you
have long flowing sleeves and are going to light it, hold your sleeve
back with your other hand as it lights quick.
Have a safe and fertile (wink, wink) Beltane!