Bad Weather Beltane

It's the May festival, and I can hear my teeth chattering. It's raining cats and dogs, too.

So what do you do when the weather is really bad on a day that should entail making bonfires and partying?

This picture from
dangthien3010.wordpress.com
This problem is not limited to Beltane. All sorts of "vitality and joy" rituals are constructed in a way that really, really does not mesh with squelching boots. Nothing is more hopeless than finding you cannot make any flower wreaths because the plants are sulking.

This is my case this year, but I devised the Bad Weather Beltane ritual ideas some time ago. They're indoor practices that are useful when the weather is bad, but also when you are a solitary witch and don't fancy walking your park alone at night, or don't have a place to go in your area, or have mobility problems... or when, for any other reasons, you need to perform in your house what you would much rather perform underneath a starry night and majestic tree crowns. They're solitary rites, but you can easily adapt them for more people.

(In this post, "Beltane" will serve as shorthand for "occasions that - broadly speaking - celebrate vitality, reborn nature, plants, flowers, full spring and early summer, long days etc." Hopefully, whether you celebrate Beltane specifically or not, you can still find something here.)

GENERAL TIPS

  • Wear summer clothing. If you are indoors, you are hopefully warm and safe, so profit of that. In spite of the sky outside, wear your summer clothes - a flowery dress, white linen trousers, shorts, whatever feels like Summer. Go barefoot. Give the weather a hint.
  • Use fresh, Summer-y scents. Incense, or essential oils, or just some perfume sprinkled in the air - something to make you feel how you would be feeling if it wasn't for that pesky rain.
  • Work with sounds. Music that makes you think of hiking trips or bonfire parties, or, in a pinch, even actual birdsong and nature sounds, they're all on YT. Sure, they're not the real deal, and some people prefer to avoid them completely because of that, but once you get into your ritual you may find the sounds complement it nicely, even if they do come from your laptop.
  • Draw the curtains. If the weather is really bad and depressing, it may be better to just cover the windows and forget about what is outside for a moment, as  you create a small pocket of incoming summer in your room.

SPECIFIC RITUAL IDEAS


1. Fire

The most obvious element for these purposes, and a very fun one. You can't have a huge bonfire in your living room, but usually you can still enjoy some indoors fire rituals. It only takes some responsibility.

  • Fire bowl:

You will need: a heat-resistant bowl, a trivet, and some stuff to light on fire.

This is the simplest ritual of all. You just put your stuff in the bowl, put the bowl on a trivet, and light the stuff on fire. It doesn't have to be big, it will feel huge indoors anyway. Remember that there will be a lot of smoke, too.

Suitable kindling can include old matches, dry plant stems, herbs. Try to avoid paper, because it gives a huge but brief fire and unpleasant smell.

  • Fire walk:

You will need: a number of white candles, and a fire source.

Put a white candle in every room. (These can be ordinary tealights.) Throw open all the doors so you can see and pass easily from room to room. Take another candle into your hand and light it. Walk into each room and light the candle in there using the one you carry. At each lighting, you can say, or chant, sing or think a blessing of your choice. Or not. It's up to you.

  • Fire walk, there and back again:

You will need: a number of white candles, a fire source and a tray.

Do as above, but prepare a tray in the room you started in. Once all the candles are lit, go back to where you started and take the tray. Walk the rooms once again, collecting your candles on the tray, and carry your armful of light to where you want it most: your kitchen, or bedroom, or bathroom if you are planning some bath rituals next.

  • The Path:

This image from patheos.com
This is a bit of a risky ritual that I really enjoy, but it entails putting candles on the floor, walking past them and throwing cloth around them, so use your own judgement and knowledge of your situation to judge. (Also, always do that.)

You will need: a number of candles, and two shawls/scarves/pieces of cloth in different colours or patterns. One to represent the passing darkness and winter (so a white one, or blue, or black, or whatever works for you), and the other to represent the new light and vitality (red, or flowery, or a pattern of suns, or leaves, you know).

