Deity of the Day for June 13th is Minerva Roman Goddess of Wisdom

Deity of the Day


Roman Goddess of Wisdom


Areas of Influence: Minerva was the Goddess of wisdom and crafts.

Only in Rome was she worshiped as the Goddess of war.

This Goddess represented the application of intellect to everyday tasks. As the Goddess of wisdom she was accredited with inventing spinning, weaving, numbers and music. Her attributes were so numerous that Ovid described her as the “Goddess of a thousand works.”
She is also the patron of Goddess of medicine.

Origins and Genealogy: The name of this Goddess is said to be of Etruscan origin.

Her parents were Jupiter and Métis. Elements of the myths surrounding her birth however have been poached from Greek Goddess Athena, as she too is born fully grown, from her father’s head.

She was considered third among the Gods and Goddesses and was part of the Capitolian triad alongside Juna and Jupiter.

Strengths: Wisdom, creativity and strength.

Weaknesses: Out of touch with emotions.

Minerva’s Symbolism

The Roman Goddess of wisdom is depicted in full battle dress with a coat of mail, a helmet and a spear.

Sacred Animal/Insect: Owl and the spider.

Sacred Plants: Her sacred plants were the olive, mulberry and alder trees.

Festivals: The main festival celebrating this Goddess took place March 19th – 23rd.

A smaller festival occurred later in the year on the 13th of June.

Greek Equivalent: Athena

Minerva’s Archetypes

The Teacher/ Inventor:

The Teacher and Inventor communicates knowledge, experience and wisdom.

In it’s shadow aspect, the Teacher may manipulate and mislead their students by indoctrinating them with negative beliefs and destructive behaviours.

This is Minerva’s primary Archetype as she teaches humans how to spin and weave. She is also accredited in Roman mythology for inventing numbers and medicine.

The Warrior:

Archetype represents physical strength, and the ability to protect and fight for your rights and those of of others.

The shadow side of the Warrior reflects the need to win at all costs, abandoning ethical principles to prove your supremacy.

Although Roman mythology borrows heavily from it’s Greek counterparts, it is only in Rome that Minerva is worshipped as the Goddess of war, despite always being depicted in full battle dress. This is why I have ranked this Archetype as only of secondary importance for this Goddess.

How To Work With These Archetypes

The Teacher/Inventor:

This Archetype may suggest a love of passing on wisdom and learning to others.

This Goddess wise counsel can also be called upon to help you see a way through any present difficulties or to help you to master a new skill.

The shadow aspect of this stereo type is also a reminder that whenever we find ourselves in a teaching or mentoring role we must aim to be a positive role model, encouraging others to reach their full potential.

The Warrior:

If you are drawn to work with this Goddess you may require her Warrior spirit to help you to stand up for your rights and set firm personnal boundries. This Goddess can be a great stereotype to work with if you want to take control in your life, and wish to no longer play the role of the victim.

You may also wish to call upon this Goddess to champion the cause of others.

Conversely this Goddess may appeal to you if you have a very strong sense of self and are proud of the victories you have achieved. The shadow side may be asking you to reflect honestly on the cost of these victories. Have they been at the expense of others or your principals?





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Deity of the Day for June 9th is Eris, Goddess of Chaos

Deity of the Day


A goddess of chaos, Eris is often present in times of discord and strife. She loves to start trouble, just for her own sense of amusement, and perhaps one of the best known examples of this was a little dustup called the Trojan War.

It all started with the wedding of Thetis and Pelias, who would eventually have a son named Achilles. All of the gods of Olympus were invited, including Hera, Aphrodite and Athena – but Eris’ name got left off the guest list, because everyone knew how much she enjoyed causing a ruckus.

Eris, the original wedding crasher, showed up anyway, and decided to have a little fun. She tossed a golden apple – the Apple of Discord – into the crowd, and said it was for the most beautiful of the goddesses. Naturally, Athena, Aphrodite and Hera had to bicker over who was the rightful owner of the apple.

Zeus, trying to be helpful, chose a young man named Paris, a prince of the city of Troy, to select a winner. Aphrodite offered Paris a bribe he couldn’t resist – Helen, the lovely young wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Paris selected Aphrodite to receive the apple, and thus guaranteed that his hometown would be demolished by the end of the war.


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Deity of the Day for May 14th is Pomona

Deity of the Day


Areas of Influence: Pomona was one of the Numina, the Roman guardian spirits who watched over people, homes and special places. She protected fruiting trees and gardens.

She is an agricultural Goddess , responsible for the care and cultivation of fruit trees and orchards. Her name is actually derived from the Latin word pomun, meaning fruit. Her dedication to her work left her little time for love. She turned down the offers of marriage from Silvanus and Picus but was eventually tricked into marriage by Vertumnus. This deity was served by high priests known as Flamen Pomonalis in a sacred grove known as the Pomonal.

Origins and Genealogy: I can find no references to her parents, siblings and children.

Strengths: A nurturer, dedicated to her job. As a fertility Goddess she represented abundance.

Weaknesses: So busy looking after her trees that she has little time for herself.

Symbolism: A popular figure in art she is shown as a beautiful Goddess carrying a knife to prune with and a platter of fruit or a cornucopia.

Sacred Animal/Bird/Plant: Apples.

Festival: A feast was held annually on the November 1st when apples, nuts and grapes were consumed to celebrate the harvest.

Unlike many of the Roman Goddesses she has no specific Greek equivalent.

Pomona’s Archetype

The Mother

The Mother is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience and unconditional love. The ability to forgive and provide for her children and put them before herself is the essence of a good mother.

In its shadow aspect the Mother can be devouring, abusive and abandoning. The shadow Mother can also make her children feel guilty about becoming independent and leaving her. It is not necessary to be a biological Mother to have this stereotype. It can refer to anyone who has a lifelong pattern of nurturing and devotion to living things.

As Goddess of the harvest she represents the Mother Archetype as she nurtures the fruits, trees and the plants in the garden.

How to Work With This Archetype

The Mother

You are exhibiting the features of the shadow Mother if you smother your children and are over protective. Encourage independence and allow children to make mistakes but be available to give care and advice when it’s needed.

The other shadow Mother is the one that abandons her children, or is so busy that she has no time for nurturing her young.



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Song of the Goddess

Egyptian Comments & Graphics

(based on an invocation by Morgan*)

I am the Great Mother, worshipped by all creation and existent prior to their consciousness. I am the primal female force, boundless and eternal.

I am the chaste Goddess of the Moon, the Lady of all magic. The winds and moving leaves sing my name. I wear the crescent Moon upon my brow and my feet rest among the starry heavens. I am mysteries teries yet unsolved, a path newly set upon. I am a field untouched by the plow. Rejoice in me and know the fullness of youth.

I am the blessed Mother, the gracious Lady of the harvest. I am clothed with the deep, cool wonder of the Earth and the gold of the fields heavy with grain. By me the tides of the Earth are ruled; all things come to fruition according to my season. I am refuge and healing. ing. I am the life-giving Mother, wondrously fertile.

Worship me as the Crone, tender of the unbroken cycle of death and rebirth. I am the wheel, the shadow of the Moon. I rule the tides of women and men and give release and renewal to weary souls. Though the darkness of death is my domain, the joy of birth is my gift.

I am the Goddess of the Moon, the Earth, the Seas. My names and strengths are manifold. I pour forth magic and power, peace and wisdom. dom. I am the eternal Maiden, Mother of all, and Crone of darkness, and I send you blessings of limitless love.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

Scott Cunningham

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Deity of the Day for May 4th is Bona Dea, The Good Goddess

Deity of the Day


 Bona Dea

The Good Goddess

Bona Dea (“The Good Goddess”) was a divinity in ancient Roman religion. She was associated with chastity and fertility in women, healing, and the protection of the Roman state and people. According to Roman literary sources, she was brought from Magna Graecia at some time during the early or middle Republic, and was given her own state cult on the Aventine Hill.

Her rites allowed women the use of strong wine and blood-sacrifice, things otherwise forbidden them by Roman tradition. Men were barred from her mysteries and the possession of her true name. Given that male authors had limited knowledge of her rites and attributes, ancient speculations about her identity abound, among them that she was an aspect of Terra, Ops, the Magna Mater, or Ceres, or a Latin form of Damia. Most often, she was identified as the wife, sister or daughter of the god Faunus, thus an equivalent or aspect of the nature-goddess Fauna, who could prophesy the fates of women.

The goddess had two annual festivals. One was held at her Aventine temple; the other was hosted by the wife of Rome’s senior annual magistrate, for an invited group of elite matrons and female attendants. The latter festival came to scandalous prominence in 62 BC, when the politician Clodius Pulcher was tried for his intrusion on the rites, allegedly bent on the seduction of Julius Caesar’s wife, whom Caesar later divorced because “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”. The rites remained a subject of male curiosity and speculation, both religious and prurient.

