Short visualisation to bring us together in ritual and to connect with the Elements...
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths in… and slowly exhale out…
Picture yourself walking along a woodland path. In the azure sky above, the sun is warm and bright and there is not a cloud in sight. The sunlight peeks its way through the surrounding trees.
Your footpath is lined with flowers, trees and plants – dandelion, hawthorn blossom, elder, nettles, buttercups, red campion to name a few... you follow the footpath to a clearing where an ancient moss and lichen covered stone wall trails around the grassy landscape..
You become aware of others standing with you – some faces you recognise, others are new, but you know that everyone is here for the same reason – to honour and celebrate Beltane.
As you stand in the clearing, you become aware of the lush green grasses beneath your feet – it is soft and warm against your feet – we welcome Earth!
Running along the edge of the path is a small stream, its waters cold and crystal clear – we welcome Water!
A soft warm breeze brushes against your hair and making the grasses in the clearing where you stand dance delightfully – we welcome Air!
Some of the people around you are holding lit candles of reds, oranges and yellows – we welcome Fire!...
When you are ready, open your eyes...
Beltane is a fire festival celebrated around the 30th of April to the 1st of May, halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It saw members of the communities coming together to celebrate the return of the summer!
Also known as Celtic May Day, this Sabbat begins at moonrise on May Day eve. It represents the beginning of long warm days and when all of nature is bursting with potent fertility and new life! We have sown our seeds at the Spring Equinox and now we watch as they bloom and flourish.
Beltane is a celebration of the Young God and the Maiden Goddess who have reached maturity and have come together in union.
Traditionally it is a time when Fertility Rites are performed and when fires are lit on hillsides – the fires representing and honouring the Sun to ensure a good harvest later in the year. Fire is known as a purifier and healer and Farmers would lead their cattle through the lit bonfires – either side of them, not literally through them! Before putting them out to the pastures.
Couples choose this time to join in their own union as a handfasting also known as a pagan marriage or betrothal. Other traditions at Beltane include A-Maying when couples would collect hawthorn blossoms to decorate their homes. Flower crowns were made, and May baskets filled with flowers or treats were gifted. This is about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light – thinking about our own fertility, not just biologically but also in our creative energies too!
Dancing around the Maypole - an ancient tradition that is still performed today. The phallic Pole represented the Potency of the God and a ring of flowers at the top represented the fertile Goddess. The weaving of ribbons symbolised the spiral of life and the courtship of the God and Goddess.
Sigrblót is the first day of Harpa, celebrated in Northern Traditions from Mid-April to Mid-May. A day to recognise the beginning of Summer and the victory of light over darkness. Offerings to Freya were made during this festival.
The Green Man
From the rafters of ancient cathedrals and entrances to gothic churches to medieval tapestries and the green forests worldwide, you will have probably seen him. He will look different in every place, but it's him - the friendly face, almost human, the features are made of leaves, or it appears that foliage is sprouting from the smiling mouth, eyes and nose.
The 'Green Man' has been around for centuries. He probably wasn't originally called that, but his name means many different things in many cultures.
The Green Man is a symbol of nature, a connection and love of all things on Mother Earth. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
To others, he may represent the wildness of nature, the untamed vegetation and forests and the untamed spirit that dwells in us all.
As he gazes down from cathedrals and churches, his foliage face may make you think that he is a protector of those that reside within those walls.
The Green Man means many things to people - being a pagan nature spirit, he may well have evolved from other ancient deities - Cernunnos, wild man and protector of the forest or Pan, God of fertility - both these attributed to the Green Man. Some say that they are all the Green Man in various forms.
He is most often referred to as having an association with the season of Spring - those leafy green features do conjure up the fresh foliage that appears on our trees around springtime - and the green man certainly means to some a fresh start and new beginnings. He is also noted, however, as a fertility symbol, so is perfect for this time of year, and as an autumnal figure too - some carvings and drawings of him depict him with acorns and hawthorn berries and leaves.
Making Your Green Man
What does the Green Man mean to you? As you make yours, focus on those things and think about how you can apply those thoughts to your magical workings this Beltane...
You can make your green man with whatever you have to hand… be creative and go with what works for you – clay, fresh leaves, felt or fabric leaves. Work with herbs and glue if you wish, working with the intent of those herbs for your spell work or just as correspondences to the season. You can make a mask or just to put on your altar.
Take a few deep breaths… close your eyes and take yourself back to the clearing beside the woodland path. We have honoured Beltane by the making of our Green Man and the feasting and drinking as a celebration of Beltane. Take a look around you, The sun is lower in the sky now, but it is still warm. The people that you were with are dispersing back down the woodland pathway... take a moment to thank the elements and the land that we have stood upon, then when you are ready, come back to this reality.