Vana Grimoire: Beltane

Around the last day of April, it's time for the Celtic holiday Beltane. This holiday is often on the night of April 30th to May 1st, but the exact date differs as the Celts had a calendar based on the phases of the moon. Beltane is half a year after Samhain. Samhain marks the Celtic start of winter and Beltane marks the summer. Read more about Samhain in our Vana Grimoire.

Fertility and connection

Beltane celebrations are filled with fire and are all about fertility and connection. Just as with the other Celtic holidays you can celebrate by offering. Beltane also has two distinctive rituals you may have seen at Celtic Spirit during Keltfest: the maypole and fire jumping.

The maypole is a high pole with on top a wreath of flowers. At the top there are white and red ribbons attached. These ribbons will be braided around the pole during the ribbon dance. The pole and white ribbons stand for masculine energy, whereas the wreath and red ribbons symbolize the feminine. After the ritual the pole and the braided ribbons around it embody the connection and relationship between man and woman. 

It is believed that Beltane fires hold magical abilities. It cleans the air and leads to prosperity and fertility. By jumping over these fires you can benefit from these powers. 

Even cattle joined in the fire ritual. The animals didn't have to jump over it, but were lead between fires. This way, the animals were cleansed from illness and would prosper, e.g. give more milk.

In Celtic mythology Beltane embodied the moment the veil between our world and the other world is thinnest. This happens during Samhain as well, then our deceased loved ones can come back to our world. During Beltane, it is us who can cross the border and visit other worlds, like the fairy kingdom. It's a day on which many magical things can happen!

There are eight Celtic holidays. In our Vana Grimoire, we like to get you acquainted with them. You can read more about them in our blogs about Yule, Imbolc en Ostara.

Photos by Anouk Pross at Keltfest

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