Bona Dea’s cults in the city of Rome were led by the Vestal Virgins, and her provincial cults by virgin or matron priestesses. Surviving statuary shows her as a sedate Roman matron with a cornucopia and a snake. Personal dedications to her are attested among all classes, especially plebeians, freedmen and women, and slaves. Approximately one third of her dedications are from men, some of whom may have been lawfully involved in her cult.

Titles, names and origins

Bona Dea (“The Good Goddess”) is both an honorific title and a respectful pseudonym; the goddess’ true or cult name is unknown. Her other, less common pseudonyms include Feminea Dea (“The Women’s Goddess”), Laudandae…Deae (“The Goddess…to be Praised”)., and Sancta (“The Holy One”). She is a goddess of “no definable type”, with several origins and a range of different characteristics and functions.

Based on what little they knew of her rites and attributes, Roman historians speculated her true name and identity. Festus describes her as identical with a “women’s goddess” named Damia, which Georges Dumézil sees as an ancient misreading of Greek “Demeter”. In the late Imperial era, the neoplatonist author Macrobius identifies her as a universal earth-goddess, an epithet of Maia, Terra, or Magna Mater, worshiped under the names of Ops, Fauna and Fatua. The Christian author Lactantius, claiming the late Republican polymath Varro as his source, describes her as Faunus’ wife and sister, named Fenta Fauna, or Fenta Fatua (Fenta “the prophetess” or Fenta “the foolish”).

Republican era

The known features of Bona Dea’s cults recall those of various earth and fertility goddesses of the Graeco-Roman world, especially the Thesmophoria festival to Demeter. They included nocturnal rites conducted by predominantly or exclusively female intitiates and female priestesses, music, dance and wine, and sacrifice of a sow. During the Roman Republican era, two such cults to Bona Dea were held at different times and locations in the city of Rome.

One was held on May 1 at Bona Dea’s Aventine temple. Its date connects her to Maia; its location connects her to Rome’s plebeian commoner class, whose tribunes and emergent aristocracy resisted patrician claims to rightful religious and political dominance. The festival and temple’s foundation year is uncertain – Ovid credits it to Claudia Quinta (c. late 3rd century BC). The rites are inferred as some form of mystery, concealed from the public gaze and, according to most later Roman literary sources, entirely forbidden to men. In the Republican era, Bona Dea’s Aventine festivals were probably distinctly plebeian affairs, open to all classes of women and perhaps, in some limited fashion, to men. Control of her Aventine cult seems to have been contested at various times during the Mid Republican era; a dedication or rededication of the temple in 123 BC by the Vestal Virgin Licinia, with the gift of an altar, shrine and couch, was immediately annulled as unlawful by the Roman Senate; Licinia herself was later charged with inchastity, and executed. By the Late Republic era, Bona Dea’s May festival and Aventine temple could have fallen into official disuse, or official disrepute.

The goddess also had a Winter festival, thoroughly documented but attested on only two occasions (63 and 62 BC). It was held in December, at the home of the current senior annual Roman magistrate cum imperio, whether consul or praetor. It was hosted by the magistrate’s wife and attended by respectable matrons of the Roman elite. This winter festival is not marked on any known religious calendar but was dedicated to the public interest and supervised by the Vestals, and therefore must be considered official. Shortly after 62 BC, Cicero presents it as one of very few lawful nocturnal festivals allowed to women, privileged to those of aristocratic class, and coeval with Rome’s earliest history.

Festival rites

The Winter festival is known primarily through Cicero’s account, supplemented by later Roman authors. First, the house was ritually cleansed of all male persons and presences, even male animals and male portraiture. Then the magistrate’s wife and her assistants made bowers of vine-leaves, and decorated the house’s banqueting hall with “all manner of growing and blooming plants” except for myrtle, whose presence and naming were expressly forbidden. A banquet table was prepared, with a couch (pulvinar) for the goddess and the image of a snake. The Vestals brought Bona Dea’s cult image from her temple and laid it upon her couch, as an honoured guest. The goddess’ meal was prepared: the entrails (exta) of a sow, sacrificed to her on behalf of the Roman people (pro populo Romano), and a libation of sacrificial wine. The festival continued through the night, a women-only banquet with female musicians, fun and games (ludere), and wine; the last was euphemistically referred to as “milk”, and its container as a “honey jar”. The rites sanctified the temporary removal of customary constraints imposed on Roman women of all classes by Roman tradition, and underlined the pure and lawful sexual potency of virgins and matrons in a context that excluded any reference to male persons or creatures, male lust or seduction,. According to Cicero, any man who caught even a glimpse of the rites could be punished by blinding. Later Roman writers assume that apart from their different dates and locations, Bona Dea’s December and May 1 festivals were essentially the same.

Clodius and the Bona Dea scandal

The Winter rites of 62 BC were hosted by Pompeia, wife of Julius Caesar, senior magistrate in residence and pontifex maximus. Publius Clodius Pulcher, a popularist politician and ally of Caesar, was said to have intruded, dressed as a woman and intent on the hostess’ seduction. As the rites had been vitiated, the Vestals were obliged to repeat them, and after further inquiry by the senate and pontifices, Clodius was charged with desecration, which carried a death sentence. Cicero, whose wife Terentia had hosted the previous year’s rites, testified for the prosecution.

Caesar publicly distanced himself from the affair as much as possible – and certainly from Pompeia, whom he divorced because “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”. He had been correctly absent from the rites but as a paterfamilias he was responsible for their piety. As pontifex maximus, he was responsible for the ritual purity and piety of public and private religion. He must act to ensure that the Vestals had acted correctly, then chair the inquiry into what were essentially his own household affairs. Worse, the place of the alleged offense was the state property loaned to every pontifex maximus for his tenure of office. It was a high profile, much commented case. The rites remained officially secret, but many details emerged during and after the trial, and remained permanently in the public domain. They fueled theological speculation, as in Plutarch and Macrobius: and they fed the prurient male imagination – given their innate moral weakness, what might women do when given wine and left to their own devices? Such anxieties were nothing new, and underpinned Rome’s traditional strictures against female autonomy. In the political and social turmoil of the Late Republic, Rome’s misfortunes were taken as signs of divine anger against the personal ambition, religious negligence and outright impiety of her leading politicians.

Clodius’ prosecution was at least partly driven by politics. In an otherwise seemingly thorough account, Cicero makes no mention of Bona Dea’s May festival, and claims the goddess’ cult as an aristocratic privilege from the first; the impeccably patrician Clodius, Cicero’s social superior by birth, is presented as an innately impious, low-class oaf, and his popularist policies as threats to Rome’s moral and religious security. After two years of legal wrangling, Clodius was acquitted – which Cicero put down to jury-fixing and other backroom dealings – but his reputation was damaged. The scandalous revelations at the trial also undermined the sacred dignity and authority of the Vestals, the festival, the goddess, office of the pontifex maximus and, by association, Caesar and Rome itself. Some fifty years later, Caesar’s heir Octavian, later the princeps Augustus, had to deal with its repercussions.

Imperial Era

Octavian presented himself as restorer of Rome’s traditional religion and social values, and as peacemaker between its hitherto warring factions. In 12 BC he became pontifex maximus, which gave him authority over Rome’s religious affairs, and over the Vestals, whose presence and authority he conspicuously promoted. His wife Livia was a distant relative of the long-dead but still notorious Clodius; but also related to the unfortunate Vestal Licinia, whose attempted dedication of Bona Dea’s Aventine Temple had been thwarted by the Senate. Livia restored the temple and revived its May 1 festival, perhaps drawing attention away from her disreputable kinsman and the scandalous events of 62 BC. Thereafter, Bona Dea’s December festival may have continued quietly, or could simply have lapsed, its reputation irreparably damaged. There is no evidence of its abolition. Livia’s name did not and could not appear in the official religious calendars, but Ovid’s Fasti associates her with May 1, and presents her as the ideal wife and “paragon of female Roman virtue”. Most of Bona Dea’s provincial and municipal sanctuaries were founded around this time, to propagate the new Imperial ideology. An Imperial cult centre in Aquileia honours an Augusta Bona Dea Cereria, probably in connection with the corn dole. Other state cults to the goddess are found at Ostia and Portus. As the Vestals seldom went beyond Rome’s city boundary, these cults would have been led by leading women of local elites, whether virgin or matron.

Livia’s best efforts to restore Bona Dea’s reputation had only moderate success in some circles, where scurrilous and titillating stories of the goddess’ rites continued to circulate. Well over a century after the Clodius scandal, Juvenal describes Bona Dea’s festival as an opportunity for women of all classes, most shamefully those of the upper class – and men in drag (“which altars do not have their Clodius these days?”) – to get drunk and cavort indiscriminately in a sexual free-for-all.

