The simple Pagan

Paganism seems to be so full of stuff – have you noticed this?

And Paganism – and Wicca in particular – attracts the stuff collectors. You know the type. I call them Gear Witches. They have to have the right cape, the right robes, the right wand, the right blade.

Druids at Stonehenge. They look the part, don't they?
Druids at Stonehenge. They look the part, don’t they?

They look terrific, and have all the trappings, and every book ever published about new age anything sits proudly on their shelf at home.

But the heart of worship, and of dedication to a God or Goddess, isn’t about stuff. It’s nothing to do with what you have, or buy. It’s about intent and what you do.

In fact, I’d argue that the more stuff you have, the more you’re distracted from what you should be doing – which is honouring the Deity you have chosen to honour, in every single act of your life.

Simplify, simplify, simplify…

So I’m saying, throw it all away.

Give it all away. You don’t need it all.

You don’t need books to tell you what to do. You don’t need the right cape, or fancy robes. You don’t need a Hollywood-style setting to be an effective servant of the Divine.

Finding yourself is often more about casting off the trappings of consumerism than enveloping yourself in them.

For example, marking the elements can be as simple as filling four plain glasses:

Earth, Air, Fire and Water: capturing the four elements in simple glasses. Paganism doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. It doesn't have to be about *stuff*.
Earth, Air, Fire and Water: capturing the four elements in simple glasses. Paganism doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It doesn’t have to be about *stuff*.

And dedicating yourself to a powerful Goddess can require nothing more than an apple.

SONY DSC

Sometimes learning takes time

I speak from experience on this. Because I used to be the Queen of the Gear Witches. LOL.

I had everything you could name, and more. I spent a lot of money on having the right stuff. I think I somehow figured that if I looked more like someone else’s idea of what a Pagan should be, that would make me more Pagan-ish.

Or something.

Of course I was wrong.

And you’ll see Gear Witches at every event. They’re there, in their floaty robes, with their long, flowing hair. They look the part.

But looks can be deceiving.

Ask yourself: are they looking the part to convince you? Or perhaps to convince themselves?

Don’t get me wrong: if you choose to wear clothes of a certain style because that’s what you like to wear, then that’s absolutely fine.

But if you’re wearing a look in order to somehow fit a part, to become a role, or to attract attention, then you’re fooling nobody in the end, except yourself.

Return, return, return…

I think the time has come to bring Paganism back to its roots. If we’re about being in tune with nature, and in tune with ourselves, how can buying a truckload of stuff be the right thing to do?

Shouldn’t Pagans be living lightly and simply on the earth? Honouring the Gods with our deeds, spending our time and energy on doing what is their work, rather than time and energy on buying stuff that creates an image?

I think so.

So what I’m saying is, don’t buy the books. Don’t spend your dollars. Don’t collect the stuff.

Instead, spend your short time on this beautiful earth being what you will, not spending your money trying to be something others expect.

Ritual: Self-dedication to Aphrodite

Time: Night time, under a full moon, preferably rising. Why? Because the full moon is the moon for lovers, love and Aphrodite.

Place: An empty beach is ideal. Why? Because Aphrodite is associated with the water, she is a sea Goddess, and she rises from the foam of the waves. If you can’t access a beach, an empty garden with a bowl of saltwater will do.

Needed: A single, perfect apple. Why? Because one of Aphrodite’s most significant triumphs was winning the Golden Apple that started the Trojan War.

goldenapple

Wear: Something that makes you feel strong, beautiful and powerful. You will be barefoot for this ritual, and may wish to wear something above the knees that will not be ruined by seawater.

aphroditebyliloklilokd2

The Ritual.

Take the apple in both hands, and walk barefoot under the full moon into the sea. Accept the cold water, if it is cold. Feel the sting of the waves, if it stings you. Embrace the scent of the water. Be one with it.

Holding the apple in both hands, raise it up above your head, saying clearly:

I dedicate myself to the Goddess Aphrodite
Lady of Cytherea
Goddess of beauty and love
Powerful Goddess of women
Of sexuality and sensuality.

