The following is a brief outline of a Beltaine Ritual by Tammye McDuff. It’s designed to give you an idea of how the ritual will flow. To read the ritual itself, which is in rhyme.
This ritual is Druidic in nature.
- Procession to the Sacred Space: offering to the well; aspiring, anointing ,and offering of the cup by the Lady of the Well; tying ribbon on the Maybush; passing “through the veil” into ritual space.
- Welcome and explanation of Beltane
III. Selection of the May Queen (by lot)
- Ritual Dancing; King and Queen of May will lead us thrice around the ritual space in dancing, ending up at the May Pole; May Pole dance.
- Cakes and Ale offered to the assembly by the King and Queen of May
VII. Creation of the Fires: Each person will place a piece wood upon the bale fire, representing what they wish to birth into being for the coming year.
VIII. Offerings and Cleansing. Offering of pieces of bannock bread will be offered to the fire with prayers, then the remainder of the bannock will be distributed to the assembly. The one who selects the “burnt piece” will be the “ritual sacrifice” and tossed upon the fires.
Welcome and explanation of Beltane
Beltane joyfully heralds the arrival of summer. Beltane is also known as Mayday, Walburga and Bealtinne. Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, and the second major Celtic festival. Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into two seasons, Winter and Summer. May is the month of sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of the earth and Her Children.
In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.
In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods “A-Maying,” and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.
Think of the May pole as a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies.. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God.
Beltane literally means “fire of Bel”. Bel is known as the bright and shining one. On the eve of Beltane the Celts build two large fires. In the honor of summer they were lit, and the herds were ritually driven between them, to purify and protect the herds. The fires celebrate the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth. Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, dancing the Maypole, leaping over fires, and “going a maying”.
Beltane marks the wedding feast of the Goddess and God, the reawakening of the earth’s fertility at its fullest. This is the union between the Great Mother and her Young Horned God. This coupling brings new life on earth. It is the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine forms to bring forth the third form, consciousness.
Circle Area/Casting the Circle/Assemblance of the Quarters
“From the East, I call the fresh breeze,
Gentle new winds, new ideas, inspiration.
Join me now, if you please.”
Light some incense and place it in an incense holder in the east.
“From the South, I call the life-giving flame,
Warm sun, creativity, passion.
Come to me now with no shame.”
Light a candle and place it in a candleholder in the south.
“From the West, I call the endless sea,
Waters of life, deep emotions, love.
Come tonight to be with me.”
Sprinkle a little water on the ground in the west and place the chalice in the west.
“From the North, I call Mother Earth,
Standing stones, fertility, stability.
Come witness this rebirth.”
Leave a rock in the north as an offering.
[The East Dances Around the Circle Saying]
I dance with delight on Beltane’s night.
All senses freeing, I dance for being.
The flower and the flame of love’s own rite shall blossom.
Sun embrace Earth, bright.
Invocation of the Goddess – Priestess:
Hallowed Lady of the Hawthorn,
Goddess of the greenwood groves,
we call upon Thee in the season of Thy Sensuality,
as Thy blossom opens to the amorous advances of our Lord, Thy Lover.
In Thy union is the fertility of Spring,
and the beckoning whisper of young desire.
Touch us with the breath of Thy passion,
that we might seek for the ecstasy of life!
Inflame us with the fever of Thine inmost longings
that we not be satisfied until our oneness
with the God is consummated!
Capture us with the fragrances of Thine allurement,
that we may be overwhelmed with an obsession for Thy presence!
Bright Maiden of May, be here among us as we celebrate
the Beltane blessings of Thy bridal-bed!
Invocation of the Satyr Lord – Priest:
Horned God of power and play,
we hear the music of Thy melodious pipes
enchanting our ears upon the evening wind!
Beneath the fullness of the May-night Moon
Thy silhouette plays hide-and-seek
among the shadows of silver-tipped trees;
Thy hooves striking sparks like shooting stars
as they step in spritely patterns
to the rhythm of the Ways of the Wild.
Holy Pan of the shepherds’ shrine,
Goat-footed God, Faunus of the forest glades,
we beseech Thee to be here among us
as we revel in Beltane abandon
beneath the swirling streamers of Thy phallic staff,
dancing by the light of the balefire’s glow!
Sovereign Satyr Lord, be pleased within this Circle to remain,
as we celebrate Spring and the beginning of Thy reign!
Kindling of the Balefire
The priestess and the priest will go to the kindling prepared for the fire (if the rite is held outdoors) located near the Southern quarter of the circle. Otherwise, a candle within the cauldron is substituted. The priest will light the balefire as the following incantation is recited by the priestess:
Strike the fire and let it rise,
Beltane flames ‘neath Spring-night skies!
