Beltaine Rite and Hand Fasting
Compiled by Starwind Evensong
Hand Fasting by Shining Spirits
Presented at MoonPathCUUPS
April 26, 2003


HP:  Be it known that the Grand Sabbat of Beltaine is about to
begin. Let none be here but of their own free will. Turn off your
cell phones, beepers, and other links to the mundane world.

HPS:  We invite you to enter our Circle in Perfect Love and Perfect
Trust. Let us begin therefore, by leaping the fire, which is an
ancient act of purification.

(Participants will jump over a small fire which has burned to
coals.)

Chant: 
Take the flame inside you,
Burn and burn below.
Fire seed and fire feed,
And make new life grow.

HP:  As we have done before in many incarnations, we gather on this
blessed day to celebrate Beltaine. The fertile summer season has
begun. We come to praise the bountiful Goddess and her God consort
who unite today in sacred marriage. It is in the joining of male
and female that all life begins.

Casting the Circle:

(The circle is smudged, blessed with salted water, and censed. HP,
HPS, and another proceed around the circle 120 degrees apart, with
this chant:)

Three times round the circle's cast
As was done in times gone past
Between the worlds a boundary
May this circle blessed, be.

Invoking the Quarters:

HP:  As we build the circle, we ask your help. After the Elements
are called, please repeat the following phrase, We ask your
blessings, O Spirits of (insert direction). Let us begin in the
East.

(East)  Spirits of the East and Air, harken to this Beltaine call!
Bring winds of magick, breaths of Spring.
Let our lives with music sing.
All:  We ask your blessings, O Spirits of the East.

(South)  Spirits of the South and Fire, hearken to this Beltaine
call! Bring sparks of laughter. Passions enflame. Let us all be
glad we came.
All:  We ask your blessings, O Spirits of the South.

(West)  Spirits of the West and Water, hearken to this Beltaine
call! Bring waves of gladness. Cares wash away. Quench our thirst
for love today.
All:  We ask your blessings, O Spirits of the West.

(North)  Spirits of the North and Earth, hearken to this Beltaine
call! Bring fertile thoughts and keep us grounded, as we strive to
be well rounded.
All:  We ask your blessings, O Spirits of the North.

HPS:  Behold the power of the wheel of life around us. With these,
the sacred elements of life earth, air, fire and water we have cast
this circle, a temple of love and power. They give us breath, and
life. They give us union with all that is. Let all within this
circle be filled with joy at the union, let them feel the power of
the oneness in their heart and mind. Blessed be!

Invocation of the God and Goddess (Invocation Copyright 2003, Mikal Evensong):

(Enter God as Pan & Goddess as Artemis, wander about circle.)

Oh Lord and Lady hear us now
In this, our season of the plow,
Join us in your Divinity
For our Rites of Fertility.

Through half a turn the Wheel has passed,
And Beltaine now has come at last.
'Tis at this time, the old ones state,
That Earth and Sky do yearly mate.

And on this night of Beltaine Eve,
The folk did commonly believe
Their corn would not grow quite so tall
If they sat by... did naught at all.

So to assist the Divine Pair
Each village maiden would repair
Unto a sheltered moonlit glade,
Whence none returned home still a maid.

(Let's have some of our girls grab a couple guys and 
take them around the circle here.)

In doing so, they did maintain,
They'd harvest bumper crops of grain,
The fields would flourish in the Fall,
Their bounty to be shared by all.

So on this night they'd emulate,
The fertile Goddess and Her Mate.
To coax the seeds to germinate,
Both youth and Gods must procreate.

(God goes to Goddess.)

The Lord flies to His Lady's side,
To join with Her... make Her His bride.
With wants and needs that wonžt be stayed
They meet within their birken glade.

(A crone and maidens waves blankets. God/Goddess go to the blanket 
gesturing and encircled by the maids and men holding blankets
around them.)

With bed of leaves and cloak of sky
The Lady draws Her Lover nigh,
Ensconced within Their woodland bower
They relish every passing hour.
(Gestures by God and Goddess.)

A throaty moan, a gentle sigh,
A touch upon a willing thigh.
A soft caress, a tender kiss,
A night of never ending bliss.