I honour You, Goddess
In all that I am
Everything that I am.
From this day forth,
For all of my life,
I pledge to do Your work.

Lower the apple to the waves, and dip it gently into the seafoam. Then lift it to your lips with both hands, and take a single bite.

Say:

As I declare, so shall it be!

Bury the remainder of the apple in the sand. The ritual is done.

FullMoonBeach

Samhain Group Ritual

Samhain (pronounced saw-een) is the Pagan New Year.

It is a time to say farewell to the old, and welcome in the new, and is thus a time for celebration as well as reflection. Samhain is traditionally a time of fire, sparklers, and fun, but it is also a time for reflection and inner work, as we think on the year that has passed and meditate on the year which is to come.

Samhain Group Ritual

For this rite, you will need:

– a cauldron or enclosed fireplace (prepare the cauldron for lighting beforehand)
– sprigs of rosemary (for remembrance), and eucalyptus leaves (for healing and protection)
– small white candles, one for each of the loved ones who have passed on that you wish to honour and remember in this rite (tealights are fine).

A tree of lights at Samhain
A tree of lights at Samhain

Set the cauldron in the middle of the Circle, and set the white candles around the cauldron in a circle. Alternately, set the tealights in the shape of a tree if your lights represent family members who have passed on.

The Rite…

A group member strikes the singing bowl/rings a bell three times to signal silence, then moves around the Circle, cleansing the air with the singing bowl, and a second participant calls in the quarters and welcomes the elements.

The first person circles again with sound, and the Circle is bound fast.

First person:

It is Samhain.
The end of last year.
The beginning of a new year.
We take time to reflect on what has passed
And we take time to plan for the future.

A second person passes the sprigs of rosemary, and eucalyptus leaves around the group, sharing them out among the members.

The cauldron is lit, and the Covenors start the following chant:

The old is gone
Last year is gone
Passed away! Passed away!
The new is come
New year is come
Here and now! Here and now!

As they sing the chant, they cast the eucalyptus leaves into the cauldron fire.

When the eucalyptus leaves have all been cast into the fire, the last person to do so changes the chant:

Ancestors, friends and foes
Spirits we once did know
With Rosemary we remember you!
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring,
Away, away, away, away!
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring,
Come again! Come again!

Now the sprigs of Rosemary are cast into the fire, and the participants take time to reflect upon loved ones that have passed on.

As they do so, they light the white candles – one for each of their loved ones.

When the cauldron has burned down, the group continues to meditate on their white candles, reflecting on the happy times they spent with those who have now passed on.

They meditate while the candles burn down, then ground remaining energy and close the Circle, before moving on to a night of celebration with fireworks and feasting.

Jack O'Lanterns at Samhain.
Jack O’Lanterns at Samhain.

Consecrating a new Blade

I went down to the beach one evening this week to consecrate a new Blade.

It’s one that I picked up a few weeks ago, and has a very masculine feel to it. It’s actually inscribed with the name of the Egyptian God Horus, who I haven’t worked with up until this point, but the masculine energy of the piece was immediately apparent.

blade

It’s also a left-hander, which is odd, considering that the masculine side is usually on the right. But as I use my right hand (usually) for my old, favourite Blade, this works well: it means I can use the two simultaneously. This was one of the things that attracted me to the Blade.

I waited until sunset, and went down to a favourite, very secluded beach. As usual, there was nobody there, apart from a large flock of sea birds. That boded well.

The beach at sunset
The beach at sunset

All I needed for a basic consecration was a lighter, for the Element of Fire. All the other Elements (Wind, Water and Earth) were present already.

The beach that I went to is really ideal for Working. There’s a small island out to sea and, if you stand in the right spot, it marks East perfectly. So you don’t even need to think about the compass points: the landscape does it for you.

I didn’t Cast: for a Consecration you don’t need to, as the tool needs to be Sacred both in and outside of Circle.

I held the Blade up to catch the wind, and said By the Air that is Her Breath, and is the wind beneath His wings.

