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 Beltane

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Stacey/Cirrius
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Join date : 2009-09-03

PostSubject: Beltane   Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:40 am

La Baal Tinne, Beltane, Beltain, all are names for the ritual which was traditionally held on May 1st, also known as May Day. The astrological festival occurs when the Sun reaches 15 ° Taurus, which lately has been happening more towards May 4-6th. Either the traditional date or the astrological date can be used to determine when to hold your festival as both will have significant energies for the season.

And the season is Spring! The lusty month of May is called so for a reason! Watch the animals, they are "rutting" now, looking to attract mates to raise their families. Butterflies and insects are pollenating flowers all over, and trees are bursting into blossoms and new green growth. In spring, "the young man's fancy turns to love.." and the young girls fancies turn to young men!

Beltane, named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel, or Bal, or Baal, also means Bale, to banish, as in the bale fires, which are lit on Beltane to cleanse and purify. Cattle were led between two fires to cleanse them, and I have heard theories that the Druids quite possibly may have put purifying herbs on the fires to physically help the process along, but there is no actual proof of this. Couples would jump the fire to bless their union and to make it fruitful. You can jump the fire to leave behind bad habits or thoughts. Or stand close enough to the fire so that it's heat can "burn out" sickness. You may call upon the flames to burn away whatever you want to be free of by mentally casting it into the fire.

Virgin women would jump the fire to be blessed by a child of the fire, an immaculate conception, as it were. The fire symbolizes life, passion, love and sex, and can also protect you for the coming year. To gaze into the flames and become "firestruck" is to cause an altered state of conciousness that is useful for divination.

"Nine woods in the Bale fire go, Burn them fast and burn them slow..." (from the Wiccan Rede) Those nine woods were usually:

Oak for the God

Birch for the Goddess

Fir for birth

Willow for death

Rowan for magic

Apple for love

Grapevine for joy

Hazel for wisdom

Hawthorne for purity and for May

Now of course if you live in an area, such as South Florida, where there is a definite lack of some of these woods (such as apple) you can always substitute another wood - as long as this wood is also known for the same properties! So do some research, and make intelligent substitutions.

Probably the most memorable and obvious symbol of Beltane is the May Pole. A phallic symbol, it represents the male regenerative force in nature, and is used to show the Sacred Union between the Goddess and God that takes place at this time. The pole represents the God of course, and the earth represents the Goddess. Red and white were the traditional colors of the ribbons on the pole, and there are different explanations for them, one being that they represent the male semen and the female menstrual blood, and are a reminder that this is a "game" that only men and women enjoy, and is not for children. The other is that the red and white represent the two fluids that women safely give, milk and blood, of which men were in awe.

Either way, these can still be seen in the cadaceus, the symbol of healing and also the red and white barbers pole. In ancient times, the Doctor was also the Barber, hence the similar symbolism!

Today we choose a ribbon color which represents something we wish to "weave" into our lives as we weave it onto the pole, hopefully something that will also benefit the community as a whole, since this is a communal dance. Yellow for wisdom and inspiration, orange for success, blue for peace, or peace of mind, pink for friendship or patience, green can be healing or financial gain, white for health, and protection, etc. I have even seen rainbow ribbons, and also plaid ribbons! They certainly do stand out in the pattern.

The pole is erected, with appropriate ritual ceremony (see the file containing the ritual for this Sabbat for details), with the ribbons all tied to the top of the pole. The dancers stand in the circle around it each holding to the ends of the ribbon. Typically this is done with the males and females alternating around the circle, but we almost never have an exactly even number, and it doesn't matter that much. If you do have an almost equal number, then you can have all the males go deosil, and the females go widdershins (clockwise and counter-clockwise) as they go around the pole. If your numbers are too uneven, then have the participants count off by twos, with all the number "ones" going one way and the number "twos" going opposite.

It is better to have some lively music to dance to, we use celtic jigs and reels, and have a half hour tape with just that on it, which is easy to leave on the player, so it can be unattended. 30 minutes is quite sufficient, even a bit long! Believe me, unless you are a professional dancer, you will be tired out long before 30 minutes are over. You can also use Louisiana cajun zydeco, or Tennesse bluegrass, as well as the celtic songs, since all of these have a similar beat, and are very lively. That is the most important thing for a successful dance, because we have found that chanting leaves you out of breath very quickly.

