The Sabbats

Beltane / Beltain / Beltaine / Bealtaine

30th April / 1st May

The beginning of Summer – Summer is a comin in !

Beltane was an important festival in the Celtic calendar. The name originates from the Celtic god, Bel – the ‘bright one’, and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire, giving the name ‘bealttainn’, meaning ‘bright fire’.

This is the beginning of the ‘lighted half’ of the year when the Sun begins to set later in the evening and the hawthorn blossoms. To our ancestors Beltane was the coming of summer and fertility. Nature is in bloom and the earth is full of fecundity and life.

Beltane falls half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice and is a Cross Quarter Day.

Fire festivals

Beltane is one of the four Celtic fire festivals marking the quarter points in the year – feasts were held and bonfires were lit throughout the countryside. Fire was believed to have purifying qualities – it cleansed and rejuvenated both the land and the people.

The ritual welcoming of the sun and the lighting of the fires was also believed to ensure fertility of the land and the people. Animals were transfered from winter pens to summer pastures, and were driven between the Beltane fires to cleanse them of evil spirits and to bring fertility and a good milk yield. The Celts leapt over Beltane fires – for fertility and purification.

Young men would circle the Beltaine fires holding Rowan branches to bring protection against evil – its bright berries suggested fire – malign powers were considered particularly active at the year’s turning-point.

It was considered unlucky to allow anyone to take fire from one’s house on May Eve or May Day, as they would gain power over the inhabitants.

A Beltane fire festival is held annually in Edinburgh, at Calton Hill on 30th April – a May Queen and Green Man, representing Beltane fertility and renewal lead the celebrations on the hillside.

The Beltany Stone Circle in the North West of Ireland is named after the Beltane festival as the sunrise at Beltane is aligned with the only decorated stone in the circle.

The Maiden

The Triple Goddess – worshipped by the Ancient Britons – at Beltane is now in her aspect of the Maiden :

The May Queen, May Bride, Goddess of Spring, Flower Bride, Queen of the Fairies
a symbol of purity, growth and renewal.

The Crone turns to stone on Beltane Eve.

May Blossom

Hawthorn - May blossom

May blossom symbolises female fertility, with its creamy/ white, fragrant flowers. Hawthorn blossom was worn during Beltane celebrations, especially by the May Queen.

It is believed to be a potent magical plant and it is considered unlucky to bring the blossom inside the house, apart from on May eve.

Flower Language

May Day – Beltane Traditions maypole-ribbons

Beltane is a time of partnerships and fertility. New couples proclaim their love for each other on this day. It is also the perfect time to begin new projects.

The maypole – a phallic pole planted deep in the earth representing the potency and fecundity of the God, its unwinding ribbons symbolized the unwinding of the spiral of life and the union of male and female – the Goddess and God. It is usually topped by a ring of flowers to represent the fertile Goddess.

Paganhill, near Stroud, has one of the tallest maypoles. The Puritans banned maypoles during the 17th Century.
Birch trees
It was a Celtic tradition to fell a birch tree on May day and to bring it into the community.

Crosses of birch and rowan twigs were hung over doors on the May morning, and left until next May day.

Beltane cakes or bannocks – oatcakes coated with a baked on custard made of cream, eggs and butter – were cooked over open fires and anyone who chose a mis-shapen piece or a piece with a black spot was likely to suffer bad luck in the coming months. They were also offered to the spirits who protect the livestock, by facing the Beltane fire and casting them over their shoulders.

Beltane Celebrations and Rituals

At Sheen do Boaldyne, in the Isle of Man, twigs of Rowan are hung above doorways as protection – the opening of Summer was regarded as a time when fairies and spirits were especially active, as at Samhain and the opening of Winter.

The ‘Obby ‘Oss, at Padstow, Cornwall – wearing of animal skins was believed to be a relic of a Pagan sacred marriage between earth and sky, and the dance enacts the fertility god sacrificed for the good of his people.

