Friday May 1st is almost here, so we wanted once again to peel back the curtain and show you our personal ways to celebrate Beltane.
DISCLAIMER: Many items profiled in this article are sold in our shop at mysteriousdragonfyre.com. We recommend them because we use them regularly in our practice
Deity & Decoration
This festival of fire and fertility opens the doors to the worship of all manner of Gods and Goddessses, including Fire, Fertility, Nature, and Solar Deities, and there are many to chose from. We personally turn to the Egyptian pantheon at this time, worshiping and honoring Ra and Sekhmet.
You may feel the pull of the May Queen Herself, the Welsh Goddess Creiddylad, but if not, here's a (very) short list of other Deities you may feel inspired by right now: Artemis, Bacchus, Bel, Cernunnos, Demeter, Flora, The Green Man, Hera, Pan, and Sheela-na-Gig.
We certainly have a lot going on here! To honor the Fire festival, we have lots of Fire! Six taper candles in shades of yellow and green are woven into the spaces of our altar tile, three tealights, again in shades of yellow and green, and the main event, a fiery cauldron! Earth and Nature are represented by a richly coloured green altar cloth, a Flower of Life incense holder, salt in one of the chalices (family heirlooms I love to use), a clover plant and home made wreaths of spring flowers. It's still cold here in the GTA, so this was what I could gather from my own garden. Bird's feathers and green moss agates round out this category.
Goddess and God are heavily represented on our altar since this is also a fertility festival. Sticks of incense and tall taper candles represent the Male, while chalices and a cauldron represent the Female. In honor of The Great Rite, we have the phallic, masculine, Maypole surrounded by the feminine wreath, and the athame penetrating another floral wreath evoke the same symbolism.
There are many ways to decorate and personalize your altar for Beltane. Green is the traditional colour for altar cloths, but you can also use yellow or blue. Add as many candles as you like, along with acorns, antlers, bees, birds, braids, butterflies, Deity statues, horns, rings, seeds, spring flowers, statuettes of couples, sticks, and swords. Sprinkle some stones and crystals about, such as amber, carnelian, emerald, fire agate, and malachite. Lastly, add the wonderful scents of jasmine, peach, rose, ylang ylang, and vanilla incense.
Traditional & Modern Ways to Celebrate
Beltane is the perfect time of year to perform fertility and love spells. Indeed, all spellwork related to closeness and prosperity are powerful at this time of year, whether you perform them with the intention of bringing another person closer, communion with your chosen Gods and Goddesses, fertile crops, or financial prosperity.
We would be remiss to post a list of May Day activities without starting with the most popular and widely known: dancing around the Maypole. MarthaStewart.com has a simple step-by-step guide you can follow to make one of your very own. I would suggest a floral ring for the topper rather than a finial, in keeping with tradition. If you don't want to erect a large pole in your backyard, or you don't have access to one, make a Maypole centerpiece for your altar like we did!
Have a (safe!) backyard bonfire. Traditionally, the Celts put out all other fires and kindled a special, sacred fire. All the people in the community came out and jumped the fire to purify themselves and to bring fertility. They would also drive their farm animals through the smoke for the same reasons. Once the celebrations were over, everyone took some of the sacred fire home with them to restart their own fires.
Spend some nature time and dress a tree. Traditionally, hawthorn, rowan, and birch trees were decorated with ribbons at Beltane, but any tree you choose will be happy for your company. As you tie a ribbon onto a branch, make a wish or say a prayer. Once you're done, dance around the tree, sing to it, talk to it, and/or just sit at it's base and honor the tree and it's fertility.
Make a wreath or headdress of fresh spring flowers. That may be a little more difficult for those if us who are Canadian and are just starting to warm up, but this time of year has it's fair share of grape hyacinth and a few yellow daffodils showing off their bright colours in my front yard. A walk through your local wild space will net you some pretty foliage that you can use, or you can always use greenery and make a mask to honor The Green Man.
Delicious Things to Eat
Traditional foods to enjoy and share with friends and family during Beltane include: fresh baked bread, honey, oats (bannocks, oatmeal, oat cakes, oatmeal cookies), and dairy (creams and cheeses). Here are a few of our favorite recipes for you to try out.
Strawberry Oatmeal Crisp
1 cup uncooked rolled oat flakes
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup butter
½ cup white sugar
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
*Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8" square pan with parchment paper.
*Mix together oatmeal, nuts, flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly.
*In another bowl, mix together strawberries and white sugar.
*Spread half the oat mixture on bottom and cover with strawberries, then spread remaining oat mixture over top.
*Bake for 60 minutes. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Oat Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup + 2 tbsp softened butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1½ tsp vanilla
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2½ cups oat flour
1 cup chocolate chips
*Cream the butter with the sugars then mix in the egg and vanilla until smooth.
*Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, mix until well combined, then stir into the wet ingredients and fold in the chocolate chips.
*Refrigerate 2-6 hours.
*Spoon onto baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown
Asparagus & Goat Cheese Quiche
½ (15-oz.) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 small bunch fresh asparagus spears, ends trimmed
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large leek, thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
4 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
*Preheat oven to 400°F.
*Prepare the crust: Roll the pie dough to 1⁄8-inch thickness, and transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press dough into bottom and up sides of pan, and trim excess dough around edges. Line bottom of dough with aluminum foil (or parchment paper), and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 5 minutes. Remove pie weights and foil, and prick bottom of pastry evenly with a fork. Return to oven; bake until pastry is light golden brown, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; cool crust completely, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
*Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Set aside 6 or 7 whole asparagus spears, and cut remaining asparagus into 1⁄2-inch pieces. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high. Add leek, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in asparagus pieces, and cook, stirring often, until bright green, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat; cool vegetable mixture 5 minutes.
*Whisk together eggs, cream, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Transfer cooled crust to a baking sheet. Spoon vegetable mixture over the bottom of the crust, and sprinkle evenly with crumbled goat cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable-goat cheese mixture. Arrange the reserved whole asparagus spears on top.
*Bake quiche at 350°F until center is just set, 50 to 55 minutes, shielding crust with aluminum foil after 10 minutes, if needed, to prevent excess browning. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool at least 15 minutes. Remove quiche from pan, and garnish with parsley leaves before serving.
Thank you for spending some of your time with me.
I wish you a blessed Beltane!