Then I ran a flame along the edge of the Blade, and said By the Fire of Her Bright Spirit, and the Flame of His Passion, Power and Desire.

Then I placed the Blade in the water, so that the waves lapped over it gently, and said By the Waters of Her living Womb, and the Water of His Tears.

Then I dug the blade into the soft sand, and said By the Earth that is Her Body, and upon which He stands tall and strong.

Then, In the name of the Lady and Lord, Goddess and God, I consecrate this Blade. It is done.

That’s all there was to it. I then cleaned the Blade of remaining sand, and sat down upon the dunes to watch the sun set. It was a beautiful, warm evening, and I felt still and calm as I watched the birds come in to land and join their companions.

Mabon – Solitary Ritual

moons
It’s the autumn equinox tomorrow (Wednesday). The moon is waxing, and will be full on the 25th, but in the meanwhile, there are rituals to be observed and there is work to be done.

I’ll be working solitaire this Mabon. Sometimes I like to get together with local Pagans; other times I like to work alone at the Sabbats, and do my own thing. This year, I’ll be alone, and taking time out to observe the change of the seasons, the cooling of the earth, and the preparation of the world around me for winter.

On my farm, the sheep have been shorn, and are starting to grow their woolly coats for winter. The second harvest is due, and it is time for me to call the Home Kill guy from down the road. He’ll shoot two more of our lambs – the last lambs from our ram, so we can keep him for another season.

As for the ram, he’ll be paying a short visit to two pretty black faced ewes at a neighbouring farm. It’s a favour we’re doing them, so they can keep the black-faced stock happening – our ram is a black-face, and very handsome. He’s also in demand from our neighbours across the road – once he comes back and does his duty with my ewes, he’ll be going over the road to the neighbours, to service their ewes.

Ah, the tough life of a good-looking healthy young ram!

With Mabon, you’re aware of the turn of the earth. It’s tupping time, time for the Second Harvest, time to gather the nuts that have fallen on the farm (I live on an organic hazelnut farm) and sell and barter and share them with friends.

But now, to ritual.

Mabon Solitary Ritual

You will need:

A candle in a jar. The candle can be red, orange or brown. The jar is for windproofing. If you choose, you can use a cauldron in a fire-safe way instead (epsom salts and methylated spirits work well).
A lighter.
Four elemental markers. These can be small rocks, semiprecious stones, or white candles. It is up to you.
You may need a Compass, if you are not proficient at finding directions innately.
Locally-gathered fallen leaves.
Locally gathered fresh nuts, or organic nuts if no local nuts are available. Ensure the nuts are ready to eat by removing any husks or shells.
Your blade (if you use one), sterilized and clean, or Wand for casting. If you do not use a blade, you will need a sterile needle, or sharp knife to cut yourself – only a small cut!
Antiseptic or saltwater or strong spirits.

Setting up

Go to a sacred place where the Elements of Earth, Wind and Water meet. You will be providing the Fire and Spirit (Aether). A suitable spot is a quiet beach, or a riverbank.

If you cannot be outside, gather rainwater or blessed fresh water in a glass bowl.

Set up your elemental markers in the East, North, West and South. Light your Elemental Markers, if they are candles.

Place the Cauldron or candle in the jar in the center, and set it ready with the lighter beside it, with the cutting tool (if it is different from your Casting tool) in the center, but do not light the central fire yet.

Put the fallen leaves at the left side of the Fire. Put the nuts at the right side of the Fire.

You are ready to begin.

The Ritual

Cast Circle. A simple casting is as follows:

Stand in the East.
Raise your casting tool, and walking around the Circle three times counter-clockwise, say:

Wind, Fire, Sea, Stone
Breath, Flame, Wave, Bone
As I will, So it be done!
As I will, so it be done!
This circle is cast!
This circle is cast!
I am between the worlds.

Ensure that you reach each appropriate Elemental point as it is spoken: Wind / Breath (air=east), Fire / Flame (north), Sea / Wave (water=west), Stone / Bone (earth=south).

