PSG Registration is Now Open!

It’s that time again!

Pagan Spirit Gathering has opened its registration process for the 2016 PSG festival and now’s the time to get your registration in while the prices are lowest!

Why Should I Go to PSG?

The reasons are innumerable to attend Pagan Spirit Gathering.  No matter what you want from a festival, it’s here.  Top notch classes taught by knowledgeable instructors, phenomenal entertainment from the best Pagan musicians, as well as vendors whose wares cater to your every need, greet you at every turn.

Location, Location, Location

Pagan Spirit Gathering is changing location this year to Tall Tree Lake in Vienna, Illinois.  The site has a 40 acre pond for swimming and boating, wonderful camping areas, and a reinstated feature of “generator camp” for those RV’ers who would like power to their campers and bring a generator.  There will be more space for a variety of rituals, and of course, some of the best people to hang out with for a week.

The Particulars

When: June 19-26, 2016

Where: Tall Tree Lake, Vienna, Illinois

Who: YOU!

RSVP: Register HERE  


Pagan Spirit Gathering is a festival facilitated by Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin.  Check out their website for Circle Sanctuary  for more details about the work they do!

PSG 2015: The Year of Community

The Green, lovingly renamed Labyrinth Loch ~ © 2015 photo by Chris Eldridge

The Green, lovingly renamed Labyrinth Loch
~ © 2015 photo by Chris Eldridge

Pagan Spirit Gathering 2015

I don’t really even know where to start telling you about Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) 2015.  We had such high hopes for a beautiful week, filled with love, friendship, and community.  The theme, after all, was “Celebrating Community”.  What we didn’t know was how true that theme was going to become.

Three Rivers Pagans had a contingency of six, three that were 1 year veterans, and three virgins.  The veterans had told the virgins what to expect, what might happen, and what they would see that was vastly different than our conservative town has to offer.  For some, it could be quite the culture shock.  There’s no judgement at PSG, from how you want to dress to how you practice your faith.  There’s no “you’re doing it wrong”.  People actually ask how you are doing and they mean it.  They also pitch in to help when something happens.  That was totally evident when disaster struck at Stonehouse Farm, the venue for PSG.

Disaster Strikes

Rains had plagued the area leading up to the week of PSG, June 14-21, 2015.  The ground was wet, mud was plentiful, but everyone was in high spirits.  We set up our camps on Sunday in the rain, but a little rain doesn’t dissuade us from much.  Monday brought more downpours and a lot of mud.  As a Tribe, we became mud people, trudging everywhere through it, our feet covered to our ankles.  Shortly after 5 pm on Monday, the word came through: we were going to flood and we had to move quickly.  Guardians, people that take on the responsibility for keeping everyone safe during the festival, were assembled, along with anyone that could help.  Cars and tents were in the floodplain and it wasn’t going to be long before they were underwater.  A dam upstream was going to be opened to let water out of Shabbona Lake and we were in the path of that water.  It was time to move.

Teams fanned out, calling out to people to move their cars if they were in the lower parking lot.  Some of them were stuck, but people volunteered to push, pull, and drag them out of the mud and rising waters.  People stood at the top of the hill, urging drivers to slow down and reassuring them that they were on high ground, safe, and that nothing would hurt them.  Hours later, a mere 8 cars were left, their owners unknown.  Many of them were totalled, having taken on water and mud when the waters rose.
People who were camped on the lower end of the campground around the pond and Grandmother Willow were helped to high ground.  Many had to leave their belongings behind, watching as the water rose and engulfed everything they brought with them, leaving a sludge of mud coating most everything.  I helped direct traffic for a while, holding up safety tape to allow management vehicles to pass.  I watched as people lugged up their tents and whatever they could carry, a look of shock on all of their faces.  The displaced found lodging in other camps where they were welcomed with open arms.  New friends were made, families were forged through the trial of water.

On High Ground

At the TRP camp, we were floored early on when we were told that although we were on very high ground, some 10 feet or more above the floodplains, we were being evacuated.  We were on the edge of the flood zone and we needed to get to safety.  Fifteen minutes.  We had a mere fifteen minutes to grab what we could and find our way to higher ground.  It was hard, I’m not going to lie.  I set our virgins on a path that I knew would take them away from the flooding, but I stayed behind.  Two members of our camp had gone to move cars and I didn’t know where they were.  When one of them returned, we ran, praying to the Goddess that the last missing member was safe with guardians.  When she met up with us later, she had been helping push out cars from the mud, but she was safe.  The hardest thing I’ve ever done was take three people who did not know the terrain and send them to safety, not knowing where they were when I made the trek myself.