The Goddess, overcome with need,
Receives Her young Lordžs virile seed.
The Mother now, no longer Maid,
Conceives new life, so long delayed.

Oh, Western Wind, Oh, gentle Rain,
Bring new life to the fertile plain
So in the Fall on Harvest Morn,
The folk can reap their golden corn.

Oh, nubile Goddess, Lord of Light,
Before You join as One this night,
We give You thanks for being here
At this our favorite time of year.

(Crone and maidens takes up blankets. God/Goddess stand near
altar.)

Beltaine Meditation (Meditation Copyright 2003, Starwind Evensong):

We ask you to stand or sit, as you prefer, for our meditation.

Relax... It is the spring of the year... In every species is the
urge to procreate and continue life... As you walk through the
meadow of soft grass, let your senses be filled with your
connections to the beauty around you... Bend down, and remove your
shoes... Let your feet luxuriate in the soft emerald carpet... As
you walk onward you see a gentle slope before you, and a well trod
path to lead you upon it... As you start to walk the path you
realize that it will carry you upward in an ever diminishing
circular path... a spiral... As you walk, you note the grass and
brush are teeming with life... Birds singing songs of joy... Bees
buzzing to the next wild flower... Butterflies dancing on the
breeze... All manner of insects weave through the grasses, each
heading to unknown destinations, but all a part of the web of
life... As you come to the summit of the tor you find a small grove
of birch... It seems fitting to see the birch branches slowly sway
in the gentle wind... Symbolizing new beginnings and changes yet to
come... The path leads you into the stand of trees... The rustle of
the new leaves whispers in your ears... Suddenly, you come upon a
clearing, ringed by the birch... In the center of the clearing
stands and old, weathered menhir a standing stone... Upon it are
carved symbols you are unfamiliar with, but that seem
to speak to you... You walk toward the stone, and place your hands
upon it... With that touch, tentative at first, but then grasping,
you become one with the earth around you... You feel the strength
of the earth flow into you... Through your fingers, through your
feet...
Like a river it runs through your body... It becomes the river of
blood, the river of life... The strength builds in you,
overwhelming in its power... It sings of mysteries unknown... It
tells of those who have gone before... And it speaks of the joining
of the Goddess and the God... Clearly you hear its voice, conveying
the need to join with them... Relating the story of the Lady and
her Lord as they become one... With the joining they bless all life
which grows from every place they touch... Send your strength and
power to this union...
Add your voice to the chorus... Become one with the earth and the
sky above you... Feel those with you reach out, a tentative
touch...
And you reach with them... It is Beltaine and the need to lend our
energies to the earth are strong within us... Through this union
life continues... Send your energy out... Feel it connecting with
that of those around you... You offer it to the Lady of the Starry
Night, and her Lord of the Wild Things that their union continues
the cycle of life... Know that we are all a part of the dance...
That we are one with the earth, and that it lives in our hearts...
Slowly, you come back to the space around you.

When you are ready, open your eyes.


A Hand Fasting:

(Goddess and God would do things here, like usher couple around,
hold brooms and trinkets. The God is encouraging to Jeff. The
Goddess is encouraging to June. They are eager to see this couple
joined so they can get on to swithing.)

And now on this Beltaine day, we have a happy occasion, a hand
fasting.

Nineteen years ago, two among us were joined together in a civil
ceremony. They wish now to be joined together along their spiritual
paths in the Pagan way.

While this couple is legally married, they now seek to join in a
spiritual union with an ancient spiritual tradition known as
handfasting. 

After an exchange of vows, their hands are bound together and they
step over a broom, symbol of the hearth and their life together in
a common home.

(The God and Goddess bring the couple into the Circle and walks
them to altar. He holds aloft the hand of the woman who walks arm
in arm with the man.)

Barbie:  My Lady, My Lord and friends, I present to you Jeff &
June.

HPS:  Welcome June & Jeff. We are pleased to have you here. Jeff,
why have you come before us this day?

Jeff:  I have come here to be joined with June in Hand Fasting.

HP:  June, why have you come before us this day?

June:  I have come here to be joined with Jeff in Hand Fasting.

HPS:  That we will gladly do. First let us ask the blessings of our
Lady and our Lord upon this couple.

