One of the four major fire festivals of the Wiccan year, Beltane symbolizes birth and fertility. It’s celebrated from 30 April to 1 May with bonfires, a-maying (couples making love in the woods) and dancing around the May Pole. Fresh edible flowers, herbs, honey, spring vegetables such as dandelion and asparagus, and oatmeal are staples at this feast.
At this sabbat, we hope for communication with faery folk by enticing them with good things to eat. Honey cakes are left out overnight for them; oatmeal invites their power and magick, and brings good luck. Oatcakes, called bannocks in the Scottish tradition, are said to bring abundance in crops and livestock.
May wine comes from the German tradition and stars sweet woodruff. It begins to grow as ground cover in shady spots around late April and early May and blooms with delicate, star-shaped white flowers. In Germany it grows in the forest and is called Waldmeister, “master of the forest.”
Try some of these traditional foods at your own feast to ensure an abundant, fertile year!
Scottish Bannocks or Oatcakes
As adapted from Celtic Sprite.
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tbs. butter
1/2 cup hot water
- Combine oatmeal, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Melt the butter, and drizzle it over the oats. Add the water, and stir the mix until it forms a stiff dough. Turn the dough out on a sheet of wax paper and knead thoroughly.
- Separate the dough into two equal portions, and roll each one into a ball. Use a rolling pin to make a flat pancake that is about ¼” thick. Cook your oatcakes on a griddle over medium heat until they are golden brown. Cut each round into quarters to serve.
- To serve, split the bannocks and spread with butter. Serve with soup or with a big dollop of honey.
Beltane Dandelion Delight
As adapted from Raven and Crone.
3 cups dandelion petals (grown organically)
1 gallon orange juice
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup sugar
Ginger ale (optional)
- Clean off the dandelion petals with cool water. In the meantime, warm the orange juice and lemon together, then add dandelions. Make certain you only have petals (no green parts).
- Add the sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved. Strain juices and chill.
- Add ginger ale for a light bubbly drink.
As adapted from Raven and Crone.
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
3 cup sliced fresh or frozen strawberry
- Mix together oatmeal, flour and brown sugar. Add nuts. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly.
- In another bowl, mix strawberries and white sugar together. Grease an 8″ square pan. Spread half the crumb mixture on bottom. Cover with strawberries.
- Spread remaining crumb mixture over top. Bake at 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or topping.
As adapted from Autumn Earth Song.
2 fifths of semisweet white wine (such as sauterne)
1 cup sweet woodruff leaves and blossoms, washed and stems removed
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 fifth of extra dry champagne
- Early in the day the May wine is to be served, place the woodruff leaves and flowers in a container large enough to hold all the wine, then add the wine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
- Just before serving, place a block of ice and the fruits in a punch bowl. Strain the white wine as you pour it over the ice and fruits. Add the champagne.
- Decorate with woodruff leaves and white flowers that have been rinsed off. You can also make the punch without the fruit, and just pour it from a nice pitcher.
Warm Wild Mushrooms with Baked Goat Cheese
As adapted from Mother Earth Living.
12 ounces chanterelle, cap, shiitake, or oyster mushrooms
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives
2 oz. soft goat cheese, cut into 4 rounds
2 cups mesclun or spinach
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 cup fresh nasturtium flowers (optional)
2 tbs. white wine, tarragon, or white vinegar
- Clean mushrooms and slice. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet and cook garlic, mushrooms, and chives over medium heat until just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Lift mushrooms out of pan with slotted spoon onto lightly oiled baking sheet, dividing into 4 portions. Place goat cheese round in center of each pile. Bake at 400 degrees F about 4 minutes, until cheese melts and browns slightly.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry lettuce and herbs. Toss together with flowers in medium bowl. Divide into 4 portions and place on warmed plates. Add remaining oil to skillet, turn heat to medium, and stir to collect pan juices and bits. Add vinegar and simmer until reduced slightly.
- Spoon hot mushrooms, juices, and cheese over lettuce, then drizzle with hot oil and vinegar. Serve immediately.
Image credits: Amelia Wells, Nicholas, TigerFirefilms, Jeremy Brooks, and ishyam79