Well friends, Beltane is just around the corner and spring is here. Beltane (May Day) is a Celtic holiday celebrating fertility in both nature and domestic life. While this is primarily a Celtic holiday, May Day celebrations have become rather secular and are celebrated by pagans and secular witches alike. While I am a Celtic Pagan and make space for the Gods in my celebration, for me Beltane is a chance to become closer with nature and embracing the blooming of the coming summer.
If you’re like me, you were probably looking forward to a May Day celebration with a May Poll, bonfires, and general merriment. This year was going to be my first time taking part in a pagan gathering at the local pagan nature sanctuary, where I hoped to start taking part in all of the major holiday celebrations. But COVID-19 has cancelled many people’s plans this year, and unfortunately Beltane gatherings are part of that.
This year we’ll all need to celebrate in isolation with no physical contact or close proximity to others. For some, it will be possible to have virtual gatherings, but for those of you like me who are solitary practitioners it might be a little harder to find virtual connections to celebrate this holiday with.
However, there are plenty of solitary activities to celebrate Beltane including spells, devotions, and mindful activities to unite oneself with nature.
If you’re lucky enough to be in an area where there’s not a total lock down and you can still go outside, take advantage of it! If you have some nature sanctuaries or state parks near you, take some time to slowly walk down the trails and embrace nature. You can also quietly meditate under a tree, focusing on the sounds of birds around you and the wind through the leaves.
There many nature trails and fields in my city, so every spring I like to take long walks and gather a few pieces of nature to bring home and put on my altar. Usually this includes a few spring flowers and a stone or two that stand out to me. If you decide to do this, make sure you know which plants are (a) safe to pick, (b) legal to pick – some are endangered or protected, and (c) abundant in the area so you don’t disrupt the environment.
Unfortunately, there are some areas that are on total lock down or public areas, including parks, are closed. In this case, you can simply try sitting by an open window, on a balcony, or in your yard. Letting in the fresh air and enjoying the sounds of nature is enough to embrace the season. If you live a little further North like I do, this time of year is when the sun really starts to feel warm, too. Set up a comfortable spot in your home where the sun shines in and meditate while the sun warms your skin.
Bring Nature Indoors
Beltane is about celebrating the fertility of nature and the crops beginning to grow. If you have the space, try planting herbs or small crop plants. We only have a small balcony in our apartment so I don’t have a lot of space, but I decided to plant a few herbs and a strawberry plant. I do have a little money tree and several succulents as well, but I wanted to grow something that offered sustenance as well.
If you can get to the store, you can also simply buy some spring flowers like tulips, violets, and daffodils to bring the feeling of spring to your home. I know of some witches who choose to decorate their altars with spring flowers along with fresh herbs and pink and white candles. Anything that makes you think of spring and feel a connection with nature is great to decorate your home with during this time.
Connect with the Spirits
Finally, you can take some steps to connect with the spirits of the land or make devotion to the Gods. If you’re a secular witch, you don’t need to devote or worship deities, but making an offering to your local spirits is seen by some as a gesture of respect and a way to connect with the land itself. Others who do work with or worship deities may take more time to make offerings, devotions, and prayers to their Gods for blessings during the coming summer and aid in growing one’s desires so the fruit may be reaped later in the year.
Often, offerings are items associated with the time of year, such as dairy, eggs, and spring herbs. However, some spirits and deities also have specific items that they prefer as offerings, so if you’re choosing this time to start a devotion, make sure you do some research to learn what’s appropriate for the local spirits or your chosen deities.
As with every part of the practice, holiday celebrations (particularly when you’re solitary) is unique to every witch. Try out a few different things or simply do the activities you’re drawn to and that fit with your practice. There is no one way to celebrate Beltane, so enjoy this day in what ever way choose.