Tending to Your Inner Fire for Beltane
The warmth of fiery Beltane is nearly upon us, and this year (2022), with the addition of a new moon in Taurus with a solar eclipse! It’s sure to be an intense and exciting Sabbat. Beltane has always been one of my favorite seasonal celebrations. I always find that its energy is palpable in the air. There’s such celebratory energy to this season, which I feel like we could all use a bit more of right now. I know I certainly can!
Beltane, also called May Day, is one of our cross-quarter celebrations between the solar celebrations of the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, Beltane falls on April 30 and May 1 and on October 31 and November 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. In contrast, others may observe more traditional practices of honoring Beltane after the local Hawthorn trees flower.
Listen to this episode on my podcast, Rooting into Wholeness here.
You’ll learn more about Beltane, its history, common correspondences, tips for connecting with Bel, a God associated with this season, and rituals to honor this season and tend to your inner fire.
What is Beltane
For many, Beltane is one of the most important celebrations on the Wheel of the Year. It is our crescendo of energy before the Summer Solstice. Beltane is opposite of Samhain on our seasonal wheel and therefore carries similar but unique energy. Much like Samhain, the veil between the physical and spirit worlds is thin at this time, making it an ideal time for magical workings, connecting with other realms, and energetic protection. In Celtic beliefs, Beltane welcomes the onset of Summer and the light half of the year, where the sun reigns supreme.
From an earthly perspective, Beltane ushers in a surge of growth and energy to plant life as the warmth and length of sunlight grow each day. For our ancestors, there was a special focus on pastoral animals like cattle at this time. Fire is a central theme for this season, and it was common practice to pass cattle through two large bonfires. The sacred smoke from these bonfires was thought to ensure a successful growing season for livestock. Fire and the ashes from these fires were used in various ways, both historically and to this day.
Amidst all this season has to offer, there’s also a thread of pleasure, sensuality, and union that weaves throughout. Within the lore associated with Beltane, it is at this time that the Solar or Horned God, in his prime energy, unites with the Goddess of the land in her maiden phase. Together they reign over the growing season. Beyond the myths associated with this season, it’s easy to see these themes of union and sexuality within the reproduction amidst wildlife and explosion of growth.
Honoring Fire and Bel
Much of this season is about honoring and cultivating energy and vitality, themes very much associated with fire. The sun and the earth are in their peak growth phase leading up to the Summer Solstice. Like all of the Sabbats, Beltane is an invitation to notice what’s happening in the earth and the cosmos and to observe how those themes are showing up in our own lives and communities.
With little written history to go off of, the use of bonfires around this season is something we know has happened for a very long time. Here’s an excerpt from Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Beltane by Melanie Marquis that illustrates this.
The Beltaine fires were believed to have magical properties. Their flames, glowing embers, ashes, and smoke were all believed capable of granting health and protection. In the Isle of Man, the people invited the smoke of the bonfires to blow over themselves and their cattle, believing that this would ensure their mutual vitality. Once the fires died down, the ashes were sprinkled over the crops to increase the earth’s fertility.Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Beltane by Melanie Marquis
The use of fire and smoke for ritual practice is something we can lean into today, and many do.
Most attribute the name Beltane to the Celtic God named Bel, Belinus, or Belenos and suggest that the name Beltane means “fires of Bel.” Bel is a well-known God in the Celtic pantheon, honored throughout the British Isles and even in France and Italy. Stories and even the spelling of Bel’s name vary widely, likely because he was so widespread. However, he’s become synonymous with this season, and many associated him with fire and the sun.
Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite books about the Wheel of The Year, The Magical Year, by one of my teachers, Danu Forest, expressing the power of connecting with the power of fire or the God Bel during this season.
In honoring the festival of Beltane, we draw this fresh virile energy into our lives, a time when, according to Irish myth, the gods arrived in the mortal world, literally infusing physical matter with divinity. At Beltane, we can reinvigorate our lives with this divine current. We can also tune into this time of duality and sacred union to honor our hearts and the romantic and sexual energies in our lives.The Magical Year by Danu Forest
I’ll share rituals later in this post with suggestions for connecting with fire and Bel and ways to expand your vitality through pleasure, another common theme for this season.
