A Greater Sabbat and an Earth Cross-Quarter Day
Northern Hemisphere April 30th
Southern Hemisphere October 31st
The summer begins at this point and the days are warm and balmy. The nights are getting shorter and growth is all around.
This is a time of great fertility and is a fun filled time in marked contrast to the sober and sombre Sabbat of Samhain. It celebrates the sacred marriage of the Oak King and the Goddess and the consummation of that union. The fire God Baal is celebrated at this time as the God of light or 'The Bright One' while the Goddess Maya is also celebrated.
This is a true fertility festival with dancing round the Maypole (an ancient phallic symbol) to symbolise the sexual union between male and female energies.
Light a balefire with nine different types of wood (three pieces of each wood type) for the God Baal. Leap over the purifying flames and let them cleanse you of unwanted behaviours or openly state your desire and as you jump, let the flames take those desires to the skies to be fulfilled.
A Contemporary Beltaine Ritual
Decorate the perimeter of the circle with flowers. A Maypole should be set up in the east quarter with ribbons tied to it at the top. There should be at least one ribbon for each person present. There should be a balefire set in the north quarter. This should be a festival of fun, frivolity, dancing and laughter. It is not a sombre affair at all.
Cast the circle as normal if there are no visitors present, otherwise, omit the circle casting. A covener shouts; “Hast, haste! No time to wait! We’re off to the Sabbat, so don’t be late!” The Priestess shouts; “To the Sabbat!” and everyone shouts; “To the Sabbat!”
The High Priestess leads the coveners in a dance around the circle with everyone singing and chanting. The music of “The Lord of the Dance” is particularly good for this especially using the following words adapted from the original lyrics of Sydney B Carter by Spiral Child.
She danced on the water, and the wind was Her horn,
The Lady laughed, and everything was born,
And when She lit the sun and its' light gave Him birth,
The Lord of the Dance first appeared on the Earth.
(Chorus): Dance, dance, where ever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, you see!
I live in you, and you live in Me,
And I lead you all in the Dance, said He!
I danced in the morning when the World was begun,
I danced in the Moon and the Stars and the Sun.
I was called from the Darkness by the Song of the Earth,
I joined in the Song, and She gave Me the Birth!
I dance in the Circle when the flames leap up high,
I dance in the Fire, and I never, ever, die.
I dance in the waves of the bright summer sea,
For I am the Lord of the wave's mystery.
I sleep in the kernel, and I dance in the rain,
I dance in the wind, and thru the waving grain.
And when you cut me down, I care nothing for the pain.
In the Spring I'm the Lord of the Dance once again!
I dance at the Sabbat when you dance out the Spell,
I dance and sing that everyone be well.
And when the dancing's over do not think that I am gone,
To live is to Dance! So I dance on, and on!
I see the Maidens laughing as they dance in the Sun,
And I count the fruits of the Harvest, one by one.
I know the Storm is coming, but the Grain is all stored,
So I sing of the Dance of the Lady, and Her Lord.
The Horn of the Lady cast its' sound 'cross the Plain,
The birds took the notes, and gave them back again,
Till the sound of Her music was a Song in the sky,
And to that Song there is only one reply.
The moon in her phases, and the tides of the sea,
The movement of the Earth, and the Seasons that will be, Are the rhythm for the dancing, and a promise thru the years,
That the Dance goes on thru all our joy, and tears.
We dance ever slower as the leaves fall and spin,
And the sound of the Horn is the wailing of the wind.
The Earth is wrapped in stillness, and we move in a trance, But we hold on fast to our faith in the Dance!
The sun is in the southland and the days grow chill,
And the sound of the horn is fading on the hill,
'Tis the horn of the Hunter, as he rides across the plain,
And the Lady sleeps 'til the Spring comes again.
The Sun is in the Southland and the days lengthen fast,
And soon we will sing for the Winter that is past,
Now we light the candles and rejoice as they burn,
And we dance the Dance of the Sun's return!
They danced in the darkness and they danced in the night. They danced on the Earth, and everything was light.
They danced out the Darkness and they danced in the dawn,
And the Day of that Dancing is still going on!
I gaze on the Heavens and I gaze on the Earth,
And I feel the pain of dying, and re-birth,
And I lift my head in gladness, and in praise,
For the Dance of the Lord, and His Lady gay.
I dance in the stars as they whirl throughout space,
And I dance in the pulse of the veins in your face,
No dance is too great, no dance is too small,
You can look anywhere, for I dance in them all!
Everyone gathers around the Maypole and takes a ribbon. The High Priestess says; “Beltaine is a time of fertility. The Maypole and ribbons symbolise the sacred union between male and female and the creation of new life for the year ahead”. Everyone then dances around the pole holding their ribbons, intertwining them as they go until they are all tied around the pole.
Everyone then moves to the north quarter where the balefire is set and burning. The maiden says; “Jumping the balefire is an old fertility tradition often done together by couples who would like to be blessed with the seed and creation of children. For those of you who have a beloved partner, the balefire wish is often one of long lived health and happiness in your sacred union together. Today we honour the Lord and Lady with our rite and ask that they bestow upon us their blessings for fertility, perhaps not of children, but of good luck and happiness. I invite you all now to jump the balefire and send your wishes for good fortune up to the Lord and Lady in the rising smoke from this balefire. Consider your good luck wish, offer it to the rising smoke and set it with your jump!”
Everyone has as many turns at jumping the balefire as they wish. Couples can jump together if they wish to honour their marriage. Consecrate and then have the cakes and ale then close the circle. Follow up with a feast.
Smiles and blessings, Amethyst