To start the dance, have all the people facing deosil raise their ribbons and the people going widdershins will go under them. Then the widdershins group will raise their ribbons and the deosil group will go under them. So it continues, over and under, over and under, as you progress around the pole. Very quickly a beautiful pattern will emerge, as these bright ribbons are woven together. Don't worry if people forget which way they were supposed to go, this often happens when you have first time dancers, or an uneven number of people, someone is bound to go under when they should have gone over, no matter. It is the enjoyment of the dance that matters most, not whether the weave comes out perfect, and no one can tell the difference anyway!

When the ribbons become too short to allow for comfortably continuing, then it it time to tie off. Tie the ribbon to the pole at the end of the weaving, and you can leave the ribbon hanging loose below the knot. Some groups leave the ribbons on year after year, and simply allow them to build up on the pole, until they decide a new pole is needed, then the old pole with all the layers of ribbons, is ritually burned during the Beltane circle. Other groups will carefully work the old ribbons off the pole just prior to this years dance, and these ribbons will be ritually burned in the balefire. Of course, you could use a new pole each year, and ritually burn the old pole with ribbons intact. Another exception I have seen is where a wheel was used at the top of the pole, and this group actually "unwove" all the ribbons, and left the pole bare again. Personally, I think that it is undoing the magick of weaving into your life if you unweave the ribbons after the dance, but each group must decide for themselves what works best for them.

In our groups, we have men and women, and there is a lot of playing that goes on in the Maypole dance. We kiss, we stroke, we nuzzle a neck here or an outer thigh there, or we give a quick pat on the posterior as we pass by the person. These are all welcome and perfectly expected in our group, and we announce ahead of time, that if anyone is uncomfortable with that then please let us know now so we will not invade their space. You can tell when someone is "unapproachable", they will let you know that these advances are not welcome, and you should honor that. Some groups I know have asked participants not to do any touching or kissing as they dance, and while that may make all the cowans more comfortable, it also leaves the energy of the dance flat.

For this is a dance for fertility! For abundance of the fields! For abundance in our lives! It was meant to be a courtship dance and to raise the libido of both those dancing and those watching, and to add to the sexual flavor that permeates this Sabbat. Keep that in mind, and the pats, hugs, kisses, and squeezes, are simply affection between friends and NOT sexual harrassment! Please bear in mind that this is a Sabbat about sexual fertility, and it was very important to our ancestors, and it is a lot of fun for us today. One of the biggest taboos in mainstream religions is about sex, and we as Pagans have always understood the real power behind sexual energy. Please let's not let a "sue happy" society ruin this aspect of our religion and take this away from us! Keep it joyous as it was intended.

Another Beltane traditon is that of electing a King and Queen of the May, a young women and man, who may not necessarily be a couple already, or they can be newlyweds. They are crowned with flowered wreaths, and paraded before everyone, while people cheer "Hurrah for the King and Queen of the May!" In ancient times, this couple would be expected to go into the woods and consummate the energy of the circle for abundant hunts during the coming year, or in the fields for abundant crops. It was not unusual for young ladies and young men to pair off in the forest, and was called a "green wedding". Any child which was a result of those unions was considered a great blessing. This is also the reason for so many June weddings, and why the period after the wedding is call the "Honeymoon", after the Moon in June, which is also called the Honey Moon.

The "scarf chase" is another Beltane tradition, which the couple who are the King and Queen of the May or the couple who are the Lord and Lady, will start. The Lady teases the Lord with a green scarf, and then drops it as his feet as a signal for him to pursue her. She eludes him success fully for a few rounds, then allows him to catch her and rewards his efforts with a kiss. The scarf can then be passed on to another women to do the same to a man of her choice. This originated as a courtship ritual at a time when sexuality was not expressed openly, and was a way for a woman to tastefully let a man know that she was interested in him in a publicly acceptable manner. (Many of our traditional courtship rituals were evolved when it was not considered "lady like" or "genteel" for men and women to be open about their partnership preferences.)

Another variation is to use a wreath with flowers in it, and the woman walks around the circle parading it before her, as men attempt to take a flower out of the wreath. Whoever is successful is rewarded with a kiss, and the wreath is them passed on to another woman. These "chases" can be used to lead into the Spiral dance, which is another Beltane ritual dance, but is used at other Sabbats as well.