Choose a place in your house where you have enough space to walk in a straight line for at least a few paces. Set your walking path with candles (use candles that stay still, tealights or pillar candles are best) and light them. Place your "light" shawl at one end of the path. Go to the other end of the path, and wrap your "dark" shawl around yourself.
Slowly walk the path of the candles towards the other shawl. You can sing, or pray, or chant whatever you want. Also watch out not to kick the candles. When you are midway on the path, take off the dark shawl, turn around, and toss it back as far away as you can (making sure it won't land on the candles and kill everyone!). Walk the rest of the path, and wrap yourself in the new shawl.

SAFETY FOR FIRE RITUALS: always keep some water handy in case something does catch fire, preferably in a wide pitcher that gives a big gush (and not a small bottle that plops out a small stream).
Avoid putting candles straight on the carpet - put them in jars, or go where you have tiled floor, or at least use saucers.
If, for any reason, fire and candles are really unsafe in your house (pets, children, a disability, anything) you may like LED candles. I was pleasantly surprised about them, if they're well done they work.

2. Water

Water is life, and vitality, and incidentally also relax and cleanliness. Very good choice for these occasions.


Use cosmetics that smell of the sea, or invigorating, citrus smells. A luxury version is performed by a friend of mine, who always goes to a spa resort for Beltane, swims himself to exhaustion and then lays about in a jacuzzi. You can try that, too, if you can afford it.

  • Potions:

Preparing a potion to drink as a ritual is the most kitchen witchcrafty thing you can do, and much simpler than running around throwing rags onto candles.

Good ingredients for Beltane potions include orange, lemon and lime juice, pineapples, fresh ginger, hibiscus, honey, rosemary, mint, and rosehip.

3. Food

Special food is the core of any celebration. I don't think there exists any culture that doesn't prepare special dishes for holidays. And, well, Kitchen Witchcraft obliges.


  • Fruit


Bad weather should not necessarily mean you can't get seasonal fruit. Maybe it will be a little more expensive, or maybe imported from a warmer country, but that's fine. Make a little Beltane feast of berries, or a fruit salad, a cocktail of fruit and yogurt. This can count as the potion, too.


  • Spring and Summer dishes


If there is a dish that you associate with these seasons, you'll know it better than I do. Why not prepare it? For me, these are roast potatoes with rosemary butter, and even though I can't make them in a bonfire, my oven does a pretty good job. Or penne primavera, that one is cool too.

4. Music and Dance

Another common element of Beltane celebrations, and one that can be easily done indoors. If you can't go and light fires outside, how about throwing a house party, with some thematic dishes and music? I know you didn't really need me to tell you this.

But it doesn't stop there. Beltane is about vitality and energy, and it may be a good occasion to do things you don't normally do. Go to a concert, to a club, dance, meet new people. They don't have to be festive events. No one has to know you're doing this as a ritual, too.

5. Sex


This image from inlingua-edinburgh.co.uk. What? I wasn't going to post porn.
In many mythologies in many cultures of the world, intercourse between deities is associated with the Earth's awakening and a new vegetative season. It's a pretty obvious association.

Some Beltane rituals may involve symbolic representations of this idea: pictures or statues of deities having sex, or more metaphorically putting daggers into chalices, things like that. Or people being drunk and dancing naked, or even having actual sex themselves.

I will not be listing specific examples of sex-related ritual elements here, for the simple reason that Beltane celebrations do not have to be sex-related. They can be, but they do not have to be, and frankly I find the idea of "we must bang today because my spiritual practice compels me to" to be very tacky. (Also, the whole holy-sex-because-fertility thing is alienating to people who are not straight, and those who simply don't want children or worship pregnancy.)

If you want to celebrate Beltane by grabbing your SO and rocking their world, that's a pretty good idea because it's best done comfortably indoors and you can incorporate other stuff I wrote about. But I'm never going to tell people "go and have sex now." And definitely not how to do it.