Beltane celebrates the beginning of Summer on ancient calendars, and marks the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Spring has sprung, and Summer is on its way.
Beltane is a celebration of Love and the Life blooming and ripening from Spring, which promises an abundant, fertile Summer and a good Autumn harvest.
Given the Great Shift that's underway from head to heart, now is as good a time as any to recommit (or commit for the first time) to being more and more heart-centered.
It's also a time of releasing that which may have collected or grown stagnant over the Winter (seasonally or life-cycle). It's a time of purification and clearing out 'dead wood' and things that are no longer growing to make room for what has Life.
This brings to mind what the Sufi's call "polishing the mirror of the heart," so that we're able to see and hear through the heart -- an intention common to most (and possibly all) spiritual traditions.
How could you not celebrate and love Life and Nature when, after a long, dark, hard Winter, you look around at the fertile blooms of Spring emerging everywhere?
This is where Nature, as always, is giving us clues ... and plentiful inspiration.
Beltane literally translates into 'fire of Bel', which referred to the name given the power of returning Light -- the solar force, and the fire that kept people warm, cooked food, provided light, and served as a force for inspiration and transformation.
We might also see it as a 'return of the Fire within' -- whether our heart-and-soul-centered passion for life and purpose, or a renewal of the Divine Spark within. Perhaps they're more related than we might think?
The ancients had a deeper appreciation for these things, and a richer connection to the cycles of Life and the causes for celebration and deep gratitude. They celebrated things that we have learned to take for granted.
At Beltane, ancients celebrated all of these things, in all of their manifestations. They feasted, danced, sang, celebrated, made love, collected flowers, and rejoiced at Life. Since sex had not yet been demonized and repressed by the Church, such celebrations also included a celebration and expression of sexuality, joyful and healthy, since it too was a pathway for enjoying and creating Life.
So what are the Beltane themes? Life, love, joy, fertility, greening, generosity, beauty, renewal. Yum.
Celebrating May Day through Beltane
* Dance, even if it's by yourself (or maybe particularly when you're by yourself, dance and laugh with wild abandon, giving the proverbial finger to the "You shouldn't do that!" voices!)
* Drum and make music
* Listen to music that makes you joyful and makes you smile
* Start a mantra practice - there are mantras that help clear out the funk, and mantras that help open your heart, fan the joy, and raise your vibration
* Feast - prepare a meal using fresh, locally grown food; consider having a potlach dinner with friends, savoring the flavors, Life, laughter, and community
* Plant a tree or other plant in your garden, yard, or indoor 'urban garden'
* Tend your plants and garden
* Collect a bouquet of herbs and flowers, or appreciate those that grow wild
* Contemplate your appreciation for Life - rejoice in how Life expresses itself around you and within you
* Meditate on plants emerging from the soils of Winter, and blooming richly.
* Light red, orange, green, and yellow candles to symbolize the solar force, Light, Life, illumination, and transformative force of Fire that takes us from 'seed' or idea into 'Earthly manifestation'
* Walk in Nature and draw or journal the ways that Life amazes you
* Attune to your senses as you move through the day, walk in Nature, eat your food, etc. Beltane, as with many ancient festivals, celebrates sensuality -- sense awareness
* Enjoy sacred sexuality with your beloved, celebrating the Divine Lifeforce that is in all things as it moves within and between you
* Take a good look at what's growing in your life, and what has run its course and no longer feels alive. Reflect, journal, and brainstorm how you can give more of your energy to what has life, and gracefully bless and release what is no longer growing.
Enjoy, rejoice, laugh, dance, be merry and well!
Image Credit: From the U.S. National Arboretum