Newsletter: Beltane 2022
Jump to a section:
The Beltane Fire
It’s that time of the year again when many Pagans celebrate the Sabbat Beltane. The word Beltane translates to “bright fire” and the star of any Beltane celebration is the bonfire.
The Beltane bonfire or the Bale Fire (also spelled Beal Fire and Bel Fire) is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and this fire was considered by the people to be more than a big pile of logs and some flame. The community would gather here for a variety of purposes, such as playing music, dancing, making love, and telling stories. It was customary to light the fire on May Eve (the last night of April) and allow it to burn until the sun went down on May 1. At the end of the festival, community members would commonly light a torch with the sacred flame, then carry it home to reignite their own homestead fire so the positive energy would also impact their lives and homes.
It is said that in Ireland, each year at Beltane, tribal leaders would send one of their own to visit a great bonfire which was lit on the hill of Uisneach. The townsperson would carry a lighted torch back to their own villages to share the fire among the people of their own villages, who would then carry a torch lit from the flame back to their own individual hearths. The fire of Ireland was, in essence, spread from one central source throughout the entire country.
The tradition took on a different form in Scotland. Here, two fires were lit and the Bale Fires were used as a protection and purification of their herds. The cattle were driven between the twin flames and this was thought to bring good fortune upon the herders and farmers.
A lot of people would celebrate pagan weddings or Handfastings around this time as an extension of the “jumping of the fire.” Likewise people would dance clockwise or move over or through the flame as a form of purification and to encourage fertility not only in the physical, procreative sense, but also in a creative/mental sense. A similar sort of tradition was “jumping the broomstick”: when couples required a more frugal ceremony, they would simply jump over a broom which lay on the ground, serving as a symbol of crossing a threshold and starting a new life.
Beltane largely fell out of practice throughout the 19th century, but resurfaced in 1988 at one of the most popular Beltane celebrations, the fire festival which takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The annual Scottish Beltane Fire Festival is held on the night of April 30 on Calton Hill. The modern version of the festival, although it draws inspiration from its ancient predecessor, now includes drum beating, theatrical performances, dancing, and a variety of other frivolities around the fire. This version of the Beltane celebration is led by the May Queen and Green Man.
Although many of these traditions got lost along the centuries, it can be good to be reminded of how our ancestors lived, and even bring back some of these celebrations.
Jumping the Fire
This year the Coven will be celebrating Beltane at a small festival and participating in some group rituals. We will be doing several rituals at the festival, but the one I am most excited for is jumping the fire. While the jump itself can mean different things to different people, for me it is about rebirth and fresh starts. Beltane in general is strongly associated with new growth and I’m really resonating with that at this stage in my life. No matter what it signifies to you, I encourage you to try stepping up to a fire this Beltane, just to marvel in the beauty and power that it holds. Consider providing the fire an offering of incense, florals, or special wood bundles to give thanks for all it provides. If you are feeling adventurous maybe even take a leap through the flames so you too can feel all the fire has to offer us in return.
If you plan to participate in a fire ritual this Beltane here are a few safety tips to keep in mind.
Be sure to check your local weather conditions, ensure that conditions aren’t too windy or dry.
Ensure hair is tied back and refrain from wearing loose or baggy clothing if you plan to jump the flame.
Build your fire on a level and clear surface, away from brush and structures.
Assign a fire-tender to oversee watching over and feeding the fire, make sure they have enough water or a fire extinguisher to put out the fire in case of an emergency.
Be mindful of kids and fur babies around the open fire.
Be safe everyone, jump responsibly and have a great Beltane!
Shadow Work: Managing Anger
We often equate fire with passion but passion almost exclusively with love and attraction. However, passion can run the gamut of feelings, as passion defined by Oxford Languages is a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” Passion and fire are also very much appropriate to conversations and associations with things like ANGER. Anger is an emotion that some have a hard time regulating. Consider the last few times you were incredibly angry and had a hard time controlling the emotion. What triggered your response? What about the situation (or perhaps your own response) made it difficult to hone in the feeling? What are some things you can practice or be mindful of to help you regulate this strong impulse towards anger if these situations arise again?
Small Business Shoutout: Stoned Fairy Farms
From their website: Stoned Fairy Farms is a small family-owned farm in the driftless region of Northwest Illinois. We’ve cultivated a life together full of big dreams and shared passions, working and-co creating to bring our love of mushrooms, plant medicine, and regenerative farming ways to the world! We believe that plants are for the people, mushrooms are our teachers, and community is sacred. We aim to provide local, organic mushrooms, plant medicines and wild ferments to our customers near and far, as well as create space for open dialogue on consciousness expanding topics.
Stoned Fairy Farms is located in Pecatonica, IL 61063
Join our Bookclub (via Patreon)
We have started a Book club with our Patrons (via Patreon). All levels of access will have some degree of access to book club posts.
We will be reading through Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The Witch’s Book of Self-Care and discussing, performing, and elaborating on issues and practices detailed in the work
Check out our Patreon to join in! Access starts at the lowest tier ($3).
As always, we thank you so much for your support and hope you will continue to join us as we move forward with our podcast(s) and expand into new horizons.
Do you have a recipe we should try? Tag us on social media (@midwestcovencast on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook OR @midwestcoven on Twitter) or use the hashtag: #mccfamilyrecipes if there is a meal or food you think we should make. If any catch our eye…maybe we will give it a try and we’ll be sure to tag you to let you know what we think of it!
Southern Hemisphere Shoutout: Samhain
Blessed Samhain to our friends in the Southern hemisphere! May the end of your harvest season be plentiful as to keep you nourished during the forthcoming winter. Feel free to check out the Samhain newsletter that went out in October (for the Northern Hemisphere celebration) to find information, activities, and more.
April 29 Midwest Coven Cast Presents Weekend Reads Season 3, Episode 2
April 30 NEW Moon (3:28 pm CST)
May 1 Beltane Begins
Book Club Starts - OFFICIALLY
May 4 Midwest Coven Cast Season 3, Episode 3
May 13 Midwest Coven Cast Presents Weekend Reads Season 3, Episode 3
May 15 FULL Flower Moon (11:14 pm CST)
May 18 Midwest Coven Cast Season 3, Episode 4
May 27 Midwest Coven Cast Presents Weekend Reads Season 3, Episode 4
May 29 Put out NEW moon water
May 30 NEW Moon (6:30 am CST)
June 1 Midwest Coven Cast Season 3, Episode 5
June 10 Midwest Coven Cast Presents Weekend Reads Season 3, Episode 5
June 13 Put out FULL moon water
June 14 FULL Strawberry Moon (6:51 am CST)
June 15 Midwest Coven Cast Season 3, Episode 6
June 24 Litha (Midsommer) Begins
Midwest Coven Cast Presents Weekend Reads Season 3, Episode 6