The Spiral dance is especially appropriate at Beltane, in that it is reminescent of the DNA chain. (Which of course we are told our ancestors knew nothing about!) To do the Spiral dance, one person starts by taking the hand of someone next to her, and they take another hand, and so on until all are holding hands and moving in a circle. Usually, the step done with the feet is called the "grapevine" step, and involves one foot crossing in front of the other, then the other foot crossing behind, and the knees are kept flexed for balance. However, the main reason why this is a Spiral dance is that the first person leads the dancers in a tighter and tighter ring toward the center, then abruptly turns inward to face the other dancers, and still everyone follows. The end result is that all the dancers face another person, and the circle then spirals outward again. This sometimes takes practice, but remember not to duck under anyone's arms, for this will only end up in a knot! (Knots can be fun, too, but they do interrupt the flow of energy in the dance!)

Beltane is the exact opposite of Samhain on the wheel of the year, and just as Samhain is an aknowledgement and celebration of death, so Beltane is an equally powerful reaffirmation of life. Other societies have had traditions in the same manner, and have myths that equate with ours regarding the Sacred Union of Lord and Lady; indeed that of all nature, without which life on this planet would cease to exist. Beltane and Samhain are considered the two most powerful, most important Sabbats, and there were cultures that celebrated only those two for many centuries. Today we have the Solar Sabbats and the Agricultural Sabbats, that were the celebrations of two types of culture which were "married" together to form the wheel of the year we know. And of these Sabbats, still the two most powerful and most important are Samhain and Beltane.

There are four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year and the modern Witch's calendar, as well. The two greatest of these are Halloween (the beginning of winter) and May Day (the beginning of summer). Being opposite each other on the wheel of the year, they separate the year into halves. Halloween (also called Samhain) is the Celtic New Year and is generally considered the more important of the two, though May Day runs a close second. Indeed, in some areas -notably Wales - it is considered the great holiday

May Day ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. This month is named in honor of the goddess Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, later identified as the most beautiful of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. By Zeus, she is also the mother of Hermes, god of magic. Maia's parents were Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.

The old Celtic name for May Day is Beltane (in its most popular Anglicized form), which is derived from the Irish Gaelic "Bealtaine" or the Scottish Gaelic "Bealtuinn", meaning "Bel- fire", the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). He, in turn, may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal.

Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain ("opposite Samhain"), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church's name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people's allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingam - symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross - Roman instrument of death).

Incidentally, there is no historical justification for calling May 1st "Lady Day". For hundreds of years, that title has been proper to the Vernal Equinox (approx. March 21st), another holiday sacred to the Great Goddess. The nontraditional use of "Lady Day" for May 1st is quite recent (within the last 15 years), and seems to be confined to America, where it has gained widespread acceptance among certain segments of the Craft population. This rather startling departure from tradition would seem to indicate an unfamiliarity with European calendar customs, as well as a lax attitude toward scholarship among too many Pagans. A simple glance at a dictionary ("Webster's 3rd" or O.E.D.), encyclopedia ("Benet's"), or standard mythology reference (Jobe's "Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore & Symbols") would confirm the correct date for Lady Day as the Vernal Equinox.

By Celtic reckoning, the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30, because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Bel-fires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill, Co. Meath, in Ireland). These "need-fires" had healing properties, and sky- clad Witches would jump through the flames to ensure protection.

Frequently, cattle would be driven between two such bon-fires (oak wood was the favorite fuel for them) and, on the morrow, they would be taken to their summer pastures.

Other May Day customs include: processions of chimney-sweeps and milk maids, archery tournaments, morris dances, sword dances, feasting, music, drinking, and maidens bathing their faces in the dew of May morning to retain their youthful beauty.

In the words of Witchcraft writers Janet and Stewart Farrar, the Beltane celebration was principly a time of "...unashamed human sexuality and fertility." Such associations include the obvious phallic symbolism of the Maypole and riding the hobby horse. Even a seemingly innocent children's nursery rhyme, "Ride a cock horse to Banburry Cross..." retain such memories. And the next line "...to see a fine Lady on a white horse" is a reference to the annual ride of "Lady Godiva" though Coventry. Every year for nearly three centuries, a sky-clad village maiden (elected Queen of the May) enacted this Pagan rite, until the Puritans put an end to the custom.

The Puritans, in fact, reacted with pious horror to most of the May Day rites, even making Maypoles illegal in 1644. They especially attempted to suppress the "greenwood marriages" of young men and women who spent the entire night in the forest, staying out to greet the May sunrise, and bringing back boughs of flowers and garlands to decorate the village the next morning. One angry Puritan wrote that men "doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst maidens, to set bowes, in so muche, as I have hearde of tenne maidens whiche went to set May, and nine of them came home with childe." And another Puritan complained that, of the girls who go into the woods, "not the least one of them comes home again a virgin."

