Samhain ritual (solitary 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.

For this rite, you will need:

– a singing bowl or bell
– a cauldron or enclosed fireplace (prepare the cauldron for lighting beforehand)
– sprigs of rosemary (for remembrance),
– 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).

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The rite

Set the cauldron in the middle of the Circle, and set the white candles around the cauldron in a circle.

Strike the singing bowl / ring a bell three times to signal silence, then move around the Circle, cleansing the air with the singing bowl.

Call in the quarters and welcomes the elements, then circle again with sound, binding the Circle fast.

Say:

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

Take the sprig of rosemary, and eucalyptus leaves, and light the cauldron, putting the rosemary and eucalyptus to the side of the cauldron.

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 you sing the chant, crumble the eucalyptus leaves into the cauldron fire.

When the eucalyptus leaves have been cast into the fire, change the chant:

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

Now the sprig of rosemary is cast into the fire.

Take time to reflect upon loved ones that have passed on. As you do so, light the white candles – one for each of your loved ones who you wish to honour this night.

When the cauldron has burned down, continue to meditate on the white candles, reflecting on the happy times you spent with those who have now passed on.

Meditate until the candles have burned down, then ground remaining energy, take cakes and ale if you wish, and close the Circle.

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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

Paganism, Sex, Ritual and Kink

Mainstream culture and religion have RULES about sex.

Sex should be…

– private.
– between a man (singular) and a woman (singular).
– in a bed.
– between married people.
– for procreation only.
– in the missionary position only.
– penis in vagina.
– between people who love one another.
– a relationship where women are submissive and men are dominant.
– between people of the same race, age (roughly) and demographic (roughly).
– something that men initiate, and women never ask for.
– something that women don’t actually enjoy, desire or actively search for.

The list goes on. It’s all so confining and restricting that you have to wonder that a) any sex ever happens at all and that b) when it does, people are able to enjoy it.

Then there’s Paganism and Kink.

What If?

What both do is ask, What If?

What if we throw out the rules that somebody, somewhere told us we had to attach to sex and communication?

What if we just explored our bodies and our minds with curiosity and fascination, and experimented with what feels good, what feels bad, and what our responses to various stimuli are?

What if we made our own rules, instead of accepting, without question, the rules that society has given us and expects us to accept in our lives?

Hieros Gamos
Hieros Gamos

Throw away the rule book

Mainstream religions, to my way of thinking, are about accepting dogma and rules. They give us guidelines and boundaries, and say: Here you go. This is how things are. Accept these rules, and give us your money, and we may choose to accept you. Or not.

Yes, that’s a very cynical viewpoint, but I haven’t seen anything to discredit it.

And mainstream sexual ethics tell us, from that first sex ed class in school through to what is reinforced in movie love scenes and advertising and cultural tropes everywhere we look, that some ways of enjoying sex are more equal than others. Anything outside a fixed set of narrow practices will mark you as a pervert, as a deviant, as somehow wrong.

If you’re a man that finds other men attractive you’ll be scorned. If you’re a woman that loves women, you’ll be abused. Experimenting in bed is frowned upon. Anal sex is sodomy and a sin. Sex between partners of different ages and cultures is disgusting. Women who actively seek out sex are whores, and those women who enjoy sex and are open about the fact are sluts.

Men who prefer the submissive role are unmanly, and sex where there is no penis in vagina penetration – well, that isn’t sex at all, as the thousands of so-called virgins in the Bible Belt who are enjoying regular anal sex with their partners will be quick to point out.

Why we have these rules is an interesting question. I think it’s all about control. Not content with control our finances (job laws and taxes) and our living arrangements (through marriage laws, housing laws etc.), governments and mainstream religions have sought to control our sex lives too.

Telling people how to behave sexually is just another form of control, of subservience, of domination. Do what you’re told, even behind closed doors. Controlling what people think and want to do is the highest form of absolute manipulation.

Aphrodite
Aphrodite

Finding connection

Paganism and kink are, for me at least, intrinsically connected. They’re both forms of free thought and experimentation. You don’t have to like or accept eveything available – not by a long shot. They’re not about conforming to the Church Of Wicca or to the House of PVC, if that doesn’t float your boat. When you enter the world of Paganism, you don’t have to go buy your cape and wand, and when you start in kink you don’t have to go buy a set of handcuffs to be accepted. Everything is valid between consenting adults.