Monday night we were able to return to camp.  We were very waterlogged, muddy, and a mess, but everything was ok.  We were alive, together, and could support each other.

Festival Ends Early

Tuesday morning, our traditional morning meeting was mandatory.  It was announced that we all had to leave.  PSG 2015 was over.  It was time to go home.  Days early.  I looked around as the realization hit everyone.  In its 35th year, PSG was going to end early for the first time.  The land could not support us in its waterlogged state.  The shower house was overrun with water as was the septic system.  It was no longer safe for us to stay.  I spent the day organizing camp slowly, not aware of my own feelings yet.  I was shell shocked.  TRP members spread out through the camps, helping others less fortunate than we were, getting them packed up and out of the venue safely.  I’ve never been prouder of a group of people.

One Final Hurrah

Tuesday night, we grieved.  We partied.  We drank.  And we listened to some of the best music ever played.  Bardapalooza happened in the pavilion and it was glorious.  SJ Tucker, Celia Ferran, Mama Gina, Spiral Rhythm, and a host of others all lent voices and talent to keep us entertained and brighten our spirits.  We were blessed to hear a beautiful story from Janet Farrar.  Firespinners went all out on the only night they were going to get to spin.  And of course, there was drumming and dancing around the Sacred Fire.

Wednesday brought our leave.  We were helped by wonderful people to get our gear down to the parking lot, far from where we camped.  We loaded up and headed to showers at a truck stop.  They were glorious.  We hadn’t showered since Sunday, and it was much needed.


Now that we are home, we are working on healing the deep cuts to our psyche from seeing such devastation.  No matter how much you helped out, it never seemed enough.  No matter how many people you fed or pulled out of the floodzone, there were still more.  But as a community, we came together.  We got things done faster and more efficiently than any government agency could ever think to do.  Together, we celebrated community in the best way possible: by becoming that which we celebrated.

Getting Festival-Ready



It’s been a long winter.  The cold and snow seemed to really bring people down this year, and it seem to extend long into our traditional spring.  The energy and wonderful feelings of the last outdoor festivals of last year are fading a bit, but that wonderful season is about to start again.  It’s time to get out your camping gear, clean things up, and check you list twice before heading out to some great events with fabulous people.  But what do you really need when you go camping at a Pagan event?

First and foremost, you need shelter.  Whether you use a tent that’s been in your family for years or a new one out of the box, or even have a camper, you need to make sure it’s in good working order and you know how to set it up.  Consider if you are going to be by yourself or if you’ll have others staying with you and make sure everyone knows how to set up and take down the equipment.  Before you head out to your first festival of the season, make sure all the seams are waterproofed and that it’s all nice and clean.  There’s nothing worse than setting up your home for the week and realizing there’s a hole in the fabric or that it’s moldy.  Ok, maybe there’s one thing that’s worse.  Realizing you left poles or tent stakes at home.


Along with shelter, you need bedding.  Make sure it’s bedding that you are going to be comfortable with for the duration of your festival, and take at least one more blanket than you think you need.  You never know if you’ll get a night that is a bit colder than normal, or if you’ll get a sunburn (like I usually do) and want a little extra warmth for a night or two.  Take care to make sure you have batteries for an air mattress pump, and that you have an alternative plan if your bed springs a leak.  My favorite that I’ve used for a few festivals is a thinner queen size air mattress with a memory foam mattress pad over the top.  The pad is washable, which is perfect after a hot and sweaty festival.  I actually hate going home to my big king size comfy bed after I’ve been on the air mattress.

Will you be cooking at the festival or are you going to eat from vendors?  If you’re cooking, precook everything you can.  Make sure you have a list of meals and all the ingredients, including spices.  You don’t necessarily need a list of what meals on what day, but don’t take your whole kitchen “just in case” either.  If you are planning on eating at the vendors, do some research as to what types will be there and how people like their food.  Take plenty of money and put it in a safe place.  And don’t forget to inquire about ingredients if you have allergies.