Once you have Cast, sit to the south of your central Fire (Aether / Spirit = Akasha), with your Casting tool in front of you.

Meditate on the changing of the seasons. Feel the wind on your cheeks. If it begins to rain, embrace it. Be glad. Let the minutes pass. Relax. Breathe in and out.

When you are centered and ready, light the central Fire.

Take up the fallen leaves in your left hand.

Look on them. Feel their dryness in your hand. If they are damp, feel that too. Sense everything that they are: the passing of the year that is gone; a symbol of death and of age. But see the beauty in them too – their elegance and loveliness. Cherish and thank them, and thank the tree they came from for giving life and nourishment.

Cast the leaves one by one into the Fire, saying:

The Old Year is past.
The Old Year must pass, to make way for the New.

Now, take up the nuts in your right hand.

Look on them. Roll them around in your hand. Feel their smoothness, their roughness, their give and their firmness. Sense the potential for life within them. Be thankful for the energy they are going to provide for you. Be thankful to the tree that bore them, and for the life you are given.

Say:

The New Year is upon us.
The Old has made way for the New.
Time is Change, Change is Time,
Change is the Way of the Goddess…

You can chant this if you wish. When you are ready, eat the nuts slowly with a sense of thankfulness.

Take up your Blade, or your cutting instrument. Run it through the Fire in front of you.

When you are ready, cut your hand or your finger a little, so that the blood drips to the earth below you.

Say:

There is no Life without Sacrifice.
There is no Change without Pain.
There is no Renewal without Death.
I welcome Change, I welcome Life,
And, when my time comes, I will welcome Death.

Relax, watch the Fire, and when you are ready, let the Fire die naturally or kill it yourself.

Stand when you are ready, and close Circle, starting with the South:

By the Earth that is Her Body
By the Water that is Her Blood
By the Fire of Her bright Spirit
By the Air that is Her Breath
This Circle is open, yet forever unbroken.
As I will, it is done.

The Circle is closed, and the Ritual over. Clean your wound if necessary. Take food and water to ground yourself.

Leave the site of your Ritual undamaged and undisturbed.

You are done.

Midsummer Night’s Dream fairy ritual for group

Midsummer falls on the summer solstice, on the shortest night of the year.

This is a time when evenings are long and hot, and days seem to stretch endlessly. If celebrating on the actual day of Midsummer is not possible, celebrate the festival on the Sunday, which is the day sacred to Helios, the God of the Sun.

If the rite is to take place outside, these staffs can usually be thrust straight into the ground. If, however, the rite is to take place inside, the staffs can either be held by the Priest/esses of the quarters, then laid down parallel to the edge of the Circle as each element is called in; or they can be stood in pails filled with sand or earth. As many members as possible have torches to hand (battery operated, not open flames).

If possible, the lights of their torches should be many different colours – this can be achieved with colored cellophane over the lenses.

Donations gathered in this rite – if it is a public / open ceremony – should go to a children’s charity, such as a children’s hospital or the Starlight Foundation.

titania

The ritual

In the middle of the circle stands a large glass bowl, filled with rosewater and with rose petals spread across the surface of the water.

The base of the glass bowl should be filled with glass beads, small coins and other shiny objects (shells are ideal). Just outside the Circle a Priestess, dressed as Fairy Queen Titania, rests with her Consort.

The Circle is drawn…

Fairies of the Wind
Of all things seen and unseen
Of the intellect, of the mind, of communication
Be with us now!

Fairies of the Flames
Of lust, passion, creativity, desire
Be with us now!

Fairies of the Waters
Of emotion, intuition, empathy, connection
Be with us now!

Fairies of the Earth
Of strength, wisdom, tradition, the body
Be with us now!

This Circle is cast
We are within the Fairy realm!