Paganism doesn’t have to be kinky, but it’s a lot more fun when it is. Because, in the end, life is about sex. And so is religion. Religion should be sexy. For too long we’ve been used to the stale, sexless, Godless churches, which thrive on taking away the physical from the spiritual – separating the two and neglecting the needs of the body.

Yet our bodies are Temples – beautiful, sacred temples. To ignore their needs and their desires is foolish and ignorant.

I’m not suggesting that every ritual needs to contain a sexual element. It doesn’t. Or that religion is always about sex. It isn’t. But sex does need to be recognised within religion in order for us to be whole, complete, satisfied beings. Our bodies need to be recognised and fulfilled for religion to feel complete and whole.

With Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

I believe it’s time to put the sex back into religion. Yes, I’m a sensualist, but I do believe it’s time to put the curiosity and the bliss and the spirit back into sex. It’s time for Paganism and kink and sex to all come together within sacred space, and to connect again. It can be done, and it can be done well. “With perfect love and perfect trust” not just as empty words, once again having real meaning in our lives.

Paganism has become tainted by puritanism and consumerism. So you see circle after circle, coven after coven, all geared up with the nicest of trinkets, yet afraid to talk about sex. They’ll discuss everything and anything but. They’ll comment on one another’s latest greatest toy scrying mirror, but won’t share any deep ritual that can truly help them find the Divine God and Goddess within.

Sex is a scary topic. It should be. We bare our souls, and who we are, when we go deep and open with others. We show others who we truly are, and that can be a frightening prospect. There is no turning back, once another person has seen the light that guides you within, in a sexual, spiritual setting. Yet there is so much more to be gained than lost, the fear is worth the risk. Because we risk losing so much more if we remain forever afraid to share who we are.

So yes, I’m advocating our putting down of the capes and the wands and the pretty knick-knacks on the shelves. To truly connect with the Divine, we need to start by exploring our own bodies – what they do, how they respond, how we can connect with others. The human body truly is a miraculous, Divine thing.

It’s time we learned, once again, how to experience our own Divinity.

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.

Mabon – Large Group Ritual

The evening begins with a Coven member explaining what is to happen as the evening progresses, so that people know what to expect.

Once the introductions and welcome are through, participants are asked to stand, the lights are switched off, and the ritual begins.

A singing bowl or bell is struck three times to signal silence. The Crone takes up her broom and sweeps around the perimeter of the Circle.

A Coven member then moves around the Circle, cleansing the air with the singing bowl. A second Coven member calls in the quarters and welcomes the elements. The first Coven member circles again with sound, and the Circle is bound fast.

Two Coven members move around to the south, and take up their lighters. They light the candles of the ritual attendees, and bid them welcome. They then return to the Altar, gather the bowls of mojo ingredients, and pass them to the Crone, who explains what each ingredient was and what it was for.

Quarters of brown velvet form the Mabon mojo bags, which are bound with orange ribbon, the two colours representing the Autumnal Equinox and the change from the warm seasons to the cooler months.

The ingredients that are passed around are almonds, frankincense, pine needles, juniper berries and gumnuts or other locally-gathered nuts.

Each participant binds the ingredients in their mojo bag by the light of their candle, and takes time to meditate on their bag while the story of Mabon is read.

As well as the ingredients for the mojo bags, autumn leaves are passed around, and each participant takes one. They are then asked to meditate on the goals and achievements of the past year, what they have learned and how they have grown, as Mabon is a time of the Second Harvest – a time to reflect on the inner life.

When the bags are complete, and the participants have had a chance to reflect and meditate on their leaves, the Crone walks around the Circle, staff in hand, and asks each person that they be willing to sacrifice their leaf to the God and Goddess, for without sacrifice there can be no growth and renewal.

The leaves are gathered in. As a sign of sacrifice, the candles of the participants are each snuffed out as the sacrifice is made and the leaves taken in by the Crone.

Then the cauldron at the centre of the Circle is lit, and the Crone casts the spell of sacrifice, throwing the leaves to the flames. The leaves are consumed and burn brightly.

The cauldron burns for many minutes, shooting orange and brown flames into the air while everyone watches and meditates on the flames. Finally, with all the leaves reduced to ash, the Crone decides that it is time to draw the Circle to a close, and she calls down the Circle, bidding the elements farewell, and the cauldron is extinguished.

stonecircle

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.