Long after the Christian form of marriage (with its insistence on sexual monogamy) had replaced the older Pagan handfasting, the rules of strict fidelity were always relaxed for the May Eve rites. Names such as Robin Hood, Maid Marion, and Little John played an important part in May Day folklore, often used as titles for the dramatis personae of the celebrations. And modern surnames such as Robinson, Hodson, Johnson, and Godkin may attest to some distant May Eve spent in the woods.

These wildwood antics have inspired writers such as Kipling:

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,

Or he would call it a sin;

But we have been out in the woods all night,

A-conjuring Summer in!

And Lerner and Lowe:

It's May! It's May!

The lusty month of May!...

Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,

Ev'ryone breaks.

Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes!

The lusty month of May!

It is certainly no accident that Queen Guinevere's "abduction" by Meliagrance occurs on May 1st when she and the court have gone a-Maying, or that the usually efficient Queen's guard, on this occasion, rode unarmed.

Some of these customs seem virtually identical to the old Roman feast of flowers, the Floriala, three days of unrestrained sexuality which began at sundown April 28th and reached a crescendo on May 1st.

By the way, due to various calendrical changes down through the centuries, the traditional date of Beltane is not the same as its astrological date. This date, like all astronomically determined dates, may vary by a day or two depending on the year. However, it may be calculated easily enough by determining the date on which the sun is at 15 degrees Taurus. British Witches often refer to this date as Old Beltane, and folklorists call it Beltane O.S. ("Old Style"). Some Covens prefer to celebrate on the old date and, at the very least, it gives one options. If a Coven is operating on "Pagan Standard Time" and misses May 1st altogether, it can still throw a viable Beltane bash as long as it's before this date. This may also be a consideration for Covens that need to organize activities around the week-end.

This date has long been considered a "power point" of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the Bull, one of the four "tetramorph" figures featured on the Tarot cards the World and the Wheel of Fortune. (The other three are the Lion, the Eagle, and the Spirit.) Astrologers know these four figures as the symbols of the four "fixed" signs of the Zodiac (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, respectively), and these naturally align with the four Great Sabbats of Witchcraft. Christians have adopted the same iconography to represent the four gospel- writers.

But for most, it is May 1st that is the great holiday of flowers, Maypoles, and greenwood frivolity. It is no wonder that, as recently as 1977, Ian Anderson could pen the following lyrics for Jethro Tull:

For the May Day is the great day,

Sung along the old straight track.

And those who ancient lines did ley

Will heed this song that calls them back.

The celebration of May 1st, or Beltane as it is known in Wicca Circles, is one of the most important festivals of our religious year. I will attempt here to answer some of the most often asked questions about this holiday. An extensive bibliography follows the article so that the interested reader can do further research.

1. Where does the festival of Beltane originate?

Beltane, as practiced by modern day Witches and Pagans, has its origins among the Celtic peoples of Western Europe and the British Isles, particularly Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

2. What does the word Beltane mean?

Dr. Proinsias MacCana defines the word as follows:

"... the Irish name for May Day is Beltane, of which the second element, `tene', is the word for fire, and the first, `bel', probably means `shining or brilliant'."(1)

The festival was known by other names in other Celtic countries. Beltaine in Ireland, Bealtunn in Scotland, Shenn do Boaldyn on the Isle of Mann, and Galan Mae in Wales.(2)

3. What was the significance of this holiday to the ancients?

To the ancient Celts, it symbolized the coming of spring. It was the time of year when the crops began to sprout, the animals bore their young, and the people could begin to get out of the houses where they had been cooped up during the long dark cold winter months. Keep in mind that the people in those days had no electric lights or heat, and that the Celtic counties are at a much more northerly latitude than many of us are used to. At that latitude, spring comes much later, and winter lasts much longer than in most of the US. The coming of fair weather and longer daylight hours would be most welcome after a long cold and dark winter.

4. How did the ancient Celts celebrate this festival?

The most ancient way of observing this day is with fire. Beltane, along with Samhain (Nov. 1), Imbolc (Feb. 1), and Lughnassadh (Aug. 1), was one of the four great "fire festivals" which marked the turning points of the Celtic year. The most ancient records tell us that the people would extinguish all the hearth fires in the country and then relight them from the "need fires" lit by the druids (who used friction as a means of ignition). In many areas, the cattle were driven between two great bonfires to protect them from disease during the coming year. It is my personal belief, although I have no documentation to back up the assumption, that certain herbs would have been burnt in the fires, thus producing smoke which would help destroy parasites which might make cattle and other livestock ill.

