Imbolc on its way…

It’s beginning to feel like winter may be ending. Imbolc will soon be here.

We’ve had a few warm days – unseasonably warm – and I’m starting to see the first signs of new growth in the world. The sheep are looking very heavy, and lambs will be here in a month or so. The depths of winter are passing, and the first warmth in the weak sun is starting to be felt again.

imbolc

I’m not a winter person. I was born in Australia – in Adelaide, where temperatures commonly get well above 40C (above 100F) in summer – and heat is what I know and enjoy. But now I live in the south of New Zealand, and it can get bitterly cold here in midwinter. This cold, icy part of the year seems to stretch endlessly, and summers seem way too short.

I’m still deciding what I will do for Imbolc. In Australia it never really connected with me, mainly because the hot seasons approached way too fast for there to be any real need to welcome in the warmth. But here in New Zealand, I’m starting to appreciate this delicate, beautiful, fresh Sabbat for the first time.

I’m beginning to understand the real importance that the return of heat and warmth had for our ancestors who would have struggled against the cold and against starvation. I’m starting to learn how vital the signs on new life in our animals were – and are – for the continuation of our own lives.

This year I’ll probably celebrate Imbolc alone, or maybe with a small group of friends. I won’t be doing a big public gathering, that’s certain. I’ll look at the rites I’ve done in the past, and post those, but I’m now feeling tempted to create a new one.

Whatever I decide, I’ll let you know. But what is certain, Imbolc is on it’s way. The world is warming again. And for that, we should be thankful.

Thoughts at Samhain

It’s Samhain, and the cold is settling in.

We’ve had rain almost nonstop for two weeks now, and the last of the hazelnuts are on the ground, ready to be collected and stored. There’s that feeling in the air that winter is on it’s way, that it is time to clear out the last of the summer warmth, and that the time has come to collect my thoughts, reflect on the year that has past, and take advantage of the cold weather to plan for the year ahead.

It's Samhain, and the last of the hazelnuts have fallen on my farm...
It’s Samhain, and the last of the hazelnuts have fallen on my farm…

Samhain is traditionally the Pagan New Year. It’s the end of things, the end of the cycle – although, of course, the cycle never really ends. It continues, year after year, changing and growing and renewing. This past year for me has been one of physical work and inner reflection, doing the hard yards deciding who I am and who I want to be, and then making who I want to be come about, from vision to reality.

Weaving spells at Samhain
Weaving spells at Samhain

I’ve made a lot of changes in my life, not all of them easy. Some of the hardest changes lie ahead – I know what I have to do, but that doesn’t make the doing any easier. This is where the Wheel – and the energy of Samhain in particular – can help. It pushes forth change and sweeps away procrastination. It supports the power to do what must be done despite fear. It allows us to embrace our Dark Selves. It allows us to be complete.

Samhain is a Sabbat strongly associated with Death, but with death also comes renewal. By embracing the darkness within ourselves we learn to not be afraid.

No matter where we are, or what we do, we are never alone. We are always part of the Universe. We are always part of the Wheel.

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.

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

Midsummer rite and spell for coven

This ritual is designed for a medium-sized group and is a lovely way to celebrate the hottest part of the year, when days are longest and nights shortest. 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.

At Midsummer, many countries and areas are under the restriction of total fire bans. This means no cauldron fires, no open flames and candles, and no bonfires.

Consequently, a different approach to the rites of Midsummer is needed, and it is quite different in feel to the rites traditionally celebrated at Sabbats such as Beltane.

This ritual marks the quarters of the Circle with staves decorated to represent the elements – Air (East), Fire (North), Water (West) and Earth (South).

These staffs are made from lengths of broomstick or wood, bound with ribbons in the traditional elemental colors and decorated with seasonal flowers. They can also be anointed with oils associated with the different elements and directions.

The staffs can either be held by the Priests/Priestesses of the quarters.

Volunteers from the group are needed for the following tasks and roles:

Air Priest/ess
Fire Priest/ess
Water Priest/ess
Earth Priest/ess
Group Priest/ess or Leader (this should be an experienced Witch)
Altar Priest/ess to hold the mortar while the ingredients are placed within.
Handmaiden/Page to collect the empty ingredient bowls, and return them to the Altar.
Members of the group who will cast the ingredients of the incense into the mortar for grinding
Members of the group to set and decorate the Altar.