I also want to share something I’ve struggled with because I suspect some of you may have struggled with this too. I don’t often share about Gods here, which is something I’ve personally grappled with within my practice. As someone who grew up in a Christian household and has had negative experiences with Christianity and the idea of a “father God,” I’ve struggled with connecting with different Gods in my practice.
I’ve started to dip my toe into this by invoking the God and Goddess as elemental energies (air and fire for the God and water and earth for the Goddess) rather than human-like forms. As I’ve become more comfortable with this, I’ve started to learn more about some of the Gods in the Celtic pantheon and have started to journey to them.
All this to say, if you don’t resonate with Gods or Goddesses, it isn’t a prerequisite to having a spiritual practice in line with your heritage. If connecting with the element of fire rather than the God Belinus at this time feels better, that is great. Regardless of where you land on connecting with Gods and Goddesses, I find that understanding some of the mythology associated with each season allows a more complete understanding of the Sabbats.
Let’s explore common correspondences for the season of Beltane.
Understanding the correspondences of each season brings in so many additional layers. It also empowers you to craft your own rituals each season. As always, if there are seasonal things unique to your environment, add that to your list of correspondences for the season.
Themes: Pleasure, fertility, expansion, growth, sensuality, action, magick, creativity
Colors: Red, orange, yellow, green
Moon phase: waxing gibbous
Herbs & Plants: hawthorn, rose, honeysuckle, lilac, angelica, any local flowers blooming in your area
Crystals: Carnelian, garnet, ruby, orange calcite, protective crystals like black tourmaline
Foods: Fresh herbs, edible flowers, dairy products, cakes (especially as fairy offerings)
Tools & items: Candles, bonfire, statues or symbols of the God and Goddess, symbols of fertility, Maypole, protective tools and symbols, fairy offerings
Elements: Fire, earth
Cardinal direction: Southeast
Runes: Berkano, Algiz, Rhaido
Ogham: Oak (Duir), Hawthorn (Huathe)
Tarot card: The Lovers, Knight of Wands, Page of Pentacles
Goddess: Bel or Belinus, Green Man, Danu, any earth Goddess, any Sun God
These correspondences largely come from my book, Understanding the Wheel of the Year. If you’re looking for a simple guide for each Sabbat, you can get it here.
Rituals for Beltane
Beltane is a rich season with many associations, so there are several ways to honor this powerful season. As always, I like to remind you that rituals are not necessary for any of the Sabbats and that sometimes the best ritual is to simply be outside. I encourage you to honor your capacity and do what calls to you the most. Furthermore, each Sabbat is a season! You can weave these rituals into your practice anytime between May 1 and the Summer Solstice. Here are three ways to connect with and honor the season of Beltane.
It’s hard not to talk about faeries for Beltane! With the thinning veil at this time, the fae, or faeries, are said to be more active during Beltane. I’m not talking about the Tinkerbell-type fairies here! Faeries in Celtic lore are a different race of beings living amidst humans in a different realm. Though often portrayed as cute and helpful, some think they are better left alone. The fae are often seen as tricksters who don’t always have our highest good in mind, so it’s important to be mindful of them around this time and possibly even leave an offering for them. You can learn more about the fae and how to connect with them in this last post that I shared in 2021.
It’s common to give offerings to the fae during this season to connect with them or keep them happy, so they don’t play tricks on you. Your offering can be unique to you. Common offerings include small cakes, cheese, a glass of milk, herbs like thyme, rosemary, yarrow, or heather, anything small and cute, or perhaps you even feel compelled to craft a little faerie garden. Place your offering on your altar, outside at a special location, or both.
As discussed, fire is an integral part of Beltane. We see this mimicked with the connection to the Celtic God, Bel, and the use of bonfires during this season. Here are some ways to work with fire for Beltane, regardless of whether or not you have access to a bonfire. You can make this as simple or ritualized as you’d like depending on the time you have to dedicate to working with this ritual suggestion.
