First, have a little brainstorming session with those you'd celebrate Beltane with normally - you can do this by phone, text, email, Skype, Zoom etc if you do not live in the same household - and see what amazing ideas you can come up with together. If you are a solitary Pagan, you can Google for ideas as well as taking inspiration from this post.
Secondly, skim through the ideas I have come up with and see if any of them appeal - or you can use them to kick-start creativity and come up with your own plan. I have grouped them according to your situation - so there are ideas for those of you who can get out into nature, ideas for those who are in a town but have a garden or accessible green space, and finally ideas for those who are confined to their living space.
If you can get out to the countryside/park for a walk:
- One traditional Beltane activity was to gather mayflowers (hawthorn blossom). While on your walk, see if you can spot some mayflowers and pick a small bunch (careful of those thorns!) to bring home with you. It's considered bad luck to bring mayflowers indoors, but the exception is at Beltane. Or you can do like I do and hedge your bets by tying the bunch of flowers to the front door of your house as a Beltane blessing. You'll probably need secateurs or scissors to cut the woody stems, so take some with you.
- If you take an early morning walk, wash your face in the Beltane dew - traditionally believed to be a foolproof beauty treatment!
- If you have bluebell woods near you, this is the perfect time to take a walk and soak in all that beauty. I can't imagine a more sacred activity!
- If you're confident of your plant identification skills, this is a great time of year to forage for wild garlic, nettles, sorrel, jack-by-the-hedge etc. Keep your eyes peeled for hedgerow delicacies on your walk and cook up a seasonal gourmet feast to celebrate Beltane when you get home.
If you are in a town, but have access to a garden or other green space:
Depending on what is in your garden or green space you may be able to gather mayflowers, forage some wild delicacies or wash your face in the morning dew, as above! But here are some other ideas you could try too.
- Draw a labyrinth on the lawn/patio/decking big enough to walk (for a classic 7-walled Cretan labyrinth - my preferred version - you will need a space which is a minimum of 9'x9'; if you have more space, so much the better). You can mark out a temporary labyrinth using flour, sand or masking tape. If you like it you could make it a permanent feature by using rocks, bricks etc, or mow it into the lawn. There is a clear tutorial on how to draw and use labyrinths on the blog of my friend and mentor Donald Engstrom-Reese here, and there is a wealth of information on Sig Lonegren's website here.
- If you have enough room to pitch a tent in the garden, why not camp out overnight on Beltane eve. Toast marshmallows over a campfire, stargaze, then get up to greet the first light on Beltane morning, revelling in the dawn chorus of birdsong.
- Beltane is one of the times of year most strongly associated with faeries. You could celebrate Beltane by leaving offerings for them in your garden - it is said they are fond of bread, cake, honey, beer, wine and cream. Or you could plant up an area of the garden as a faery garden with flowers they are said to be particularly fond of such as foxgloves, violets, thyme and clover, and pretty sparkly decorations like sun-catchers and wind-chimes (bear in mind they strongly dislike iron).
If you cannot get outside to celebrate Beltane:
- Use Skype, Zoom etc to connect with Pagan friends and share Beltane blessings. You may be able to organise an online Beltane ritual together, or plan a visualisation or spell you can each do separately at a co-ordinated time and then check back in with each other later to check how it went for everyone.
- Many well-known Pagans are offering on-line meditations and rituals you can join, so check out the websites and Facebook pages of your favourite Pagan leaders/writers/etc to see what is on offer.
- Beltane is all about pleasure, beauty and love, so show yourself a bit of self-love and devise a pampering ritual as a way to celebrate. Cleanse in preparation by using your favourite toiletries - have a home-made facial - soak in scented bathwater - use a salt body scrub and moisturise afterwards with your most luxurious body lotion. Dress in your favourite clothes. Clean and tidy your altar. Put fresh flowers on it (if you can). Burn your favourite incense. Prepare your favourite food, and pour a glass of your favourite beverage (springwater? mead? freshly squeezed juice?). Light a candle and sit in front of your altar giving thanks for everything for which you're grateful. Home, health, relationship with deities, loved ones, pets, food on your table, hobbies, favourite books/songs/films, anything which brings you joy... Toast yourself, celebrate yourself with your homemade feast. Remember 'All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals'.
- If you are creative by nature, you could make your own mini-maypole as an altar decoration. Check out Pinterest for more inspiration.
In conclusion, with a little ingenuity and adaptation we can still celebrate the Wheel of the Year, even if we aren't able to do so in the way we would in more normal times. After all, even in those 'normal times' things don't always go to plan!
Above all, remember: Beltane is a celebration of life. Honour and protect your life and the lives of those around you by observing social distancing and staying home if you can. Blessed Be!