Beltane – May Day
Beltane is seen by some to be one of the most important festivals on the Pagan wheel of the year and is one of the four fire festivals – it’s certainly one of the most fun! The Pagan festival of Beltane is traditionally held around the 1st of May, about halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice (the longest day) around the 21st June.
One of the Fire Festivals
For Pagans, Beltane represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. The Earth energies are at their strongest – new life is bursting forth everywhere. Fertility and sexuality of all life and the earth is at it’s peak now! There are many traditions from this most ancient of festivals that we still participate in today, without even realising their pagan links! The light is now strong enough and bright enough to begin to reach into all of the corners of our lives, it is a fire festival, full of energy, movement and passion and is associated with new life, love, and sensuality!. The energy that we felt ignited at Ostara, as the light came into balance with the dark, now takes on a feeling of expansiveness. We feel ourselves unfurling and reaching towards the light as we become attuned to the lushness of nature that is exploding all around us with new growth. The weather is warmer, we joyfully stretch and turn our faces towards the sun. This is a time for fun and frivolity, for abandonment, for getting immersed into nature. Time to reconnect with our inner child, be open to the magic of the natural world! As a fire festival, it is also one of transformation – fire is cleansing, destroying the old to prepare the way for new growth.
The May Pole
All over the country May Day fairs are held with children dancing around the Maypole – this was actually to encourage fertile harvests. The pole is a phallic symbol representing the potency of the God and the ring of flowers atop the pole representing the fertile Goddess! The many coloured ribbons and the weaving dance symbolising the spiral of life and the union of the God and Goddess.
As a fertility festival, Beltane was (and still is) a traditional time for pagan weddings to happen – called Handfastings. My husband and I chose Beltane to have our Handfasting. Traditionally, the couple could commit themselves for “a year and a day”, after which the couple could walk away with no recriminations if they so choose. Today the length of commitment is personal choice.
The act of handfasting involves the binding of the couple’s hands with a handfasting ribbon – this is where the saying “tying the knot” comes from. It is often traditional for the bride to make the ribbon (I made mine!). At some point in the ceremony the hands are untied, which symbolises that the couple chose to come together and remain together of their own free will.
Another important element of the Handfasting is the “jumping the broomstick.” Once again, an ancient custom, where the broomstick marks a threshold, symbolising moving from an old life to a new one. Our ancestors held equality in much higher esteem, this custom was replaced in later years by the husband carrying the wife over the threshold… much more a symbol of ownership, rather than equality!
Mead and cakes are shared with the guests at a Handfasting. Mead is known as the brew of the Gods and seen as Divine. It is made from honey, which was seen as a gift from the gods (there is much myth and legend around bees) and is the oldest alcoholic drink known to man!
Whether they were getting handfasted or not, our ancestors were a lusty lot at this time of year! The days were warming, the scarcity of food from over the Winter was beginning to lesson as fields were planted and lambs had been born. Both the young and the old went “A-Maying.” Couples spent the night in the woods and fields, getting up to all sorts of frisky shenanigans! They brought back armfuls of the May (Hawthorn) blossoms to decorate their homes and barns with. The blossoms were to ensure luck and fertility for their crops, animals and the coming year. This is the only time of the year that you can bring Hawthorn into the house as it is considered a fairy tree, and unlucky to bring it into the home at any other time of the year. Everyone was free to enact the Sacred Marriage of the Goddess and the God, and there was an accepted tradition of Beltane babies arriving the following February – to coincide with Imbolc!
Morris Men And Dancing Up The Sun On May Day Morning
All over the country at the crack of dawn, come rain or shine, Morris Men, those iconic traditional British folk dancers, get up and “Dance up the Sun.” They danced in a bid to ensure we have good weather for the coming May Day celebrations and the harvests!
