Beltane Ritual 2014

Beltane is one of my favorite holidays, but I don’t like writing rituals for it. Usually my Beltane rituals tend to revolve around the transition from young person to adult (Maiden to Mother, Goatboy to Horned God) but I wanted to go in a different direction this time around. We often throw around the phrase “Nature Religion” in relation to Modern Paganism. With my state in the middle of a pretty severe draught I thought Beltane provided a great opportunity for reminding those I ritual with of our responsibilities to our Mother. The only thing this ritual requires apart from the usual altar tools are a burnable “Wicker Man” (you can use a piñata here if you lack craft skills, it’s what I’m going to do), some pens, and some paper.

If you don’t like this ritual and are searching for one, you can always click on last year’s too. Happy Beltane to you and yours!

Purification
Everyone prepares for ritual differently. In my circle we perform a ceremonial hand-washing. Some groups prefer to use incense, smudge, salted water, etc etc. I could share exactly what I do here but then I’d have to swear you to secrecy, and that sounds like too much work.

Opening Meditation/Chant
It’s important to get yourself in the right head space for ritual. Some groups like to use a guided meditation “your feet are the like the roots of a tree . . .” others chant and sing. It probably depends on how good the singing is in your particular group.

Statement of Intent
High Priestess: Of all the sabbats, Beltane is the most joy-filled. The last lingering traces of Winter are now past, and what stands before us is the beauty and wonder of Spring and the Summertime. Our world is truly a miracle, a gift from our Lord and Lady. Tonight we celebrate that gift, the bonds that unite us in this coven, and look inward to see how we can better serve the Earth who is our Mother. Hail the May! Hail Beltane!

Casting the Circle
“I conjure thee oh circle of power, that thou may be a meeting place of love and joy and truth and as a shield against all wickedness and evil. Thou art a boundary between the world of mortals and the realms of the mighty ones; and an entry way to the realm of spirit. Wherefore do I bless thee and consecrate thee in the names of the Lord and the Lady. The circle is cast, so mote it be!”

Calling the Watchtowers

East: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Powers of Air; Spirits of Clear Will and Knowledge, I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

South: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Powers of Fire; Spirits of Illumination and Desire, I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

West: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Powers of Water; Spirits of Death and Initiation, I do summon, stir, and call you up to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

North: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Powers of Earth, Spirits of Mountains and Plains, I do summon, stir, and call you up to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

Call to the God
High Priest: “Tonight we call to the Lord of the Earth, the Green Man, Jack in the Green, he who is the God of the green growing places and the flowering trees. Join us on this most sacred night as we celebrate you and your Lady at the height of your regenerative powers. The Earth is lush and full of life and all due to your union with The Lady. From above you shine upon as the sun bringing forth life from the soil, from below you are the roots that reach deep into the earth! Be with us as we celebrate your gifts this night of Beltane. Hail and welcome!

Call to the Goddess
High Priestess: “Tonight we call to the Great Goddess, she who is Maiden, Mother, Crone, moon, and womb! Be a part of our circle this night as we celebrate the coupling of you and your lover. It’s the power of your union that makes the roses bloom, the birds sing, and fills the world with love and light. With every step you take as the Maiden you awaken the Earth and the life within it, and as the Mother your touch stirs all with longing and sweet anticipation. Where grail and lance unite worlds are born, and due to your grace our world is born anew this night of Beltane. Hail and welcome!

Charge of the God
Not surprisingly my coven uses the best Charge of the God ever written, mine. Opinions on “best ever” will most certainly differ.

Charge of the Goddess
My coven uses a modified version of Doreen Valiente’s prose Charge of the Goddess. One day I might share our slightly modified version, but copyright concerns keep me from doing so.

The Wicker Man Offering
(I recently got around to watching The Wicker Man and took a wee bit of inspiration from it. No, I’m not going to be roasting my neighbors, but I am going to use Beltane in order to make an offering to the gods . . . . .)

High Priest: “The gods have blessed the Earth this Beltane. The grass is green, the trees are in bloom, and the scents of jasmine and rose fill the air. The Lord and Lady have been good to us. She who is the Earth has also been good to us. There’s an old chant that says ‘The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of her,’ and that’s never been more true than it is today. Climate change, drought, polar vortexes, oil pipelines, there are people who would make our world sick and don’t care a bit about it. There’s no way tonight that we can cure the planet with a song or a spell, but we can promise to make the small changes in our own lives that make the Earth a better place. Before beginning the revelries of Beltane, I ask you to give something of yourself to our Mother. Take a moment to think of how you can be a better steward of the Earth and what steps you can take in order to do that.”

