Beltane is a time to celebrate the rites of spring with frolicking, fun, and expressions of love. Also known as a Gaelic May Day festival, Beltane is about halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. It traditionally begins at sunset on April 30th and lasts all day on the first of May.
Ancient Beltane celebrations included dancing around a maypole made of oak and ribbons, dancing around bonfires, straying into the woods with romance in mind, and going “a-maying” to gather spring flowers.
“Beltane is one of four Gaelic agricultural festivals that has been celebrated since ancient times as a fulfillment of fertility,” says Danielle Blackwood, author of A Lantern in the Dark: Navigate Life’s Crossroads with Story, Ritual, and Sacred Astrology. "It’s the heart of spring when everything in the natural world is at its full flowering peak. It’s a time of passion, joy, vitality, and sensual connection.” It was and is “a common time for handfastings and weddings.”
Beltane Celebrations for Modern Couples
You can call upon seasonal energies to create meaning for you and your partner. In the days marking the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice you can:
- Plan a release ritual on April 30: Beltane Eve is a particularly potent time, says Blackwood. “Because this is a fire festival, burning ceremonies make sense. Write out all your grievances over the past year with your partner and cast them into the fire to release the past and start anew.” [Read: “A Letting Go Ritual for Couples.”]
- Partake in dewy delights at dawn: Go outside early the next morning, let your feet touch the grass, and take in the good energies of this sacred day. Rub some dew on one another’s wrists. “It’s been long said that cleansing with dew gathered at dawn on Beltane is said to bring health, good luck, and beauty for the coming year,” says Blackwood.
- Perform your Beltane ritual for couples on May 1st: If you and your significant other are long-term partners, this is a time of renewal and rededication of devotion. If you’re dating, consider the old handfasting custom, whereby you commit to love one another for a year and a day (to be renewed next year). Feel free to create an indoor or outdoor altar with May flowers and items that represent the elements, or just use the outdoors and nature as a living altar.
5-Stage Beltane Ritual for Couples
Couples can read these words together or take turns, or one person can be in charge of delivering the ceremony. If you plan to read something to your beloved, have it handy.
1. Call in the Directions: Take a moment to create a sacred space. Together recite:
We have emerged from the darkness into the bright time of year. Flowers are blooming and our love can bloom anew. God, Goddess, All there is, we ask you to guide this loving ceremony.
We call to the spirits of the East and the element of air: Please bless us with communication, wisdom, and understanding.
We call to the spirits of the South and the element of fire: Please bless us with vitality, passion, and creativity.
We call to the spirits of the West and the element of water: Please bless us with love, intuition, and friendship.
We call to the spirits of the North and the element of earth: Please bless us with stability, strength, and abundance.
We call to the spirits of above, of below, and within: With all the forces of the universe, we pray for harmony and joy. As we open our hearts in celebration, may we be encircled and embraced by love. So be it.
(Imagine yourself surrounded by a protective bubble or circle of love as you speak these words.)
2. Handfasting and eye gazing. It is an ancient tradition to join two lives through the rite of handfasting. A couple may have their hands bound with ribbons representing different qualities—such as red for passion and blue for communication. Gather or braid a few ribbons, and pre-tie them so that you can slip them over your hands. Or opt for simple, symbolic joining of your hands. To do this, face each other, and place your right palms together, and then place left palms over them. This creates a figure eight, or infinity symbol, with your hands. It signifies long-lasting love.
Take a moment to gaze into one another’s eyes. See the gift before you. Open your hearts to one another. As your hands are joined together, so shall your lives and spirits be joined and uplifted in love, trust, and mutual support. When the moment feels complete, unbind, or release your hands.
3. Shower each other with loving words. Honor your partner with loving words and tributes. You can write your thoughts on paper and read them or choose to speak from your heart. Think about all you love about your partner and why you are grateful for them. Think about the happiness you have shared. When you are ready to speak, place your right hand upon your partner’s heart chakra, look into their eyes, and tell them how much you adore them. Shower your beloved with positive, powerful words of appreciation and love. Feel free to also share a reading or poem. When you are ready, close by saying: “So mote it be.”
4. Final prayer. Close a ritual with a prayer that is thankful and hopeful. Try this:
We thank God, Goddess, All there is for the great blessing of love that has been bestowed upon us.
We thank the spirits of the East, West, North, and South, above, below, and within for blessing this Beltane ritual.
Let us continue to dream, plan, and create together.
May our love bring healing to the world.
5. Share a sip of mead and a kiss. Mead is a traditional Beltane beverage. Wine or a sweet drink can also be used. Have one chalice on the altar. End the celebration with a sip and seal the ritual with a kiss.
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“Beltane is a natural time to honor sacred sensuality and earthly pleasure, so be sure to bring the physical senses into your ritual through dance, touch, massage, taste, and smell,” Blackwood suggests. “If you’re in a long-term relationship, this is also a powerful time for a recommitment ceremony, to see the divine in each other and rekindle the sensual spark.”
Keep the spark alive: “Ritual Connection: 5 Daily Practices to Strengthen Your Relationship.”