Mabon Ritual in a Time of Global Warming

Fall Leaf quilt photo from Erica Baron
Fall Leaf quilt photo from Erica Baron

Notes for Planning:

This ritual is written for two officiants, but it is very flexible, and can be easily adapted to other leadership teams.

The meditation in this ritual starts after the group has all symbolically entered the Underworld, and ends before the group returns. So, the introduction and conclusion are a little less extensive than usual. Adjust this to the needs of your group as necessary.

Mabon is, among, other things, the fruit harvest. So, the bread for the ritual is ideally made with fruit that is seasonally available where you live. The chalice has pomegranate juice to honor Persephone’s eating of the fruit of the dead. This might mean zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, something made with apples, etc., depending on your local climate. Alternatively, you could have a pomegranate and invite participants to eat some of the seeds.

The form of this ritual is based on the work of the Temple of Witchcraft, but feel free to change the details to align with your own tradition, if you feel so moved.

You will notice that we are calling fire in the east and air in the south. Many groups call air in the east and fire in the south. The directions in this ritual are in the alchemical/underworld pattern, which places opposing elements opposite each other. This arrangement makes for more confrontational, and therefore potentially more powerfully transformational energy. Since this ritual is designed to confront a long history of imbalance and a huge threat to our environment, this energy seemed appropriate. If you are using this ritual, I invite you to try this arrangement, even if it is not your usual practice.

Introductory Remarks

Officiant(s) give any directions they feel are necessary to help attendees participate fully in the ritual, and answer any questions. If there is alcohol in the Chalice, be sure to mention that.

Entering a Meditative State

It is helpful for everyone in the room to enter a light trance together before the ritual begins. There are lots of ways to do this. Here is the version we use in the Temple of Witchcraft.

Officiant: Please rise as you are able. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body. Relax your head and neck, your shoulders and arms, your back, abdomen, legs and feet.

Take a deep breath and relax your mind. Release all thoughts and worries from the day. Take a deep breath and relax your heart. Feel the love of the Goddess and the God. Feel perfect love and perfect trust. Take a deep breath and relax into your soul. Find your inner light, which you can follow for guidance and protection.

Now picture a giant screen before you, like a blackboard or movie screen. This is the screen of your mind. On this screen, visualize a series of numbers counting down from 12 to 1. As you count down, you will enter a meditative state.

12. See the number 12. 12. 11. See the number 11. 11. 10. See the number 10. 10. 9. See the number 9. 9. 8. See the number 8. 8. 7. See the number 7. 7. 6. See the number 6. 6. 5. See the number 5. 5. 4. See the number 4. 4. 3. See the number 3. 3. 2. See the number 2. 2. 1. See the number 1. 1.

 

Cast the circle

Officiant walks the circle clockwise three times, using the Wand to cast the circle with these words:

(First round) I cast the circle to protect us from all forces that would come to do us harm.

(Second round) I charge this circle to include the most perfect forces for this night’s work, and to keep out all other forces.

(Third round) I charge and consecrate this circle to be a space out of space, a time out of time, a temple of perfect love and perfect trust, where the highest will is sovereign.

As I will it, so mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

 

Call the quarters

One officiant can do all the quarter calls, a pair can alternate, or four people can each call a quarter. Substitute the spirits or deities you have a relationship with in each quarter, if you wish.

All turn to face North, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter. To the north, we call to the element of earth and to the Stag to guide and to guard this circle. Please add your energy to this night’s work. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face East, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter. To the east, we call to the element of fire and to the Horse to guide and to guard this circle. Please add your energy to this night’s work. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face South, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter. To the south, we call to the element of air and to the Crow to guide and to guard this circle. Please add your energy to this night’s work. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face West, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter. To the west, we call to the element of water and to the Snake to guide and to guard this circle. Please add your energy to this night’s work. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

 

Evoke the Goddess and God

Officiant 1: On this night of balance, we call to the Goddess who is Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The flower of youth, the protective parent, the queen of the Underworld. You who walk all the cycles of life, the fullness of experience, be with us this night. Help us to live in harmony with the turning of the seasons. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