5. In what other ways was this festival celebrated?

One of the most beautiful customs associated with this festival was "bringing in the May." The young people of the villages and towns would go out into the fields and forests at Midnight on April 30th and gather flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their homes. They would process back into the villages, stopping at each home to leave flowers, and to receive the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. This custom is somewhat similar to "trick or treat" at Samhain and was very significant to the ancients. John Williamson, in his study, The Oak King, the Holly King, and the Unicorn, writes:

"These revelers were messengers of the renewal of vegetation, and they assumed the right to punish the niggardly, because avarice (as opposed to generosity) was dangerous to the community's hope for the abundance of nature. At an important time like the coming of summer, food, the substance of life must be ritually circulated generously within the community in order that the cosmic circuit of life's substance may be kept in motion (trees, flocks, harvests, etc.)."(3)

These revelers would bless the fields and flocks of those who were generous and wish ill harvests on those who withheld their bounty.

6. What about maypoles?

The maypole was an adjunct to the festival of bringing in the May. It is a phallic symbol, and as such represented fertility to the participants in the festival. In olden days, the revelers who went into the woods would cut a tree and bring it into town, decking it with flowers and greenery and dance around it, clockwise (also called deosil, meaning "sun-wise", the direction of the sun's apparent travel across the face of the Earth) to bring fertility and good luck. The ribbons which we associate with the maypole today were a later addition.



7. Why was fertility important?

The people who originated this custom lived in close connection with the land. If the flocks and fields were fertile, they were able to eat; if there was famine or drought, they went hungry. It is hard for us today to relate to this concept, but to the ancients, it was literally a life and death matter. The Celts were a very close tribal people, and fertility of their women literally meant continuity of the tribe.

8. How is the maypole connected with fertility?

Many scholars see the maypole as a phallic symbol. In this aspect, it is a very powerful symbol of the fertility of nature and spring.

9. How did these ancient customs come down to us ?

When Christianity came to the British Isles, many of the ancient holy sites were taken over by the new religion and converted to Christian sites. Many of the old Gods and Goddesses became Christian saints, and many of the customs were appropriated. Charles Squire says:

" An ingenious theory was invented after the introduction of Christianity, with the purpose of allowing such ancient rites to continue with a changed meaning. The passing of persons and cattle through flame or smoke was explained as a practice which interposed a magic protection between them and the powers of evil." (4)

This is precisely what the original festival was intended to do; only the definition of "evil" had changed. These old customs continued to be practiced in many areas for centuries.

"In Scotland in 1282, John, the priest in Iverkething, led the young girls of his parish in a phallic dance of decidedly obscene character during Easter week. For this, penance was laid upon him, but his punishment was not severe, and he was allowed to retain his benefice."(5)

10. Were sacrifices practiced during this festival?

Scholars are divided in their opinions of this. There is no surviving account of sacrifices in the legends and mythology which have come down to us. As these were originally set down on paper by Christian monks, one would think that if such a thing had been regularly practiced, the good brothers would most certainly have recorded it, if for no other reason than to make the pagans look more depraved. There are, however, some surviving folk customs which point to a person representing the gloom and ill fortune of winter being ostracized and forced to jump through the fires. Some scholars see this as a survival of ancient human sacrificial practices. The notion that animals were sacrificed during this time doesn't make sense from a practical standpoint. The animals which had been retained a breeding stock through the winter would either be lean and hungry from winter feed, or would be mothers nursing young, which could not be spared.

11. How do modern day pagans observe this day?

Modern day pagan observances of Beltane include the maypole dances, bringing in the May, and jumping the cauldron for fertility. Many couples wishing to conceive children will jump the cauldron together at this time. Fertility of imagination and other varieties of fertility are invoked along with sexual fertility. In Wiccan and other Pagan circles, this is a joyous day, full of laughter and good times.

12. What about Walpurgisnacht? Is this the same thing as Beltane?

Walpurgisnacht comes from an Eastern European background, and has little in common with the Celtic practices. I have not studied the folklore from that region and do not consider myself qualified to write about it. As the vast majority of Wiccan traditions today stem from Celtic roots, I have confined myself to research in those areas.

This particular Beltane ritual was written for a group to perform, and it involves a High Priest and High Priestess, several ladies and men, and also a couple to play the parts of the Goddess and God.