The May Queen – Maid Marion/the Maiden consorts with Robin/ the Green Man in Celtic celebrations of May day.

Going ‘A-Maying’ meant staying out all night to gather flowering hawthorn, watching the sunrise and making love in the woods – a ‘greenwood marriage’.

The dew on the May day morning is believed to have a magical potency – wash your face and body in it and remain fair all year, and guarantee your youth and beauty continues – men who wash their hands in it will be good at tying knots and nets – useful if you’re a fisherman!

From: http://www.new-age.co.uk/celtic-festivals-beltane.htm

Categories: Rejuvenation, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Rite for Covens

The Great Rite

Janet and Stewart Farrar


Symbolic

Preparation: the chalice should be filled with wine. A veil of at least a yard square is needed preferably of a Goddess color such as blue, green, silver, or white.

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 is ashamed, 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 invocation:

“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:

“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 around 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.

To consecrate the cakes, the woman picks up her athame, and the man, kneeling before her, holds up the dish. the woman draws the Invoking Pentacle of Earth in the air above the plate while the man says:

“O Queen most secret, bless this food into our bodies;
bestowing health, wealth, strength, joy and peace,
and that fulfillment of love that is perfect happiness.”

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 outdoors.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart; “Eight Sabbats For Witches”; Robert Hale 1983
Transcribed onto computer file by Seastrider

Actual

Preparation: the chalice should be filled with wine. A veil of at least a yard square is needed preferably of a Goddess color such as blue, green, silver, or white.

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 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 is ashamed, 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 Maiden fetches her athame from the altar and ritually opens a gate way in the Circle. The Coven file through and leave the room. The Maiden is the last one through and reseals the Circle. The High Priest removes the veil from the High Priestess’s body.

The High Priestess rises and kneels facing the High Priest. The High Priest continues the invocation:

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

The High Priest and High Priestess now have intercourse. This is a private matter between them and none of the Coven can question them about it. When they are done, one of them ritually opens the Circle and calls the rest of the Coven. When they are back in the Circle, it is again sealed. The wine is now consecrated.

A male witch kneels in front of the altar before a female witch. He holds up a chalice of wine and she holds her athame point down and lowers the athame into the wine. The man says:

“As the athame is to the male, so the cup is to the female; and conjoined, they become one in truth.”

The woman lays down her athame on the altar and kisses the man who remains kneeling and she accepts the chalice from him. She sips the wine, kisses him again and he sips, rises, and gives it to another woman 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.

To consecrate the cakes, the woman picks up her athame, and the man, kneeling before her, holds up the dish. The woman draws the Invoking Pentacle of Earth in the air above the plate while the man says:

“O Queen most secret, bless this food into our bodies; bestowing health, wealth, strength, joy and peace, and that fulfillment of love that is perfect happiness.”

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 outdoors.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart; “Eight Sabbats For Witches”; Robert Hale 1983
Transcribed to computer file by Seastrider.
Categories: Blessings, Rejuvenation, Ritual Working, 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: Deities, Fertility Spells, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beltane Planting Ritual for Solitaries

This ritual is designed for the solitary practitioner, but it can easily be adapted for a small group to perform together. It’s a simple rite that celebrates the fertility of the planting season, and so it’s one that should be performed outside. If you don’t have a yard of your own, you can use pots of soil in place of a garden plot. Don’t worry if the weather is a bit inclement – rain shouldn’t be a deterrent to gardening. Just be sure you’re past the safe planting date for your region.

You’ll need:

  • Packets of seeds, or seedlings if you have them started already
  • Water
  • Pots of dirt, if you don’t have a garden
  • Gardening tools, such as a shovel

There is no need to cast a circle to perform this ritual, although if you prefer to do so, you certainly can. Plan on taking some time with this rite, though, and not rushing through it.