Beltane group ritual 1

Beltane is the festival of the Sacred Marriage, and is the time of the year when sexuality and fertility are recognised and most revered.

Beltane is a time for singing, dancing and making merry. The Maypole Dance is traditional at this time, and the following ritual incorporates music, dancing and the traditional Beltane fires.

For this ritual you will need:

  • A Maypole (a straight tree with space around which to dance is ideal, or even a Hill’s Hoist will do!)
  • Ribbons for the Maypole (you will need an even number, and they must be quite long – at least 4 metres.
  • 2 cauldrons, and bricks upon which to stand them.
  • Fuel for the cauldron, and matches.
  • A bowl of almonds for the Beltane fires.
  • Hand drums, tambourines and any other instrument you would like to use for the Beltane Song.

Preparation:

  1. Attach one end of each of the ribbons to the top of the Maypole.
  2. Set up the cauldrons or bonfires, ready to light. Set them at least 2 metres apart, with a wide enough gap between them for couples to walk between.
  3. Ensure that all members of the group have learned the Beltane Song, and that they have any instruments ready that they wish to play.
  4. Ensure that the group have learned how to dance the Maypole.
  5. Any couples who wish to be handfasted, or who wish to declare their love or friendship, should be prepared to walk between the fires together.

Cast circle in your preferred way, ensuring that the sacred space includes the Maypole and cauldrons. The group should face inwards and, when ready, begin the Beltane Song*:

Brightly the fires at Beltane burn
Rise, as the dusklight is fading
And we will dance as we sing this song
Sing, for the Lord and the Lady!

Magickal Covens at beltane meet
Mystical powers together
And we will rise as we weave our spell
Weave for the Lord and the Lady!

When the song is finished (it may be sung several times, in rounds and in parts, depending on the group’s wishes), the Beltane Priest/ess should step forward, and say:

It is Beltane
A time of power, a time of joy
A time of pleasure, and a time to be with loved ones.
Beltane is a time for committments –
A time to acknowledge the love and friendship we have for each other.
Those who choose to walk between the fires
Will be bound, in the eyes of all,
Until the next year, when the Beltane fires are lit again.
Then, should they so choose,
They may part in peace from one another.

Are there any here who wish to declare their love?

If a couple state that they wish to declare their love, a Handmaiden should light the fires. As she lights the first fire, she should say: For the Lady and the groups should repeat this.

As she lights the second fire, she should say: For the Lord and the groups should repeat this. She should then offer almonds to the couple, who take a small handful each, to be used as an offering.

Beltane Priest/ess:

These fires are the eyes of the Lord and Lady
Walk between them, and know that you are blessed.

The first couple walk between the fires, and cast their almonds – half into each fire. Then the statements are repeated for any other couples or friends who wish to declare their love, and they too pass between the fires in the same way.

One all couples have passed through and returned to the Circle, the whole group join hands in a circle, and the Beltane Priest/ess says:

Now, as a symbol of the strength and unity of this group, we will pass through the fires together.

The group pass between the fires as a line of individuals holding hands, and rejoin their hands afterwards.

The Beltane Priest/ess says:

This rite is done.

Next, as the fires begin to die down, the group dance the Maypole, singing and making merry.

Lastly, cakes and ale are shared, and the Circle is closed.
The Beltane Song is part of the Wheel of the Year Pagan Song cycle, and the sheet music (and midis) is freely available at the Choral Public Domain Library.

The Chocolate Ritual – for large gathering

NOTE: This ritual, in particular the ‘Chocolate Charge of the Goddess’, is strongly based on the Original Chocolate Ritual, ©Copyright 1993 John Shepherd.

The chocolate ritual requires a minimum of 5 participants – one to call in each Element, and one to read the Charge of the Chocolate Goddess and invoke the Deities.

The ritual starts by invoking the four elements.

At each point stand representations of the four elements: chocolate mousse (air), fondue (fire), chocolate sauce (water) and chocolate slab (earth). In front of each quarter representation stand bowls of chocolate sauce (for anointing).

Within the Circle stand platters and bowls of chocolate offerings. Each participant in the Circle is given a plate (for their offerings) and a fork.

