One way to celebrate the Sabbat of Beltane, is through enacting the sacred marriage of the Goddess and the God. The rites will resemble a marriage ceremony, but it is The Two Who Move As One who are the bride and groom. Our coven spends the whole weekend camping out, with several parts to our Beltane Ritual spread throughout the day. It is much like a homecoming for a family wedding within The Sojourner tradition.
Two of our members aspect the Maiden Goddess and the Horned God of the Greenwood. In ritual drama with the whole tradition invited, all our outer court students and family members, we enact the mysteries of nature, of sovereignty and choice, of service and sacrifice, between the Eternal Land and Her chosen King, for this turning of the wheel. Its a grand ol’ time.
Because we meet all weekend, we can erect the temple together over our whole site on Friday night, then spend all day Saturday attending to various preparations and smaller rites with various participants in a more casual way. The High Priestess and the women* meet in a special temple to the Goddess that we create together. The High Priest and the men* meet in their own temple. Each group discusses the lessons specific to each part of the mysteries of Spring, of creation, and the Sacred Marriage that the Queen and King represent.
In these smaller groups, we prepare special oils and waters for use in our main rites. Here we can offer purification and blessings, and personal devotional opportunities, like ritual bathing, smudging and anointing. Much like preparing the bride and groom for their big day, we also help to dress and bless our Queen and King to become the human vessels of Deity for the day.
The High Priestess invokes the Great Goddess into the maiden witch who has been chosen to aspect the Goddess this turning of the wheel. Ideally, she would be young woman* (yet over 21) who is unmarried and not yet born a child. The women* crown her our MayQueen of Beltane. The Horned God is invoked into a male* Witch, in the prime of his power, ideally, just beyond his Saturn return (30-ish), and he is crowned with the antlers of the MayKing.
For this rite, our Gatekeepers of Water and Earth, are also crowned as “Bridesmaids” or attendants to the MayQueen. They each bear the grand tool of their office: cauldron and besom. The Gatekeepers of Air and Fire, are crowned as “Groomsmen” or attendants to the May King, they bear their grand tools of sword and staff.
As the main rites begin, each group processes from their individual temples with pomp and drama to the ritual circle; the Mayqueen with attendants, and the High Priestess leading the way. Our daughters sprinkle blessed rose water, spread flower petals along her path. We sing some chant of the season as we walk along.
The MayKing and his men, with the High Priest leading the way process from the other side, and our sons blow kazoos and bubbles, in regal, trumpeting announcement of his approach. When all meet at the ritual circle, each group makes one lap deosil, swirling together like a giant, living yin/yang symbol to form a circle of celebrants, with Queen, King, HP/HPs and attendants in a center circle near the prepared altar.
High Priestess: Welcome! Let the Rites of Beltane Begin!
Sacred Marriage Ceremony
[Selections heavily adapted from Vivianne Crowley’s, “The Creation Charge” and other passages in Wicca: The Old Religion for the New Millennium]
Mayqueen addresses all assembled:
I am the Great Goddess;
since before the beginning of time, I am.
I am the treacherous mountain peaks,
I am the soft grass of the meadows;
I am the white moon among the stars.
Mine is the voice that gives rise to the first song.
At the dawn of the world I set the sea to waving,
and mine were the tears that fell as the first rains.
I give birth to all,
and in the depths of my earth,
all find rest and rebirth.
All will spring forth anew,
as a fresh shoot to greenness.
Wild, lusting free am I;
I take whom I will into my embrace.
Love is the sacrament I pour out upon the earth
And those to whom I reveal myself,
are blessed among humanity.
Fear me, love me, adore me,
lose yourself in the bliss of my infinite joy.
I am the wine of life, stirring your senses,
I am the desires of your heart
and the song on your lips;
before battle I give you my strength.
I am the Power that weaves the cosmos.
I am the Great Goddess!
High Priestess to all assembled: All Hail the Queen of the May!
All: All Hail the Queen of the May!
Mayqueen says to King:
The power within me nourishes the land,
turns inward to protect and grow our son,
and I choose not to rule alone.
Though it was for myself that I first loved you,
my people have need of you, too.
Beneath these blossoms of Beltane,
do you come to claim your place by my side?
To protect and nurture our child?
Will you pledge yourself to me in life and death?
Will you leave the Greenwood of your youth
and bear the burdens of King and Man?
Will you help me now to rule my people,
and share with me my kingdom’s crown?
MayKing says to Queen:
If this is your will, It is my Will,
And our Will strengthens with the growing sun.
Your people are my people.
I lay down my Greenwood freedom,
to wear the crown of sovereignty,
to rise in responsibility at your side.
