As I have shared before, I am pagan as is my family. And as such, we celebrate the sabbats, or the festivals of the pagan calendar, quite often called ‘The Wheel of the Year’. The next sabbat to come up is Beltane. This pops up on May 1st and is a joyous occasion and one to really let your hair down and celebrate. It is from this festival that we get the Mayday festivals and the May Poles, etc.
The year is pretty much split into two segments if you will. There is the Light Half and the Dark Half. It has nothing to do with what magic is practiced before anyone comes up with that one (heard it before *rolls eyes*), but the amount of light that is available as the sun wanders about our beautiful planet. In October at Samhain, we enter the Dark Half of the year, where we prepare for the hardships of winter, making sure the last of the crops are in and get ready to hunker down through the cold of winter. As we hit May and Beltane, we celebrate the Light Half of the year returning at the opposite end of the Wheel. It is a time when the God and Goddess marry and all the joys that come with such a union. This is why Handfastings are traditionally done at this time – although my own Handfasting was in August! It is a time of fertility (not just in the bedroom!) but in fields and pastures, hopes and dreams.
But how do we celebrate this as a family thing?
Well, first thing, as with any sabbat that comes along in our house, we get our Pooka Pages magazine! I’m not sure who gets more excited, me or the children! OK, OK, so it is probably me. Pooka Pages is a free online magazine that is made available just before each sabbat. You can get your own magazine at Pooka Pages here. It is basically about a little black cat called Pooka and his witch, Elsie. There is usually a story or three in there with a lovely message for the children. There will be colouring pages and activities and some recipes and crafts for them to try. We have been reading our Pooka Pages for several years now. It’s free, no sign up and you just go to their website and click the link and you can download the pdf and then print it out at your leisure or just read it online – I downloaded mine just this morning, printed it out and it is all stapled and sat waiting fro the kids and I to read it!
So next I shall go through the magazine, see what ingredients we need and any craft supplies, etc. Then look at decorations. This sabbat is lovely and colourful and I’ll look for flowers – bought, planted and made. There will be ribbons hung in differing colours and anything else that the children feel that they want up. It’s their sabbat too!
I’ll plan food for the day. I do try and have something traditional in some shape or form, although it usually changes as the children decide they don’t like something or want something different! Quite often a BBQ is involved – can’t argue with that! But whatever food we do have, it will be fun. Drinks too! Can’t have fun food without fun drinks.
Foods for this time of year will be colourful ones – strawberries and cherries, red, rose wines and fruit punches, oats, honey, anything food that is pinks or red…think lurve!
I’ll post some of the recipes that I am making in a few days time (probably over the weekend) as I bake and make ready for Monday.
Sometimes we hold full ritual. The children, especially the eldest, loves this part and just this morning was asking me what I was preparing for rituals and can he do something too. They started to take more of an interest last year at Litha and did their first rituals then. Being the proud mummy, I snivelled a touch, I’ll admit it, lol.
I shall hold my own more formal rituals later on when the children are in bed. I haven’t actually written this years yet. But I have my Book of Shadows that has my rituals in, so I will use my basic ritual and then alter it for the occasion.
Something else that happens over Beltane is something quite a few people have heard of, the Beltane Fires will be lit. Years back when, our homes were heated through the main fire of the house, where the cooking would be done too. The hearth and heart of the home. It was important that these fires didn’t go out if you could help it, or you have no heat and no food! But at Beltane, the fires would be put out and made ready when the Druids would light the Beltane fires and flames would be passed from house to house re-lighting our hearth fires with the new flames. As the cattle and herds were being sent out into the fields and pastures, they would be driven between two such fires to drive out and ward off any ill or negativity, and to give the cattle the protection as they were ushered off out into their summer pastures.
In life today we don’t really see this happening anymore, but what we can do, is to go through our homes and clean out anything that is not needed – give it to charity, throw it out, pass it on and make way and room for the new. Have a good clean too. Light a fire (candle) and pass it around your home. Have a couple of fires (candles very well spaced apart for safety!) and go through these for the same thing – ward off anything and to offer protection.
It will be a day of fun, and a day of the family spending time together as we celebrate the sabbat and festival that is Beltane.