I realize that the idea of “joining” is pretty far down the list of things that sound like a good idea right now. When I walk past someone on the way to store or when I’m simply out to get a breath of fresh air I give them a wide berth, much wider than the six feet recommended by the CDC. The only person I want to touch right now is my wife (and only after she’s washed her hands), and I’m guessing that most of you probably feel the same way.
The following is an excerpt from my book, The Witch’s Wheel of the Year: Rituals for Solitaries, Circles, and Covens, and while I thought I was done running excerpts from that particular work, it just feels right to do so currently considering the circumstances. I’m guessing a lot of us are going to be doing solitary Beltane rites, and this rite has the extra added bonus of being a bit of a self affirmation. If you are like me right now you might very well need a magickal pick me up!
Stay safe my friends, and I’ll see you on the other side of this! Blessed Be!
In my coven’s version of the Great Rite, we often use the words “the magick of joining.” For many decades, “joining” in the context of Witchcraft (and especially Wiccan-Witchcraft) revolved around ideas limited to male-female energies. This sort of narrow thinking has never worked for me because nature and the greater universe have never embraced such absolutes.
The universe was created at the big bang when matter and force collided, resulting in gas and dust hurtling through space and forming galaxies, suns, and planets. Closer to home, wonders like the Grand Canyon arose due to the erosion of rock by water and wind. The life in my backyard garden came to be because I put seeds in the ground, where they were nourished with dirt and water and then eventually came up from the ground and embraced the life-giving power of the sun. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and we are all influenced and prodded along by the people and circumstances around us.
Even “solitary practice” is a bit of a misnomer, because if we are practicing the Craft properly, we aren’t alone while we do it. In the circle, we are surrounded by the forces of earth, air, fire, and water. For many of us, there are also goddesses and gods lending their power and their presence in our rites. Magick may not have a consciousness of its own, but it’s most certainly something we can feel during ritual and when performing spellwork.
When we practice magick, we are fusing energy with our intent to achieve a desired outcome. We are applying our wants and needs to a natural force that would otherwise not have an agenda. Magick by its very nature is an act of joining. Intent alone is not enough, and simply lighting a candle and walking away is not enough either.
At Beltane, I probably feel the magick of joining more acutely than at other times of the year. Some of this is because of the holiday’s associations with sex and dalliances, but a lot of it is because many things outside have all joined together quite recently. The green grass in my front yard is a reminder of how the earth and sky have come together to produce something truly wondrous, and signs of new life are everywhere in early May. There are bugs buzzing around in the air and bird songs on the breeze. It’s all so magickal and all the result of different forces coming together to create something new.
This ritual utilizes the magick of joining in a twofold way. The working begins with a personal affirmation, followed by an invitation for deity to settle down right alongside of us. Many of us typically call our deities into ritual, but rarely do we ask them to be right up next to us. This ritual does that to remind us that we are never truly alone while performing a solitary rite. If you want to adapt this into a ritual for more than one person, the affirmation can be turned into a drawing down the moon experience, which takes the idea of joining to an entirely different level!
For this part of the rite, you’ll need some sort of essential oil. Because of the season, I suggest choosing something floral to help connect with the natural world. If you’re using a pure essential oil, make sure to add a base oil (such as olive) so it doesn’t burn or hurt your skin.
The second part of the working utilizes the chalice and athame and is a magickal version of the symbolic Great Rite. There are many Witches who see the athame and chalice in such situations as representative of a penis and a vagina, but an athame is not a penis nor is a cup a vagina. Both tools are simply representative of natural forces, and how we interpret them is really up to us. In this rite, the chalice is representative of the things we wish to bring into our lives, while the athame is representative of our will or intent. (And if cups and knives do bother you, replace them with whatever works for you!)
If you don’t have an official working athame and chalice, any old cup will do, as will a kitchen knife, a wand, or even your finger! Witchcraft doesn’t require a bunch of tools, despite what books like this one might suggest. This ritual can be done indoors or out, and at any time of day.
• Standard altar setup
• Essential oil
• Charcoal tablet for incense (If indoors, be sure to buy a type of charcoal designed for indoor use, which is easily picked up at any metaphysical/New Age store.)
• Chalice (containing wine or other liquid)
• Cakes (or whatever food you wish)
• Powdered or natural incense
The Ritual: The Magick of Joining
Start by taking a deep centering breath and look over your altar to make sure everything you need for the ritual is there. When you feel ready to start the ritual, begin by stating the ritual’s intent:
I come here this night (or day) to celebrate the festival of Beltane. Tonight I shall weave my will and walk in step with the natural world and the Goddess and God who dwell within it. I shall make magick and celebrate my connection with those deities I walk with. Blessed be!
