In our circle, we work a strong duality between male and female energies and although we love the traditional celebrations, we always like to put our own spin on things. Beltane is a delicious High Holiday, ribald with innuendo and fun, celebrating the union between the masculine and feminine archetypes. In this blessed time of coming together, we honor the fertilization of the land and revel in the pleasures brought to us by earthly existence. That being the case, we always thought it as a little one-sided to ritualize this sacred day with only a maypole, the representation of male virility, thrusting its mighty prominence up out of the ripened land.
“But wait,” you might say. “It is thrust into the ripened land and therefore, is a natural joining of the male (pole) in the female (earth).” While that is a viable argument, it is undeniable that the pole itself with the dancing about, the twining of the ribbons, and the rigid shaft pushing mightily into the sky, is the star of the show.
Although our own group’s work is based in duality, the fact is the vast majority of our wonderful home circle members are not only female gendered and but are alpha females, so we were having none of that. “Balance!” we cried. “Let there be balance!” and thusly was born…the mayhole, which in our Beltane ritual gets equal attention to the maypole.
Our entire Beltane ritual is a representation of the act of seduction and consummation. The mayhole is a small (but mighty, by Goddess!) fire pit in our circle area. The male gendered people in the circle are responsible for lighting the fire in the mayhole, or “warming it up” as it were.
Sometimes, they have to take their time and get right down in there to get the mayhole all flaming and ready to go. Once they get the Mayhole heated up and ablaze, the female gendered circle members bless the mayhole with fragrant herbs to empower it with feminine energy like so:
Once the mayhole has been blessed and empowered with the herbs, the circle participants “jump the mayhole” to raise the energy:
Our maypole is an actual pine tree that fell in our yard a couple of weeks before one of our Beltane rituals. We use the same ribbons each year, “legacy ribbons,” upon which circle participants write their yearly wishes in Sharpie marker. The ribbons remain tied against the maypole until the morning of the next year’s Beltane when we untangle them. New wishes are then written on the ribbons each year, so that the new year builds on the progress of the previous year. More ribbons are added as needed.
The male-gendered folks plant the maypole firmly in the ground:
Yes, friends, that is snow. Last year, we woke up Beltane morning to approximately six inches of snow on the ground and some high powered Witches I know wished it away in time for ritual. Huzzah.
Once the maypole is set, we wind it through the traditional dance:
Now that both the mayhole and the maypole have received celebratory attention, it is time for the ritual consummation, lance to grail, to finalize the ritual before cakes and ale:
We first used the mayhole around fifteen years ago and honestly, Beltane just doesn’t seem the same without it anymore. When we worked in places where a fire pit was not feasible, we used a grill with the legs removed or an iron cauldron.
At a time when male and female empowerment is the focus of celebration, it seems reasonable to pay homage to the cauldron of change, the vessel of life. This is our way of doing so and I am honored to share it with you.
Thanks to Myk Aero at Aero Photography for the beautiful photos of our ritual.