Where It’s At

Beltane, dancing ’round maypoles and fire

Wed, 04/27/2022 - 12:30pm

Ah, spring is here … trees are budding, daffodils, tulips, crocus and hyacinth, Mother Nature’s spirit-lifting spot color on her canvas of greening earth. This weekend, April 30-May 1, is a time known to many all over the world as Beltane.

Even if you’re not familiar with Beltane, you are familiar with facets of its celebration, in particular, the Maypole. Usually made of birch, it is topped with a wreath of spring flowers from which ribbons of red (passion, vitality), green (growth, fertility, earth), white (cleansing, dispersing negativity), and silver (traditional color for the goddess) and blue (sky and sea) are hung, one ring of color close inside and another group of ribbons atop them.

The Maypole Dance weaves the colors together, symbolic of the union of god and goddess, the spiral of life and the union of earth and sky. Dances include the Grand Chain, Spider Web, and Gypsies Tent. Check them out on You Tube. There are some wonderful Morris Dancing videos, too.

Do you have a hawthorn, rowan (also known as Mountain Ash) or birch tree in your yard? All three are sacred to those who practice Druidry, Wicca, Witchcraft, and others. Sit down next to one and ask the tree spirit to come out or speak to the spirit as you talk and walk or dance around it.

It’s a great time to fashion a new besom (witch’s broom).  You can never have too many … the handle could be oak, ash, willow, or birch. The bristles, birch. Now, it is usually best to cut the woods a year in advance to season – you don’t want your broom to lose its bristles the first time you use it! Or, maybe you are making one to use purely as decoration, in which case, skip the seasoning. Do remember to ask and thank the tree for its branches. An offering is always a nice respectful action – how about a small pour of wine, or fertilized water and food? There are many fine besom-making tutorials on You Tube.

This is a fire festival – fire pits and bonfires will be ablaze symbolizing the sun’s strength regained. There is nothing so liberating like dancing around a Beltane fire! And when there’s a full moon ... ooh la la! 

Dancing begins ’round a maypole and continues ’round a Beltane fire. If you play a musical instrument, bring it to the party and play around the Beltane fire. Play pagan tunes for the occasion on Pandora or You Tube or play your own CDs and records outside. Recite poetry. Sing. Enjoy feeling alive!

The fey (fairy) are waking from their long winter naps now and are in dire need for fun and a wee bit of mischief. A nice welcome back gesture might be setting out a small dish of cream with edible silver or gold sprinkles floating on top; or add a few raspberries, too. And, just between us … they never say no to wine or mead (just like us)!

Beltane is the day the god and goddess wed. Their union brings forth the energy of creation, the rebirth of the earth for planting food, for feeding the animals in the wild … It is a powerful day of love, growth, warmth and joy. Many pagans choose to marry, or handfast, on this day.

Feast on breads; mixed greens with fruit, seeds and nuts; oysters, figs ... eggs, fruits served with mead and/or wine. 

The magic of Beltane is in the air. It arrives at dusk this Saturday, April 30 and continues through to dusk on Sunday, May 1. So put on your favorite frock and stock up on your favorite mead (Hannaford has a nice selection – top shelf; and there’s always Fat Friar Meadery in Newcastle). Ring up your friends and spend the weekend in celebration of life, of nature, of love, and the spirit of the season. Cheers! And, Blessed Be.