Place a bowl of water on your altar’s pentacle and then place three measures of salt into it using your fingers or athame. Sprinkle or place the salt in the water, then mix the two elements together with your blade. Then say:
Earth and water have joined together so that I might purify myself and this place as I prepare for these my rites. By the power of the Lord and Lady, all negativity shall be banished so that I might celebrate the mysteries of May. So mote it be!
Sprinkle the water about your ritual space and yourself. I’ll generally place a few drops on my head and my heart and, while doing so, picture the mundane concerns that get in the way of my magickal self melting away. If you’re doing the ritual inside, be sure to sprinkle your water in any corners or entryways. Once the water has been sprinkled, take your charcoal tablet and light it. Once it’s lit, place it in a dish or holder where it can burn safely, then place that on your altar’s pentacle and sprinkle your incense over it while saying:
Fire and air have joined together so that I might charge myself and this space as I prepare for these my rites. By the power of the Lord and Lady, I assert that I and all within this working space are prepared for magick so that I might celebrate the mysteries of May! So mote it be!
Walk around your ritual area with the incense, feeling its energy and heat charge your space. When this is done, make sure to waft some of the incense smoke upon yourself. As you truly smell the smoke, imagine it charging you, awakening all the magick and energy inside of you. When this is done, prepare to cast the circle using your athame (or preferred tool).
Casting the Circle/Calling the Quarters
Begin casting the circle in the east, walking around your ritual space clockwise. Use your athame, sword, wand, or finger to cast the circle.
By my will and the power of the Lord and the Lady, I cast this circle! May all within it assist me in my magick, and may all negative energies and those that would wish me harm stay beyond its boundaries. This circle is a protection and a doorway between the worlds! By my will, it is done. The circle is cast. So mote it be!
Call the quarters starting in the east, moving clockwise from there. If you’re using candles, you can light them at the conclusion of each quarter call.
Spirits of the east, spirits of air and wind, join me tonight in this place! May I feel your power and energy upon the breeze as I celebrate this Beltane night. Hail and welcome!
Spirits of the south, spirits of fire and sun, join me tonight in this place! May I feel your warmth and see your light as I celebrate this Beltane night. Hail and welcome!
Spirits of the west, spirits of water and sea, join me tonight in this place! May I feel the life-giving energy you bring to all things as I celebrate this Beltane night. Hail and welcome!
Spirits of the north, spirits of earth and mountain, join me tonight in this place. May I feel your powers with every step I take as I celebrate this Beltane night. Hail and welcome!
Calls to the Goddess and God
Now call to the Lord and Lady (or any specific deity you choose). If you have candles to light in their honor, do so after each invocation.
Lovely Lady, Great Goddess, Mistress of the Heavens, Earth Mother, join me tonight in my rites! Allow me to feel your presence and power in all that I do. Draw me closer to the wonder of this world and the magick and mystery of high spring. Let me feel your energies as I celebrate this Beltane rite. Hail and welcome!
Horned One, Great God, Lord of the Sun, Jack in the Green, join me tonight in my rites! Bless this Beltane ritual with your powers of growth and rejuvenation. May I feel your presence and power as I work my magick and will. Be with me both within and without the circle. Hail and welcome!
Take your anointing oil and hold it in your dominant hand for a few moments. As you hold it, think about yourself in a positive manner. Know that you are a worthy child and a devotee of the Lord and Lady and a powerful Witch. Take society’s expectations for appearance, dress, and decorum and throw them out of your mind. You are a beautiful creature worthy of love and acceptance, and you have both of those things within the Craft. Infuse your oil with these ideas; let this true image of yourself move through your body, through your arm, into your hand, and then into your oil. When the oil is warm and charged in your hand, reach out to the deity you are closest to:
Great Lady, Goddess of the Witches, on this sacred night of joining, I ask that I truly feel your presence in this ritual space. May I feel your love for me fill up this circle. Draw me ever closer to your mysteries. So mote it be!
Now anoint yourself with the oil, starting at the feet.
Blessed be my feet, which have brought me to thee.
Using the finger of your dominant hand, lightly dab each foot with your oil before moving to your knees.
Blessed be my knees, which kneel upon your green earth.
Dab each knee before moving to your heart.
Blessed be my heart, which loves and feels love.
Dab the oil between your breasts before moving to your lips. For your “lips,” you’ll probably want to dab the oil on your upper lip (right below your nose) or on your chin.
Blessed be my lips, which have allowed me to call thee.
Finally, dab some oil on your forehead, representative of your spirit.
Blessed be my spirit that seeks thee.
