Beltane! Sacred Sex, Fire, Activation and Shared Renewal

by Vivian Hadleigh on April 27, 2015


The Pagan traditions associated with the fire festival Beltane, or May Day (traditionally celebrated May 1 or 5), are an erotic and joyful celebration of life and fertility. Sap is rising in plants, animals and humans, and it’s mating season for most species.

Birds are singing to stake out territory, and you might catch some interesting mating displays interspersed with frantic twig-collecting for nests. Animals everywhere are stepping out two by two (after the dust has settled from male territorial disputes).

And in earlier times, people twined ribbons around a magnificently phallic Maypole in a seductive dance, decorated themselves with ribbons and flowers, lit fires on every hillside and jumped over them in handfasting ceremonies, and then sneaked off to complete the whole lusty process (with or without the benefit of handfasting commitments) in the warm, welcoming, rustling, giggling, starlit darkness.

And, most important, the goddess and the god consummate their mating in the Great Rite, which assures fertility and renewal of the land for another year.

 Sacred Sexuality

The Great Rite, as well as Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist tantra, are the most powerful examples of sacred sexual practice known today. One of the best known examples of the Great Rite is told in the ancient stories of Mesopotamian goddess Inanna and her consort Dumuzi.

In the traditional Great Rite, the king and queen, or a priestess and priest representing them, bind themselves to the land and all who dwell there in a pact of awakening and renewal. As the masked scene in the movie DaVinci Code showed, the event is often, but not always, witnessed by fellow celebrants. In ancient times, the community as a whole usually witnessed and participated vicariously as the king and queen blessed the land and their lives in a public expression of the sacrament of sex.

The ritual usually takes place at a sacred site, perhaps in a circle of standing stones, or another site where Earth energy, in the form of ley lines and vortexes, is most intense. The celebrants blend their energies sexually while connecting with the Earth’s currents and lines of energy to assure abundant crops, and to further the health and well-being of the nation, the community and the land, both wild and cultivated.

Sex as an act of service or devotion can be quite different from romantic sex or eroticism, but as powerful—or more so.

There is no question that an intense sexual experience, whether or not there’s love present, can actually trigger changes in your biochemistry. The heightened state of awareness and release of energy can ignite cells, chakras, and your energy field as a whole, and can trigger significant transformation in your life as a result. That same energy, properly directed, can have a profound healing and transformational effect on the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Meditation and Ritual

You can use the following meditation, which is based on Great Rite, to support and further renewal and recovery for our troubled planet and all its inhabitants. Sacred work of this kind assists in recovery for endangered plant and animal species, and helps transmute the energies and trajectory of climate change, nuclear plant and oil spill disasters, earthquakes and violent weather, and the like.

You can do this meditation/ceremony alone or with a partner or group, adding the dynamic of actual sexual union or not. It’s very powerful and effective, no matter how you choose to enact it.

Preparation & Celebrationangel elemental PS

If you can, do this celebration outdoors at night, with a crackling fire and, even better, after you’ve done a Maypole dance and other fun Beltane rituals. If that isn’t possible, it’s good to imagine yourself doing all those things as a beginning to your meditation.

If you perform the ritual with a partner, have some fun practicing the following steps at least once before you do an actual Beltane ceremony. And it should be fun! The element of erotic play and celebration of light and promise is an important component of the healing energy.

Do this in a space that is sacred to you, whether you create it yourself or visit a spot which feels magical and full of life and promise. You also can sit in your home and simply go there in your imagination. Energy is energy, and while it might seem easier if you’re actually there, you can partake of the “vibes” of any sacred space from anywhere, especially if you’ve actually been there at least once.

Once you’ve created quiet and relaxing space, get comfortable, and go within. You may want to use the clearing and grounding meditation in the final chapter, which is also a free download at, as a beginning.

If you choose to do this alone, then work with your own inner masculine and feminine energies (see the Spring Equinox chapter), called anima and animus in Jungian psychology. If you celebrate with a partner, then awaken and raise your sexual energies with foreplay, but stop just after entry. Or do this in your imagination.

Partners, real or visualized, should remain physically or energetically linked as they do long, slow, deep breathing together.

After the breathing rhythm is established, continue it while you imagine that you are sinking into the earth, becoming part of it. Remain quiet until you can feel or imagine the Earth’s energies moving through you like a powerful river, perhaps even feeling the Earth breathe as well.

Then, in your imagination or with your partner, begin to move in the sacred dance of union, masculine and feminine energies meeting, merging, pulling back, meeting again as you build energy. Feel the currents move out further and further as the energy rises, and imagine them going anywhere you would like to send healing and renewal.

Once you have connected with the place or places where you would like to send energy, allow the Earth energies and sexual imperative to take over and direct your sacred dance until they and you reach an ecstatic peak.

You will release enormous currents of energy as you experience physical release. It usually feels first like the energy is being pulled out further and further, like water receding from the shore, and then rushing back in like a wave breaking. The waves can recede and return several times before the energy finally settles and is ready for grounding.

To complete the celebration, be sure that all residual energies are released back into the Earth. Easy ways to accomplish this include simply lying there and letting everything settle around you, or consciously releasing the energy by exhaling with your hands placed on the floor or earth…and then sharing food, drink and gratitude—joyfully.

This meditation journey, along with ones for Imbolc, Lughnasadh and Samhain, as well as the Solstices and Equinoxes, is available in my book Sacred Cycles: Ancient Doorways to Inner Space, available on

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