To begin, you’ll prepare the soil for planting. If you’ve already gotten your garden tilled or mulched, great – you’ll have a bit less work. If not, now’s the time to do so. Use your shovel or tiller to loosen the soil as much as possible. As you’re turning the earth over, and mixing it all up, take time to connect with the elements. Feel the earth, soft and moist beneath your feet. Take in the breeze, exhaling and inhaling calmly as you work. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and listen to the birds chattering in the trees above you. Connect with nature, and with the planet itself

If your tradition includes a deity of agriculture or land, now is a good time to call upon them. For instance, if your tradition honors Cernunnos*, a fertility god, you might choose to use the following:

Hail, Cernunnos! God of the forest, master of fertility!
Today, we honor you by planting the seeds of life,
Deep within the womb of earth.
Hail, Cernunnos! We ask you to bless this garden,
Watch over it, and grant it abundance,
We ask that these plants grow strong and fertile
Under your watchful eye.
Hail, Cernunnos! God of the greenwood!

When you have finished turning the soil and preparing it, it is time to plant the seeds (or seedlings, if youstarted them earlier in the spring). While you can do this easily with a shovel, sometimes it is better to get down on your hands and knees and really connect with the soil. If you’re not limited by mobility issues, get as close to the ground as you can, and use your hands to part the soil as you put the seeds in place. Yes, you’ll get dirty, but that’s what gardening is about. As you place each seed into the ground, offer a simple blessing, such as:

May the soil be blessed as the womb of the land
Becomes full and fruitful to bring forth the garden anew.
Cernunnos*, bless this seed.

 

After you’ve gotten the seeds in the ground, cover them all up with the loose dirt. Remember, this could take a while if you’ve got a large garden, so it’s okay if you want to do this ritual over the course of a few days.

 

As you’re performing all the different actions of gardening – touching the earth, feeling the plants – remember to focus on the energy and power of the elements. Get dirt under your fingernails, squash it between your toes if you don’t mind being barefoot outside. Say hello to that worm you just dug up by accident, and place him back in the ground. Do you compost? If so, be sure to add the compost to your plantings.

Finally, you’ll water your freshly planted seeds. You can either use a garden hose for this, or you can water by hand with a can. If you have a rain barrel, use the water from the barrel to start your garden.

As you’re watering your seeds or seedlings, call upon the deities of your tradition one last time.

Hail, Cernunnos*! God of fertility!
We honor you by planting these seeds.
We ask your blessing upon our fertile soil.
We will tend this garden, and keep it healthy,
Watching over it in your name.
We honor you by planting, and pay you tribute with this garden.
Hail, Cernunnos, master of the land!

You may also wish to include a general Garden Blessing.

 

Once you have completed watering, take a look through your freshly planted garden one last time. Did you miss any spots? Are there any weeds you forgot to pull? Tidy up any loose ends, and then take a moment to savor the knowledge that you have planted something new and wonderful. Feel the sunlight, the breeze, the soil beneath your feet, and know you have connected once more to the Divine.

*Cernunnos is used as an example in this rite. Use the name of the appropriate deity for your tradition.

From: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/beltaneritesandrituals/a/Beltane-Planting-Ritual-For-Solitaries.htm

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

Simple Solitary Beltane Ritual

Seeing as I am spending Beltane night aboard the ferry to Harwich with my mother and sister and spending the day itself packing and celebrating our new king, I cannot have a full blown celebration. And thus I spend my sudnay planning a simple ritual. This became awfully complicated because I didn’t have time to shop for anything special: I have to work from 1 PM to 6 PM on monday, I can only do a minimum of shopping at the supermarket I work before I start work  because all the other shops will be closed when my shift ends. After hours of puzzling, I came to a solution. A simple ritual incorporating knotwork with candlemagick to honour the Horned God and the earth Mother and their union, and a little herd/pet blessing to finish things up. I will perform my little ritual in the early morning, before the festivities and packing begins.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 candles, in any shade of green, the church or pillar variant
  • Cinnamon sticks, and lots of them, you’ll need to wrap them arround the candles.
  • cooking twinge or rope ( be carefull with the latter and flames!)
  • Small flowers, dried or fresh
  • Moss agate, amber, animal bone or fossils, twigs or tree leaves
  • scissors
  • Beltane/Cernunnos Oil (my recipe will follow this post)
  • Protection oil (the recipe I use will follow this post)
  • a depiction of your pet

The Ritual

1. Calm your mind and clear it, find your center. Then focus your intent. Think only of this holy day, the symbolism attached to it. Think of the fertility of spring, as the ground explodes with an abundance of flowers and plants, as animals give birth to their ofspring. Think of the sacred union between the God and Goddess.