HPS:  Gracious Goddess of love and life
We ask that this couple may have no strife.

HP:  Gracious God of the sun above
We ask that they may always love.

HP & HPS:  Lord and Lady, bless, we pray,
This couple on their special day.
Blessed be.

HPS:  If it is your will, Jeff, repeat your vows to June after me
thus:
By seed and root, by bud and stem, 
by leaf and flower and fruit, by life and love, 
in the name of the Goddess and the God, 
I, Jeff, take thee, June, to my heart and my spirit. 
Nor shall death part us, for in the fullness of time 
we shall be born again at the same time, 
and in the same place as each other, and we shall meet, 
and know, and remember, and love again. 
Thou art Goddess, June, and I love thee.

HP:  If it is your will, June, repeat your vows to Jeff thus.
By seed and root, by bud and stem, 
by leaf and flower and fruit, by life and love, 
in the name of the Goddess and the God, 
I, June, take thee, Jeff, to my heart and my spirit. 
Nor shall death part us, for in the fullness of time 
we shall be born again at the same time, 
and in the same place as each other, and we shall meet, 
and know, and remember, and love again. 
Thou art God, Jeff, and I love thee.

HPS:  Have you tokens to give one another in honor of your love?

(Rings are placed in a bowl on the altar. HPS holds wand over them
while HP says:)

HP:  These rings are round, as our sacred Circle is round. These
rings, like our Circle, are never ending, as is your love for
each other. May the Goddess and the God bless them as they bless
your union.

(HPS gives ring to man who puts it on woman saying:)

HPS:  Jeff, as you put the ring on June's finger, repeat after me.

HP:  This ring is a symbol of my love for you.

(HP gives ring to woman who puts it on man saying:)

This ring is a symbol of my love for you.

(With a scarf, cord, or ribbon, HPS ties man's Left to woman's
Right hand while HP says:)

HP:  With this cord we bind you hand to hand and heart to heart,
together as one. With this knot you are joined in sacred union.
Yet, as one hand is bound, so the other hand is free, symbolizing
that as you are joined together, you are still also separate
individuals. May the Lord and Lady smile upon you and bless you
with health, prosperity, love, and joy.

HPS:  Follow us now, as we journey to the four quarters to receive
their gifts.

(They walk to the North altar.)

HPS:  The North represents Earth and the Physical Realm. Your
blessings from the North are good health, a happy home,
groundedness, and fertility.

(Couple crumbles soil from bowl onto ground while HP says:

HP:  May you always nurture your love, and each other.

(They walk to the East altar.)

HP:  The East represents Air and the Mental Realm.
Your blessings from the East are good communication, learning, and
intellectual growth.
(Couple gently fan each other with feathers while HPS says:)

HPS:  May you always grow in wisdom about life and about each
other.

(They walk to the South altar.)
HPS:  The South represents Fire and the Action Realm. Your
blessings from the South are creativity, harmony, sensuality, and
vitality.

(Couple light single candles from central candle while HP says:) 

HP:  May the fires of passion always spark your love.

(They walk to the West altar.)

HP: The West represents Water and the Emotional Realm. Your
blessings from the West are understanding, intuition, and
friendship.

(Couple sprinkles water from bowl onto ground as HPS says:) 

HPS:  May you always provide emotional support for each other.

(They walk to the High altar.)

HPS: The Center of our Circle represents Spirit and the Spiritual
Realm. Your blessings from the Center are balance, integrity and
wholeness.

(HPS gives each a crystal from the altar while the HP says:) 

HP:  May you always continue in your spiritual growth.

(HP calls upon the Goddess and God to place the broomstick in
readiness. HP & HPS go around sides of broomstick returning to high
altar.)

HPS:  You have been bound and you have been blessed. You may jump
the broomstick together to complete this sacred rite.

(They jump and approach the altar.)

HPS:  We stand as representatives of the union of the Goddess and
the God...(Holding athame aloft) As my lord is to the God

HP:  (On bended knee, holding silver'd chalice) As my lady is to
the Goddess

HPS:  (Dipping athame into chalice) And thus, cojoined

HP:  They are One in truth.