Note: These roles can be doubled over as required.

W Heath Robinson, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
W Heath Robinson, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

The rite

Requirements:

Elemental staves (see above)
Mortar and pestle
Ingredients for Midsummer Incense bags:
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Benzoin
1 part Dragon’s Blood
1 part Thyme
1 part Rosemary
1 part Vervain
Small bags of red cloth
Short pieces of gold ribbon to tie the bags closed.
Cakes and Ale.

Before the ritual:

The staves should be given to the Elemental Priest/esses.
The mortar and pestle should be on the altar, and the altar should be set by members of the group.
Bowls containing the ingredients necessary for the Midsummer Incense should be given out to various members of the group who will take charge of each ingredient.

The Circle is cast in the following way by members of the group.

Air Priest/ess:

I call the Element of Air
The Wind, the Breeze, the Dawn, the East –
Be with us now!

Fire Priest/ess:

I call the Element of Fire
The Flame, the Passion, the Will, the North –
Be with us now!

Water Priest/ess:

I call the Element of Water
The Wave, the Tide, the Storm, the Sunset –
Be with us now!

Earth Priest/ess:

I call the Element of Earth
The Land, the Strength, the Body, the Midnight Hour –
Be with us now!

Group Priest/ess or Leader:

By Air, and Fire, and Water and Earth (group repeats line)
This Circle is Cast, So Mote It Be! (group repeats line).

Group Priest/ess or Leader:

Here at the time of Midsummer
When days are longest
When nights are shortest
And the Gods of the Sun are glorious in their power and strength
We make our offerings
And ask for aid in the coming year.
Please be seated.

The group sits and make themselves comfortable, except for the Altar Priestess.

The Altar Priest/ess takes Midsummer Incense bags from the Altar and passes them around the group deosil.

S/he then takes the mortar and pestle from the Altar and moves deosil around the group to the members who hold the ingredients necessary for the Incense.

One by one, they cast their ingredients into the mortar, stating the name of their ingredient. In return, she replies “Blessed Be.”

The Handmaiden/Page collects the empty bowls and places them beneath/beside the Altar.

Once the Altar Priest/ess has collected the ingredients for the Incense, s/he shows the mortar and pestle to the group (walking deosil around the group) with the following words:

Take your time to work the spell
As you grind, focus your blessings into the bowl
And cast your good wishes for the year to come.

The Altar Priest/ess then passes the mortar (containing the ingredients) and pestle to the Air Priest/ess, and returns to his/her position in the Circle.

The Air Priest/ess takes the mortar and pestle and grind the mix together, focusing good intent into the Incense. When s/he feels that the intent has been cast, s/he passes it to the next member of the group in a deosil direction, and the process repeats itself.

Once the Incense has been passed around the group, and the Incense is thoroughly mixed, the Handmaiden/Page takes the Incense mix and, circling the group, offers a small amount to each of the group members. They put it into their Midsummer Incense bags.

Handmaiden/Page:

Tie your Incense bags
And the spell will be tied.
Seal your Incense bags
And the spell will be sealed.
When you are home, alone, tonight
Give thanks for your blessings
And burn the Incense
In the name of the Lord and Lady.
Blessed be!

The group ties their bags closed.

The Handmaiden/Page now moves to the Altar, and blesses the Bread and Juice, which s/he then passes around the group for Feasting.

Once the Feasting is done, the Circle is closed in the following way:

Earth Priest/ess:

The Element of Earth
We hail and farewell!

Water Priest/ess:

The Element of Water
We hail and farewell!

Fire Priest/ess:

The Element of Fire
We hail and farewell!

Air Priest/ess:

The Element of Air
We hail and farewell!

Group Priest/ess or Leader:

This Circle is open
Yet remains unbroken
Merry Meet, and Merry Part, and Merry Meet again.
Blessed be!

Midsummer – Taking a look back at Litha

I never discussed Midsummer at this blog, as I was away at summer and quite busy. So here’s a belated discussion of Midsummer. I’ll follow it up with some Midsummer rituals.