The May Tree
The May tree, or Hawthorn, is a sacred tree to many pagans and has an affinity with the Fae (the Fairies) and magic. It is one of the most beautiful sights of the British countryside to see the hedgerows brimming with the May blossom. There is much ancient lore and mythology surrounding the May tree. To cut one down is said to incur the wrath of the Fairies.
One of the old traditions that young maidens used to do was to awake at dawn on the 1st of May and bathe their faces in the dew gathered on the Hawthorn flowers to ensure their beauty for the rest of the year! For more info on the Magical May Tree check out my Hawthorn Herbal Healer blog and my latest YouTube video!
One of the Goddesses Associated with May Day / Beltane
Artwork by Selina Fenech https://selinafenech.com/
Blodeuwedd is a Welsh Goddess associated with May Day.
Blodeuwedd (pronunciation: bluh DIE weth [“th” as in “weather”]) is the Welsh Goddess of spring created from flowers, and the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, son of Arianrhod and is a central figure in Welsh mythology. In the late Christianized myth, She was created by the great magicians Math and Gwydion, Lleu’s uncles, to be Lleu’s mate, in response to a curse pronounced by his Mother that he would never have a wife from any race then on the Earth. They fashioned Blodeuwedd from nine types of blossom–oak, meadowsweet, broom, cockle, bean, nettle, chestnut, primrose, and hawthorn–and breathed life into Her. Lleu however was not a good husband, and left her alone for many a day, and so she fell in love with a passing huntsman. She and Her lover Gronw Pebyr plotted against her husband, killing the invulnerable Lleu by tricking him into the only pose in which he could be harmed. Blodeuwedd was punished for this by being transformed by the Uncles into the night-bird, the owl, though She kept Her name–in Welsh, blodeuwedd, meaning “Flower-face”, is a name for the owl.
She is the white Goddess of Death and Life in Her May-aspect, and part of a triad consisting of Arianrhod (virgin), Blodeuwedd (lover), and Cerridwen (crone).
She represents temporary beauty and the bright blooming that must come full circle through death: She is the promise of autumn visible in spring. She is portrayed as being a betrayer, but to me that is wrong, she came into her own power and refused to be the meek subservient wife that she was “created” to be. Blodeuwedd is independant, feisty and rebellious – she was not going to be told who she should be wed to, she followed her heart to be with the man she loved! She represents fully the Maiden, Mother and Crone aspects of the Goddess, the Maiden, as she was created in the spring from the flowers, the Mother as she chose her own lover at Beltane, associated with the Spring and Summer, and then the Crone, as she became transformed into the night owl, signifying the transformation into our wise woman form, and associated with the dark half of the year, the Autumn and Winter.
A Simple Solitary Beltane Goddess Ritual
As the flowers begin to bloom and the birds begin to sing their melodic mating calls, this is a sacred time of manifesting new beginnings, especially related to love, marriage, children and abundance.
Naturally, there are many beautiful goddesses associated with this sacred day. Just a few include: Wild huntress Artemis, mother, queen and magician Isis, sensual Aphrodite, magical Rhiannon, primal creatress Shakti, patron goddess of marriage Hera, flower queen Flora, lover and warrior Freya, and Mayan fertility goddess Xochiquetzal, ( cho – kee – ketz – al ) and feisty rebellious Welsh goddess Blodeuwedd.
For us women, this is a time of honouring and celebrating our beauty, fertility (at any age as fertility is not just the physical act, but also is our creativity), sexuality, sensuality, connection to nature and ability to be a sacred vessel for the divine. This is a time of healing and releasing any shame and guilt around our bodies and sexuality, a time for revering ourselves and all of life’s natural pleasures.
It is a time to reclaim and rejoice in being sensual, being women, being alive.
Here are two Goddess rituals and a special prayer to embrace all the gifts of this day:
Immerse Yourself in Flowers:
Buy fresh cut flowers, plant seeds for new ones in pots or your garden, drink a flower petal tea, take a flower petal bath, place flower petals all over your home, make a garland, wear a floral perfume or oil blend. In any way you wish and can, let flowers fill your day. On May 1st, get up at dawn, bathe your face in the morning dew (this will bring beauty to you for the whole year!), bring in the May blossom (with the fairies permission) to place on your altar.