Let one Covenor recite the following:

Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through briar,
Over park, over pale,
Through blood, through fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

Let a second Covenor recite the following:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;

Let a third Covenor recite the following:

I have been everywhere, faster than the moon
across the sky to serve the fairy queen.
I put the drops of dew upon the plants.
The tall goldenflowers are her bodyguards.
The spots that freckle the flowers are her jewels.
Now I must go find a dewdrop to hang on every flower.
Goodbye,I must go. Our queen and her elves are coming soon.

At this point, the Fairy Queen rises, and makes her way to the circle.

In the Eastern quarter of the Circle, two Covenors make a gateway with their hands and she passes through. They then sprinkle rose petals in her hair and before her feet.

One Covenor says the following:

Hush – the Fairy Queen enters!

The Consort says the following:

When the night is short and the evening warm
When the days seem to stretch endlessly
When the summer Solstice is born
My Fairy Queen has come to me
Sweet Titania, fairest of the fair
Bless all who have gathered in your honour here.

Titania says the following:

I thank you for your welcome
I thank you for your blessing
I ask now that you come forward, one by one
And bless others less fortunate with gifts of your own
As you give, make a wish
Then cast your blessing into the water.

One by one, the Covenors come forward, first to curtsy before Titania, then they cast small coins into the water and say or meditate on their wish.

Titania says the following:

I thank you for your gifts: they will go to make the Solstice bright
For those who have little, and who are in pain.
Giving is a blessed act: I thank you in their names.
In return, I give you the joys of summer:
Speak now, and tell me what summer means to you!

The Covenors now begin the rite of free-form speech, each randomly speaking of what summer means to them. Gradually, the random blessings of summer become the group whispering:

Summer is! Summer is! Summer is! Summer! Summer! Summer!

Titania says the following:

May your summer be all you hope for.
May your nights be long and blessed!
May the sun shine brightly on your days!

The rite is done. The Covenors guarding the quarters raise their staffs and say:

This Circle is open
But remains unbroken!
We send our blessings forth
So mote it be!


Image is John Simmons (1823-1876), “There Lies Titania”

Midsummer ritual for solitary practitioner

Midsummer falls on the summer solstice, on the shortest night of the year.

This is a time when evenings are long and hot, and days seem to stretch endlessly. If celebrating on the actual day of Midsummer is not possible, celebrate the festival on the Sunday, which is the day sacred to Helios, the God of the Sun.

midsummer

For this rite you will need:

– small, in-season fruit offerings to leave as you work
– a bowl to carry them in (preferably wooden)
– a few small coins
– some gardening or other thick gloves
– a garbage bag.

Say the following:

Fairies of the Wind
Of all things seen and unseen
Of the intellect, of the mind, of communication
Be with me now!

Fairies of the Flames
Of lust, passion, creativity, desire
Be with me now!

Fairies of the Waters
Of emotion, intuition, empathy, connection
Be with me now!

Fairies of the Earth
Of strength, wisdom, tradition, the body
Be with me now!

I carry the powers of wind, flame, water and earth
I need no Circle; for tonight I give my body and soul to the spirit of Gaia.

Take your fruit offerings, and journey around your neighbourhood, paying special attention to areas with native trees.

As you travel, pick up any rubbish you see lying around, and put it in your garbage bag (remember to wear your gloves and be wary of sharp items).

At various trees, leave small fruit offerings to the inhabitants of the trees (possums, insects, spiders etc.) Thank them in your own words for being a part of the beautiful web of life that is Gaia.

Take time to take off your gloves and touch the trees and the earth. Take time to connect with the life force around. Meditate on the beauty that you see, and be aware of the gift that is your life.

Focus on the interconnectedness that is Gaia. Be thankful.

At last, when your fruit offering bowl is empty, and your garbage bag is full, take off your gloves, and touch the earth with both palms.

Feel the energy moving through you, up your left arm and down through your right arm.

Say the following:

I give thanks for my blessings
I give thanks for my life
And I honour the sacred Earth.
Now I am alive, and I am a part of Gaia
When I die, I will still be a part of her
And when I am reborn, she will embrace me again.

The rite is done.