Ancient customs we now renew,
‘Tween dusky dark and evening dew!
Fire with warmth of Summer shine,
Invoking Gods from Older Times
For fertile crops with Sun-fed rays,
Gardens of plenty and golden days!
The Satyr Lord:
I give priase to Thee,
vibrant Goddess of youth and sensuality;
Lady of Spring, exuberant Earth maiden,
dancing in joyous abandon across hillside and field
in vivacious hues of brightness,
exuding the wondrous essence of waving wildflowers.
Wherefore I offer unto Thee
this floral crown of Thy creation,
laid now upon Thy daughter’s head
as the woven splendor of Nature’s art;
the many-colored Crown of May,
scented with the mystery and majesty
that is the Maiden!
All Hail, Lady Fair,
with flowered garlands for Thy hair!
Circle Area/Closing the Circle/Assemblance of the Quarters
Release the Quarters
In the North, I thank the Spirit of Earth for being here and witnessing the beginning of a new birth.
Kiss the rock and leave it as an offering to the Gods.
In the West, I thank the Spirit of the Sea for being here and bringing new life to me!
Pour the rest of the water out on the ground as an offering to the Gods.
In the South, I thank the Spirit of Fire for being here and sparking my desire!
Snuff the candle.
In the East, I thank the Spirit of Air for being here and teaching me to dare!
Hold the feather up and blow it away to the east.
Maiden Lady, Queen of May,
bestow upon us in overflowing measure
Thy youthful passion for love and life
as we rejoice in the sensual stirrings of the season.
All Hail, Farewell, and Blessed Be!
Sovereign Satyr Lord, Pan of the Pagan Ways,
at this Sabbat of springtime’s warmth,
bestow upon us the heated breath of Thy lust for living
as we depart this sacred space with the joyous blessings
of Thy Beltane benediction.
All Hail, Farewell, and Blessed Be!
Dismissal of the Quarter-Regents/Releasing the Circle
At this time the quarters can be dismissed and the circle released, per your tradition. It’s time for the Beltane festivities to begin!
This rite of Balemas is ended!
May the love of the Maiden and the Satyr Lord
go with us as we venture onward
into the warming fullness of summer’s promise!
Merry Meet and Merry Part!
A Meditation for Men and Women
The next part is different depending on whether you are man or woman.
For a Woman: visualize a red rosebud in your womb. Always your womb is the source of your creative power, whether you are pregnant with a child, an idea, a work of art or an intention. Close your eyes and picture the light from the candle streaming into your womb so that the rosebud blooms, unfolds. Hold the image for a while, feeling the silkiness, smelling the scent, the freshness, seeing the color of the fully open rose within you. Feel the strength and power of your own fully blossomed capabilities. Say:
I am woman,
strong to conceive and to create,
to give birth and to tend.
As I am daughter of the Goddess,
and blessed by the God.
Feel the strength and creative force within your womb, the center of your being. See the power being channeled, flowing into the desire you have just voiced. Open your eyes. Always, the rose is within you.
For a Man: Visualize a bright flame. This burns within your sexual center, a point at the base of the stomach, just above the pubic hairline. It is your own male strength and energy which may rise through your body to be released as giving, fertilizing power, in any form, or may be the potency which impregnates, creating a physical child. It is the force which blesses and bestows, a healing and creative energy, like the shining Sun. Visualize also that you are sitting in a garden and that a rose tree is in front of you, the roses in bud. Say:
I am man,
and in my passion is beauty,
in my warmth is life.
As I am son of the Goddess,
and blessed by the God,
I offer my strength and vitality.
Visualize the light streaming from you to a rose upon the tree causing it to unfold, to blossom. Your flame is lowered by this effort. Much has gone out of you, the flame sinks down. Wait and watch, until a pink light streams from the rose towards your body. At its touch, just above the pubic hairline the flame resurges. It burns highter and stronger than before. Open your eyes. The flame is always within you.
Beltaine Incense Recipe:
* 3 parts Frankincense
* 2 parts Sandalwood
* 1 part Woodruff
* 1 part Rose Petals
* a few drops Jasmine Oil
* a few drops Neroli Oil
Belaine Oil Recipe:
5 drops rose oil, 2 drops Dragon’s blood, 3 drops coriander oil. (Use almond oil as a base here)
Altar/Altar Cloth/Altar Candles: The altar should be in the center of the circle area, facing the Eastern quarter. The altar cloth should always be yellow for the High Earth Rite of Balemas. (This is only if you are using a regular rectangular altar.) The two main altar candles should be yellow.
Other Candles: The four quarter candles should be blue in the West, red in the South, yellow (or gold) in the East, and green in the North. All other secondary candles used for extra lighting in the ritual area should be of various shades of forest green or suited to personal taste.