Beltaine Ritual
2009 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,)
oil lamps, stands, Ygdrassil, Well, etc. Rune bag. Blessing cups, sage
All these are set on altar draped with Spring colors.

ADDITIONAL PROPS:
gong
Several matches (1 for each quarter, and Firestarter material)
2 Beltaine 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
Sacred Well
Sacred tree
Big bucket of water
bowls of water
Celebrants
Valan                              FireKeeper - Ricky
Spel  (with Horns)                 Keeper of the Sacred Well - 
Story sages:                       Tree Tender - 
Sage smudger:                      Circle Caster -

Quarter teams (3 in each team)

Processional:  Quarter teams first, 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)
Note to Smudger:  When all are in the circle, go to main altar
and put smudge stick on altar in
ashtray)

Spelcastor:

Beltaine Bonfires burn. Sparks fly,
becoming fairies floating
on gilded, gliderwings. 
They lift the veil 'tween our
world and theirs but once, this night.


Statement of Purpose and Precedent:  
Valan:

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 "Aye-sir" and the "Van-eer"
to offer to the Nature Spirits; 
and to offer to the beloved Shining Ones. 
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!

Spel:
For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.


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 microphone, 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 firepit 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 microphone. Lift the "tree" on high 
Please hold it dramatically aloft.  (reading taped to container)

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 go to microphone and 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.)

Valan:  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 home. 

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!


ALL: 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: 
I summon now, the power of Air - She who is the wind.

Listen to the voice of the wind, small and shy, loud
and joyful, whispering sweet secrets in your ear.
Listen to the many voices and songs of this world and
hear them as they combine in to one beautiful melody
and voice. The Wind is speaking to you:  listen to what
She has to say.
Welcome Her in, into this circle today.

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
I summon now, the power of Fire - He who is the passionate flame.

Listen to the voice of the fire, crackling and laughing
and warming your soul. Fire, the great transformer.
Listen as this elemental power, watchtower of the east consumes
the old to make way for new harvest. Welcome Him  in -
into our circle today.
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 others proceed to West.
The Western torches are lit as soon as the two arrive:
perhaps while the speaker is speaking.

Western caller:
I summon now, the power of the Sea, and all its Creatures

Listen to the voice of the water, flowing and gentle, wrapping
your body in its cool hands. Listen to the raging sea, mother
of the whole World. Listen for the tides, as they sing in your
very heartbeat. Listen, and welcome Him in, into our Circle today.
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 are lit as soon
as the two arrive: perhaps while the speaker is speaking.)


Northern caller: 
I summon now, the power of the Earth, and all Her Creatures

Listen to the voice of the forest, deep, low, and strong,
pulsating through out your body. Listen to the sweet high
voices of flowers, the deep resonant voices of the Trees.
Listen to your Mother, the earth, and welcome Her in -
into our Circle today.

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: 

Spel:

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 rite.

He takes the Blessing cup and 
pours  "ale" onto the earth, outside the circle 
Casting the Circle 

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


Opening the Gates:

Oil and Incense are added to the cauldron:

"Mannanan Mac Lir, Keeper of the Gate, We ask You in reverence,
to keep our passage safe. Part the mists of the Worlds Beyond
here, Keep us safe, and keep us near.

Spel:
And now we'll have the story sage.

DRUMMERS:  Drum him in!


Story Sage:
This May Day, we honor the Welsh goddess, Coventina -
the goddess of abundance, new beginnings
and most of all HOPE!

Here is her story:
Jealous goddesses might bristle at the reverence and the lavish
gifts that the ancient Britons showered on Coventina.

Who was she, anyway? Just a small-time, small-town divinity
whose entire domain was limited to a single well in the remote
north of England.

"Well," Isis might complain, if she were the whiny type,
which she isn't, "she's never even been to Paris or Rome."

"Yes, and," Athena might snarl, if she were small-minded
(which by definition she isn't), "she doesn't even stand
for anything. Not for wisdom, or for love, or..."

Nonetheless, the Britons doted on her. Wherever they found
fresh water welling up sweet and fresh from the body of the
earth, these people went wild with gratitude. Who else but a
goddess, they reasoned, could pull off such a generous feat,
bestowing good water on their rugged island with its limited
resources? And so to Coventina's well, they brought jewels
and cash... and faith in the magical, healthful properties
of the water.

As if this were not enough to make other goddesses burn with
envy, the Romans, who were here during the third and fourth
centuries, took to Coventina, too. The Romans, those uptight
foreigners, added their own rich tributes to those heaped at
Coventina's feet.

These Romans were soldiers, whose job it was to guard against
attack from the north. Their fort stood poised directly against
Hadrian's Wall, the empire's northern frontier. These Romans were
hardly a sentimental lot, yet they found room in their hearts
for a simple water goddess. They found time to build her a temple
just a few yards to the west of the fort.

Enclosing Coventina's sacred spring and its oblong stone basin,
the temple measured forty feet across and when it was re-discovered
in 1876, it was chock-filled with offerings to this sweet
goddess.

They found 13,487 coins, including some gold and silver ones,
as well as brooches, pearls, pottery, clay animals and other things.
These were the amassed tributes to Coventina's gentle goodness.
There are also some larger objects in the shrine, such as altars,
incense burners, temple bells, and even a rare carving showing
the goddess reclining on a leaf, (which is featured on our Beltaine
Poster). So, on this brilliant May Day, we remember that water is
a gift, and divine - that tossing coins into a well, or a fountain
is an act of hope, that whether we know it or not, we are invoking
this benevolent Goddess, Coventina!

No, to honor Her, and to make a Beltaine wish, toss your coin in
the "wells" the quarter teams are circling with!

(Quarter teams, go   round with bowls of water.)


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

Spel Speaks:

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

Fire tender, please lights the Torches.

Valan says:
(Fires of Love - Ian R Thorpe)

Embrace the purifying flame,
throw off the cloak of inhibition.
Stoke the good fires of Beltane
and let the flames fuel love's fission.

The sun climbs high to summer glory,
unfolds the leaf and swells the bud,
delivering all of nature's dowry
and a promise, now misunderstood.

From atom's heart to human heart
spring passes the vitalising flame
and in each nucleus a spark
sets passion's ardent torch aflame.

Goodfellow lies with Queen of Mai,
the goddess smiles on merrybegot.
Fires of love join earth and sky,
reaching where men and gods cannot.

Spel:
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!

Drums drum joyously!!!
 
(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.
May truth and honor be your friend and lucky be your days
I'll hold you dearly in my heart, I'll hold you in my mind
And though our branches grow apart, our roots shall be entwined.


Valan 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 smokey finale..
Start the Merry Meet song
Everybody claps and sings and hug.)


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

References, blessings and credits to: 
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

John Milton, Song on a May Morning
Fires of Love, Ian R Thorpe
Beltaine, Karen A. Romanko
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