Image by Bluecinderelle

Lammas – Solitary ritual

For this ritual you will need:

• Two straight wooden sticks, each roughly 20 – 30 cm long

• Four threads (coloured wool is perfect), each in the colour of the elements (yellow, red, blue and green)

• ale or cider

• a loaf of home-baked bread or damper. The bread should still be warm when the ritual begins.

Set an altar in the center of the Circle, and on it lay the ale and bread. Put a pitcher of spring water next to the silver bowl.

Cast the Circle in the following way:

Wind, Fire, Sea, Stone
Breath, Flame, Wave, Bone
As I will, So it be done!
As I will, so it be done!
This circle is cast! Time has no meaning here.
This circle is cast! No harm can come to me here.
I am between the worlds.

Take up the sticks, and hold them at crosspoints to each other, bisecting in the middle to form an equal-armed cross. Tie them together with the four coloured threads, and start weaving a web, moving around the back and forming a loop
over each arm of the cross.

As you do so, say the following:

So the web of Air is woven
So the web of Fire is woven
So the web of Water is woven
So the web of Earth is woven
By Air, Fire, Water and Earth
I weave the strands of Lammas!

As you weave the web, say the above chant over and over, slowly, and meditate on all the good things harvest has brought you. Finally, when the web is done, tie off the threads, and place the web in the silver bowl, and cover it with spring water. Anoint yourself with the water, thank Deity for your blessings, and be refreshed with cakes and ale.

Finally, close the Circle:

By the earth, by all fleshly beings
By the water and all creatures that drink from Her
By the fire, and the shining spirits of the Bright Ones
By the breath that gives all life
By earth, by water, by fire and by air
Bright ones, depart in peace from this place.
So mote it be. Blessed be.

Dry and hang the web in a sunny window, where it will keep away evil.

Lammas! Group Lammas ritual

Lammas celebrates the harvest, and the beginning of summer’s end.

Lammas portable altar, for outside use.
Lammas portable altar, for outside use.

In the southern hemisphere, Lammas falls on February 2, which is right in the hottest part of the year for most countries in this part of the world.

Lammas is the celebration of the harvest, and all things related to hops, hay and wheat, so the drink of the season is beer or ale (and fruit juices for non-drinkers and children). This is also the time of stone fruit (such as plums, apricots and peaches) and tropical fruit (mangoes and bananas) – and all of these foods can be incorporated into a feast to celebrate Lammas.

Lammas group ritual

For this ritual you will need:
• A web of strands drawing outwards (the radii of the web, like the spokes of a wheel) should be prepared, with enough strands so that a member of the Circle can hold one each. The strand needs to be three times the length of the final web circumference. There should also be four strands, one of each of the elemental colours, attached from
the centre of the web.

• a large bunch of very ripe grapes is required, preferably red. If red grapes cannot be found, rich red ripe plums will do instead.

• enough beer, ale or apple cider for all the members of the Circle

• a large silver or steel bowl

• a loaf of home-baked bread or damper. In the making of the bread, each member of the circle should stir the mixture, always anti-clockwise, a minimum of three times. The bread should still be warm when the ritual begins.

Set an altar in the center of the Circle, and on it lay the grapes and bread.
Set the beer/ale/cider before the altar, and set out enough mugs for each member of the Circle.

Cast the Circle in the following way:

Wind, Fire, Sea, Stone
Breath, Flame, Wave, Bone
As I will, So it be done!
As I will, so it be done!
This circle is cast! Time has no meaning here.
This circle is cast! No harm can come to us here.
We are between the worlds.

The High Priest/ess says:

Now is the time of Lammas
Time to acknowledge the web of life that surrounds us
Time to acknowledge the web of life that nourishes us
Time to give thanks, to draw the harvest in
And to acknowledge that the web we weave
Also weaves us within its strands.

Each of the Circle members now takes up a strand of the web radius threads, and holds it tight.
They move in close, so that the Circle members have made the Circle as small as possible. The four quarter Priest/esses hold threads in the colour of their element – yellow for Air, red for Fire, blue for Water and Green for Earth.

