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Beltane - Beginning of Summer

(May 1, 2024)

Key Words: Expansion. Growth. Creativity. Vitality. Purification. 

Divine Marriage. Sacred Union
Beltane is one of the cross quarter days, the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It marks the light half of the year; the sun has been growing in warmth and strength since the balance point of the equinox, and the light, unmistakably, holds sway as the Wheel turns to summer. Fertility returns to the land and the tenderness of the spring season transforms before our eyes into the lush fullness of new life taking hold and thriving. The grass is greening, new flowers are blooming, it is the time of planting and the traditional return of cattle to the fields.
Beltane Fire Festival
Beltane means Bright Fire. At this festival, communities traditionally came together to celebrate the return of summer by casting off the darkness. The ritual fires were lit in communities as a symbol of the sun and for protection, purification, and the encouragement of new growth and life for the people, livestock, and crops. Hearthfires would be extinguished in the homes and later relit from the bonfire blazing on the nearest hill. People jumped over the bonfires to purify themselves, attract a partner, or attract luck. Farmers drove their cattle around and between the fires to cleanse and protect them before putting them back out into the fields.
The May Queen, The Green Man, May Poles, and Flowers
Traditionally, sabbat festivals were exuberant community events. Beltane is one of the most vibrant, filled with fires, music, dancing, eating and drinking, and a parade led by the May Queen and King. The May Queen represents the Spring Goddess, symbolic of nature, life, and new growth. Each year, a May Queen was chosen from the young women in the community, dressed in white for purity and hope, and adorned with flowers. Her duties included leading the May Day celebrations and  returning the following year to crown the new queen for the new Spring. The May Queen was ceremonially married to the May King as a symbolic joining of the fertile powers of the land. Her consort, the May King, is the Green Man. 
The Green Man is an ancient and elusive figure, a power of nature linked to spring renewal and fertility rites. He represents the resilience and unstoppable force of life of growing things in the natural world. The Green Man is about to vigorously rule the upcoming months until the Fall harvests when he will sacrifice himself for the sustenance of the people. 
Beltane honors the sacred marriage of the Goddess and God embodied by the May Queen and her consort. Their union is a time of celebration for the land, ensuring bounty, luck, and continuing life. This time of romance and young love spreads out to the community at large. Young women looking for love would rise early to wash their faces in the morning to make them beautiful and adorn themselves with flowers to help them find a mate. Young  men challenged themselves through physical contests to show off their prowess and capture the eyes and hearts of the young women. 
The May Pole, symbol of male fertility, has deep roots in European history. Initially, a tall tree was cut down from the woods and adorned with long strands of ribbon woven with flowers.  By the Middle Ages,  most villages had a permanent maypole in the center square; a tall wooden pole with long colorful ribbons attached. Communities danced around the pole entangling the ribbons in a stylized dance in which the interwoven ribbons would make elaborate patterns that connected the male symbol of fertility, the maypole, with the female symbol, flowers.
Faeries and the Thinning of the Veil
Like Samhain, Beltane is a time at which the door to the otherworld is open and the veil is thin enough for spirits to pass through. But, unlike Samhain, Beltane is a festival of the living and it is not the spirits of the departed but earth spirits of the Faery Realm who roam the lands and are deeply connected to the flourishing of the natural world. Faeries are mischievous and playful, and legends are full of fae creatures leading humans astray. Faeries are honored by leaving ritual gifts of milk, honey, or shiny objects, and by creating gardens and spaces for them to enjoy.
Traditional Associations:
Season: Summer
Colors: Green, red, blue, yellow
Crystals: Garnet, Fuchsite, Carnelian, Chalcopyrite, Eudialyte, Flower Agate
Incense: Rose, Ylang-ylang, Jasmine, Sandalwood
Astrological Sign: Taurus
Tarot Card: The Lovers
Tree: Hawthorn
Moon: The Flower Moon
Food and Drink: White wine, sweet breads, oats, cakes, goat meat and cheese, greens, honey
Plants & herbs: Daffodil, hawthorne, dandelion, meadowsweet, primrose, oak, rose, sweet woodruff
Traditional motifs: May Queen, Green Man, fire, maypole, flowers, ribbons 
Growth, Creativity, Vitality, Sacred Union
Consider: What have you planted that is emerging from fertile soil (literally and metaphorically). How are the divine masculine and feminine energies playing out in your life? Where is magic in your world? How can you honor it?
How to work with Beltane
Cleanse and purify your home
Open the windows and doors and let the spring air flow through your home with its cleansing and renewing breath.
Feel the power, magic, and healing of Fire
Actively participate in a fire festival
Hold your own fire festival using a hearthfire or candle.
Observe what is already emerging into new life. Just as the buds start to emerge through the ground, the intentions you set in the winter are emerging into life.
Go out into nature. Feel the warming air and softening ground. Open your senses to all the new life springing up around you.
Make a fairy garden to honor the spirits of the earth.
Visit or create a Clootie tree. Tying a ribbon to a Clootie Tree is an ancient tradition found throughout the world. Imprint your dreams and intentions into a cloth ribbon, tie it to a tree, and set the powers and magic of the earth and the winds release your dreams into the world where they can be blessed and find life.
Bring flowers into your home.
Gift flowers to your neighbors and loved ones.
Bake a Green Man Cake
2 ½ cups flour
¼ cup cornstarch
4tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
1tsp ground cloves
1 cup milk
3 eggs
½ tsp rum extract
1cup softened butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 packages cream cheese
 ½ cup softened butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1tsp vanilla
1 package white fondant
Green food coloring
Leaf shaped cutters
Preheat oven to 350 and prep round 8 x 2 inch cake pan
Mix dry ingredients together well in large bowl
Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and rum.
Add softened butter to the flour  mixture and beat until it forms a clumpy dough. Gradually add liquid, blending a little at a time.
Beat until smooth. Add brown sugar. Mix for another 30 seconds or so.
Scoop batter into the cake pan and bake for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool before removing from pan
Combine cream cheese and butter, mix well before adding the vanilla
Stir in confectioner’s sugar. Blend well. Spread evenly over the cake
Allow to sit for an hour or so to firm up
Roll out fondant then knead it into a ball.
Add green food coloring gradually until you are happy with the shade of green
Roll out fondant to about ⅛” thick.
Use leaf shaped cutter to cut out different sizes of leaves. Score lines to make them look like leafy veins
Roll two small pieces into balls for the eyes. Warning – fondant dries quickly so only use small pieces at a time.