Midsummer, also known as Litha, is the time of the year when the days are longest and the nights shortest. The colors of the season are red and gold, representing heat and ripe fruit, and fruit is eaten in thanks.

Midsummer is celebrated on the 21st and 22nd of December in the Southern hemisphere, and on the 21st and 22nd of June in the Northern hemisphere. It is associated with Alban Hefin (Scottish), and the general midsummer mysteries.

In Australia the Sturt Desert Pea is a sacred flower of this time, and in New Zealand the sacred flower of Midsummer is the pohutukawa tree.

The pohutukawa tree, the sacred midsummer tree of New Zealand.
The pohutukawa tree, the sacred midsummer tree of New Zealand.

Due to the fact that fire restriction are common throughout summer, celebrations for this Sabbat tend to be quite different from those of most other Sabbats throughout the rest of the year. No candles are lit, no cauldrons burned, and no open flames are allowed throughout much of the southern hemisphere.

This means that we seek other ways of marking the quarters. One method is to make staffs for the Quarter Priest/esses to hold and brandish as the Elements are called in. Light sources include battery-operated torches that can be covered in colored cellophane to produce different colored light applicable to the various Elements.

The cauldron can be replaced with a glass bowl of water, filled with rosewater and seashells, symbolising the importance of water to pagans at this time. Garlands for our hair, wreaths to carry and use in ritual, and light, casual clothing are all a part of Midsummer celebrations.

Midsummer falls on the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year, and a time of joy and strength for the light. This holiday celebrates the Sun King in all his glory, who can be identified amongst others as Mithras, the Bull God and Jesus Christ in Christian belief.

In Pagan celebrations in northern Europe, this is the time when the Oak King, representing the waxing year, is cast down by the Holly King, representing the waning year. The two are aspects of the one: the Oak King is the growing youth while the Holly King is male maturity.

Because Midsummer in the southern hemisphere falls close to the mainstream Christian festival of Christmas, a lovely traditional part of Midsummer celebrations is to ask Coven members to give small monetary donations, which can then be passed on to children’s charities.

By doing this, we are acknowledging that although our faiths may differ, we are all part of the same community and have a responsibility towards caring for children – especially at this time of the year.

Healings, growth spells, empowerment spells, and love magick are all incredibly potent at this time of the year. It is a time when all things are possible, and the sprites and faeries of Midsummer Night can cause mischief in the mortal world.

It is considered that the veil between the immortal and mortal worlds is thin at Midsummer, and that time can be stretched and twisted as the worlds are drawn closer together.

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.

Ostara ritual – group ritual for coven

Spring Equinox is a time when day and night is of equal length. Traditionally, this is the time of the year when the Crone departs, and we welcome the prospect of new life and new beginnings.

This ritual focuses on the transformation of the Maiden into the Mother, and welcomes in the new phase of a woman’s life when she prepares for motherhood. The ritual also honours the time of Maidenhood – in particular, the Maiden in her role as Warrior (Athene) and the Maiden in her role as Huntress (Diana).

For this ritual you will need:

  • A handful of white flowers or rose petals
  • A handful of withered leaves
  • Four white quarter candles
  • A lighter (or matches)
  • The Sword of the Maiden Warrior (sword)
  • The Knife of the Maiden Huntress (blade)
  • Small pieces of red paper, on which the Maidens have written their wishes for the Mother in childbirth.
  • Cauldron, methylated spirits, epsoms salts
  • Cakes and Ale.

Prior to the ritual:

  • The cauldron should be set in the middle of the Circle in front of the altar, with epsom salts and methylated spirits within, ready to burn.
  • At each quarter a white candle should be set ready to light, honouring the time of Imbolc which is passing, and the Maidens who preside over this time.
  • Two bowls – one containing white flowers or rose petals, the other containing withered leaves – should be ready on the altar.
  • Small pieces of red paper, with the wishes of the Maidens for the Mother, should be ready on the altar.
  • The Sword of the Maiden Warrior, and the Knife of the Maiden Huntress should reside on the Eastern side of the altar.
  • Cakes and ale should be ready on the altar for Feasting.

The Maiden Warrior takes up the lighter/matches from the altar, and lights the Eastern candle.