Burn Your Old Story:
Write a letter of all the negative, old struggles you are ready to release. Reflect on any patterns, habits or challenges that came up during the winter months. At the end of your letter, write a releasing intention like this one:
“Dear God-Goddess and my Higher Self, I now release all these patterns to you for healing, purification and transmutation. I am free. I am blessed. So it is.”
Safely burn the letter in a fireproof pot / cauldron and surrender its ashes to the earth.
Invoke the Goddesses:
This is a beautiful time to honour the Goddesses within and around you. Start by creating a Goddess alter. Place an offering of flowers, fruits, and anything that represents fertility, sexuality, creativity and the Goddess to you on this alter.
Then, say this or any other prayer that comes from your heart to honour the sacred feminine gifts of Beltane:
Dear Artemis, make my aim clear and true, let me run free and wild like you.
Dear Isis, help me heal my deepest wounds and create my life anew.
Dear Aphrodite, let me embrace my body as my temple, and enjoy life’s sweetest pleasures.
Dear Rhiannon, let me awaken my magic and wisdom, that I may be the queen of my kingdom.
Dear Shakti, awaken your primal power within me, and rise in bliss within and through me.
Dear Hera, bless me in sacred union with my beloved, on earth as we dwell already in the spiritual realm.
Dear Flora, crown me with a garland of flowers, and bless me with beauty in all hours.
Dear Freya, help me know that it is safe and right for me to be lavished and ravished.
Dear Xochiquetza , (cho -kee – ketz – al ) help me conceive, nurture and birth every dream within my heart.
And Dear Blodeuwedd, grant me the gift of independence, the right to have my own free will, and the wisdom to know that all faces and ages of the Goddess are beautiful and Divine.
Enjoy the rest of your day with time in nature, dancing with friends, eating delicious fresh food and giving thanks for all the blessings you have, and all those to come.
Give thanks for being a woman, and a living goddess.
April 2020 marks one of the most unusual Beltane celebrations of my generation, and probably that the world has ever seen. With the world paralysed by the Covid-19 Coronavirus situation, we are not able to celebrate Beltane in the social gatherings that we would normally participate in – Beltane fairs and fetes, watching the Morris dancers, the Maypole dancing, gathering with friends and family to celebrate handfasting’s, or just socially around the Beltane fire for feasting and fun. But we can still go out into nature, to connect with the Green Man and the May Queen, the fairies and nature elementals. We can have small fires in our gardens, many of us have fire pits and chimineas now – make a special meal and sit with the family who are in your home. Thanks to modern technology, we are able to connect with one another though apps like Zoom, and FaceTime, so we can have virtual online parties and celebrations. This event has brought many of us to a standstill, allowing us the time to connect more with nature, our gardens and local parks and woodland, to downscale. It also is truly transformative! …we have really been forced to stop, go within, learn new skills, connect in ways we had never thought of before. None of us will come out of the other side of this exactly the same people as we went in. Lets harness the energies of the season, the Goddess and the Green Man – lets stir the cauldron of creativity, and come bursting out of the other side filled with awe and wonder, a new found love and respect of each other, and Nature.
Beltane is a time of new life, nature is blooming and is at her most spectacular, so bring some of the flowers that are in the garden inside. Create a Beltane altar, with flowers, and colours that represent the season, vibrant greens, yellows, and orange, use crystals and images that represent fun, love, whatever you feel you want to place there that represents the joy, passion and abundance of the season, maybe visual representations of the May Queen Goddess, or The Green Man. Light a candle to represent the fire that transforms, that clears away the old to bring in the new, think about the things you wish to manifest into your life, to grow and nurture over the coming summer months. Write a list of all the things that no longer serve you, that you wish to leave behind you, and burn them (safely in a fire proof dish), returning the ashes into Mother Earth to be absorbed and transformed. Have a dance to celebrate, to ground, bang a drum and make music to drive out the last of the darkness, to send a blessing to Mother Earth and all living things! Be kind to one another, and be kind to this beautiful Earth home..plant a garden, grow food, grow grow grow!!!