High Priestess: “Tonight’s magic might seem small, but when thousands of people pledge to make things better their small steps become giant leaps for humankind. When you’ve thought about what you want to give back to the Earth this Beltane step forward and write that thing down and share it in our Wicker Man. At the conclusion of tonight’s ritual we will burn our offering as a gift to the gods and this earth that walk upon. The Lord and Lady will receive our pledges, and when we put those thoughts into action we not only give a gift to the Great Mother, but to the future generations that will walk upon Her.”

(There are all sorts of things we can do on a daily basis to help our world. All this working asks for is small things, but hey, if someone wants to do something big even better! Here’s a good place to look for getting started with the little stuff. When everyone is done with their pledge the ritual continues . . . )

High Priestess: “Tonight we will charge our Wicker Man with joy, happiness, and the pleasures of the Springtime. As we dance and sing the summer in tonight I want you to think about all the little joys this time of year brings into your life. Those joys could be baseball, a glass of wine outside, picnics in the park, trips to the beach, concerts under the stars, whatever it is about the next few months that brings you happiness. Now we chant! We dance! We drum! We welcome the Summer in!”

(Everyone should hold hands and begin dancing around the altar and the Wicker Man there. A Spiral Dance is more than appropriate if that is something your group does. For music I’m’ using Oak & Ash & Thorn because it’s traditional and most everyone knows the words. I’m very partial to the Coyote Run version because it’s just full of energy. You may want to dance longer too, so don’t be afraid to add a few more songs!)

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High Priestess: “Our Wicker Man is now charged with the power and magic of the Summer to come! We offer him as a sacrifice to the gods and this Earth. May our Summer be good, and our existence on this Earth do far more good than harm. The Summer is here! Hail the Mother! So mote it be!

(If your ritual is outside throw your Wicker Man into the fire now, or if you are like me and celebrate indoors delay the “offering” until later.)

May Day Games
(It’s traditional to play games on May Day, and it’s something we do in my coven, but those games are secret and can’t be shared. Make up your own or poke around the internet and find one or two. Beltane is very much for the celebrating so make sure to put some fun into your ritual. If you are planning a Maypole Dance for your ritual this would be the place to put it.)

The Great Rite
High Priest: “Life is more than a gift, it is a promise. All that dies shall be reborn.”

High Priestess: “We now celebrate the most ancient of magicks, the magick of joining.”

High Priest: “The athame is to the Lord.”

High Priestess: “As the cup is the Lady.”

Both: “United in life and abundance. Blessed Be!”

(Athame is plunged into the chalice.)

Blessing the Cakes & Ale

High Priest: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this bread.”
(Touches athame to either the bread or the plate it is being served upon.)

High Priestess: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this drink.”
(Touches athame to the top of the cup. The drink is then passed around first with the bread following.)

Goodbyes to the Lord and Lady
High Priestess: “As the moon rises and the sun sinks into the dark we stop to thank the Great Goddess for being with us at our ritual this night. We celebrate your transition from Maiden to Woman and are thankful for the gifts that you bring us. We have celebrated the start of Summer tonight and will remember our promises to the Great Mother. Hail the Lady! Blessed Be!

High Priest: “We thank the Great God, Lord of the Wild Places, for joining us tonight in our rites. We feel your touch with our every step upon this world, and with love and devotion we walk this road with you. Like you we pledge to continue and try make this world a better place. Hail the Lord! Blessed Be!”

Dismissing the Watchtowers
North: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Powers of Earth, Spirits of Mountain and Plains, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

West: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Powers of Water; Spirits of Death and Initiation, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

South: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Powers of Fire; Spirits of Illumination and Desire, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

East: Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Powers of Air; Spirits of Clear Will and Knowledge, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

Taking Down the Circle
“I conjured thee oh circle of power as a meeting place to shield us against all wickedness and evil. Thou has served us well, and now we undo this boundary between the world of mortal and those of the mighty ones. We seal forth the entry way from the realm of spirit. All will now be as it once was, and what was once here has been dismissed in the names of the Lord and the Lady.
So mote it be!”

Closing Statement
High Priestess: “We have danced and sung the Summer in. We now go from this place with love and hope in our hearts and with promises to keep. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again, and may the Gods preserve the Craft!”

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.


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