From the late 2nd century, an increasing religious syncretism in Rome’s traditional religions presents Bona Dea as one of many aspects of Virgo Caelestis, the celestial Virgin, Great Mother of the gods, whom later Mariologists identify as prototype for the Virgin Mary in Christian theology. Christian theologists present Bona Dea – or rather, Fauna, whom they clearly take her to be – as one of the innumerable Roman gods who supposedly show the immorality and absurdity at the heart of traditional Roman religion; according to them, no prophetess, merely “foolish Fenta”, daughter and wife to her incestuous father, and “good” (bona) only at drinking too much wine.


Bona Dea’s Roman temple was situated on a lower slope of the northeastern Aventine Hill, beneath the height known as Saxum, southeast of the Circus Maximus. Its foundation year is unknown. According to Dumezil, Festus’ identification of Bona Dea with Damia infers a foundation date in or shortly after 272 BC, after Rome’s capture of Tarentum; but Cicero claimed the goddess’ cult as coeval with Rome’s foundation. In the middle Republican era, the temple may have fallen into disrepair, or its cult into official disfavour. In 123 BC the Vestal Licinia gave the temple an altar, small shrine and couch for the goddess, but they were removed as unlawful by the pontifex maximus P. Scaevola. Its use and status at the time of the Bona Dea scandal are unknown. It was restored in the Imperial era, once by the empress Livia, wife of Augustus, and perhaps again by Hadrian. It survived to at least the 4th century AD. Nothing is known of its architecture or appearance, save that unlike most Roman temples it was walled. It was an important centre of healing; harmless snakes roamed its precincts, and it held a store of various medicinal herbs that could be dispensed at need by its priestesses. Men were forbidden entry but could dedicate offerings to the goddess, or, according to Ovid, could enter the precincts “if bidden by the goddess”.

Most provincial sanctuaries and temples to Bona Dea are too decayed, despoiled or fragmentary to offer firm evidence of structure and layout, but the remains of four confirm a layout consistent with the sparse descriptions of her Aventine temple. In each, a perimeter wall surrounds a dense compound of annexes, in which some rooms show possible use as dispensaries. The layout would allow the concealment of inner cults or mysteries from non-initiates. There is evidence that at least some remained in use to the 4th century AD as cultic healing centres.

Dedications and iconography

Despite the exclusively female, aristocratic connections of her winter festival at Rome and her high status as a protecting deity of the Roman state, elite dedications to Bona Dea are far outnumbered by the personal dedications of the Roman plebs, particularly the ingenui; the greatest number of all are from freedmen and slaves; and an estimated one-third of all dedications are from men, one of whom, a provincial Greek, claims to be a priest of her cult. This is evidence of lawful variation – at least in the Roman provinces – from what almost all Roman literary sources present as an official and absolute rule of her cult. Inscriptions of the Imperial era show her appeal as a personal or saviour-goddess, extolled as Augusta and Domina; or as an all-goddess, titled as Regina Triumphalis (Triumphal Queen), or Terrae marisque Dominatrici (Mistress of sea and land). Private and public dedications associate her with agricultural deities such as Ceres, Silvanus, and the virgin goddess Diana.[47] She is also named in some dedications of public works, such as the restoration of the Claudian Aqueduct.

Most inscriptions to Bona Dea are simple and unadorned but some show serpents, often paired. Cumont (1932) remarks their similarity to the serpents featured in Pompeian lararia; serpents are associated with many earth-deities, and had protective, fertilising and regenerating functions, as in the cults of Aesculapius, Demeter and Ceres. Some Romans kept live, harmless snakes as household pets, and credited them with similarly beneficial functions.

Images of the goddess show her enthroned, clad in chiton and mantle. On her left arm she holds a cornucopia, a sign of her abundant generosity and fruitfulness. In her right hand, she holds a bowl, which feeds a serpent coiled around her right arm: a sign of her healing and regenerative powers. This combination of snake and cornucopia are unique to Bona Dea. The literary record offers at least one variation on this type; Macrobius describes her cult statue as overhung by a “spreading vine”, and bearing a sceptre in her left hand.


Cicero makes no reference to any myth of Bona Dea. Later Roman scholars connected her to the goddess Fauna, a central figure in Latium’s aristocratic foundation myth, which was thus re-embroidered as a Roman moral fable. Several variants are known; Fauna is daughter, wife or sister of Faunus (also named Faunus Fatuus, meaning Faunus “the foolish”, or seer). Faunus was son of Picus, and was the first king of the Latins, empowered with the gift of prophecy. In Roman religion he was a pastoral god and protector of flocks, with a shrine and oracle on the Aventine, sometimes identified with Inuus and later, with Greek Pan. As his female counterpart, Fauna had similar gifts, domains and powers in relation to women. In Plutarch’s version of the myth, the mortal Fauna secretly gets drunk on wine, which is forbidden her. When Faunus finds out, he thrashes her with myrtle rods; in Lactantius’s version, Faunus thrashes her to death, regrets the deed and deifies her. Servius derives the names Faunus and Fauna, collectively the Fatui, from fari (to prophesy): they “are also called Fatui because they utter divine prophecy in a state of stupor”. Macrobius writes that Bona Dea is “the same as Fauna, Ops or Fatua… It is said too that she was the daughter of Faunus, and that she resisted the amorous advances of her father who had fallen in love with her, so that he even beat her with myrtle twigs because she did not yield to his desires though she had been made drunk by him on wine. It is believed that the father changed himself into a serpent, however, and under this guise had intercourse with his daughter.” Macrobius refers the serpent’s image at the goddess’ rites to this mythical transformation, and to the live, harmless serpents who roamed the goddess’ temple precincts.

Varro explains the exclusion of men from Bona Dea’s cult as a consequence of her great modesty; no man but her husband had ever seen her, or heard her name. For Servius, this makes her the paragon of chaste womanhood. Most likely, once Fauna’s mythology seemed to offer an explanation for Bona Dea’s mysterious cult, the myth developed circumstantially, to fit what little was known of the practice. In turn, the cult practice may have changed to support the virtuous ideological message required of the myths, particularly during the Augustan religious reforms that identified Bona Dea with the empress Livia. Versnel (1992) notes the elements common to the Bona Dea festival, Fauna’s myths, and Greek Demeter’s Thesmophoria, as “wine, myrtle, serpents and female modesty blemished”.

Cult themes in modern scholarship

Bona Dea’s is the only known festival in which women could gather at night, drink strong, sacrificial-grade wine and perform a blood sacrifice. Although women were present at most public ceremonies and festivals, the religious authorities in Roman society were the male pontiffs and augurs, and women could not lawfully perform rites at night, unless “offered for the people in proper form”. Women were allowed wine at these and other religious occasions. At other times, they might drink weak, sweetened, or diluted wine in moderation but Roman traditionalists believed that in the more distant and virtuous past, this was forbidden, “for fear that they might lapse into some disgraceful act. For it is only a step from the intemperance of Liber pater to the forbidden things of Venus”. Some ancient sources infer that women were banned from offering blood-and-wine sacrifice in their own right; even banned from handling such materials; both claims are questionable. Nevertheless the strong, sacrificial grade wine used in the rites to Bona Dea was normally reserved for Roman gods, and Roman men.

The unusual permissions implicit at these rites probably derived from the religious authority of the Vestals. They were exceptional and revered persons; virgins, but not subject to their fathers’ authority; and matrons, but independent of any husband. They held forms of privilege and authority otherwise associated only with Roman men, and were answerable only to the Senior Vestal and the Pontifex Maximus. Their ritual obligations and religious integrity were central to the well being of the Roman state and all its citizens.

The euphemistic use of wine at this festival has been variously described as a substitution for milk and honey, relatively late in the cult’s development; as a theologically absurdity;unacceptable outside this specific religious sphere. Fauna’s myths illustrate the potential of wine as an agent of sexual transgression; wine was thought to be an invention of Liber-Dionysus, who was present as the male principle in certain “soft fruits”, including semen and grapes; and ordinary wine was produced under the divine patronage of Venus, the goddess of love and sexual desire. Its aphrodisiac effects were well known.

For Staples, the euphemisms are agents of transformation. The designation of wine as “milk” conceives it as an entirely female product, dissociated from the sexually and morally complex realms of Venus and Liber. Likewise, the wine jar described as a “honey jar” refers to bees, which in Roman lore are sexually abstinent, virtuous females who will desert an adulterous household. Myrtle, as the sign of Venus, Faunus’ lust and Fauna’s unjust punishment, is simply banned; or as Versnel puts it, “Wine in, Myrtle out”. The vine-leaf bowers and the profusion of plants – any and all but the forbidden myrtle – transform the sophisticated, urban banqueting hall into a “primitive” dwelling, evoking the innocence of an ancestral golden age in which women rule themselves, without reference to men or Venus, drinking “milk and honey”, which are “markers par excellence of utopian golden times” – under the divine authority of Bona Dea.