2.  Lay your items out in front of you and say thanks for them

3. Leave about 2-3 inches of twinge or rope at the end and tie it to the cinnemon stick about an inch from the top. As you do say one verse of the Cernunnos prayer out loud or to yourself.

4. Pick up the next cinnemon stick, and keep repeating step 3 until you have enough sticks to wrap around the candle.

5. Once you have enough sticks, wrap the twinge around the last one and tie it about an inch from the bottom. Then you repeat step 3 again, securing all the sticks to each other at the bottom. Still repeating a verse per knot. At the end you’ll have something that looks like a small rope bridge.

6. Now you annoint the candle. I do so by starting at the top, then rubbing it clockwise down until  I’m halfway and then from the bottom back up, also clockwise. If you use another method, use your own. While anointing the candle, say the prayer in full.

7. Then you take your little bridge and wrap it around your candle. It will fall at an angle.  Tie off the top section (the bottom of your bridge is now your top, because you need the loose twinge) so that the ends are secured. Then wrap the twinge all around the candle to keep it tight, then go a second round at the bottom section of the candle and secure the ends there as well.

8. Then you place the agate, amber, bones etc. on top of your candle (use small chips and chunks) and place it on it’s holder on your altar.

9. Repeat the steps above, this tim e chanting the earth mother prayer and adorning it with the flowers.

10. Light the Cernunnos candle, reciting his prayer in full.

11. Light the earth Mother candle, reciting her prayer in full.

12. Place the representaion of your pets) between the candles, and anoint them with protection oil while reciting the blessing for the herd.

13. Let the candles burn out during the day.

From: https://hbtwc.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/simple-solitary-beltane-ritual/

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

Blessed Samhain to All Our Friends Down Under

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We wish you a blessed and enjoyable Samhain.

May any ancestor you wish to speak with be open to you today and/or tonight.

This is the last Sabbat on the Celtic Wheel of the Year.

May the next year bring you more love, joy, happiness, laughter, blessings, everything you need and even some things you just want.

Happy New Year!!!

SAMHAIN

There are many other things about Samhain posted on this site and of Coven Life.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mugwort Magic

This magical herb has a long connection to Samhain,
use for Clairvoyance, Scrying, Protection.
Rub this herb on “Magic Mirrors” and “Crystal balls”
to strengthen their powers.
Add to Scrying, clairvoyance and divination incenses.
Sprinkle about table top during Tarot readings.
Rub fresh Mugwort leaves on the blade of your ritual sword
or athame, and then let it soak up the light of the Full moon.
Use 3 tablespoons to 1\2 gallon spring (or rain) water to
cleanse your “Magical mirrors” crystals and stones.

~ Barbara Morris

Categories: Divination, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire Scrying

As the power of the Sun fades, we embrace the harvest season and the decline of the fire element. This is a perfect time, as we approach the introspective tide of winter, to scry with flame. On a night close to the New Moon, cast a circle of protection, and light a purple candle. Sit silently and breathe deeply, allowing your conscious mind to grow quiet. Gaze at the candle flame and permit your thoughts to drift by without judgment. Soften your focus and relax your vision. Concentrate only on the flame. Ask a question. Observe the flame expectantly, and open your observations to your intuition. Invite the flame to impart images. Write down your insights, and carefully date your interpretation for future reference. Perfect to do on Samhain eve…

~ by: Karri Allrich

Categories: Divination, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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