Beltaine Ritual, 2006 Moonpath Chapter of CUUPS
Composed by Valan, The Druid
(materials from assorted sources listed at end of document)

PRELIMINARY ARRANGEMENTS:

The ritual site is the large field with the fire pit. Torches mark the cardinal 
points. The processional enters from the north-east of the circle. 

Sacrificial items, ("ale", branch of flowers, grass seed)
oil lamps, Ygdrassil, etc.
Rune  bag
Blessing cups
All these are set on altar draped with Spring colors.

ADDITIONAL PROPS:
Large bell
Several lighters (1 for each quarter, and Firestarter material)
2 small round ground torches ready to light,
sage
4 juices and small cups
Quarter torches and small altars (each quarter dresses their altar)
Palm Branches for each quarter to hold, and candles
4 containers of seeds
Sacred Well
Sacred Tree
Big bucket of water.
Basket or bowl for Rhiannon to carry

Celebrants
Valan
Spel  (with Horns)
Rhiannon - Rita
Story sages:  Saille and D'elf
Quarter teams (3 in each team)

Fire  Keeper - Ken 
Keeper of the Sacred Well - Robert
Tree Tender - Fionn
Sage Smudger: Shining Spirit & MacMage


Processional:  Quarter teams first,  then Sage smudger, the grass 
distributors, then the MayQueen and consort,  Spel and Ash the Silent,then 
everyone else will start on porch and proceed through  memorial garden, 
through archway made from quarter folks' palmfronds.


(Note to quarter teams:  Hold onto your Palmfronds till after you call 
quarters. Then place them down before your altar)

When all are in Circle, Saille sings Rhiannon (accapello)

Valan: As we approach the sacred grove
With heart and mind, flesh and bone,
Join us now in ways of old. 
We have come home.

Join now for the Druids Pledge:
(all)
We swear by Peace and Love to stand
Heart to heart and hand to hand
Mark, Oh Spirits, hear us now
Confirming this, our sacred vow.

Statement of Purpose and Precedent:  

Spel:
As the ancients did before us, 
so we do now, 
and so our descendants may do in the future. 
We are come into the Grove to worship as they did, 
to offer to the Ancestors; 
to offer to the Aesir and the Vanir
to offer to the Nature Spirits; 
and to offer to the beloved Shining Ones. 
Today we honor Rhiannon, the Welsh horse 
goddess - the mare being an age-old symbol 
of fertility. She is also an icon for 
perseverance, steadfastness  and most of all, HOPE.

Today we kindle a new flame of HOPE and new 
beginnings as we dance among the Beltaine fires. 
And tonight, may we practice the Rites of Love 
in whatever way our spirit may guide us, 
to sustain the Power of Life!

Invocations to earth and sea and sky

Valan:  I am a child of the Moon, Earth, Sea and Sky.
        I am your daughter, hear my cry.

The Keeper of the Well (KW) By the West 
- the "Well" is on the west altar
 Walk  to Fire Pit, Raise "well" bowl on high 
 Please hold it dramatically aloft.  (reading 
 taped to lower bowl)

KW: In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. 
Sacred waters flow within us. 

Folk: Sacred waters flow within us. 

KW will then asperse the fire pit and the Druids 
from the bowl. 
 Place  "well" on main altar (much drumming at this time)


The Tender of the Tree (TT)  From the 
North - the "Tree" is by or on the North altar
Walk  to Fire Pit, will lift the "tree" on high 


TT: From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. 
    Sacred Tree, grow within us. 

Folk: Sacred tree, grow within us. 

TT will then lower the tree.

TT: The fire, the well, the sacred tree, 
    Flame and flow and grow in me!

TT proceeds around the fire with the little Tree 
and then places it on  or near  the main altar. 

(much drumming at this time)


The Fire Tender will first say:

FT: I kindle the sacred fire in wisdom, love, and power. 
Sacred fire burn within us. 

Folk: Sacred fire burn within us. 

FT starts the fire.

V:  Let the drums begin!   Much DRUMMING and cheering!!!!!

OFFERINGS:

Spel:

In ancient times fire, man's greatest tool and 
nature's fiercest weapon, defined the meeting 
place of the sacred and the profane, the heart 
of the home and of religious ceremony. 
Therefore, when we come together to 
celebrate the rites of our ancestors, we light a 
fire. We light this fire as the center of our 
circle, the symbol of the ancient ways, and as 
a means by which our sacrifices may be 
conveyed to the realms of the gods.

Valan:

O sacred fire that consumes and transforms
Ancient enemy and first-born friend of humankind.
Accept this offering of flowers
Become for us the living door to the heavens
The manifestation of the Shining Ones .
And the path of our return to the ancient ways. 

Valan tosses branch on fire.

Spel:
 O sacred bough of fragrant memory 
 May your sweet, rising smoke
 Reach the halls of the gods.
 May we pray with a good fire!


