Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin and is celebrated on the 31st October in the Southern Hemisphere.
Beltane is the twin and mirror reflection of Samhain. As the veils grow thin at Samhain at the beginning of winter so too do they thin on Beltane. There is a magick in the air as the days lengthen and the nights get warmer. Our minds and bodies respond to this, our hearts lighten, we start wearing lighter clothes and mundane work gets harder for school child and employee alike as we all daydream, craving to be doing outdoor activities, basking in the warming Sun’s rays. In November (in the southern hemisphere) the spirits of nature and the fey peek through those thinned veils, taunting us and teasing us to come out and play and it is tradition to leave an offering of sweets or cream for the wee folk this time of year, particularly on Beltane eve.
EARLY MYTHS AND LEGENDS
In Ireland, one of the early races of conquerors was known as the Tuatha de Danaan, and they were considered mighty and powerful. It was believed that once the next wave of invaders arrived, the Tuatha went underground. In hiding from the Milesians, the Tuatha evolved into Ireland’s faerie race. Typically, in Celtic legend and lore, the Fae are associated with magical underground caverns and springs — it was believed that a traveler who went too far into one of these places would find himself in the Faerie realm.
Another way to access the world of the Fae was to find a secret entrance. These were typically guarded, but every once in a while an enterprising adventurer would find his way in. Often, he found upon leaving that more time had passed than he expected.
In several tales, mortals who spend a day in the fairy realm find that seven years have passed in their own world.
It is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse on the eve of Beltane. Roving about, she will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides through the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you.
WELCOMING THE FAE INTO YOUR GARDEN
If your tradition is one that celebrates the magical link between mortals and Faeries, you may want to take advantage of the fertile Beltane season to invite the Fae into your garden. Here are some ways you can make your outdoor space welcoming to the Fae.
- Build small houses or caves out of stones in your yard. Tuck them into hidden places under bushes, or in your flower garden.
- Craft small wooden chairs and tables to place outside. Paint them in bright colors, and wrap them in ivy or other vining plants.
- Some people believe the Fae are attracted to water. Place a birdbath or a small wishing well as an inviting spot for Faeries.
- Create a circle of stones as a magical place for the Fae.
- Faeries are often associated with the sound of bells. Make a bell wand and place it in a spot where the breeze with catch it and draw the Fae in, or hang tiny bells from your tree branches.
Some gardeners believe that certain types of flowers are practically magnets for the faerie folk. If you’d like to attract them to your flower garden, plant things like sunflowers, tulips, heliotrope and other flowers that typically draw butterflies. Your herb garden can be a good place for faeries as well, if you include plants such as rosemary, thyme, mugwort, and members of the mint family.
If you’re partial to trees, in addition to your flower and herb gardens, you might want to consider planting tree that are associated with the Fae. Oak trees, in particular, are often linked to faeries, and in some areas it is believed that a great oak is the home of the Faerie King. Another tree to plant for the fae is the hawthorn, which is seen as a portal to the faerie realm. Along with the ash tree, known as a home for faerie clans, the oak and hawthorn form a perfect trifecta of fae-attracting trees.
In Australia (the southern hemisphere) we advance the holiday calendar six months to coincide with the natural seasons as they occur in their local climates. Beltane is about honouring life, fertility and the arrival of summer in all its glory, while our friends in the northern hemisphere celebrate Samhain (Halloween).