There’s no getting away from it, Beltane is about fertility, passion and sex! If you are at home with a partner, take an intimate bath, light candles and fill it with flower petals, give each other a massage – take time to appreciate each other, the simple pleasures of being together and connect with the energies of the Goddess and The Green Man. If you are on your own, you can still honour your body, have a beautiful sensual bath, spend time massaging your favourite body cream on, have a pampering session and give thanks that you are well, vibrant and healthy, a perfect living embodiment of the Goddess or the God. (see the solitary Goddess ritual above)
My Online Beltane Offerings
With us all being asked to socially isolate, I can’t work at the moment in the way I am used to. I have had to get creative with what I can bring to people.
Every week I am offering a free live guided meditation on Facebook. This week, Thursday 30th April at 1.15pm I will be doing a Beltane themed one; which will be available to watch afterwards on my Facebook page and my YouTube channel if you can’t make it for the live.
Beginners Meditation Course and Personalised Guided Meditations
The guided visualisations and meditations that I am offering for free on Facebook can only do so much, they are great at relaxing, grounding and calming you in that moment, but my beginners meditation course teaches you so much more! We learn many different types of breathing techniques, mindfulness techniques, and I give you meditation scripts to take away. This is much more personalised and gives you the tools to be able to meditate effectively on your own, without the need for someone else guiding you. I normally run this course once a week over a period of 5 weeks for an investment of £50, face to face, and online the cost is £40 for the 5 sessions, which will be held over Zoom, with any resources sent to you via email. This course is not just for beginners, but is also for those of you who have done meditation before, even experienced meditators, who feel they want to refresh their techniques and add some new tools to their toolbox!
I am also offering personalised guided visualisation meditations. You tell me the scenario you would like me to talk you through, for example, a woodland walk for relaxation, a mountain climb for focus etc, with or without background sounds, and I will send you a recording. For an investment of £8.
Distant Healing – Reiki – Self Massage Tutorials
As part of my online 1 to 1 healing sessions, I can talk through essential oils that you can buy that are tailored to your requirements, as well as give you a tutorial on self massage, either feet and legs, hand and arms, face and scalp… or all of them! This can be included as part of a meditation, and reiki healing session, where I set up a personalised crystal healing grid, draw on guided oracle cards, and send reiki healing to you or as a stand alone appointment. This could be done either by Zoom or WhatsApp or just by arranging a mutual time and connecting in with each other. I am also experimenting with the option of doing this one to one through a private Facebook group so that I can use sound, singing bowls, tuning forks, and shamanic drumming, as sound travels better this way. These sessions are being offered at a price of £20 for 30 mins (30 mins being the average). I am going to offer these sessions on a sliding scale. If you are not working, then I will give a session free, or for a donation if you can afford it. If you are earning 80% of your wages then I ask for 80% of the cost, and if you are still earning a full time wage then full payment please. Obviously this is all based on trust.
I am still able to offer all the mentoring that I can do via Zoom, at a reduced fee of £25 per hour. We can go through anything that you feel is useful from refreshing your therapy skills (if you are already qualified in the modality) to showing you how to use zoom and other online social media platforms. I’m certainly no expert at the online stuff, but have had a lot of practice at it now!
