May Tree Decoration – Create a Wishing Tree for Beltane
Decorating a May Tree or May Bush (also called a Fairy Tree or Wishing Tree) is an old Beltane tradition. Read our guide to May Tree decorations and rituals.
“As a child in Japan, I used to go to a temple and write out a wish on a piece of thin paper and tie it around the branch of a tree. Trees in temple courtyards were always filled with people’s wish knots, which looked like white flowers blossoming from afar.”
– Yoko Ono: ‘All My Works Are A Form Of Wishing’
Even though we’re gonna talk about May tree decorations for the great holiday of Beltane, keep in mind this phrase by Yoko. She’s right – art IS a form of wishing. In our witchy kinda business, each meaningful ritual and holiday celebration can be turned into an art piece or art happening. Decorating trees for Beltane is a beautiful tradition worth spending your creative energy on. Besides, it is a perfect opportunity to make an oh-so-specific wish . Health? Romantic relationships? Extra cash? You name it.
This guide to May Tree decoration is less of a history lesson and more of a creative workshop on symbolism, spring magic and design.
Let’s look at where and how to decorate a May Tree, how to use it for manifestation, and how to work with and celebrate the energy of the spring season.
The May Queen, Flora and Jack-in-the-Green are celebrating the Sacred Marriage on this day, and we’re all invited. You can include May Tree decoration in our annual symbolic crowning ritual occuring every May 1st, May Day Magic, or keep it as a separate working.
Let’s look at the symbols of the Sacred Marriage…
Flowers, flowers and more flowers. Everything starts to blossom after this beautiful wedding of nature forces. The Green Man (aka the May God) is manifested in a tree.
The May Goddess is a crown on top of the tree. The crown and other decorations can be made of real or paper flowers, cloth, yarn – any ecological material that won’t hurt or bend the tree.
Trees and plants associated with Beltane and May Day
A choice of trees for Beltane tree art installation is another layer of symbolism ready to be unfolded.
The birch tree symbolizes divine light, grace, finesse. In druid tradition, the birch tree is associated with rebirth and new beginnings; it’s a perfect tree for manifestations.
Rowan is another traditional Beltane tree due its qualities of soothing, healing, mending, and loving. Rowan tree branches would be spread out at the threshold of the house, to prevent the evil eye charms of dark warlocks.
Fairies, spirits and household protection
The following plants can be used for universal household protection on this special day when all the fairies and spirits are out there watching, looking forward to sneaking in:
- Elder tree
Young green plants
Decorate your house generously with greenery, the youngest plants you can get, to let the summer in. Don’t forget to treat your loved ones to some small rowan or elder tree branches for prosperity and fruitfulness.
Beltane colours and May Day tree/altar decoration
Here are some traditional Beltane colours for inspiration:
The colours above can be used for dressing your chosen May Tree in the form of ribbons, paper garlands, or whatever your craft skills dictate.
You can also show some love to your practice by, for example, adding green candles or rose petals to your working altar on Beltane. The same palette works for the summer redesign of your altar.
One more note on May Day and Beltane colours – you can use green and purple in your art, but may wish to avoid wearing these colours on May Day. If you do, the spirits hanging out with us on this day could mix you up with one of their own folks and take you back with them. It’s traditional to wear white on Beltane, just in case.
How to use your decorated May Tree on Beltane
You can ask the May Tree for a May Day wish. Romantic people looking for a new love adventure can ask a tree for a soulmate! Here you can get really creative with “designing” your character and shaping your intent by festooning the tree with ribbons of specific colours:
- gold to symbolize prosperity
- blue for courage
- white for fidelity
- pink for tenderness
- green for good health.
You could ask these for yourself or the ones you love, but aim to be precise with your wishes when decorating the tree.
After decorating your tree and feeling happy and artistically energized, call upon the powers of the sun, nature and love.
You can even sing to the May Tree or dance around it for a strong connection. However, the truest connection comes from your intention.
The leaves and twigs of the May Tree that you have just decorated with all your love, talent and imagination can be brought home, assembled in a bouquet and kept throughout the next year so that the spring joy will never end in your home.
You can also use dried leaves for healing baths to fill yourself up with health, positivity and attraction energy.
May Tree Beltane Rituals
Even though young people would traditionally go into the woods, so that no human eyes would witness their romantic overnight adventures round the magic tree, you don’t have to go that far away into the wilderness. Any tree or bush in a backyard will do. If you have some time, energy and will, you can turn your backyard or favourite spot in the woods or a park into an intentional space. Celebrate the holiday and get artsy at the same time.
Urban ritual – not everyone has access to wild, wild woods. You can still connect your local environment with May Day magic.
Think about it. What do you need the most? Do you want to feel like a child again? Or maybe you want to address your inner self? Here are some art ideas for mindful springtime. Let’s make a living and functional art installation.
Temple of inner peace
For meditation practice there’s no better place than under a tree and no better time for commitment to this practice than 1st of May. Chose white or soft pastel colors for ribbons and yarn, add some paper origami ideas like planes or flowers. Hang some glass candle-holders and wait for the sunset. Meditate on the qualities of the tree above you; find the ones you would want to obtain, at least partially -flexibility of a willow, tenderness of a birch tree, strong protection abilities of rowan or an elder tree. Friends gathering and soul-healing talking will fill this space with love and good vibrations.
Outside play area
Cherish your inner child. Bring back your favorite childhood toys. Just imagine all your dolls in polka-dot dresses and teddy bears neighboring joyfully with colorful cups, cars and figurines. Hang some candies, cookies, donuts -your favorite treats- for the elves wandering outside. Tie colorful ribbons, confetti-themed fabrics and go reckless. Call upon your crazy friends, play music, throw a party. Offer your friends pink smoothies, raspberry marshmallow, banana cupcakes -something fun, fruity and reminding of good old carefree times.
You can take Yoko’s idea way too seriously and turn it into a neighborhood happening of the coming summer by inviting everyone you know for a public wishing ceremony. Ask everyone to think about a wish, write it down and hang the note on the Wishing tree. It’s amazing how the idea of Beltane wishing tree and Asian tradition coincide during this holiday; let this idea of unity inspire you and your friends to make art and magic that socially involves others in a very moving way.
Don’t hesitate to encourage magic in yourself and others. Whatever you associate with grace and symbolic fertility – the ancient Yoni symbol, Bastet the Cat Goddess, pompom yarn boobies – can find a well-deserved honorable place on your May Tree. Inspire yourself and bring joy to others. Besides, a giant tree installation of cat heads can look quite promising.
Finally… an easy alternative to Beltane May Tree decoration
Herb tea has increased potency on Beltane
If you’re not into decorating a tree at all or you’re trapped in urban jungle, don’t worry. Just add some herbs to your tea. They say all herbs are healing on Beltane and will surely fix you up.
The point is, Beltane is a holiday or our renewal, time for new hopes and beginnings. Anything you decide or wish or manifest over a cup of tea on Beltane could actually work this time.
More on Beltane:
- May Day Magic – take part in a worldwide crowning ritual every May 1st
- Beltane Playlist – get in the mood for summer’s fire
- Beltane Sabbat photoshoot with Blythe dolls
- Spirituality and Modern Witchcraft section
Tagged in: Beltane