Officiant 2: On this night of balance, we call to the God as the Lord of Light and the Lord of Shadow. You who hold both the darkness and the light, both the warmth and the cold, both the growing and the waning, both the living and the dying, be with us this night. Help us to learn the ways of balance. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

 

Story: Kore, Demeter, and Persephone

Once upon a time, the world was fruitful and green all year long. The land was blessed by the Goddess of growth, fertility, and abundance, the Mother Goddess Demeter. Demeter had a beautiful daughter, whom she loved above all things, who was called simply Kore, that is Maiden. Kore’s father was Zeus, the King of the Heavens, the sender of lightning. Kore grew up very much beloved not just by her mother, but by all the people. Wherever she went flowers bloomed, and her radiance and joy blessed all who were lucky enough to come into her presence.

As it happened, the Lord of the Underworld, Hades, saw Kore one day, and like all others, he was immediately overcome by her beauty and grace. And so he determined to bring her into his realm, the land of darkness, the home of the dead. And so, one day when Kore was out enjoying the sunshine and the flowers with her companions, the ground opened beneath her, and she was swept away into the Underworld, the land of darkness and the dead.

The stories differ about what happened next in the Underworld. The Underworld can be like that. Some stories say that Kore was held against her will, that Hades tricked her and married her without her consent. Other stories say that Kore fell in love with this dark God, and that she willingly became his queen. However it happened, Kore was no longer the innocent Maiden, and so she needed a new name. She became Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, the Queen of the Dead.

Meanwhile, above ground, Demeter was beside herself. All she knew was that her daughter had disappeared. She searched everywhere, eventually disguising herself as a human woman to search the corners of the earth. At first, none of the Gods would help her. And so, in her grief, Demeter decided not to bless the earth anymore. She withdrew her power from the ground, and it ceased to give life. For the first time, the plants withered and dropped their leaves. The warmth fled. The very first winter came upon the earth. The people began to suffer and then to die.

Finally, Zeus decided to intervene, and told Demeter what had become of Kore. Demeter demanded that her daughter be returned to her at once. Hermes, the messenger of the Gods was sent to Hades with the demand. But by then, whether through trickery or through her own agency, Persephone had already eaten the food of the dead, creating a bond between her and the Underworld. She had eaten six pomegranate seeds. And so the Gods decided on a compromise. For every seed she had eaten, Persephone would spend a month of every year in the Underworld, as Queen. But the other months, she would return to the land of the living and become once again the Maiden Kore.

And so, for six months of the year, the earth warms and gives forth life. And for six months of the year, the earth cools and goes dormant until everything is still and sleeping, waiting for the step of the returning Goddess to restore spring and life once more. And a strange thing happened once this arrangement was in place. Because of the time of withering and rest, the land actually became more fertile. The people grew stronger and more resilient, as they learned to live in a world with seasons and changes. The Goddess Kore/Persephone became the first to bring the gifts of the earth to the Underworld, and the gifts of the Underworld to the earth.

We who hear this story can follow in the footsteps of the Maiden who is also the Queen of the Underworld. For the Underworld is not just the land of the dead. It is the place where things go, like fallen leaves, to be turned anew into life-giving richness. We all must face moments when it is time to let things go, time to let go parts of our own selves go, time to enter the darkness so that we can re-emerge renewed to life and growth. We, too, may have gifts to bring from one world to the other.

 

Journey to the Underworld

One officiant announces that the dance represents the journey to the Underworld, and invites participants to join in. A possible song for this is the Kore chant by Reclaiming: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVwF34LcZCg) The officiant leads the whole group in a slow dance clockwise around the circle until the symbolic journey to the Underworld feels complete. This is a very basic “dance,” which is really more of a walk. Take it slowly to allow the maximum number of people to participate. This is the version written below.

Officiant: It is the equinox. The time has arrived for Kore’s journey to become Persephone. It is time for us to follow Kore down into the underworld. We are going to dance slowly around the circle clockwise. This is a very gentle dance, where we are simply moving slowly as the music moves us around the circle together. Join in at any time. Come, let us go into the dark.