Water or other hydration is exceptionally important at summer festivals.  There are two festivals that are a must for me in the summer, and I have to treat the water issue differently at each one.  The first one is held at a location that has very iron-filled water, to the point that it comes out of the spigot orange.  I can’t stand the taste.  The first year we tried to filter it with a Brita filter.  Even running it through twice didn’t make it better, although keeping it cold and adding lemonade mix made it tolerable.  This year, I’m bringing bottled water, in gallons to produce less waste.  At another festival I attend, the water is perfect with a Brita filter, if I remember to change the filter from the first festival.  So know the quality of the water at the location you are going to and make adjustments as needed.  Staying hydrated is very important!

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time for the fun stuff!  Clothing, depending on the festival, can be any variety.  Think of comfort, especially with the weather.  I love flowing dresses, capris, tanks, sandals, and just easy things to wear.  Don’t forget a light jacket or sweatshirt, and if you like, jingling skirts for dancing around bonfires.  Festivals are a time where you can shed your mundane clothing and get creative.  I see a lot of people, men and women, in sarongs and they look pretty darn comfortable.

Other things to bring to a festival are musical instruments!  Drums, rattles, guitars, anything that can make beautiful music and you are comfortable in playing is perfect for festivals.  I have a djembe that I adore and take with me, as well as a rattle egg.


Lastly, take a moment and make yourself up a portable altar, if you are so inclined.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and probably shouldn’t be expensive, but pack up a few things that make you feel at home.  I usually add a few crystals, a Goddess statue I made, a battery operated candle, and an altar tile.  I have a little handmade table that packs flat and a pretty cloth I toss over it, and it’s a great focal point when I need to take some time and meditate or just get away for a few minutes.

There are a lot of other things you can and might need to take with you.  Before heading out to any festival you haven’t been to before, ask other people that go what you need to bring.  Most often, the festival has a list they can provide for you.  Camping at Pagan festivals is one of the most rewarding things I do during the summer.  The friendships I’ve made and connections I forged are wonderful things that keep me going through the long winter months.  I heartily recommend hitting up some Pagan or other festivals.  It’s well worth your time!

Reclaiming Your Power

“You can’t be a victim, and a magician…”-Amber K

Within many sects of Paganism it seems there is a lot of thoughts, actions, and words that feed into a victim mentality. We blame others for our short comings. We blame being a minority for our lot in life. We blame others in our community for our own hang ups. Yet we don’t look in the mirror and see what is the biggest obstacle in owning our own power. We don’t see that at times we are our own worst enemies. I know I have been guilty of it, but improving bit by bit.

We also take away our power by apologizing for things we don’t need to. For example while at Chrysalis Moon some people were talking about how they were embarassed by how they sounded singing. The ladies running the workshop stopped the discussion there and stated that there is no reason to apologize. It is time to own their own power and their own voice.

This is a call for that. We as a community need to stand tall and take hold of our power. We need to no longer let the world around us make us victims. We need to realize the power of our own actions and words. After all isn’t that what magic is about? Isn’t it about the power of our words. The power of our thought. The power of our intent. The power of the action and follow through. If we don’t claim that power than what good is it to do ritual? What good is it to do any magic?

Our words and thoughts form our universe. We have forgotten this. Have been told that we are not able to shape the world around us. We let the noise and problems of the real world taint us. We are walkers between the worlds. We go between the magic and the mundane. We must remember this.
I understand how we all are victims of something or another. Victims of abuse. Victims of rape. Victims of class warfare. Victims of this and that. Sooner or later you need to move on. No longer letting others take your power. No longer letting others set the course you set. Set your own course. Use these lessons wisely. Just don’t let them put you in a rut. Don’t let them take away your power by letting them live in your head. By letting them live in your energy. By letting them consume your life. For then your power will be lessen.

To close out in the words of the ladies mentioned earlier at Chrysalis Moon, Lucinda Sohen and Corey Rose. “You are beautiful. You are Wonderful. Just the way you are”

In Service of the Lord and Lady,

Cadell Ea Wolfram

Making New Year’s Resolutions Work

Happy New Year 2015. 3d


The Julian calendar New Year is upon us!  A lot of Americans are planning out their resolutions, but how many of us really stick with them?  Not very many!  In fact, only about 8% of the people that make resolutions actually stick with them to completion.  So what can you do to achieve success with your resolutions?