The Air Priest/ess says, as s/he begins to weave the yellow thread:

The element of Air
Draws us together with communication
Draws us together with speech, with song, with writing
Yet Air is just a single strand of the web…

The Fire Priest/ess says, as s/he begins to weave the red thread:

The element of Fire
Draws us together with passion
Draws us together with creativity and the uniqueness that separates and binds us
Yet Fire is just a single strand of the web…

The Water Priest/ess says, as s/he begins to weave the blue thread:

The element of Water
Draws us together with emotion
Draws us together with our feelings, our empathy that build our community
Yet Water is just a single strand of the web…

The Earth Priest/ess says, as s/he begins to weave the green thread:

The element of Earth
Draws us together with strength
Draws us together with wisdom and knowledge and integrity
Yet Earth is just a single strand of the web…

As each strand is passed around the Circle, counter-clockwise, the Circle member repeats the line:

‘[Element] is just a single strand of the web’

Thus the web builds.

When each colour has worked its way back to its guarding Priest/ess, s/he ties it off and cuts the remainder.

Air Priest/ess: And so the web of Air is woven
Fire Priest/ess: And so the web of Fire is woven
Water Priest/ess: And so the web of Water is woven
Earth Priest/ess: And so the web of Earth is woven

The Web is now gathered and placed in the silver bowl, and covered over with spring water.
Each of the Circle members then ventures forth, and anoints him/herself with the web waters.
When all are anointed, The High Priest/ess pours the remaining web water on the earth, saying:

From Air, and Fire, and Water, and Earth we return her goodness to the land. Blessed be!

All: Blessed be!

The High Priest/ess then takes up the grapes, and says:

Fruit of the vine
of Air, Fire, Water and Earth
In Her name
Return to her again!

She crushes the grapes with her hands, letting the juice run over her palms, then places her palms on the earth, leaving behind the remnants of the grapes as an offering.

The High Priest/ess then takes up the Bread, blessed it, and offers it around the Circle with traditional blessings. Her assistants then pass around the beer/ale/cider, and pour cups of it for all, with traditional blessings.

Finally, the Circle is closed:

By the earth, by all fleshly beings
By the water and all creatures that drink from Her
By the fire, and the shining spirits of the Bright Ones
By the breath that gives all life
By earth, by water, by fire and by air
Bright ones, depart in peace from this place.
This circle is open, yet unbroken
Merry meet, merry part,
And merry meet again
So mote it be. Blessed be.

Beltane Group Ritual 2

The following ritual is suitable for a coven or smallish public group.

Planning in advance / Setup

  • A brazier, cauldron or bonfire.
  • Confirm approval with appropriate fire safety authorities in your local area first, and obtain appropriate permits.
  • Appropriate kindling
  • Lighter or matches
  • Torches or lamps
  • A hand drum
  • Boughs of hawthorn in bloom
  • (For PART TWO) Threads / wool / ribbons to represent Air (yellow), Fire (red), Water (blue) and Earth (green); scissors
  • (For PART TWO) Tall trees, posts or telegraph poles for maypole dancing
  • (For PART THREE) Chalice and Athame for the Great Rite (symbolic version)
  • (For PART THREE) Cakes (snacks) and Ale (Cider or Juice); snacks

The group will need to appoint a Beltane Queen and Horned God. These are usually female and male, but do not need to be. They do not need to be a couple for this ritual.
The group will also need to appoint a member or members to a) Cast Circle, b) Close Circle and c) Direct the ritual action.

PART ONE: The Ritual begins after sundown.

The group gathers around the fire to be lit (bonfire, cauldron or brazier). The Horned God and the Beltane Queen must stand opposite each other, facing each other, with the Fire between them.

Each member present should have a bough of hawthorn in bloom. If hawthorn is not available, any local, native wood in bloom is fine.

Circle is cast as a member walks sunwise around the fire, leaving enough room between the fire and participants for the action to take place:

Air, Fire, Water, Stone
Breath, Flame, Wave, Bone
As I will, So it be done!
Three times around, the Circle found
Three times around, the Circle bound
We are between the worlds.

