so may it be
Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.
On Beltane Eve fires are lit on hillsides to welcome the summer and to ensure a bountiful harvest and fertility for the clan. Druids would lead the people and animals between the fires as a purification ritual. Many would jump over the fire or circle it three times to honor the Horned God.
Couples would often pair up and spend the night together in the greening woods on this night when time stands still and the veil between the worlds is the thinnest 1. Marriage vows were suspended for the month of May commencing again on June 1st as June brides once again.
In the morning the revelers would return to the village where they would be given breakfast by those who had remained behind.
Daytime celebrations included the dance of the Maypole which represents the Phallus of the Horned God within the Earth Goddess. After the dance, couples would retire to the new-plowed fields to again make love to ensure the fertility of the land.
Beltane (pronounced bell tane) is the cross-quarter celebration falling halfway between Ostara, on the Spring Equinox and MidSummer's Eve, on the Summer Solstice. It is celebrated on Mayday, May 1st, to as late as May twelfth or the night of the full moon nearest May 1st. 2
Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors. Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within. On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it. Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.
Beltane Cake Ritual and Recipe:
This is a Scottish Beltane custom. A knobby cake made with oats or barley, milk and eggs is baked in a round shape. The group stands in a circle facing the Bel fire. As they pass the cake each breaks off a knob or piece and throws it over their shoulder saying "This I give to thee ______(naming an elemental spirit of preservation or destruction). Preserve my ______." An example from the old days is "This I give to thee O Fox Preserve my chickens." Today one might say, "This I give to you economy. Preserve my bank account." Here are a couple of versions of Beltane cake, based on oats, milk and eggs. I have successfully substituted Rice Dream and soy margarine for a dairy-free version. Also since Beltane is a festival of Belenus a Sun God, and a celebration of the rites of love, I use cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Cinnamon is associated with the Sun and has long been used in love spells. Cloves are also popular in love spells. Ginger is associated with the Moon and has been used to win the affection of women. Thus as the Goddess and God come together at Beltane, so the Sun and Moon are joined in the cake.
Beltane Cake I
In a saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of milk with 1-cup oats, 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Cook until thickened. Let stand until room temperature. Mix in 2 cups brown sugar, 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla. Add 1 1/3 cup unbleached white flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, tsp. Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. Ginger and 1/2 tsp. cloves. Bake in a well-greased 9X13 pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes up clean. Top of cake may be decorated with powdered sugar. This cake is even better if baked the day before it is eaten. After cooling to room temperature cover tightly until serving.
Beltane Cake II
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9" round skillet melt 1/2 cup butter. Mix in a bowl 2/3 cup oats, 1 cup flour, 1 tbs. sugar, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Stir 2/3 cup molasses into the butter and add to the flour mixture alternately with 2/3 cup milk. Do not over mix. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until it pulls away from the edge of the pan.
May Wine recipe:
Choose a light German white wine, the younger the better.
You don't want to spend much on this wine. Pour into a bowl.
Add a half-ounce of dried sweet woodruff
(or four or five freshly dried sprigs)
and a couple of tablespoons of sugar, if you like.
Let it rest in the refrigerator overnight
so the wine is infused with the herb's essence.
Strain out the herb.
Place the wine in a punch bowl, add strawberries and serve cold.
1. The other night when the veil between the worlds is thinnest is Samhain (Halloween)
2. This is because of the repositioning of the first day in May in the Gregorian Calendar which is no longer equal distance between the Equinox and the Solstice. In addition, all cross-quarter celebrations are at least three nights.