  1.  When making resolutions, make them very specific yet attainable.  Saying “I’m going to lose weight” is a weak resolution, while saying “I’m going to exercise 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, increase my water intake to 10 glasses a day, and eat 4 vegetarian meals a week” is a much stronger goal.
  2. Find a resolution buddy.  Even if your resolutions aren’t the same, being accountable to someone else keeps us moving towards are goals.  Sit down once a week, maybe over a cup of coffee or tea, and talk about your progress for the week.
  3. Don’t make too many resolutions.  Many people fail because they have far too many resolutions to keep track of and make changes for in their lives.  Choose one or two areas of your life you want to improve.
  4. Instead of making “I’m going to give up X” resolutions, turn it around to an action resolution.  Replace “I’m going to give up smoking” with “Every time I want to smoke, I’m going to take a 5 minute walk.”  Make it achievable and a good alternative to the behavior you want to change.
  5. Don’t get down on yourself when you screw up.  We all screw up when we are making changes to our lives.  Habits are hard to break sometimes.  Explore why you went back to the old behavior.  Was it where you were or who you were with?  Make changes so you don’t sabotage yourself again.

Resolutions are good things to have.  They help you change directions in your life when you need to, replacing bad habits with good ones.  Just remember to make them attainable and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals!

Standing Up for Paganism

Goddess Shrine at Circle Sanctuary 2013

Goddess Shrine at Circle Sanctuary, Wisconsin

We’re Being Recognized

Pagan paths are increasingly becoming more accepted in the United States.  In recent years, we’ve seen the military place pentacles and Mjolnirs on headstones, which was a huge project through Circle Sanctuary and several of the ministers there.  At the beginning of November, Wiccan Priest Blake Kirk gave the invocation at the city council meeting in Huntsville, Alabama.  There are so many ways that the Pagan faiths are finding their way into everyday American life.

But what are YOU doing to show the positive aspects of our faiths and trying to dispel the myths that are abundant?  By our nature, we don’t proselytize.  In many of our different sects, it’s strictly forbidden.  This doesn’t mean that we have to remain quiet however when untruths are told.  I think it’s our duty to try to gently educate when these situations come up.

We’re Being Misrepresented

Take for example the recent article on Time Magazine’s website, “Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life” by Jennifer Latson.  There are so many untruths in this article that you have to wonder if the writer actually sought out any information about the true nature of Witchcraft or Paganism in any form.  While this article is quite detrimental to the Pagan faiths, it can also be a launching point to show what we are really about.  For most Pagans, it’s not about damning people with spells or making lives miserable.  Many of us, but not all, are healers and peaceful people.  That was not reflected in the article at all.

Using Moments for Gentle Education

I once brought it up to a friend that was very firm in her Christian faith that the Pagan faiths are used as slurs nearly every day.  Saying such things as “She’s such a witch!’ may be a colloquialism, but it’s also degrading to Pagans and Witches in particular.  I asked her what she would think if someone said “Man, that woman is such a dirty Christian!”  She sat back and thought about it for a minute and said that she hadn’t realized that what she was saying was really offensive until I said it in that context.  A few weeks later I heard her correct someone she knew, saying that it was offensive.  It was a teachable moment.

We have teachable moments every day of our lives.  Whether it be something on the Pagan track or something else, stand up and make the point.  Gently.  Don’t get in people’s faces, but let them know why their speech is offensive.  Gently put it in context they can understand.  Don’t hate on any faith, and don’t let someone trample on yours.

Pagan Spirit Gathering – A Virgin Experience

Every year, between Father’s Day and Summer Solstice, Pagans from across the globe gather together to celebrate.  Celebrate the Solstice, celebrate life, and celebrate being Pagan.  And they also celebrate lifecycles, from birth to death and everything in between.  What is this wondrous occasion?  Pagan Spirit Gathering!


Selena Fox

Selena Fox

Pagan Spirit Gathering is a festival run by Selena Fox’s Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin.  (Full disclosure here: I’m studying in Circle’s Minister in Training Program.)  Members of Circle’s community plans, organizes, and carries out PSG every year, since 1980.  While the location changes from time to time, the energy and spirit of the gathering remains.

This year was my first (aka Virgin) year at PSG.  And I have to say it was like going home.  From the moment I drove into the gate and heard the words, “Welcome Home!” to the moment I left, waving and shouting at friends new and old, I was home.  In a sea full of strangers.  There were 1100 people registered for this year’s PSG, held at Stonehouse Farm in Earlville, Illinois.  While that might be a lot for some, really, it created a wonderful village, complete with restaurants and shops of every kind, as well as literally hundreds of workshops, many rituals, and other fun times.