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Deity of the Day for Beltane is The Green Man, Spirit of the Forest

Deity of the Day for Beltane

The Green Man

Spirit of the Forest

For our ancient ancestors, many spirits and deities were associated with nature, wildlife, and plant growth. After all, if you had just spent the winter starving and freezing, when spring arrived it was certainly time to give thanks to whatever spirits watched over your tribe. The spring season, particularly around Beltane, is typically tied to a number of pre-Christian nature spirits. Many of these are similar in origin and characteristics, but tend to vary based on region and language.

In English folklore, few characters stand out — or are as recognizable — as the Green Man.

Strongly connected to Jack in the Green and the May King, as well as John Barleycorn during the fall harvest, the figure known as the Green Man is a god of vegetation and plant life. He symbolizes the life that is found in the natural plant world, and in the earth itself. Consider, for a moment, the forest. In the British Isles, the forests a thousand years ago were vast, spreading for miles and miles, farther than the eye could see. Because of the sheer size, the forest could be a dark and scary place.

However, it was also a place you had to enter, whether you wanted to or not, because it provided meat for hunting, plants for eating, and wood for burning and building. In the winter, the forest must have seemed quite dead and desolate… but in the spring, it returned to life. It would be logical for early peoples to have applied some sort of spiritual aspect to the cycle of life, death and rebirth.

Folklorist James Frazer associates the Green Man with May Day celebrations, and with the character of Jack in the Green, who is a more modern adaptation of the Green Man. Jack is a more specifically defined version of the nature spirit than the earlier Green Man archetype. Frazer speculates that while some form of the Green Man was probably present in a variety of separate early cultures, he developed independently into a variety of newer, more modern characters. This would explain why in some areas he is Jack, while in others he is Robin of the Hood, or Herne the Hunter in different parts of England. Likewise, other, non-British cultures seem to have similar nature deities.

The Green Man is typically portrayed as a human face surrounded by dense foliage. Such images appear as far back as the eleventh century, in church carvings. As Christianity spread, the Green Man went into hiding, with stonemasons leaving secret images of his face around cathedrals and churches. He enjoyed a revival during the Victorian era, when he became popular with architects, who used his visage as a decorative aspect in buildings.

Legends connected to the archetype of the Green Man are everywhere. In the Arthurian legend, the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a prime example. The Green Knight represents the pre-Christian nature religion of the British Isles. Although he originally confronts Gawain as an enemy, the two later are able to work together – perhaps a metaphor for the assimilation of British Paganism with the new Christian theology. Many scholars also suggest that the tales of Robin Hood evolved from Green Man mythology. Allusions to the Green Man can even be found in J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan – an eternally youthful boy, dressed in green and living in the forest with the wild animals. Today, some traditions of Wicca interpret the Green Man as an aspect of the Horned God, Cernunnos.



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This a Pagan Ritual file, of interest to Neo-Pagans,specifically
          Wiccan based religions.

               Equipment- see standard list

               Set up  a candle in each of the four cardinal directions. Lay the
          rest of the tools on  the altar cloth or near it. The altar  can be on
          the ground, a  table, a rock  or a stump. The  altar should be  in the
          center or  just north of center  of the Circle. Light  the six candles
          and the incense, start the music and begin the ritual.
               The  Beltane ritual should start before sunrise or in the evening
          of April 30th. This is to welcome the sun in and to make effective use
          of the bonfire. The party or the ritual should finish  some time after

                               THE RITUAL

          Facing North,  the High Priest  and Priestess  kneel in  front of  the
          altar with him  to her right. She puts the bowl of water on the altar,
          places the point of her athame in it and says:

               "I exorcise  thee, O Creature of  Water, that thou cast  out from
          thee all impurities and uncleanliness of the world of phantasm; in the
          names of Cernunnos and Aradia"

          She then puts down her athame and  holds up the bowl of water in  both
          hands. The  High Priest puts the bowl  of salt on the  altar, puts his
          athame in the salt and says:

               "Blessings be upon this  Creature of Salt; let all  malignity and
          hindrance  be cast  forth hencefrom,  and let  all good  enter herein;
          wherefore so I bless thee,that thou     mayest aid me, in the names of
          Cernunnos and Aradia."

          He then puts down his athame and pours the salt into the bowl of water
          the  High Priestess is holding.  The High Priest  then stands with the
          rest of the  Coven outside the Circle.  The High Priestess  then draws
          the Circle  with the sword,  leaving a  gap in the  Northeast section.
          While  drawing the Circle, she should visualize the power flowing into
          the Circle from  off the end of the  sword. She draws the Circle  in a
          East to North or deosil or clockwise direction. She says:

               "I conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou beest a meeting
               place of love and joy and truth; a shield against all wickedness
               and  evil; a boundary  between men and  the realms  of the Mighty
          Ones; a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain   t h e
          power     that we shall raise within thee. Wherefore do I bless  thee
          and  consecrate thee, in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia."


          The High Priestess lays down the sword and admits the High Priest with
          a kiss while spinning him deosil and whispers:

               "Blessed Be" 

          He then admits a women the  same way. Alternate-male-female-male. Then
          the High Priestess  finishes closing  the Circle with  the sword.  She
          then  names three  witches to  help strengthen  the Circle.  The first
          witch  carries the bowl of  consecrated water from  East to East going
          deosil, sprinkling  the perimeter as  she/he goes. They  then sprinkle
          each  member in  turn. If  the witch  is male,  he sprinkles  the High
          Priestess last who  then sprinkles  him. If female  she sprinkles  the
          High Priest last, who then sprinkles  her. The bowl is replaced on the
          altar.  The second witch takes the incense burner around the perimeter
          and  the third takes one of the  altar candles. While going around the
          perimeter, each person says:

               "Black spirits and white,
               Red spirits and grey,
               Harken to the rune I say.
               Four points of the Circle, weave the spell,
               East, South, West, North, your tale tell.
               East is for break of day,
               South is white for the noontide hour,
               In the West is twilight grey,
               And North is black, for the place of power.
               Three times round the Circle's cast.
               Great ones, spirits from the past,
               Witness it and guard it fast."

          All the  Coven pickup their  athames and face  the East with  the High
          Priest and Priestess  in front, him on  her right. The  High Priestess

               "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Lords of Air;  I  do
          summon, stir, and call  you up to witness our  rites and to guard  the

          As she speaks  she draws the  Invoking Pentagram of  Earth in the  air
          with her athame:


                                4       3
                                  2 7 5

          The High  Priest and  the rest  of the Coven  copy her  movements with
          their  athames. The  High  Priestess turns  and  faces the  South  and
          repeats the summoning:

               "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Lords of Fire; I do
               summon,  stir and call you up, to  witness our rites and to guard
          the Circle."


          She does the same pentagram and then faces West and says:

               "Ye  Lords of the Watchtowers of the  West, ye Lords of Water, ye
          Lords of Death and Initiation; I do summon, stir, and call you   u p ,
          to witness our rites and to guard the Circle."

          She faces North with rest of the Coven and says:

               "Ye Lords  of the Watchtowers  of the North,  ye Lords of  Earth;
          Boreas, thou gentle guardian of the Northern Portals; thou  powerful
          God and gentle Goddess; we do summon, stir and call you     up,     to
          witness our rites and to guard the Circle."

          The Circle is completed and  sealed. If anyone needs to leave,  a gate
          must be  made. Using  the sword, draw  out part  of the Circle  with a
          widdershins or  counter-clockwise  stroke. Immediately  reseal it  and
          then repeat the opening and closing when the person returns.

          In this part  of the ritual the Goddess becomes  incarnate in the High
          Priestess.  The High Priestess stands  in front of  the altar with her
          back to it. She holds  the wand in her right hand and  the scrounge in
          her left.  She crosses her  wrists and  crosses the wand  and scrounge
          above them  while holding them close  to her breast.   The High Priest
          stands in front of her and says:

               "Diana, queen of night
               In all your beauty bright,
               Shine on us here,
               And with your silver beam
               Unlock the gates of dream;
               Rise bright and clear.

               On Earth and sky and sea,
               Your magic mystery
               Its spell shall cast,
               Wherever leaf may grow,
               Wherever tide may flow,
               Till all be past.
               O secret queen of power,
               At this enchanted hour
               We ask your boon.

               May fortune's favor fall
               Upon true witches all,
               O Lady Moon!

