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Prayers for the Celtic Year - Beltaine

Praying through the Celtic year - Beltaine


For the Celts, Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when the herds of livestock were driven out to the summer pastures and mountain grazing lands.

Bealtaine is a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Since the Celtic year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, it is possible that the holiday was celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. The astronomical date for this midpoint is closer to May 5 or May 7, but this can vary from year to year

The lighting of bonfires on Oidhche Bhealtaine ('the eve of Bealtaine') on mountains and hills of ritual and political significance was one of the main activities of the festival, marking a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on October 31 Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand.

Another common aspect of the festival which survived up until the early 20th century in Ireland was the hanging of May Boughs on the doors and windows of houses and the erection of May Bushes in farmyards.
(source: Wikipedia)

For the purposes of this website, we shall take elements from the ancient festival and use them in a celebration of the start of summer, with emphasis on the harvest to come, and upon the need for renewal - symbolised by the fire of the Celtic celebration.

nb. This has been written with the hope that it might be appropriate both for Christian groups to use, and also as a means of reaching out to those on the fringes, those who seeking after spiritual fulfilment but attracted more to the ancient pagan rituals and customs of this time of year. Please give me some feedback so that this liturgy might be refined over time.


celtic preayers A Christian liturgy for Beltane

Let's just spend a moment or two in quietness. Consider winter's chill when all was still, with seed and plant lying dormant, followed by the rising sun and warming air of Spring, green shoots emerging, leaves unfurling, blossom shouting its praise to the Creator. And now the beauty of a summer's day.




God of winter's cold, of clear sky and frozen river.
All: We praise your Holy Name

God of spring's warmth, April showers, waking life.
All: We praise your Holy Name

God of summer sun, warming earth, sprouting seed.
All: We praise your Holy Name

God of summer pasture and mountain stream
All: We praise your Holy Name

God of root and shoot, of harvest to come
All: We praise your Holy Name


Lord, through your power all things were made, through your wisdom all things are governed. Through your grace all things are sustained. Give us power to serve you, wisdom to discern your laws, and grace to obey those at all times.
(Edmund of Abingdon, c 1180-1240)



Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world
the endless cycle of nature
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see
our lips to praise
and our hands to share
May our feet tread lightly on the path we tread
and our footsteps be worthy of following
for they lead to you.


Here a song, chant or hymn might be sung


‘Sow everywhere the good seed given to you. Sow in good ground, sow in sand, sow among the stones, sow on the oad, sow among the weeds. Perhaps some of these seeds will open up and grow and bring forth fruit, even if not at once'
Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833) Russian monk


'Lord, purge our eyes to see
within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly,
Til, taught by such, we see
beyond all creatures, thee.'
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)


'We do not know God from his essence. We know him rather from the grandeur of his creation and from his providential care for all creatures,'
Maximus the Confessor (c580-662)



The warmth of the sun's embrace
the gentle breeze swept in by incoming tide
the rhythm of seasons
of new birth
death and recreation
All these speak so clearly of your love
your power
and your beauty
All are expressions of your creativity
and more importantly of yourself
As an artist might share his personality
within each brushstroke
so within the myriad colours of a butterfly's wing
you share the exuberance of your love

That we can glimpse you within creation
is a beautiful thought
but also tells us that you desire to be seen
to be found and known
Open our eyes, Lord
as we walk through this world
feel the wind and sunshine
see the majesty of creation unfolding before our eyes
Help us to see you



Psalm 19
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.



(A time of intercession might be appropriate at this point, either silent or aloud, praying for areas of the world where life is a struggle. For those whose lives lack hope, who cannot see the beauty in the world because they live in poverty, who fear for another failed harvest and hunger to follow)



God of renewal
of life and death
All: Renew our hearts and minds

God of promise
of all beginnings
and all endings
All: Renew our hearts and minds

God of hope
of new growth
and harvest
All: Renew our hearts and minds


Together we say

We bless you,
God of Seed and Harvest
And we bless each other
That the beauty of this world
And the love that created it
Might be expressed though our lives
And be a blessing to others
Now and always




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©John Birch · Prayers written by the author may be copied freely for worship. If reproduced elsewhere please acknowledge author/website
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