The Community Heart created by enCHANTment Camp for the main evening ritual

The Community Heart created by enCHANTment Camp for the main evening ritual

Workshops, rituals, and other meetings are run by prominent Pagan leaders, including special guests that are brought in every year.  This year, the guests of honor were H. Byron Ballard, Helen Bond, T. Thorn Coyle, Arthur Hinds and Kathryn Hinds.  They covered classes from Appalachian Hoodoo to music and chanting, to becoming your own battle Goddess.  It was a wide variety of topics, for sure.


Morning meeting opening with Arthur Hinds

Morning meeting opening with Arthur Hinds

Every year, Selena hosts a series of classes called the Ministers’ Intensive.  There is a theme every year, and this year, it was “Supporting Life Passages”.  As part of the Ministers in Training class, I was required to take these workshops, which were held in the afternoon.  The topics ranged from birth rituals to death and funerals, with everything in between.  It was a wonderful way to learn about the Circle Craft method of designing rituals.

Besides having special guests for workshops, there were also special musical guests.  Concerts were performed by Arthur and Kathryn Hinds, Spiral Rhythms, Celia, Diamana Diya, Picti, and Tuatha Dea.  The talent was beyond amazing, and there were several concerts every day that were meant to impress.  Whether you wanted to hear your music all amped up, or acoustic, in the bright afternoon sun or under the twinkling stars, it was all there for you to experience.  You could even sit and listen during a rainstorm on the right day.

Throughout the camp, there was a childcare center, place for teens and tweens to meet, as well as a Warrior Spirit Camp for those active and veteran military people.  There were also several other camps, such as Amethyst Camp for recovering addicts, Rainbow Camp for the LBGTQ community, and EnCHANTment Camp for those who love to sing.  There really is a place for everyone!

There was also a ritual for just about everyone.  From babies, both born and unborn, to Crones and Sages, everyone was represented.  New this year was a Daughters of the Dark Moon ritual, aimed at women who were no longer everyday mothers, and who might or might not have stopped menses, but didn’t feel ready to Crone.  I talked to several women who went through the ritual and they said it was very powerful.  We welcomed several girls into the tribe as young women, as well as several boys as young men.  It was a pleasure and an honor to witness all of these groups of people being transformed for their next chapter in their lives.

If you’ve never been to a big Pagan festival, this is one to surely attend.  There is truly something for everyone, and it’s a great way to meet Pagans from across the country and around the world.  Check out Circle Sanctuary for more details and to watch for the sign up period!

Pictures provided by Bob Paxton, used with permission.  All rights retained by Bob Paxton.

Chrysalis Moon: Best Little Pagan Festival in Indiana

Chrysalis Moon Logo 2014

Chrysalis Moon

If you’ve never been to a Pagan festival, or even if you are a seasoned veteran from way back, Chrysalis Moon is a festival you don’t want to miss.  Last year was the first year I attended and I’ve been counting down the days til I get to go again.  Seriously.  I’m counting.  90 days until I make the 2 hour trip from Fort Wayne, as of the day I’m posting this.  I’m excited not only to be going to Chrysalis Moon again, but I’m excited to be going with so many of my friends.

What is Chrysalis Moon and Why is it so Special?

Chrysalis Moon is a Pagan festival held in Tippecanoe River State Park, in Winnemac, Indiana.  There are special guests, musical guests, and classes taught by members of the Pagan community.  This year, the special guests are Pagan authors Joyce and River Higgenbotham, and healing practitioners Corirose Anjali and Lucinda Anjali.  The musical guests, returning for the second year in a row, is Murphy’s Midnight Rounders.  They were a blast last year and I can’t wait to reconnect with them this year.

Chrysalis Moon is special for many reasons.  The classes are amazing, with a wide variety of topics.  This year, one of our own community members, Mark Pope, will be teaching a class on Asatru practices.  Every night, there is a big bonfire with a drumming circle and dancing, as well as revelry and fun.  You can walk the labyrinth if you like, which is created by lit tealight candles.  (I encourage walking the labyrinth, especially if you’ve never walked one before.  It’s life changing.)  On Saturday evening, there is a large ritual based on the theme of the year.  It’s 5 days of fun, learning, and community, that is inexpensive and fantastic.