Invoking the Quarters:

(3 per team. 1 speaks, one has a  Bic, 1 holds 
branch. Later, they are charged with passing 
out and juice and cups to their quarter: sunwise. 

The East quarter team proceeds doesil till it 
reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The 
speaker remains, the other proceed to east. 
The Eastern torches are lit as soon as the two  
arrive: perhaps while the speaker is speaking.

Eastern caller: 
The East wind blows, gentle and soft, carrying 
the breeze-blown Elementals. 
May your wind swirl around our heads
Clearing and purifying, 
Carrying sweet scents!
Hail and Welcome!  Caller goes back to the East.

(All the Eastern team lays their palms in front of their altar)

The  Southern quarter team proceeds doesil 
till it reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The 
speaker remains, the other proceed to South. 
The Southern torches are lit as soon as the two  
arrive: perhaps while the speaker is speaking.

Southern caller: From the South we summon 
the scorching Elementals,  sacred to Fire.
Bring us your Warmth and Passion.
Lead us to ecstatic fulfillment!
Hail and Welcome!   Caller goes back to the South.
(All the Southern team lays their palms in front 
of their altar)

The West quarter team proceeds doesil till it 
reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The 
speaker remains, the other proceed to West. 
The Western torches are lit as soon as the two  
arrive: perhaps while the speaker is speaking.

Western caller: The tides of our great planet 
ride in our veins, and carry the watery 
Elementals on powerful waves.
You who rule the fluid depths of our emotions
Are summoned to  our Rite!
Hail and Welcome! Caller goes back to the West.
(All the Western team lays their palms in front 
of their altar)

The North quarter team proceeds doesil till 
it reaches the altar in the Southwest.  The 
speaker remains, the other  proceed to north. 
The Northern torches ares lit as soon as the 
two  arrive: perhaps while the speaker is speaking.

Northern caller: Every Elemental sacred to 
Earth - be you gnome, pixie or  fey, growing 
thing or sturdy rock,
Be our guide in all things of Nature and the 
essence of  this earthly plane.
Hail and Welcome! Caller goes back to the North.
(All the Northern team lays their palms in front 
of their altar)

Sacrifice to the Outsiders:
 
Valan:

Ancient and dark ones; unseen, unsightly, and unloved
We make this offering to you
You twisted and misshapen
You cold of heart, and dim of mind
Take this offering and trouble not our rites.

She takes the Blessing Ccup and 
pours "ale" onto the earth, outside the circle 

Casting the Circle

Spel:
We have called to the quarters, now let us CAST the circle. 

I cast this circle with Fire and smoke,
magic blessings we Invoke.

 (DRUMMERS:  Keep a strong beat!!)

Story Sages: d'elf and Saille

On this feast-day we honor the great goddess, Rhiannon.

And the Birds of Rhiannon 
Sang to them from the Otherworld
Bringing them joy...

(Enters Rhiannon from the North and she 
comes to stand before the altar:

Sage:
This is the story of Rhiannon from The Mabinogion:
The Goddess Rhiannon, "Great Queen", is the 
other face of the Mother.  She Who 
is the White Mare, the Queen of the 
Otherworld, whose Birds could soothe the 
souls of the most troubled of mortals.  She is 
the Nurturing Mother, devoted to 
Her children, Who gently guides us that we 
may learn the lessons before us.
As told in these stories, She understands 
hardship and pain, separation and loss.  But 
always, although She had been wronged, Her 
love was unfaltering, and Her honor 
unwavering. Known also as Epona to the 
Gauls, and Macha to the Irish, this much 
beloved Goddess is the Great Queen of the Celts.
 
"A bird that is not mine
Three birds that belong to her
One emerald green, one snow white
One golden, flashing like a sunbeam through the night

When at first he saw her
It seemed she had no name
She sat alone, and it seemed to him
That the light and the face were the same.

Her hair shone, streamed dark and gold
He thought, "Maybe I'm going insane"
Her gown was no more than the water could cover
This time would not come again

And the white mares dance
And the lady asks
"Take my wisdom with you as you ride
If you kill the dark Lord of Death
Someday, I shall be your wife
Someday, I shall be your wife"

And the birds are still singing
And the song is now sweeping
Like a silver, a silver shimmering flood.

For you, Rhiannon
I would fight, I would fight the world
For you, Rhiannon, I would fight, I would fight the world
For you are in my blood
For you, for you are in my blood

Tonight my love will stay here with trust
Because I am his nightbird
Sleeping tonight in his golden circle
Because I am the nightbird.


In the seven books of Rhiannon
Another of the treasures were the three birds
That the birds of Rhiannon can sing away the pain
Take away the darkness
And sing you golden rainbows

Well, just this minute the three birds are flying
In perfect formation
The emerald, the golden, the snow white
Because they have lived forever

If you listen carefully
You just might hear the song of Rhiannon
The birds are singing for us
I can just hear them now
"I love you. I loved you before I loved your song.