          The  High Priest kneels  before the High  Priestess and gives  her the
          Five Fold Kiss; that is, he kisses her on both feet, both knees, womb,
          both breasts, and  the lips, starting with the right  of each pair. He
          says, as he does this:

               Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
               Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
               Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.
               Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.
               Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names."


          For the kiss  on the lips, they embrace, length  to length, with their
          feet  touching each others. When he  reaches the womb, she spreads her
          arms wide, and the  same after the kiss  on the lips. The High  Priest
          kneels again and invokes:

                          "I invokethee andcall uponthee, MightyMother ofus all,
          bringer of  all fruitfulness; by  seed and root,  by bud and  stem, by
          leaf  and flower  and fruit,  by life  and love  do  I invoke  thee to
          descend upon the body of this thy  servant and priestess."

          During this invocation he touches her with his right forefinger on her
          right breast, left breast,  and womb, repeats the set and  finally the
          right  breast. Still kneeling, he spreads  his arms out and down, with
          the palms forward and says:

                  "Hail Aradia! From the Amalthean Horn
                   Pour forth thy store of love;
                   I lowly bend Before thee, I adore thee to the end,
                   With loving sacrifice thy shrine adore.
                   Thy foot is to my lip (he kisses her right foot)
                   my prayer up borne Upon the rising incense smoke;
                   then spend  Thine ancient love, O Mighty One, descend
                   To aid me, who without thee
                   am forlorn."

          The  High Priest  stands up  and steps  backwards. The  High Priestess
          draws the  Invoking Pentagram of  Earth in the  air with the  wand and

                  "Of the Mother darksome and divine
                   Mine the scrounge, and mine the kiss;
                   The five point star of love and bliss
                   Here I charge you in this sign."

          The High Priest says:

               "Listen to the words of the Great Mother; she who of old was also
                          calledamong manArtemis,Astarte, Athene,Dione,Melusine,
          Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianhod, Isis and by many other names."

          The High Priestess, who should be in a trance, says as the Goddess:

               "Whenever you have need of anything,  once in a month, and better
          it be  when the Moon  is full, then shall  ye assemble in  some secret
          place  and adore the spirit of me, who  am Queen of all witches. There
          shall ye assemble,  ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not
          won its deepest  secrets; to these  will I teach  things that are  yet
          unknown.  And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that  ye be
          really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; dance, sing, feast, make
          music and  love, all in  my praise.  For mine  is the  ecstasy of  the
          spirit,  and mine also is  joy on earth;  for my law is  love unto all
          beings.  Keep pure  your highest  ideal; strive  ever towards  it; let
          naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine  is the cup of the wine of
          life,  and the  Cauldron  of Cerridwen,  which is  the  Holy Grail  of
          Immortality. I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto
          the  heart of man.   Upon  Earth, I give  the knowledge  of the spirit
          eternal; and beyond death, I give peace and freedom, and reunion  with
          those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold I am
          the Mother of  all living things, and  my love is poured out  upon the


          earth. I who am the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the
          waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul. Arise,
          and come unto me. For  I am the soul of nature, who gives  life to the
          universe. From  me all  things proceed,  and unto me  all things  must
          return;  and  before  my face,  beloved  of  Gods and  men,  let thine
          innermost divine self be enfolded in  the rapture of the infinite. Let
          my  worship  be within the heart that rejoiceth;  for behold, all acts
          of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty
          and  strength, power  and compassion,  honor and  humility,  mirth and
          reverence within you.
                          And thouwho seekest to seekfor me, know thyseeking and
          yearning shall avail thee not unless thou  knowest the mystery; and if
          that which thou seekest thou  findest not within thee,thou will  never
          find  it without  thee. For  behold, I  have been  with thee  from the
          beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire."

          This declamation can be said by the High Priestess, the High Priest or
          the Coven as a whole.

                  "Hear now the words of the witches,
                   The secrets we hid in the night,
                   When dark was our destiny's pathway,
                   That now we bring forth into the light.
                   Mysterious Water and Fire,
                   The Earth and the wide ranging Air,
                   By hidden quintessence we know them,
                   And will keep silent and dare.
                   The birth and rebirth of all nature,
                   The passing of winter and spring,
                   We share with the life universal,
                   Rejoice in the magical ring.
                   Four times in the year the Great Sabbat Returns,
                   and the witches are seen
                   At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
                   On May Eve and old Hallowe'en.
                   When day time and night time are equal,
                   When sun is at greatest and least,
                   The four lesser Sabbats are summoned,
                   Again witches gather in feast.
                   Thirteen silver moons in a year are,
                   Thirteen is the Coven's array.
                   Thirteen times at Esbat make merry,
                   For each golden year and a day.
                   The power was passed down the ages,
                   Each time between woman and man,
                   Each century unto the other,
                   Ere time and ages began.
                   When drawn is the magical circle,
                   By sword or athame of power,
                   It's compass between the two worlds lies,
                   In the land of shades that hour.
                   This world has no right to know it,
                   And the world beyond will tell naught.
                   The oldest of gods are invoked there,
                   The Great Work of Magic is wrought.
                   For two are the mystical pillars,
                  That stand at the gate of the shrine,
                  And two are the powers of nature,
                  The forms and the forces of the divine.
                  The dark and the light in succession,


                  The opposites each unto each,
                  Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
                  This did our ancestors teach.
                  By night he's the wild wind's rider,
                  The Horn'd One, the Lord of the Shades.
                  By day he's the King of the Woodland,
                  The dweller in green forest glades.
                  She is youthful or old as she pleases,
                  She sails the torn clouds in her barque,
                  The bright silver lady of midnight,
                  The crone who weaves spells in the dark.
                  The master and mistress of magic,
                  They dwell in the deeps of the main,
                  Immortal and ever renewing,
                  With power to free or to bind.
                  So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
                  And dance and make love in their praise,
                  Till Elphames's fair land shall receive us
                  In peace at the end of our days.
                  And Do What Thou Wilt
                  shall be the challenge,
                  So be it in love that harms none,
                  For this is the only commandment,
                  By magic of old, be it done!
                  Eight words the Witches Creed fulfill:
                  If It Harms None, Do What Thou Will!

          The High Priest faces the Coven, raises his arms wide and says:
                  "Bagabi lacha bachabe Lamac cahi achababe
                   Lamac lamac
                   Cabahag sabalyos
                   Lagaz atha cabyolas
                   Samahac atha

          The High Priestess and the Coven repeat:



          The High Priest  and High Priestess  face the  altar. The High  Priest

                  "Great God Cernunnos, return to Earth again!
                   Come to my call and show thy self to men.

                  Shepherd of Goats, upon the wild hill's way,
                  Lead thy lost flocks from darkness unto day.

                  Forgotten are the ways of sleep and night 
                  Men seek for them, whose eyes have lost the light.

                  Open the door of dreams, whereby man come to thee.
                  Shepherd of Goats, O answer unto me!"

          The High Priest and the rest of the Coven then say:

                  "Akhera goittiakhera beitti!"

          And lower their hands on the second phrase.

          This is a ring dance as usual. This can be replaced or others added as
          desired.   Everyone  should  take  part.  Use   what  music  you  feel
          comfortable with.

                  Walpurgis Night, the time is right,
               The ancient powers awake.

               So dance and sing, around the ring,
               And Beltane magic make.

               Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
               Upon the eve of May,

               We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
               Forever and a day.

               New life we see, in flower and in tree,
               And summer comes again.

               Be free and fair, like earth and air,
               The sunshine and the rain.

               Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
               Upon the eve of May,
               We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
               Forever and a day.

               As magic fire be our desire
               To tread the pagan way,

               And our true will find and fulfill,
               As dawns a brighter day.

               Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
               Upon the eve of May,


               We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
               Forever and a day.

               The pagan powers this night be ours,
               Let all the world be free,
               And sorrow cast into the past,
               And future blessed be!

               Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
               Upon the eve of May,

               We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
               Forever and a day.

          The  Coven spread themselves out around the  Circle. They start a soft
          rhythmic clapping. The High Priestess says:

               "Now  it is  time for  the Oak  King to  impregnate Our  Lady. No
          longer will  she be the Virgin Huntress  and Maiden. She is  now to be
          Hecate, the Queen of Elphame. But first she must catch him."

          This song is from Robert Graves "White Goddess". It is an old Scottish
          Craft song. In it, the High Priest turns into a variety of animals and
          the  High  Priestess chases  him. Starting  with  the High  Priest and
          Priestess, then  followed by the other  couples in the  Coven, the men
          are  chased by  the women.   The  ladies use  a scarf  to signify  the
          capture at the end of the song. The dancers should try to  imitate the
          animals they are playing. The dance and the tune should be slow. After
          all the couples have done so, the High Priestess and Priest repeat it.

          High Priest:    

                   "O, I shall go into a hare
                With sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
                And I shall go in the Devil's name
                Aye, till I be fetched hame."