Officiants start the chant and the dance. When it feels that the journey is complete, continue.

Officiant: We come now to the Underworld. Kore the maiden has become Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. We come now into her presence, and here we pause for meditation.

 

Meditation

Get into a comfortable position and relax your body. Follow the sound of my voice as I count down from 13. There is no need to visualize numbers this time.

13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

Imagine now that you are in a great forest. It is a very dense forest, and very dark. This is the forest of the underworld. There is a smell of earth in the air, the deep, rich smell of good rich soil. You find yourself on a path. Follow the path through the forest. As you continue to follow the path, the towering trees on both sides seem to grow taller and straighter. The trees become more and more like pillars, until you realize that you are now in a great hall with towering pillars lining the way. You continue to walk forward through the hall until at the end you can see two thrones. You walk toward the thrones. As you approach, you see that on one throne is the Goddess, wearing the face of Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. On the other throne is the God, wearing the face of the Lord of Shadow. You approach until you are standing before the thrones.

As you stand before the thrones, the God and Goddess begin to speak. They share with you whatever is yours to hear about the mysteries of the Underworld, the place where death becomes new life. They share with you whatever is yours to hear about the dark part of the year. You may ask any questions you have.

Before you leave, ask the Goddess and God two questions: What gifts does the darkness hold for me at this time? What gifts do I have to bring to the darkness at this time?

Hold the answers to these questions in your heart. Hold them as you begin to bring your awareness back to your body. Come gently back to your own body. Come gently back to this circle. Come gently back to this circle. Come back, come back, come back.

 

Great Rite in Token/Cakes and Ale

Chalice contains Pomegranate juice, plate has bread made from some fruit of the season, such as pumpkin or zucchini bread.

Officiant 1: Knowing that the Underworld holds gifts for us, and knowing that it is the place of regeneration, we celebrate the Great Rite in token, the rite of cakes and ale in harmony with the energies of the underworld. Takes the chalice.

Officiant 2: Plunges the blade into the chalice with these words: As the sword is to the grail, as the blade is to the chalice, truth is to love. I bring together the energies of the Goddess and the God. So mote it be.

All: So mote it be.

Officiant 1 puts down the chalice and holds up the plate.

Officiant 2: Draws an invoking pentagram over the plate, with these words: God and Goddess bless this food and infuse it with your love. So mote it be.

All: So mote it be.

Chalice is shared with all participants, with the words, “May you never thirst.” Bread is shared with all participants, with the words, “May you never hunger.”

Returning

Officiant 1: Although Persephone spends six months in the Underworld, it is not so for us this time. The time has come for us to journey back to the place from which we came. Let us join now in the journey back to the land of light and life. As we journey back, continue to hold in your heart the answers to the questions: What gifts does the darkness have for you? What gifts do you have for the darkness?

Officiant leads the group in another slow walk clockwise. Use the same chant or another appropriate song. Once the journey is complete, if desired (and if your group is small enough), participants may be invited to share the answers to the questions: What gifts does the darkness have for you? What gifts do you have for the darkness?

 

Thanks to the Goddess and God

Officiant 1: We give thanks to the Goddess, who is Maiden, Mother, and Crone, Kore, Demeter, and Persephone. We give you thanks for your presence and blessings this night. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Officiant 2: We give thanks to the God, who is Lord of Light and Lord of Shadow. We give you thanks for your presence and blessings this night. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Release the Quarters

Each quarter should be released by the same person who called it.

All turn to the North, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle. To the north, we thank and release the element of earth and the Stag. We give you thanks for your presence and blessings. Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the West, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle. To the west, we thank and release the element of water and the Snake. We give you thanks for your presence and blessings. Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the South, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle. To the south, we thank and release the element of air and the Crow. We give you thanks for your presence and blessings. Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the East, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle. To the east, we thank and release the element of fire and the Horse. We give you thanks for your presence and blessings. Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Open the Circle

The same officiant who cast the circle now walks the circle counterclockwise once, opening the circle with the wand.

I cast this circle out into the universe. May it join with the circles of our siblings, through space and time to the highest good. The circle is open but never broken.

All: Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.

 

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