Maiden Warrior:

I light the candle of the East
The Dawn, new beginnings, new life…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms on the Element of Air)

Maiden Huntress:

I light the candle of the North
The Midday sun, passions, sexuality, lust…
(The Maiden Huntress free-forms on the Element of Fire)

Maiden Warrior:

I light the candle of the West
The Dusk, emotion, the family…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms on the Element of Water)

Maiden Huntress:

I light the candle of the South
The Midnight Hour, the silence, the strength…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms on the Element of Earth)

Maiden Warrior:

Imbolc is ending
The time of the Maiden is passing
The darkness is over
And hope is reborn in the Mother…

Maiden Huntress:

Winter has ended
The Crone departs, her cold touch leaves us
I honour her in her strength and wisdom
Watch over our sister in the trials of birth that await her!

Maiden Warrior: (takes up her Sword from the altar, and salutes the Mother)

I salute and honour the Mother
Our sister, our friend…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms with good wishes and love towards the Mother)

Maiden Huntress: (takes up her Knife from the altar, and salutes the Mother)

I salute and honour the Mother
Our sister, our friend…
(The Maiden Huntress free-forms with good wishes and love towards the Mother)

Mother: (moving into the centre of the Circle, and lighting the Cauldron)

I light the Cauldron of Akasha
The Spirit, the Soul, the web
Maiden, Mother, Crone.

The Maiden Warrior takes up the white flowers / rose petals from the altar and casts them into the Cauldron, symbolising the transformation from Maiden to Mother. She then takes up her Sword from the altar, and salutes the Mother, before kissing her on the forehead in blessing. (If the Maiden wishes to say anything at this time, she is welcome).

The Maiden Huntress takes up the withered leaves from the altar and casts them into the Cauldron, symbolising the passing of the Crone as winter ends. She then takes up her Knife from the altar, and salutes the Mother, before kissing her on the forehead in blessing. (If the Maiden wishes to say anything at this time, she is welcome).

The Maidens now take up from the altar their pieces of red paper upon which their wishes are written, and cast them into the Cauldron, with any appropriate words they might like to say.

The Mother kneels in front of the Cauldron, and expresses her thanks, and asks for a safe and joyous birth, and for a healthy and happy child.

All: (chanting)

Time is change, change is time,
Change is the way of the Goddess…

The Maidens now close the Circle, blow out the white quarter candles, and the Coven move inside for Cakes and Ale.


Image of eggs by Thorskegga

Ostara ritual 2 – solitary ritual

The following is a beautiful and simple ritual that can be performed by a solitary practitioner to celebrate and welcome the arrival of Ostara, the time of rebirth and new life.

You will need:

  • A yellow candle
  • Rosewater or rose oil
  • A slip of pastel paper (preferably handmade) Your favourite pen
  • A piece of rose quartz
  • String (optional)
  • Your cauldron set to light
  • Matches or a lighter
  • A bowl of rain or spring water
  • Some flower bulbs or seeds.

Cast a Circle in your preferred way.

Anoint the candle with the rosewater/oil. As you do so, meditate on the year to come, on the new life springing from the earth, and give thanks to the Lord and the Lady for their gifts.

Next, write your goals for the year to come on the slip of paper, and wrap it around the rose quartz, to form a small package. If necessary, tie it with string. Anoint the package containing the rose quartz with rosewater/oil as well.

Next, place the package containing the quartz into the cauldron. Light the yellow candle and, while focussing on its flame and meditating on your goals that have been written on the slip of paper, begin the Ostara chant slowly:

Ostara, ostara
Time of rebirth
Time of new life
echoing, echoing…

While continuing the chant, light the cauldron from the candle flame, and focus on the cauldron fire, directing your will into its flames and using its energy to focus your goal.

Focus your thoughts on achieving your goal as you chant the Ostara chant and as the flames in the cauldron burn the quartz package.

When the fire at last has died down and the cauldron contents have cooled, lift the quartz (the paper will have burned away) out of the cauldron, and rinse it in the bowl or rain/spring water. Take cakes and ale, and close the Circle.

In the morning, bury the quartz with the flower bulbs or seeds. As the flowers grow, your goals will come to pass.


Egg image by Thorskegga