One of the members, lights the fire. Once lit, s/he begins the following words / song, and others join in:

Brightly the fires at Beltane burn
Bright, as the dusk light is fading / faded
And we will dance, as we sing this song
Sing, to the Lord and the Lady!

(The song is a round, and can be sung in unison, or as a round, and can be elaborated / embellished upon as the group wishes.)

The song dies down to humming, and simple hand drumming in rhythm.

One by one, the members of the group come forward, while the humming (or low singing) continues, kiss the flowers of the hawthorn they carry, and speak aloud (or think upon in private if they choose) a wish for fertility, love, sex or happiness that is relevant to them for the coming year.

Then, when their wish is fully complete in their mind or in words, they cast their blooms upon the fire.

Once all the blooms have been cast, the High Priestess says clearly:

It is done.
It is done.
It is Done!

To which the Horned God responds happily and sexily (or in a friendly way, depending on the relationship between them):

NOT YET!

And begins to chase the Beltane Queen sunwise around the circle, slowly at first, then quicker and quicker. They walk / run three times around the fire, at the end of which he catches her, and embraces and kisses her (it is up to the group to what extent! It can be a friendly scheek kiss if you wish, as this is all symbolic).

All members then take follow the couple’s lead, circling the fire three times sunwise to the beat of the drum, then end at their original places (or thereabouts), spread around the circle.

The Circle is closed, starting in the South, moving widdershins (against the sun):

By Earth, Water, Fire and Air:
The Circle is open
Yet remains unbroken
Merry meet, and merry part
And merry meet again!

The group watch the bonfire die (or put out the flames if they wish).

The first part of the evening is complete.

PART TWO: Decorate the world, and dance the maypole!

After a brief break inside (toilet break etc.), the group heads out on the town. They will need their balls of coloured wool or reams of coloured ribbon for this part of the evening.

The goal here is simply to find tall, straight trees and telegraph poles, and dance the May Dance around them in colours of yellow, red, blue and green. At the bottom of each pole, cut the threads and tie the colours in a bow 🙂

Don’t get caught!

PART THREE: Great Rite and Cakes and Ale.

GREAT RITE: The group returns to the host home, and gathers around the table.

A member acting in the role of HPS plunges her athame into a chalice of cider or wine, and says the following (or similar):

At this time of Beltane, the Lord and Lady are joined as One. We Honour the Lord. We Honour the Lady. We Honour them as One. Blessed Be!

The Chalice is shared around the group, until it is drained.

CAKES AND ALE:

The blessing of cakes and ale generally occurs towards the end of a ritual. Eating and drinking is an excellent way of grounding excess energy and generally ‘coming back down to Earth’. It reminds us of our physical needs and nature, and prepares us for re-entry into the physical, day-to-day world.

Blessing of cakes and ale is also a beautiful and practical way to honour the Divine Presence, and thank him/her for all the gifts and joys we are given. In a very real way, we acknowledge our physical self, and the physical world around us.

Although called ‘cakes’ and ‘ale’, ritual food does not necessarily and literally have to be cake and ale. It is common to share biscuits, home-made bread, or even crackers and dip. Ale can be anything from water or juice to fortified wine.

It is, however, important to remember that if minors are to be present, it is much easier to serve everyone soft drink or water than to share two chalices, one for adults and one for minors. Sharing a soft drink together is also much more inclusive. Apple juice is an excellent option, as apples are a fruit sacred to the Goddess.

To bless the ritual meal, take the platter of cakes from the altar, raise them in front of the altar, and say:

By the Lord and the Lady, who I do worship and honour, are these cakes blessed. I thank the Great Ones for their bounty.

Next, take the Chalice of ale, raise it in front of the altar, and say:

By the Lord and the Lady, who I do worship and honour, is this ale blessed. I thank the Great Ones for their bounty.

Feast on the cakes and ale, meditating on your commitment to your path, then close the Circle (if necessary) when you are ready.