Because Rhiannon is a symbol of steadfastness 
and hope, at this time we ask that the quarter 
teams pass out seeds to all. Let these seeds 
represent your secret hopes. In Rhiannon's 
name cast this hope  to the wind that it grows 
strong in the coming season of Hope.

Rhiannon picks  up bowl and begins casting 
about the circle. Quarter teams pass out seeds.

Play Rhiannon with microphone till all are 
done. 

Saille:  Lest we forget, Rhiannon was first of all 
a faire maiden goddess on a white horse, ever 
accompanied by her three white birds. Her 
lover's heart beat fast at the thought of 
making her his wife. Listen carefully to the 
words of her song:

Saille" Rhiannon - Stevie Nicks

Saille:
Rhiannon rings like a bell thru the night
And wouldn't you love to love her
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover...

All your life you've never seen
A woman - taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win...

She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark-
And when the sky is starless-

All your life you've never seen-
A woman - taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win...
Rhiannon 
Taken by, taken by the sky 
Dreams unwind.
Love's a state of mind.


OMEN TAKING:
Valan:

The gifts of the people rise to the gods on the 
smoke of sacrifice. May our prayers go clearly 
and without hindrance to those we have 
praised  A favor requires a favor; a song 
another song, and a gift given requires a gift in 
return. This is the law of ancient times, alike 
between man and man and mankind and the 
gods.  We have offered our gifts to the gods 
and we ask them in return for knowledge of 
what tomorrow will bring. Will our lives be 
renewed and our Summer fruitful?

 I ask then, that the youngest among us draw 
 a Rune that we may know our Fate.

The youngest draws and Valan interprets a 
rune. If an, unfavorable omen is drawn, the 
participants  are asked to meditate on the 
gods' message and consider how to respond individually.

Blessing Cup

Spel raises the Blessing Cup filled with juice.

Ancient and mighty ones we honor you. Having 
established the bond of hospitality with the 
gods, what the gods have given to us we 
distribute freely. Behold the drink of the gods!

All:

Behold the drink of the gods!

Spel:
We will pass out cups. Please wait for the toast 
to be made before drinking!

Quarter teams pass out cups and pour juice.

When all have a drink, 

Valan says:

When we give, we receive and are blessed.
What we share will be shared in return.
Those we praise in joy will respond to our need.
We are kin to the gods when we drink their mead.

The Beltaine Blessing Fires

Valan Speaks:
Now as we stand filled with the power of our 
Goddess and God, let us work the spell of the 
Beltaine fires to drive away ill and bring us luck 
in the coming summer. 

Set up the fire pots 
 Two fire-vessels are brought out (they are 
under the South quarter altar) and placed next 
to each other so folks can pass between them 
walking, clockwise. These are lit after being  
placed on the ground.)

Spel says:
We kindle these magic fires
In the presence of the mighty ones
In the power of renewal

Rise as the warmth of summer's sun
This Beltaine day
Kindle within each of our hearts
A flame of love
 and wit
 and might
To friend and foe and all beings
Bring peace and beauty to the land
As life begins anew. 

Step lightly in the dance and leave your winter cares behind
Receive the blessing of the shining ones
As you pass between the faery fires
Dance now, in the joy of May!

Dance and pass between the two fires!

(South team lights fires)
 
(everyone dances and passes between the 
2 fires, South  quarter team: start the 
lines! Pass through to the West. They 
beckon those at the South-Southeast to 
follow.. Everyone circles sunwise, passing 
between the fires. 
Much  drumming at this time!)


Spel:

Now the formal sacrifice is ended. We bid  the 
gods and elements farewell; to  go  or to stay 
as they will. We bid our Ancestors to watch 
over us and guide us on our path. 


Bless, O great ones 
true and bountiful
Ourselves, our kind (pronounced kind, rhymes 
with sinned) 
and our friends
May the Waters of Life sustain us
May the Fire of Passion enliven us
From day to day through every turning moon
From season to season
Through all the sacred year.
Let the seeds of Spring, shoot and bud
And let our lives blossom with the May.
By the magic of the old ways
Let all our blossoms come to fruit!

V says:
Let the fire be flame. (gong)
Let the well be water. (gong)
Let all be as it was before. (gong)
This rite is ended. (gong)
 
Fire-keeper  extinguishes the fire with water 
(Big bucketful of water = big smoky finale..
Start the Merry Meet song
Everybody claps and sings and hug.

*******************************************************
References, blessings and credits to: 
The Mabinogian
Stevie Nicks
Mara Freeman, Kindling the Celtic Spirit
M.M. Sutton, Ph.D, Druid Magic
Sirona Knight, Celtic traditions,
Emma Restall Orr, Spirits of the Sacred Ground
C & J. Matthews, Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom
Jennifer Reif, Marline Haleff,  The Magical Crone
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