For supplies, other than your usual altar supplies you will need a green scarf, or a wreath that has flowers on it which can be easily taken out, but this is is optional. You can do the "scarf chase" with either the scarf, or the wreath, or use your own variation on this theme.

If you are doing the May pole, you will of course need a pole of some sort, wood is recommended, at least 15 feet high, but not more than 21 feet is recommended, and some way to dig a hole to sink it in the earth. You will also need additional oil for annointing the earth, and the pole, as well as as many ribbons as you have participants dancing. You can do the Maypole dance either during the ritual or in the afternoon before the ritual, it is flexible.

For dancing the Maypole, you will also need to set up some taped music, or have music provided, see the file on introduction for the best choices.

It is customary for the ladies to wear a floral wreath on their heads, and many men will wear a bright sash. Bright robes are customary for this time of year, or many groups are either skyclad, or wearing only sashes and skirts or scarves. Sexy is the order of the day!

The altar should have fresh flowers on it, and you can decorate the quaters also with fresh flowers and the outer rim of the circle with flower petals if you desire.

Cleanse area with besom.

Cast the circle in your usual manner.

Cleanse and bless the participants in your usual manner.

INVOKE WATCHTOWERS:

EAST - water

All Hail to thee, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, the powers of water. The tides of the ocean, where all life began, the rivers and streams that feed and nourish the earth. When we thirst, let your tears fall upon us as gentle rain. Thou art the dark sea from which all life comes, and unto which all life returns. We call you now to aid us in our rites. So Mote It Be.

SOUTH - air

All Hail to thee, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, the powers of air. The gentle breezes that soften winter's chill and the cleansing force of the gale winds. Oh, ye of the South Wind, place of storms and breath of life. In the coolness of the breeze we hear your sighs, and in the rushing of the wind. We call you now to aid us in our rites. So Mote It Be.

WEST - fire

All Hail to thee, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, the powers of fire. The spark of lust which leads to all Creation, the Sacred Fire of Life. Flame of power, burning bright, giving guidance in the night. Love is the inner spark, the light that burns without flicker, the amber glow within. We call you now to aid us in our rites. So Mote It Be.

NORTH - earth

All Hail to thee, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, the powers of earth. The womb of the Earth Mother, dark protection of the new seed. The shelter of the stag and the new born fawn. Carpet of fallen leaves be our bed. The soil that is the flesh, the mountain that is the breast, and the earth that is the bone of the world. We call you now to aid us in our rites. So Mote It Be.

(At this time the watchtowers have been called in and we now prepare to call upon the Gods and Goddesses. We have called upon a Goddess and God from each direction for this ritual.)

INVOKING THE GODDESSES AND THE GODS

(face east)

Oh, Goddesses of all beginnings, Cybele, Astarte, Yameya, Isis, be among us now in your aspect as Maiden of the Forest and Sea. The fair one who brings joy and new life to break the winter's stillness and silence. Oh virgin child of sunrise, wild mistress of the hunt, Artemis of the mountains, and Aphrodite of the oceans, we ask that you join us if for but a moment to witness our rites and bless your hidden children. Blessed Be.

(face south)

Oh Goddesses of nurturing and fulfillment, Bridget, Demeter, Cerridwen, Diana. In full knowledge of the seed that you bear, we await your life, your freedom, and your light, as part of all light that flows eternally. You, the mirror of the whole kindred, of star, of stone, and of greenwood tree. Turn life's great wheel and make us ever better from life to life to life. We ask that you join us if for but a moment to witness our rites and bless your hidden children. Blessed Be.

(face west)

Oh Warrior Gods of protection and virility, Osiris, Llew, Pan. Oh laughing God of the greenwood, with your pipes and cloven hooves, shepherd of creatures free and wild. Beyond the doorway of time and out into the night, in search of mystery and the wonder of light. Crackling with energy under our skin, red lion roaring, pulses racing, we are open - Come in! Join us, if for but a moment, to witness our rites and bless your hidden children. Blessed Be.

(face north)

Oh Father Gods of death and hunting, Cernunnos, Ra, and Herne. Even as you dwell within the temple of death, so you dwell within the Secret Seed, seed of the grain, seed of the flesh, hidden of the earth. For you are He who is the gatekeeper at the end of time, we hear the thunder of your hooves upon the shore. You are He whom all must face at the appointed hour, yet you are not to be feared, for you are father, brother, lover and son. We ask that you join us if for but a moment to witness our rites and bless your hidden children. Blessed Be.
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