- A source of fire, which could be a bonfire, fireplace, or a burning candle
- Herbs or wood that correspond to the season or is personally significant to you
- Match, lighter, or more traditional tool to light your fire
1. Prepare your items and take some time to connect inward. Notice your breath and body. If it is in your practice to cast a circle, call the quarters, or call in any protective allies, you can do that now. You may even consider calling in the God Belinus to be a part of your ritual.
2. Light your fire or your candle. At the same time, you may choose to recite an invocation that feels meaningful to you. Here is an example, “I light this fire to honor and connect with the healing and protective fires of the season” or “With this fire I call upon Bel for wisdom and vitality.” Beltane fires are traditionally lit with friction. If this is accessible to you and you know how to do this, that’s great. I encourage you to do so! If it is not, that is okay too.
3. Spend 5-30 minutes sitting and connecting with your fire or candle flame.
4. When you’re ready to move on, add your sacred wood or herbs to the fire. If you are using a candle, you can use a cauldron to assist with burning your herbs or wood. Ask the smoke to cleanse you and bring healing.
5. Spend some more time connecting with your fire. Here are a couple of options.
If you have questions you’d like assistance with, consider asking the fire. Notice how the fire or flame responds after you ask it questions. Does it seem to flicker and dance or remain still? Does it move towards you or away from you? Try to lean into your intuition to decipher messages from the fire.
Alternatively or in addition, you can connect with the fire to cultivate more energy and virility. Visualize the intensity of the fire connecting with your solar plexus area. Ask the fire to aid you in bringing in more energy and virility. Imagine your solar plexus area expanding with each breath you take. Stay here for as long as you’d like.
6. When you feel ready to end this ritual, thank the spirit of fire and any allies you called in for connecting with you and sharing their wisdom and energy. As much as is possible, allow your fire or candle to burn out on its own. If this is not possible, you can snuff it out. Never leave your fire or a candle unattended!
7. Optional: if you burned a larger fire, consider saving these special ashes to sprinkle over your garden, in your houseplants, or for use in future rituals.
There’s no shortage of pleasure and sensuality amidst this season. Beltane occurs during Taurus season, which offers a potent overlap of energies. Taurus, ruled by the planet of love, Venus, revels in physical luxuries and sensuality. We can see these same themes mirrored in the growing earth at this time, with flowers blooming, animals reproducing, and plants growing. Handfasting and weddings were and still are common occurrences during this season as well. Regardless of what your love life looks like, pleasure is something that can be cultivated with others or solo, and this is a great time to do so!
In a world that often frowns upon sexual liberation, I view this season as one of reclamation for all things related to pleasure and sexuality. However, this isn’t just about lust and sex, though it can be. Pleasure and sexuality are powerful creative energies that can be used for positive change. Cultivating pleasure can be just as much about feeling more embodied and alive.
How often do you let yourself feel good? Furthermore, how often do you cultivate feelings of pleasure? This season is an invitation to do just that. If feelings of shame or that you’re undeserving come up, I encourage you to explore that too. Like every seasonal Sabbat, they are an opportunity to explore these themes from all angles and may stir up opportunities to explore your shadow more deeply. Here are some simple ways to honor pleasure this season. Feel free to pick and choose, try several simultaneously (my preference!), or come up with your own ideas.
- Wear clothes that make you feel good
- Pamper yourself with a luxurious bath
- Indulge in foods that bring you joy
- Place items in your house that invoke a sense of pleasure, like flowers or candles
- Swap massages with a partner or give yourself a self-massage
- Engage in sexual activities with a partner or yourself
- Wear or use scents in your living space that invoke feelings of pleasure
- Move your body in sensual ways through dance
Bring in some magic to any suggestions listed above by lighting an orange or red spell candle or incorporating seductive scents like rose or cinnamon. Notice how you feel after engaging in pleasurable activities like those listed above. Does it give you more energy? Does it inspire more creativity?
I hope you feel better able to honor this special time of year! Find card spread suggestions, rituals, journal prompts, and more for each Sabbat in my book Understanding the Wheel of the Year. You can also read past posts about Beltane by clicking here. Beltane blessings!
Categorised in: Beltane, Cassie Uhl, Rituals, Wheel of the Year, Witchcraft
Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.