          High Priestess: 

                   "Hare, take heed of a bitch greyhound
                Will harry thee all these fells around,
                For here come I in Our Lady's name
                All but to fetch thee hame."


                   "Cunning and art he did not lack
                But aye her whistle would fetch him back."


          High Priest:

                   "Yet I shall go into a trout
                With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt,
                And show thee many a merry game
                Ere that I be fetched hame."

          High Priestess: 

                  "Trout take heed of an otter lank
                Will harry thee close from bank to bank,
                For here come I in Our Lady's name
                All but for to fetch thee hame."


                  "Cunning and art he did not lack
                But aye her whistle would fetch him back."

          High Priest:   

                  "Yet I shall go into a bee
                With mickle horror and dread of thee,
                And flit to hive in the Devil's name
                Ere that I be fetched hame."

          High Priestess: 

                  "Bee, take heed of a swallow hen
                Will harry thee close, both butt and ben,
                For here come I in Our Lady's name
                All but to fetch thee hame."


                  "Cunning and art he did not lack
                But aye her whistle would fetch him back."

          High Priest:    
                  "Yet I shall go into a mouse
                And haste me unto the miller's house,
                There in his corn to have good game
                Ere that I be fetched hame."

          High Priestess: 

                  "Mouse take heed of a white tib-cat
                That never was balked of a mouse or a rat,
                For I'll crack thy bones in Our Lady's name:
                Thus shall thee be fetched hame."


                  "Cunning and art he did not lack
                But aye her whistle would fetch him back."


          The  High  Priestess  finally catches  the  High  Priest  at the  last
          refrain. She drapes a scarf over his neck to signify her catching him.
          The Maiden and the Coven say:

                          "TheQueen of Elphame has caught herSon who is also her
          Consort. They must  mate so that  the Earth may  bear it's fruits  and
          that man and animal may live. "

          The High Priest and High Priestess, and the rest of the couples in the
          Coven, kiss with vigour. The men should wilt and fade back to the edge
          of  the Circle.   The  women gather  around the  unlit bonfire  or the
          cauldron with the candle in it. The High Priestess says:

               "The Oak King is dead. He has died of his love for the      Lady
          that the  Earth may live. So  has it been  for year after  year, since
          time began.   But the Oak King, the God of  the Waxing year, must live
          so the crops in the Earth can come forth. "

          The Coven shouts:

                          "Kindlethe Beltanefire.Maythe OakKingliveagain. Maythe
          Earth bring forth her fruits, may the animals bear their young and the
          land be fruitful again."

          The High Priestess lights the bonfire using a taper lit from the altar
          candle.  She then says:

                  "Come back to us, Oak King, that the land may be fruitful."

          The men gather around the fire, next to their partners, and the say in

               "I am the stag of seven tines;
               I am a wide flood on the plain;
               I am a wind on the deep waters;
               I am a shining tear of the sun;
               I am a hawk on a cliff;
               I am fair among flowers;
               I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke."

          The  High Priestess  and  High Priest  lead  a ring  dance  around the
          bonfire. Start out with "A Tree Song" from Rudyard Kipling's "Weland's
          Sword" story in "Puck of Pook's Hill". The dance should be joyful.

          "Oh, do not tell the Priest of our Art,
                Or he would call it sin;
                But we shall be out in the woods all night,
                Aconjuring summer in!
                And we bring you news by word of mouth
                For women, cattle and corn
                Now is the sun come up from the South
                With Oak, and Ash and Thorn!"

          Continue  the  dance  with this  song  and/or  any  others that  sound


          This chant  goes to the tune  of the old folksong,   "The Lincolnshire

               Come join the dance, that doth entrance,
               And tread the circle round.
               Be of good cheer, that gather here,
               Upon this merry ground.

               Good luck to we that faithful be,
               And hold our craft so dear,
               For 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
               In the season of the year.

               Oh, 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
               In the season of the year.

               While stars do shine, we pledge the wine
               Unto the Gods of old,
               Nor shall there fail the witch wassail,
               Nor shall their fire grow cold.
               Good luck to we that faithful be,
               And hold our craft so dear,

               For 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
               In the season of the year.

               Oh, 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
               In the season of the year.

               Throughout, about and round about,
               By flame that burneth bright,
               We'll dance and sing, around the ring,
               At witching hour of night.
               Good luck to we that faithful be,
               And hold our craft so dear,

               For 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
               In the season of the year.

               Oh, 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
               In the season of the year. 

          Near the end of the dance, the High Priestess should call out the name
          of either  a person or a couple.  They should then jump  over the fire
          while making  a wish.  They should then  rejoin the  ring and  another
          couple or person do it.  When ready, stop the dance and sit down about
          the fire. After a break, perform the Great Rite.


               The Coven, except for the  High Priestess and High Priest,arrange
          themselves around the perimeter of the circle, man and woman
          alternately as far as possible, facing the center.  The High Priestess
          and High Priest  stand facing each other in the  center of the circle,
          she with her back to the altar, he with his  back to the South.
            The High Priest  kneels before the High Priestess and  gives her the
          Five Fold Kiss; that is, he kisses her on both feet, both knees, womb,
          both breasts, and the lips,  starting with the right of each  pair. he
          says, as he does this:

               "Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
               Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
               Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.
               Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.
               Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.

          For the kiss on the  lips, they embrace, length to length,  with their
          feet touching each others. When  he reaches the womb, she spreads  her
          arms wide, and the same after the kiss on the lips. The High Priestess
          then  lays  herself  down,  face  upwards,  with  her  arms  and  legs
          outstretched to form the Pentagram.

          The  High  Priest  fetches the  veil  and  spreads  it  over the  High
          Priestess's body, covering her  from breasts to knees. He  then kneels
          facing her, with his knees between her feet.

               The High Priest calls a woman witch by name, to  bring his athame
          from the altar. The woman does so and stands with the athame in her
          hands,  about a  yard to  the West  of the  High Priestess's  hips and
          facing her.

          The High Priest  calls a male witch  by name, to bring  the chalice of
          wine from the  altar. He does  so and stands  with the chalice in  his
          hands,  about a  yard to  the East  of the  High Priestess's  hips and
          facing her.  The High Priest  delivers the invocation:

               "Assist me to erect the ancient altar, at which in days past all
                  worshipped;  The altar of all things.
           For in old time, Woman was the altar.  Thus  was  the altar  made and
          placed,  And the  sacred place was the point within  the center of the
          Circle.   As we  have of old  been taught  that the  point within  the
          center is the origin of all things,

               Therefore should we adore it;
               Therefore whom we adore we also invoke.

               O Circle of Stars, Whereof our father is but the younger
               brother, Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space, 
                    Before  whom time isashamed, the mind bewildered, and the   
          understanding dark,

               Not unto thee may we attain unless thine image be love.
               Therefore by seed and stem, root and bud, And leaf and flower and
              fruit do we invoke thee, O Queen of Space, O Jewel of Light,
               Continuous on of the heavens;  Let it be ever thus


            That men speak not  of thee as One, but  as None;  And let  them not
          speak of thee at all, since thou art continuous.
            For thou art the point within the Circle, which we adore;  The point
          of life, without which we would not be.

            And in this way truly are erected  the holy twin pillars;  In beauty
          and strength were they erected  To the wonder and glory of all men."

          The High Priest  removes the veil from the High  Priestess's body, and
          hands it to the woman witch, from  whom he takes his athame.  The High
          Priestess  rises  and kneels  facing the  High  Priest, and  takes the
          chalice from the man witch. (Note that both of these handings over are
          done  without the customary ritual kiss. The High Priest continues the

                  "Altar of mysteries manifold,
                  The sacred Circle's secret point
                  Thus do I sign thee as of old,
                  With kisses of my lips anoint."

          The High Priest kisses the High Priestess on the lips, and continues:

               "Open for me the secret way,
                The pathway of intelligence,
                Beyond the gates of night and day,
               Beyond the bounds of time and sense.
               Behold the mystery aright The five true points of fellowship...."

          The  High Priestess holds up  the chalice, and  the High Priest lowers
          the point of  his athame into the  wine. Both use both  of their hands
          for this. The High Priest continues:

               "All life is your own,
               All fruits of the Earth
               Are fruits of your womb,
               Your union, your dance.
               Lady and Lord, We thank you for
               blessings and abundance.
               Join with us, Feast with us, Enjoy with us!
               Blessed Be.

          Then, draw the Invoking Pentacle  of Earth in the air above  the plate
          with the athame.

               "Here where Lance and Grail unite,
               And feet, and knees, and breast, and lip." 

          The High  Priest hands his athame  to the woman witch  and then places
          both  his hands  round those of  the High  Priestess as  she holds the
          chalice. He  kisses her, and she sips the wine; she kisses him, and he
          sips the wine. Both of  them keep their hands round the  chalice while
          they do this.


