Apr 29, 2019
pagan handfasting at civil wedding

Unless you’re a Pagan, it may have escaped you that today is Beltane. It’s a fire ritual and has some interesting traditions.

What is it?

Beltane is a fire festival, and originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’, meaning fire.

Beltane honours life. Taking place on 30th April, it represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. The theme is fertility.

On the eve of the month of May, the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak.

The Maiden goddess has reached her fullness. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal. She can be known as Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen or the May Bride.

The Young Oak King or Jack-in-the-Green or the Green Man falls in love with her and she accepts him.

The May Queen falls pregnant.

The couple are symbols of the Sacred Marriage, the union of Earth and Sky. This is the night of the Greenwood Marriage.

Beltane traditions

As this is a fire festival, bonfires are lit to honour the sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to prosper the coming harvest and protect the community.

Traditionally, all fires in the community would have to be extinguished. Then a special fire, known as ‘tein-eigen’, or ‘need-fire’ is kindled for Beltane.

,People would jump the fire for cleansing, purification, and fertility. Some couples would jump together (to pledge continuing fidelity) and cattle and other animals would be driven through the smoke as a protection against disease and to bring fertility.

Finally, the villagers would take some of the Tein-eigen to start their own fires again.


As Beltane celebrates the Great Wedding of the Goddess and the God, it is a popular time for pagan weddings or handfastings.

If you would like to find out more about how you can mark Beltane, it’s possibly a little late now! However, if you’d like to consider a handfasting, then please get in touch!

For some ideas, please have a look at my YouTube channel (and subscribe!):