One of the things that sets Chrysalis Moon apart from other festivals you might have attended is the accomodations.  Instead of bringing your tent, cabins are provided in your fees.  They are wooden buildings reminiscent of Scout camp.  They have beds and doors and a roof and everything!  Four camps are set up in circles, with a lodge that has electricity, along with six other smaller cabins, a fire circle, and a flush toilet station.  The fifth, center camp has a couple of cabins where the special guests stay, as well as a kitchen for them and a larger fire circle.  Meals are on your own, so you do need to bring food and some way to cook it, as well as a screen tent if you like.  Sleeping tents are not permitted, but there’s plenty of space in the cabins.

Last year, we stayed only for Friday through Sunday and this year we are going to stay the whole event, Wednesday through Sunday.  We want first crack at the wonderful vendors and we don’t want to miss a beat when it comes to classes and community.  It’s a great way to get out of town for a few days on the cheap and chill in nature with awesome people.

How do I Learn More about Chrysalis Moon?

For more information, check it out at their website!  Classes and rituals are listed as well as prices and other important information.  There’s still time to get your registration in.  Tell them you are going to be with Three Rivers Pagans to get in our camp!  We are taking up residence in Earth camp this year, the northernmost cabin pod in the park.  Closer to the event, we’ll get together to plan things like shared meals and carpooling too to save money on the trip.  So let me know you’re coming along!  Chrysalis Moon is sure to be the best time spent this summer!

Chrysalis Moon logo used with permission.  Artist: Cern Greenman


Heart Candle

Please take a moment this morning and send healing energy and Reiki to the 20 injured people that were affected in the mass stabbing in the Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Healing to any and all those affected, from students to employees and family, and most importantly to the person that was hurting enough to cause pain to others. May they all find healing and peace. Please burn a candle for healing and peace today. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they try to piece this tragedy together in the coming days, weeks, months and even years.

What’s in a Name?

~by Pandora Silverfin

Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane.  It is one of eight solar Sabbats.  This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic word Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing).  Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May day, or on April 30th.

Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals.  The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate.  In the Irish Gaelic language, the month of May is known as Mí Bhealtaine or Bealtaine, and the festival as Lá Bealtaine (‘day of Bealtaine’ or, ‘May Day’).  In the Scottish Gaelic language, the month is known as either (An) Cèitean or a’ Mhàigh, and the festival is known as Latha Bealltainn or simply Bealltainn.  The feast was also known as Céad Shamhain or Cétshamhainin from which the word Céitean derives.  Beltane was formerly spelt Bealtuinn in the Scottish Gaelic language; in Manx it is spelled Boaltinn or Boaldyn.  In Modern Irish, Oíche Bhealtaine is May Eve, and Lá Bealtaine is May Day.

Beltane was an ancient Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.  It marked the beginning of summer and was linked to similar festivals held elsewhere in Europe, such as the Welsh Calan Mai and the Germanic Walpurgis Night.  Beltane and Samhain were the leading terminal dates of the civil year in medieval Ireland, though the latter festival was the more important.  It is a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun’s progress between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.  The astronomical date for this midpoint is nearer to 5 May or 7 May, but this can vary from year to year.  In modern Scottish Gaelic, Latha Buidhe Bealltainn or Là Buidhe Bealltainn (‘the yellow day of Bealltain’) is used to describe the first day of May.  This term Lá Buidhe Bealtaine is also used in Irish and is translated as ‘Bright May Day’.

According to Nora Chadwick, in Celtic Ireland “Beltine (or Beltaine) was celebrated on 1 May, a spring-time festival of optimism.  Fertility ritual again was important, in part perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun, symbolized by the lighting of fires through which livestock were driven, and around which the people danced in a sunwise direction.”  In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods “A-Maying,” and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning.  Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night.  May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians started at Bealtaine.  Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Aos Sí.  Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on 31 October, Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand.  Excavations at Uisnech in the 20th century provided evidence of large fires taking place.

Beltane and Beltane-based festivals are held by some Neopagans.  As Neopaganism can vary largely from tradition to tradition, representations can vary greatly despite the shared name.  Some celebrate in a way as near as possible to how the ancient Gaels did, while others observe the holiday with rituals taken from sundry unrelated sources, Gaelic culture being only one of the sources used.

Neopagans usually celebrate Beltane on 30 April–1 May in the Northern Hemisphere and 31 October–1 November in the Southern Hemisphere.  Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice (or the full moon nearest this point).  In the Northern Hemisphere, this midpoint is when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 45 degrees. In 2014, this is on 5 May.