I will be bound to you and your people,
In sustenance and protection,
as their servant and their King.
So mote it be!
All: So Mote it Be!
High Priest: All Hail the King of the May!
All: All Hail the King of the May!
Handfasting with Elemental Cords
The May Queen and King face each other, and grasp right hands at the wrists. Each elemental attendant, presents their cord to the couple in turn, then helps to wrap the cords, binding them as Yin to Yang, as anima to animus, Goddess to God, as Queen to King. Each with their affirmations…
Cauldronkeeper of Water presents the blue cord. They each take the cord in their left hands, forming an “X” with their arms.
By the Blue Cord, The Waters of Life flow through you!
MayQueen: Through Water I am the creatrix, the Holy Grail of Divine Love, daring to become the shaper of this world. Within my borders, I am sovereign, whole and complete within myself.
MayKing: I am the Wild God of all that grows and lives within your borders. I accept your Love. I have made the quest to find the grail, and when I drink from your Divine Essence, I find myself.
The Cauldronkeeper tucks one end of the cord under the fingers of the May Queen, draping three loops around their grasped right hands and tucking the other end under the fingers of the May King.
Staff bearer of Air presents the yellow cord, they each take the cord in their left hands.
By the Yellow Cord, The Winds of Life blow through you!
MayKing: Through Air I offer you the wisdom of my counsel, and my service to aid our people.
MayQueen: We are thoughts within the Divine Mind, dreamers within the dream; In wonderment I receive you.
The Staffbearer tucks one end of the cord under the fingers of the May Queen, draping three loops around their hands and tucking the other end under the fingers of the May King.
Besomkeeper of Earth presents the Green cord, they each take it in their left hands.
By the Green Cord, The Matter of Life is born through you!
MayQueen: Through Earth, I am the open channel of creation, the birthing womb and the silent tomb. I am the eternal cycle of life, whole and complete within myself.
MayKing: The energy of the cosmos becomes visible through my deeds. I set the resonance by which time and order are maintained; I am the rhythm to which we dance.
The BesomKeeper tucks one end of the cord under the fingers of the May Queen, draping three loops around their hands and tucking the other end under the fingers of the May King.
Swordbearer of Fire presents the red cord, they each take it in their left hands.
By the Red Cord, The Fires of Life burn through you!
MayQueen: Through Fire, I surrender to the heat of your transformative passion; I banish all fear with humility.
MayKing: It is my WILL to join you in this merging, taking up the responsibility of rulership over our domain. I will defend our sovereignty with honor.
The Swordbearer tucks one end of the cord under the fingers of the May Queen, draping three loops around their hands and tucking the other end under the fingers of the May King.
High Priestess presents the Spirit/Purple Cord: By the Purple Cord, The Spirit if Divine Love is woven through you!
High Priestess tucks one end of the cord under the fingers of the May Queen, draping three loops around their hands and tucking the other end under the fingers of the May King. She arranges all cords into an orderly bundle with plenty of room in each loop for their hands to easily pull through, grasping their cords.
High Priest: Do you make the vow? If so, it is time to Tie the Knot!
MayQueen: I am the one who moves as two.
MayKing: I am the two who moves as one.
Together: As it is, As it was, As it always shall be. SO MOTE IT BE!
Each grasping their cords, they pull back and through to tie them in a big knot.
ALL: SO MOTE IT BE!
High Priest: By all the powers, I present to you our Queen and King of the May! Let their reign through this Wheel of the Year bring blessings and abundance to all who dwell upon their lands!
Maypole Dance and Blessing of the Cup
There are several parts to this rite that then follow, like the blessing of the earth and maypole as sympathetic magick to their consummation, then the Maypole dance itself to raise energy. They bless the cup and cakes and the MayKing and Queen present their abundance through a sip and a bite to all their people, that we may be sustained through the work of the year. We then all go sit down to their wedding fest and spend the evening in dancing, music and singing. I will post about those rites in future blogs. Stay Tuned!
* In our Tradition, we do not discriminate based on gender expression. At the same time, we honor the Hermetic principle of gender, which says that while gender is in everything, both sides of the range are held in unique balance within each of us. So we each celebrate the Sacred Marriage of anima and animus within each of us, regardless of physical gender expression. Whenever we divide up, anyone may go wherever they choose at that time, and explore that aspect of themselves. For more information on the thealogical meanings of Beltane and the various rites, check out this blog: Beltane: Once you go Witch, You’ll Never Switch
For more information about our sacred items and how we celebrated Beltane last year, check out his blog entry: Crafting Sovereignty at the Grand Sabbat.