Holistic Therapy Training
Most of the holistic therapies I offer require hands on practical face to face training, but if there are any of my courses that you are interested in and would like to put a deposit down or start a payment plan for, I am happy to send out the manuals and go through the theory side of the training with you via Zoom. I can however teach Aromatherapy Blending as a stand alone online course, without the practical hand and foot massage element, which will give you an accredited validated qualification. You will learn about the properties of, and how to mix and blend, 20 of the most popular essential oils, to enhance your own and your family’s health, wellbeing and your environment. You will be given a full course manual with detailed charts and explanations, as well as learning how to make your own room spray, oil blend, lotion blend, and aroma inhaler stick. Usual price of the course is £190 but I am offering this as an online course for £130, with the option to add the practical half day hand and foot massage training on at a later date if you wish to, when we are able to do so in person for a price of £60. This course is open to anyone and anatomy and physiology is not a requirement.
Reiki Training – Levels 1 – Initiate, 2 – Practitioner, and 3 – Master Teacher
More than ever we will need healing, and healers!
In Reiki, we learn healing and reiki is all about intention and connection, and so, although I have always taught my reiki courses face to face, these times are challenging us to think outside our usual remits of what we have usually done, to be flexible and open to all possibilities. I truly believe that what is happening to the world and to humanity is that we are raising our vibration and moving into the 5th dimension from the 3rd dimension. We know that reiki knows no past present or future and that time is nonlinear. I know that distant healing and using energy remotely is very powerful, and so I am offering my reiki courses online and in two parts. Part one will be as an online Zoom video link. I like to keep all my classes small, and this will not change with online teaching, so there will be a maximum of 4 students. As long as you have a stable internet connection I will be able to deliver the course content this way, we will all be able to connect, and you will receive your attunements individually remotely in personal 1 to 1 sessions. This will be a full day training, minimum of 6 hours, plus a break for lunch. Part 2 will take place once the coronavirus is over, and we can all meet face to face. It will be held in my beautiful cabin in Bedford, for the concluding attunements so we can meet and practice together in person. This second part will be another full day.
I have several Reiki courses already booked for this year – hopefully we will be out of lockdown before then and they will go ahead as scheduled, but in the event we are not or if you would like to do your Reiki training sooner, then please contact me. More information on the remaining courses booked for this year can be found on the links below:
End of Life Skills Training – Online via Zoom at a reduced rate
In these frightening and uncertain times, all of us will be touched by this virus, and sadly many of us will be accompanying loved ones as they die. I run small informal workshops aimed at anyone who may be caring for someone at the end of their lives – and that is ALL OF US!! Whether that be in a professional role or for a loved one, this course will give you the confidence to take back some control in what is a very difficult situation. These days are filled with laughter, tears, the sharing of stories along with practical hands on skills and sign posting that will empower people to support and give gentle holistic care to someone who is at the end of their life so that they may have a peaceful death. As long as you have a stable internet connection we can still run this day via Zoom, I will keep the numbers small so we can fully engage with one another. While we are in the grip of this virus, traumatically, many people are not able to be with their loved ones as they die, so we will explore ways together that we can support people.
Each workshop is different, and evolves to what the people attending need to get from it. Some of the things we will cover on the day are;
- Becoming comfortable talking about death and dying
- Learning Comfort Touch Massage
- Creating a peaceful and loving space around the bedside
- The stages of dying
- Signposting – practicalities and legalities
Talking about the fear that we may be feeling at this time and how we can help our loved ones at the end of life if we can’t be there physically.
I have a workshop already scheduled for the 15th June, which will be held online if social distancing restrictions are still in place, but if you would like to book the course for sooner or would like to talk to me about anything connected with this subject please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I am happy to listen and support you if I can. And please don’t let finances be a stumbling block – I’m sure we can work something out.
A course manual and certificate of attendance will be given. More information can be found on the Soul Midwife page of the website. http://www.aurorastar.co.uk/soul-midwife
CANCELLATION POLICY: No cancellations or transfers after booking. If your place can be filled, you may be eligible for a refund minus a £5 admin fee.
Beltane Blessings everyone, stay connected,
Love Sam XXX