Air Priest/ess: Mousse of the East, of Air
Fluffy one, light one!
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And praise your velvety goodness!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

Fire Priest/ess: Pudding of the North, of Fire,
Gooey one, sticky one!
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And dip into your warm ickiness!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

Water Priest/ess: Chockie sauce of the West, of Water
Rich one, sugary one!
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And prepare to drizzle your yumminess!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

Earth Priest/ess: Chocolate slab or the South, of Earth,
Heavy one who leads all diets astray
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And honour your richness and ability to satisfy our greed!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

HPS a.k.a. ‘CHOCKY CHICK’: We begin tonight’s worship with the traditional Eating of the Wands.

(The quarter guardians stuff themselves and eat messily and lusciously, eating their wands).

HIGH PRIEST (a.k.a Captain of the Bounty): Quetzalcoatl, the God of Chocolate, we now anoint your servants in your name, and thank you for your scrumminess.
Demeter, Goddess of Bounty and Bounty Bars, we praise your name for all you give.

The quarter guardians take up their bowls of chocolate syrup, and anoint the cheeks and chin of the participants.

HANDMAIDEN: The Chocky Chick will now read the chocolate Charge of the Goddess.

HANDMAIDEN: Listen to the words of the Mother of Chocolate, who was of old called Cadbury, Flake, Bounty, Cherry Ripe, Dairy Milk, Mrs Fields, Sara Lee, and by many other names:

CHOCKY CHICK: Whenever you have one of those cravings, once in a while and better it be when your wallet is full, then shall you assemble in some public place and bring offerings of chocolate to the spirit of Me, who is Queen of all Yummies. In the hall shall you assemble, you who have eaten all your chocolate and are hungry for more. To you I shall bring Good Things for your tongue.

And you shall be free from depression, and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall have chocolate smears on your cheeks, and you shall munch, nosh, snack, feast, and make yummy noises, all in my presence. For mine is the ecstasy of chocolate – dark, white and milk – and mine also is Joy on Earth, yea, even into High Orbit, for my law is “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

Mine is the secret that opens your mouth, and mine is the taste that puts a smile on your lips and comfy, padding kilograms on your hips. I am the Gracious Goddess who gives the gift of joy unto the tummies of men and women. Upon earth, I give knowledge of all things delicious, and beyond death……..well, I can’t do much there. Sorry about that.

HANDMAIDEN: Hear now the words of the Goodie Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the cheap imitations, whose body graces snackie shops and finer stores everywhere:

CHOCKY CHICK: I, who am the beauty of chocolate chips, and the satisfying softness of big bars, the mystery of how they get the filling inside of truffles, and fill the hearts of all but Philistines with desire, call unto thy soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of chocolate; from me do all confections spring, and unto me all of you shall return, again…..and again……….and again………………and again.

Before my smeared face, beloved of Women and Men, thine innermost divine self shall be enfolded in the rapture of overdose. Let my taste be within the mouth that rejoices. For behold, all acts of yumminess and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be gooeyness and mess, crispness and crackling, big slabs and bite size pieces, peanut butter and chocolate covered cherries all within you.

And you who think to seek me, know that your seeking and yearning shall avail you not unless you know the Mystery; “For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without…but chocolate will help you in the consolation process.”

For behold; I have been with you since you were just a baby, and I am that which is attained at nearly any snackie shop in the land.

Messed Be!

CHOCKY CHICK: In the name of Demeter, goddess of bounty, and Quetzalcoatl, god of chocolate, let us now be greedy and honour their gifts.

ALL: Chocolate!

(The feasting begins).

When the feasting has ended, the HANDMAIDEN rings the bell three times to gain the attention of the feasters.

CAPTAIN OF THE BOUNTY: Lord and Lady
By the bounty of your gifts
Our need has been met
Our hunger satisfied
Our greed fulfilled and our tummies filled.
We belch in your honour
Messed be!

(They all belch).

The guardians of the Elements now call down the Circle.

Earth Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocolate slab
Which we have devoured.

Water Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocky sauce
Which we have drizzled.

Fire Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocky fondue
Which we have slurped.

Air Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocolate mousse
Which we have scoffed.

CHOCKY CHICK: Chocolate of Earth, Water, Fire and Air
We thank you for your presence
Depart in peace
And do not repeat on us or give us tummy troubles.
This circle is open though unbroken
Merry meet

And merry part
And merry meet again
Messed be!