HP & HPS in unison:  So Mote It Be.

HP:  In the sight of the Goddess, the God and of us all here
assembled, Jeff & June have been joined, hand to hand and heart to
heart.

HPS  (offers chalice to the couple saying): This is your first
drink together as a hand fasted couple. May you never thirst.

(Couple drink.)

HP  (offers plate of bread to the couple saying): This is your
first food together as a hand fasted couple. May you never be
hungry.

HPS:  We now present to you June & Jeff who have been joined here
within our Circle. Blessed be.

(Applause, cheering, all that good stuff.)

(HP & HPS lead couple around Circle to exit or to their places in
the Circle at the central altar.)

Chant: 
            We are a circle 
            within a circle 
            With no beginning 
            and never ending.

Cakes

HP:  Will the quarters come forward to distribute the strawberries
at this time?

HPS:  As you drink and partake we ask that you are ever mindful of
all we have been given and all that is ours to share. Blessed be!

HP:  Next we will dismiss our quarters and then we will dance the
May Pole.


Dismissal:
HPS:  Thank you to the Lord and Lady for your presence with us. As
we close our circle, we ask you watch over each of those here
assembled, that you walk with them, and teach them joy in living
guide them upon their path. As you are within us, and without us,
we are all of the One. We are love, and we are life.

HP:  Help us to take down the circle. After the quarter caller
dismisses each element, please repeat the following... Stay if you
wish, go if you must, ever watch over us, Powers of (insert
direction). We begin in the North.

(North)  As the Spirits of the Earth depart to the North, we thank
you for your attendances, and bid you depart in peace.
All:  Stay if you wish, go if you must, ever watch over us, Powers
of North.

(West)  As the Spirits of Water depart to the West, we thank you
for your attendance, and ask you depart in peace.
All:  Stay if you wish, go if you must, ever watch over us, Powers
of West.

(South)  As the Spirits of Fire depart to the South, we are
grateful for your attendance, and bid you depart in peace.
All:  Stay if you wish, go if you must, ever watch over us, Powers
of South.

(East)  As the Spirits of Air depart to the East, we thank you for
your attendance, and wish you depart in peace.
All:  Stay if you wish, go if you must, ever watch over us, Powers
of East.

HPS:  This circle is ended, this temple is cleared. We thank you
for being with us, and lending your energies to the fertilization
of our hopes and dreams.

HPS:  Beltaine is the celebration of the sacred union of Goddess
and God, represented today by Artemis and Pan. The May Pole,
symbolizing the male energies, is encircled by the ribbons of the
dancers, creating the female energies. We are urged to procreate
and perpetuate; to give life to all that will grow, to fertilize
the seeds we have planted, to give power to new life. As they imbue
us with their power, we join with them and become a part of the One
All That Is. One heart, one mind, one life. Everything is
connected, all life is sacred, all unions divine.

HP:  We ask that men among us follow he who represents Pan to our
pole, to help us to erect it. 

(The God goes around circle, getting men to help with the pole.)

HPS:  Ladies, we ask that you follow she who represents the Goddess
Artemis. We need you to encourage the men to raise the May Pole. 

(Barbie goes around circle, encouraging women to help. She affixes
the wreath to the top of the pole.)

HP & HPS:  And now, let us raise the pole!

(chant: The longer the pole, the deeper the hole!)

(After the pole is raised)

HPS:  Our handfasted couple will lead our dance. Take a ribbon, and
alternate male and female. The women will go clockwise, the men
counter-clockwise. 

HP:  Drummers, drum our Maypole Dance!

**********************************************************

Props:
Altar setup
Quarter Tables
Broom
Drum
Horns
Sage
Chalice


Stage Directions for Hand Fasting

In addition to regular setup at the High Altar:

White cloth,  plate or bowl containing two small crystals chalice
with a bit of a beverage and a plate with a bit of bread or cake,
a cord or scarf, and a bowl for rings, if rings are being
exchanged.

At the four quarter altars, decorations will be:
North: Green cloth, bowl with soil.
East: Yellow cloth, two large feathers.
South: Red cloth, large lighted candle, two unlighted candles.
West: Blue cloth, bowl of water.

Return to Ritual Page