With Beltane just around the corner it seems fitting that this celebration is the focus of my first post. I am not a certified herbalist but have been drawn to herbs and flowers as long as I can remember. As a child, I would pick them from my mother’s garden with my sister and make brews in the back yard. As an adult, I have developed even more respect for these natural powerhouses and have been learning their practical and magical properties. Any and all information I present has been pulled from books, and websites on the subject and from my personal experience.
Beltane is a fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and fertility. Fertility of the earth, the body and the mind. So this is a great time to plant your intentions for the year, refocus on your relationships or simply get creative. I have created a short list of herbs and flowers most commonly used during Beltane celebrations and the methods you can use to incorporate them into your own ritual.
Herbs for Beltane Incense:
Frankincense – Famous for its use in clearing impurities, frankincense, contributes to the lightness of clarity we feel as the spring air comes sweeping back into our lives. It also offers protection for the soul and spirit.
Roses – Always representative of love, attraction and compassion it is also aids in creativity. They are the flowers of Aphrodite the Goddess of Love and represent beauty. Oil of rose is the best herbal mixture to concentrate emeralds and can be used to anoint the heart chakra before meditation. To attract a lover sprinkle rose petals as you walk thru a garden.
Mugwort – Considered a Visionary herb as it can be used in dream pillows, to concentrate crystal balls, prisms and other divinatory tools. In this context, mugwort is used for it’s reputation for heightened psychic or unconscious awareness. The time between Beltane and Midsummer’s Eve is one of the two times a year when the “veil between world’s” grows to it’s thinest (the other is Samhain). Mugwort enhances the chance to “reach through the veil” and connect with the other side.
Anise – Ruled by the Element of Air, Anise symbolizes the activity of pollen in the air at this time and it’s roll in the coming growing season. (can also substitute Peppermint)
Orange Peels -While not an herb, I include this in this incense as it symbolizes the growing power of sunlight during this time of year and adds a brightness to the fragrance. (can also substitute Lemon Rind)
Violets – Associated with faeries and woodland spirits, wild Violet sprinkled in a spring incense lends hope for wishing magic and future growth. It represents the virtues of modesty, simplicity, and peace and are specifically a source of inspiration and good fortune for women. (can also substitute Lavender)
Combine a teaspoon of the dried herbs and grind together using a mortar and pestle. Add a few pieces of frankincense resin and burn a pinch at a time on a charcoal disk in a fire safe dish such as a cauldron or abaolone shell with sand.
Flowers for Beltane:
Daisy – attraction, elf and faery magic, love and youth
Ivy – divination, friendship, love ,luck, marriage, rebirth and security
Lily if the Valley – desire, healing, love, peace and protection
Roses – blessings, clairvoyance, friendship, love and protection
Violet – calming, fertility, love, protection and prophetic dreams
Adding these flowers to your ritual space, alter or strung together in a wreath is a beautiful way to incorporate these flowers into the season.
For a finishing touch try a glass of Honey Punch.: Dissolve 1/2 cup honey in 1/2 cup boiling water. Let cool, then pour into a pitcher. Add the juice of 2 lemons, 2 cups apricot juice and 1 cup vodka. Chill. Add a bottle of sparkling apple juice. Serve over ice with a slice of lemon.
Beltane marks a point in the year when it is beneficial to reconnect with nature. Consider planting some flowers and herbs, take a nature walk or picnic in your own back yard. Whatever you do outside, take the time to notice the plants, the sounds, the scents and the sensations of the season.
Author: Cynthia Calder facilitates monthly workshops at The Zen Shop. She is a jewellery and bead artisian as well as a herbal enthusiast. Cynthia is also highly involved in the local Pagan and Wiccan community, bringing expert experience and knowledge in the field.