One of the best-known Celtic traditions for Beltane is the lighting of the Beltane fires. These huge fires were set to welcome back the sun for the light (summer) half of the year. All the hearth fires were extinguished on May Eve, and then they were relit the next day from the Beltane fires.
The fires were started with nine sacred woods, each with various magickal properties. People would gather and dance around the fires through the night, jumping over the flames to ensure a successful and prosperous summer.
* Birch - The Goddess, or female energy
* Oak - The God, or male energy
* Hazel - Knowledge and wisdom
* Rowan (Mountain Ash) -Life
* Hawthorne - Purity and fairy magick
* Willow - Death, sacred to Hecate
* Fir - Birth and rebirth
* Apple - Love and family
These 9 woods are also mentioned in the Wiccan Rede:
"Nine woods in the cauldron go, burn them quick and burn them slow."
Some longer versions of the Rede include lines about all 9 woods:
"Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch wood in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest, towers with might in the fire it brings the God's
Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning- adds its strength to the bright
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.
But - Elder is the Lady's tree burn it not or cursed you'll be."