I am a Witch and worthy of the love of my Goddess! It is she who walks with me upon the path of the wise. Dear One, be with me in my circle, for I am your child and my love for thee is pure and true!
Let all go still for a second and reach out with your senses for a sign from her (or him). Deities do not always communicate like we humans do. Be alert for an odd breeze or a patch of warm energy next to you. I often feel the Lord and Lady as if they are standing right behind me, with one of their hands upon my left shoulder. As you wait for a sign, concentrate on them, think of them, and reach out to whoever it is you wish to be in your circle. They will come. Once you’ve felt them, thank them for reaching out to you before moving on with the rest of the ritual.
With your dominant hand, pick up the chalice of wine on your altar and look into it. Let your eyes unfocus and sink into the wine in the chalice. The chalice is representative of the earth and all of the potential it holds. As you look into the cup, imagine all of the possibilities in your life and see them within the wine. When one of those possibilities that you’re especially attracted to swirls in front of your eyes (or in your imagination), hold onto it for a second and try to visualize it more clearly.
It could be something like you having a new (happier) job, or you engaging in a hobby or pasttime you’ve been putting off for a while. Whatever it is, focus on it. If it’s something you truly want, hold the image. If it’s not, let it go and repeat the steps above to see what else comes up.
When you finally come across a possibility that appeals to you and is one you truly and absolutely want, pick up your athame. Let all of the want and need for this possibility go racing through your body and direct it toward the hand holding your athame. This is your true will, and the athame was designed to wield such energies. Slowly insert the athame into the cup, joining the possibilities, energies, and potential of the earth with your own will as wielded by the athame. As the athame enters the wine, say:
By my will, this thing shall be! Possibilities and potential reached this Beltane night!
When the athame enters the wine, your will shall fuse the idea you’re trying to manifest with the energy in the cup, creating a magickal elixir. If you’ve put enough energy into the wine, it might even feel a bit electric to the touch or when you drink it. Take the cup to your lips, drink, and say:
In Beltane’s cauldron, all is possible! May it be so!
Drink deeply from the cup, remembering to set aside a little bit for the gods. (Alternatively, you can pour some upon the ground now if you’re outdoors.) Let the energized wine flow through you, and open yourself up to its energies. Let that energy fill every cell of your body, and know that you will be using that energy over the next few months to achieve your goal.
Set the cup down and pick up a cake (or whatever food you wish) with your non-dominant hand. Place your athame back into the chalice, then touch the tip of your blade to the cake, saying:
By the powers of the Lord and Lady, I bless this cake. I thank them for their gifts. Blessed be!
Eat the cake, saving some for the gods as an offering. Enjoy the energy of your Beltane rite for just a few moments more, then move on to thanking the gods and dismissing the energies you have gathered.
Farewells to the Lord and Lady
Great Goddess, you have stood beside me tonight in my ritual, and for your presence I am truly grateful! Remind me in the days ahead of my worthiness as a Witch and that I am loved by you. I thank you for being a part of my rite and my life.
Great God, thank you too for lending your energy and exuberance to my rite. Thank you for all of your gifts and standing beside me. I am a Witch. I am a child of the gods. Blessed be!
Dismissing the Quarters/Taking Down the Circle
Starting in the north, dismiss the quarters, moving widdershins and extinguishing any candles for the quarters (if lit).
Spirits of the north, spirits of earth and mountain, I thank you for joining me in this space and watching over my rite. May I feel your power in the summer days ahead! Hail and farewell!
Spirits of the west, spirits of water and sea, I thank you for joining me in this space and watching over my rite. May I observe and delight in your gift of life in the summer days ahead! Hail and farewell!
Spirits of the south, spirits of fire and sun, I thank you for joining me in this space and watching over my rite. May I feel your warmth upon my face as we journey toward the summer! Hail and farewell!
Spirits of the east, spirits of air and wine, I thank you for joining me in this space and watching over my rite. May your warm breezes bring us the gift of rain this summer season. Hail and farewell!
Using your athame, wand, or finger, release the circle, starting in the east and moving widdershins.
By my will and the power of the Lord and Lady, I did cast this circle. I now release it and all of the energies I have raised within. May my magick leave this space and hold true, bringing to me that which I desire. The doorway between the worlds is now closed, but what was done here I shall carry with me, and the love of the Lady and Lord will be forever with me. The circle is open. So mote it be!
Before leaving, thank the Lord and Lady for your Beltane rite and take any libations outside in honor of the deities who stood with you this night. Hail the May!
The Witch’s Wheel of the Year: Rituals for Circles, Solitaries, & Covens should be available just about everywhere.