               The High Priest then  takes the chalice from the  High Priestess,
          and they both rise to their feet.

               The High Priest  hands the chalice to a woman  witch with a kiss,
          and she sips. She gives it to a man with a kiss. The chalice is passed
          around  the Coven,  man to  woman, with  a kiss  each time,  until the
          entire Coven has sipped the wine.  The chalice can be refilled and any
          one can drink  from it without  repeating the ritual once  the chalice
          has gone around once.

          The woman lays  down her athame and passes the cakes to the man with a
          kiss,he passes  them back with a  kiss and they are  passed around the
          Coven the same way the wine was. Be sure to save some of the  wine and
          some cake for an offering to the  Earth and the Little Folk. After the
          meeting,leave the offering outside of the house if working indoors, or
          behind  in the  woods or  field,  when you  leave if  you are  working

               The  High Priestess faces East,with  her athame in  her hand. The
          High  Priest stands  to her right  with the  rest of  the Coven behind
          them. If any  tools have been consecrated, they should  be held by the
          person furthest  to the back. The  Maiden stands near to  the front to
          blow out each candle in turn. The Priestess says

               "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Lords of Air;  we do
          thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart   t o     y o u r
          pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and   farewell....Hail and

          As she speaks,  she draws the Banishing Pentagram of  Earth in the air
          in front of her thus, each time:

                                    2 7

                                 4        5

                                 6 1    3               

          The rest of the Coven copy  the Pentagram and chorus in on  the second
          hail and farewell. The Maiden blows out the candle and the Coven faces
          the south and the High Priestess says:

                  "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Lords of   Fire;
          we do thank  you for attending  our rites; and ere  ye depart to  your
          pleasant  and lovely  realms, we bid you hail and farewell....Hail and

          She turns to the West and says:

                          "Ye Lordsof theWatchtowers ofthe West,yeLords ofWater;
          ye Lords  of Death and Initiation;  we do thank you  for attending our
          rites; and  ere ye depart to  your pleasant and lovely  realms, we bid
          you hail and farewell ....Hail and farewell."


          She turns to the North and says:   

               "Ye  Lords of the  Watchtowers of the  North, ye Lords  of Earth;
          Boreas, thou  gentle guardian of  the Northern Portals;  thou powerful
          God, Thou gentle Goddess; we do thank you for attending our rites; and
          ere ye depart for your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and
          farewell ....Hail and farewell." 

          This ends the Circle. The party following this should be a loving one.
          If there is a May Pole available, circle the May Pole. Beltane is also
          a time  for forfeits.   The  High Priestess picks  out the  people and
          their forfeit, except the High  Priest picks out the last one  to play
          on  the  High  Priestess.  Beltane is  also  a  time  for "green  wood
          marriages" and other unbridled sexuality and such.

                    (Distributed in the public domain via Seastrider)



Categories: Coven Life, Deities, Rejuvenation, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Information on The Great Rite

