May Day, the celebration of Summer.
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Beltane in Modern Wicca
The center of most Wiccan celebrations is the dance around the Maypole, with accompanying
enactments of the courtship chase of Maiden and Bright Lord and perhaps a ritual jumping
of a small Bel-fire for luck and fulfillment.
Fires for this purpose might be made by burning kindling within an iron cauldron. Couples
often jump the fire together.
The Maypole Dance is not only fun, but is also a weaving of magick for the fertility and
fulfillment of hopes, wishes and personal intents for the season ahead. You need a long and
sturdy pole, firmly anchored. Some use tall dead tree trunks still rooted in the ground and
kept for Maypole use. Permanent structures are not always possible though. There are some
temporary poles you can use that are there for everyday use, just look around. I have a
neighbor that has a regular flag pole in his front yard. If anyone has a flag pole it would
work perfectly. Think about what you have around the house or in your yard and you will
come up with something. You will need to be able to attach ribbons to the top and decorate it
with flowers. The ribbons need to be long enough that each end can be held out at a distance
at least the length of the pole and give each person enough room to wind the ribbons and
dance around the Maypole.
When all participants are standing around the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon, count
off alternately one and two around the circle. Then have all the ones turn to face deosil
(clockwise) and all the twos turn to face widdershins (counter clockwise). They will proceed
in those directions as the dancing begins.
Instruct the Ones to first lift their ribbons and the Twos to duck under then alternate. As
the dance continues, the two groups of dancers, moving in opposite directions, alternately
pass their ribbons over and approaching dancer and then duck under the ribbon of the next
Dancers are to visualize as they move, what they wish to weave into their lives for the
season ahead. Above them on the pole, the ribbons weave. At the beginning of the dance, the
May Queen takes the flower garland she has been wearing on her head and rests it on the
top of the Maypole sitting on the ribbons. As the ribbons weave together down the Maypole,
the garland gradually descends with another act symbolic of the sacred marriage of Maiden
and Bright Lord, Earth and Sun, with all the hope and promise for the future that it inspires.
Drumming accompaniment inspires especially good energy for the dancing. The dancers may
also chant as they dance. Here is one possibility from the Beltane ritual from The Witches
Weave, Weave, it is our fate we weave
By choice, not chance, with love and will
It is our fate we weave.
As the weaving progresses down the bottom half of the pole, the dance progressively more
challenging. Especially for we Crones and Sages who are less agile than the young. It is
usually accompanied by quite a bit of laughter, until finally the High Priestess calls the dance
complete. The ends of the ribbons are tied off in a festoon at the end of the weaving.
The woven ribbons will later slip right off the pole in a pretty cylinder pattern. Like all
magickal charms, once their time is ended they should be ritually released. An appropriate
time and method would be in a bonfire for Fall Equinox or Samhain.
|Crowns of Flowers
Of all Wiccan rites, Beltane is the one most likely to find many, it not all women
crowned with wreaths of flowers. These can be fun to make, either as permanent
wreaths of silk flowers or if enough fresh flowers are in bloom in your yard, a
fresh flower crown.
The base for fresh flower garlands might be vines or supple branches of flowering
shrubs that can be formed into a circlet and bound with floral tape, light wire or
twine. Extra flowers can easily be woven into the circlet.
For a wreath of silk flowers, start with a circlet of ivy or leaf garland. Cut a piece
long enough to form a circle that fits your head nicely with just a bit to spare so you
can wire the ends together. This will give you a good base of leaves and vines into
which you can easily insert a variety of silk flowers, securing them with a bit of
floral tape where necessary. A cascade of narrow ribbons tied at the back makes a
|Wiccan Handfasting at Beltane
Traditionally a rite of the sacred marriage of Earth and Sun so necessary
for fertility and abundance in the season of growth, is also an especially
popular time for Wiccan handfastings.
A coven Beltane rite might include the handfasting of a couple. It may
also be a legal marriage ceremony, but is not necessarily so. Sometimes a
handfasting is a commitment made for "a year and a day", perhaps
preliminary to a full commitment. Wiccan couples who do marry legally,
whether at Beltane or at another time, usually prefer a ceremony that
incorporates the ancient handfasting tradition.
At the central part of a handfasting rite, the couple join hands to be
bound with cords as they are questioned about their intentions toward
each other. At the end of the questioning, a series of cords are lightly
draped around their clasp hands. The couple must then gather the cords
and tie them into a big knot at the center. In this manner, they have
"tied the knot".
When the rite has ended, the couple, hands held with their cords inside
run around the circle and jump a broom laid on the ground in emulation of
an ancient folk method of sealing a marriage. In some modern day
handfasting rites, a broom and a sword are laid on the ground in a cross
to be jumped. The broom symbolic of the woman's dominion over the
home and hearth. The Sword symbolic of the man's role to protect her
and their home.
Got the urge to grow your very own Witch's garden? Beltane is a great time of
the year to start your herbal magick off with a real kick. Gather your plants,
seeds and gardening supplies, bless the plants for luxuriant growth, gorgeous
blooms, and healthy foliage.
This charm will work for any size or style of garden. Sit or stand within the
garden, or next to the new flowers and plants. Then hold your hands out, palms
turned up, and repeat the charm. Call on the Lord and the Lady to assist you. At
this time of the year their passionate energy will flow into all living things. If
you plant your herbs and flowers at the start of May, whisper this Garden
Witch's charm on Beltane day,
"I enchant these green plants for power and magick true,
Lord and Lady bless my herb-craft, and all that I do."
After the charm is complete, turn your hands over and visualize all that magick
flowing from your hands and into the garden plants.
Happy magickal gardening!
All 'Magic' changed to Magick to fit the Wiccan spelling.
From Llewellyn's Witches' datebook 2006
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Last updated 4-25-15.