The Great Rite

Understanding The Rite
The Great Rite IS NOT for everyone and like all rituals it can be used as positive act just as easily as it can be used to abuse. While modern attitudes about sex are puritan in many circles, within the pagan world, it is simply part of nature. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t used without accountability. This energy of the union between partners is part of the miracle of love between two people. It’s energy is more than just physical gratification, it can become a prayer, a method of worship, and in honoring the Great Spirits in the form of the God and Goddess joining to form the God Head (Spirit).
In addition, the Great Rite is not always a physical act. While it may have started out that way in ancient cultures, societies and understandings evolve. So too do spiritual rites and ceremonies. Whither conducted as a physical act, or a symbolic act, the Great Rite can be a very beautiful and powerful event when conducted with the utmost respect and reverence.
But as with ANY ritual, it can be misused as well. And all practitioners MUST understand the rights they hold within a group and within any ritual. Sexual harassment is a misuse of power, regardless of how it’s invoked. Demanding sexual favors in return for something badly needed, or desired is abuse and criminal, both in a spiritual sense as well as a physical accountability. Demanding a coupling for an initiation when the initiant is not comfortable with the union, is intimidation and rape. The causing of pain, terror and humiliation is a criminal act and is more than a misuse of power, it is a spiritual sin even within the pagan world. It is the desecration of the first grail, the womb of a woman and a disrespect to the spiritual path of any religion.
In ancient times, the GreatRite dealt with the union of the Goddess to the God to win favor or blessings from the Divine Universe. It was a ritual of survival that promoted fertility of fields, flocks and family.
Today the Great Rite deals with the essence of feminine and masculine energy as it relates to the God and Goddess. The idea is that in order to establish true Divinity within oneself, you need to accept and join your two natures together. We are all part masculine and part feminine within our being. Only when we learn to accept the nature of both can we discover the true divinity within.
Sex and Magik
Sex and magik have long gone hand in hand. This is nothing new and contrary to ‘moral’ attitudes, it’s not something that’s done just to get laid. Linking the sexual act with divine forces was an easy leap for early humans. Not understanding the medical process of copulation and conceiving. Prehistoric tribes documented their divine rituals through cave paintings which depict this idea fairly well.
These early paintings, carvings and figurines such as the ‘Venus of Willendor’ are perfect examples of the early reverence for fertility of a woman and her ability to give new life. This miracle of life was seen just as that, a miracle given to a woman by a deity, typically a Goddess. A woman who was extremely fertile was considered to be favored by the God/Goddess and elevated within her tribal structure. Some cultures viewed such a woman as the embodiment of the tribal Goddess who granted favor over the tribe. If this great Mother was fertile and brought new life to the tribe, that favor was also granted to the growing, harvest and hunting seasons of the tribe as well. In ancient times, all these events were strongly linked and each affected the other.
When early humans realized it took two to create life, the pendulum slowly switched from focusing on the matriarch to the patriarch. As long as a woman could bear children, she still held great power within her tribe. When she grew older and less fertile, she often chose her successor. But her singular power as ‘Mother Goddess’ shifted and was soon to be shared with a deserving male of the tribe.
In these ancient times, the fertility of a woman was seen as a blessing or as the Goddess living through the woman. The strength and ability of a man to provide food and housing for the tribe was seen as the God blessing or working through the physical hunter. Some suggest this is the early concept of the Horned God seen throughout legend and myth.
It is clear however, that the Goddess and Mother of the tribe was just as important as the God and the Hunter. Without both, the tribe will suffer and die. There cannot be abundance and sustenance for the whole society without the work of both the Goddess and God to provide fertility of the fields, the herds and even the tribe itself. From this early concept of survival, the reverence of ritual celebration and the union of male and female was born.
A Little History
From the beginnings of recorded history, we know that in Mesopotamia and Chaldea, Prostitution was a sacred profession, unlike today. Sacred Prostitution was seen as holy and practitioners were providing a service of the Goddess to the cultures of their society. A man would go to the temple and with an offering, he would request service of a Priestess within. His purpose was to gain favor of the Goddess for more children back at home with his wife, or an extra bit of fertility for his fields, or herds of sheep, cattle or camels. In lying with the Priestess he might feel blessed or honored, and go home full of confidence. He might dig extra irrigation ditches for his fields, or be more encouraged to lay with his wife.
The myths of the Greeks, to a greater or lesser extent are concerned with sex and the union of Deities with the lowly humans they rule over. The Greek pantheons constantly sought out human partners who’s conceived children often became revered demi-gods. These myths had both a good and bad side of their tale. On one hand, divine unions were seen as gifts from the Gods and often became ritualized. They became honored experiences even if they didn’t yield a child, but still gained abundance in the fields or herds.
On the other hand some tribes such as the Samothraki, involved the sacrifice of young men at one point in their history. Some Priestess would lay with a young man and to ensure she would become pregnant, she carried a very sharp, leaf-shaped knife which she used to take the life of the man she lay with. Sacrificing his life would ensure his essence was transferred to her womb.
There is even evidence of Sex and the Goddess in Biblical Times. It is held by some historians that the Hebrew God Yaweh was originally a phallic deity. In fact it is an accepted historical belief that the Hebrews were not always a monotheistic society. Phallic pillars were set up for worship in many of those early Hebrew villages, along with images of the Goddess Anat or Anath. Even today, the lineage of the faith is passed through the feminine side of the family. If a Jewish woman marries outside the faith, her children can be counted as Jewish, but if a man marries outside the faith it’s not so straight forward.
Through many passages of the Bible we can see evidence of Goddess worship. In Judges V, the Song of Deborah is a clear example. The story of Susanna and the elders is another example. If you can find an early version of the bible, you can see the ritualistic venues and importance of women such as Queen Esther who is another ‘goddess’ symbol. If read with a perspective of the Great Rite, it becomes clear that this queen was also a priestess of the Goddess. Through his reign, her husband the king had to prove his virility and therefore his right to lay with her. This is a very clear connection between the earliest Great Rite rituals and the bible. And don’t forget the Songs of Solomon, which have been considered one of the most glorious love poems ever written.
Other Biblical considerations revolve around the use of language of the time. The use of rock or stone, didn’t refer to the stability of God in ones life, but rather phallic symbology of the God. From early historical times, even up to the middle ages, ‘rocks’ or ‘stones’ often referred to the male testicles, and of course, pillars to the penis. “Of the rock that begat thee thou are unmindful” Deuteronomy 32:18. “For who is God save the Lord? And who is a rock save our God” Samuel 2:32. In this case God’s rock provided mankind with a son, the Lord Jesus.
The bible also provides one of the biggest examples of the reverence between the Divine and human coupling through the conception of Jesus. Early variations of the bible come right out and say “God lay with Mary and she conceived a son”. That translation has changed over the years thanks to the French and the first use of the term “immaculate conception” (meaning without sin or blemish) in 1497.
During the middle ages, oaths, promises and sworn statements were made ‘with a hand laid upon the sacred stone’. When taking the oath of office and loyalty, the right hand of the official was placed beneath the testicles of the king. In parts of the Middle East, this is still practiced today.
All this began to change after the fall of Rome and with the rise of Christianity. Sex began to be denied both as a source of magikal power and of pleasure between partners. Where as sex was seen as a gift from the gods, it was now becoming a sin and to find pleasure in the act of sexual copulation, was to accept the influence of the Devil. By this time, women were seen as the temptress who could drag a man down into the pits of hell and the only way to keep her from having that control, she must be subservient to her husband, brother, or even her son. Her sole value became her ability to bear children which quickly became a bargaining point as a bride or as a prize of war.
Items such as a Chastity belt became common place, but were deadly for the women who wore them. After years of being forced in such contraptions, a woman would develop various diseases, including blood poisoning. During this time, a woman’s life expectancy was no more than 30 years. Her entire value, power and favored desires were forgotten and tossed aside. She was property and her only value was the ability to provide a male heir to her husband and his family line. What a sad turn of events that diminished both the value of women and the sanctity of the physical pleasure and spiritual connection of the sexual union.
The Great Rite – Physical vs. Symbolic
The Great Rite is probably the most well known or heard about pagan rituals. Today it is a rite of sexual intercourse that pays homage to the polarity of male/female; god/goddess, priest/priestess. The rite can be performed “in-true” form, meaning the actual physical act of intercourse. Or “in-token” form, meaning a symbolic act of the union between God and Goddess.
This polarity exists in all things in and around the universe. The Great Rite therefore expresses the physical, mental, spiritual aspects of the Divine through the astral union between a man and woman as representations of the God and Goddess. Ok..say what? In other words, the energy created between a man and woman during the physical act of intercourse is an expression of spiritual energy from the God and Goddess.
To many the Great Rite is the Hieros Gamos, The Sacred Marriage or the Holy Matrimony, which results in the creation of the God Head (spirit). It’s the top of the spiritual trinity, whose base is the God and Goddess. This concept is nothing new and dates back to neolithic periods. Ancient kings required Hieros Gamos, which was a union with a priestess representing the Goddess, in order to rule. The King represented the God, the priestess the Goddess and through their Union his reign was both approved and blessed by the Divine Spirit. From this perspective it takes both the God and the Goddess to create the greater Divine Spirit and attain favor of that Spirit.
Depending on the tradition, the Great Rite was performed within a Magik Circle between the High Priest and Priestess. It is sometimes also performed for seasonal festivals, and especially handfastings between the newly married couple.
At times it has been used as an Initiation into a coven (such as 3rd degree initiations in the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions). Representing the inner marriage of the soul and spirit, ego and self. It is the gateway to becoming a whole being. In these type of initiations, the Rite is performed between the initiant and the High Priest, or High Priestess. This is done either “In token”, which is symbolically using ritual tools, such as an athame inserted into a chalice. Or “in true”, which is the physical sexual act.
When the rite is performed as a celebration of the season, it is often conducted “in true” form by a couple who are already intimate partners. The public display of the union varies between traditions. For instance, a portion of the rite maybe performed within the ritual circle in front of the coven, and the intimate union is performed in private.
Gerald Gardner established an open and public display of the Great Rite with the coven watching. The Coven members would form the circle edges and the couple would copulate in the center. He also favored ritual scourging as part of the rite, a practice which has fallen greatly out of favor.
Other covens perform a portion of the ritual with everyone watching and then those forming the circle would turn their back on the couple in the center. Others Covens instruct the circle members to walk backwards out of the sacred ritual space, then turn and file out clockwise leaving the couple in private. And still other groups form a closed circle, and then open a doorway allowing the couple to exit the ritual circle and enter their own private space, which is typically a circle that was earlier prepared by the couple.
Because of the puritanical influence over sexual encounters, many modern groups practice the Great Rite “In-Token”. What’s important about any ritual is the energy it pulls in and creates. There’s no denying that many people are uncomfortable with the physical display of sexual unions. Making everyone feel at ease creates a calm peaceful energy for the spiritual gathering. So In-Token rituals are becoming more popular. The main point to the Great Rite is the creation of energy between the male(physical being) and female(spiritual being) to form the whole(the Divine Creation). That can be just as easily done through symbolic means as it can through a physical act.
There are several items that can be used to represent the Goddess in these forms of the Great Rite. A ritual cup is the most common, but a ritual bowl, a cauldron or even a fire bowl can be used. The corresponding item to represent the God can be a ritual athame, a wand, a sword or a staff. I have seen a carved tree (about 3ft in length) used as the God, and a fire bowl as the Goddess. The log was placed in the bowl and set on fire to represent the union. The gathering than danced by the light of the fire, honoring the spirit that moved within and through everyone present.
There are many variations that can be conducted for this ritual. There is no single or right way.
The Great Rite – The Ritual
The Rite maybe performed in many methods or formats. There are several rituals performed with the Great Rite for varying purposes, here are just a few.

  • The Rite of Pan
  • The Rite of the Horned God
  • The Rite of the Moon Cup
  • The Dance of Love
  • The Ritual of the Hawthorn Tower
  • The Raising of Osiris
  • The Two of Swords
  • The Grail of Grace
  • The of Crystal
  • The Calling of a Soul
  • The House of the goddess
  • The Adoration of the Pillar
  • The Rite that is Left Undone
Each of these empowers the rite with the energy of the union for specific purpose, but can be for different meanings. The Rite of the Horned God honors the great hunter and provider of a Tribe for instance.
In the Rite of Pan, the male force is the hunter and the female force the prey. Through out the ritual the struggle between male and female is established, but before the rite is realized, an understanding is gained that while the male is strong on the earth/physical sphere, the female is equally strong on the above/spiritual sphere.
In the Rite of the Moon Cup, the woman is the summoner, and the man her target. She is the daughter of the Moon, her representation on earth. He is Lord of the Forest who pays homage to the Goddess (the moon) for his domain.
The Dance of Love is often a ritual performed by a committed couple in private. The idea is to generate Divine energy for a specific purpose, such as to favor the couple with fertility or abundance of their individual family. In this ritual, the couple spends time in meditation prior to their union to connect with the Divine Universe. This act raises their energy to a higher level of reverence to distinguish this moment as something more special and important than other acts of love making. This also helps empower the partners to express their energy as the representations of the God and Goddess during physical contact. All of which culminates in the creation of energy for their specified intent, and it’s release into the ethereal world for manifestation.
The Great Rite – Straight or Gay
The concept of straight or gay is not an issue in Pagan communities in general. Same sex encounters are common in nature and being that humans are part of nature, it is seen as a common practice there as well. The Great Rite is not about the ‘physical’ aspects of a man and woman, but rather their expression of energy as the God and Goddess. This can be easily accomplished between same sex couples just as it can be expressed through heterosexual couples.
Feminine energy is not something that only women have. Men have too. By the same token, masculine energy is not specific to men. Women have it too. The Great Rite can be expressed through same sex couples simply by choosing which side of the polarity coin (masculine vs. feminine) is going to be represented by which partner.
Further Reading
This posting is ONLY an introduction into the concept behind the Great Rite and a few of the rituals which use it’s energy. Further reading prior to anyone practicing this rite is required. I have purposely made this post a high level explanation and have intentionally left out how the ritual is invoked. Primarily because of the ease to misuse this rite.
For further reading, I recommend the following:

  • Vivianne Crowley “Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium”
  • Janet and Stewart Farrar “A Witches Bible- Complete”
  • Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki “The Tree of Ecstasy”
Categories: Coven Life, Deities, Fertility Spells, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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