Beltane Ritual and Handfasting
Performed May 1, 1999
Ft. Lauderdale Unitarian Universalist Church
Designed by Eustacia Blackstar, Circle of the Sun
Note: This ritual was performed for 200 people in an open field during daylight hours. If it is to be performed for a large group, I suggest the Quarters be called across the Circle in order to hear well. As the Quarter Calls are rather feminine in feeling, it would be best to have the callers be women. For the Cakes and Ale portion, have at least four participants from each Quarter serve. Rehearsal is a must. At the very least, the opening rhyme should be memorized. The more effort that is put into costuming, altar decoration and other special effects, the better. A large and small fire was prepared. The Maypole was decorated. Drummers played when appropriate. Performance time is about an hour without the Maypole dancing. (Ring bell) HP Oye, Oye, Be it known that the Grand Sabbat of Beltane is about to begin. Let none be here but of their own free will. ("Door to Fairie" is played on tape) You must enter the Circle in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. Let us begin therefore, by leaping the fire, which is an ancient act of purification. (You may want to explain that this is optional and not recommended for children.) (Participants will jump over a small fire that has burned to coals. Lady Bridget sings "Jump the Fire") (As the Circle forms, HP goes to front of altar and raises his arms) HP As we have done before in many incarnations, we gather on this blessed day to celebrate Beltane. The fertile summer season has begun. We come to praise the bountiful Goddess and her God consort who unite today in sacred marriage. Come to me, my Lady. For it is in the joining of male and female that all life begins. (HPS enters on horseback and rides around the Circle with wand raised. She is preceded by the " Flower Fairy" a young girl who skips in tossing "fairy dust" ie. confetti.) HPS (She has dismounted and stands in front of the altar with fairy and HP) On Beltane Eve the balefires burn As we assist, the seasons turn. Welcome Summer! The joy you bring. Blessed be the Sun God King. Fairy Gather then the morning dew, For potions to make dreams come true. Fairies now may come to play, As we greet the first of May. HP 'Round the Maypole dance we might That God and Goddess will unite. And earth and beast and home shall be Blessed with fertility. (HPS casts Circle with wand) I cast the Circle 'round and 'round. By its protection we are bound. (HP and Fairy carry around salted water, smudge stick and feather.) By earth and air, fire and rain, the Circle is closed. We must remain. HP Beltane is an ancient fire festival. As you hold the sacred flame, receive its blessing of passion and energy. (Pass glass candle.) So mote it be! HPS If you believe, and remain a child at heart, Beltane is the season to see fairies. Let's call to them now! East Children of the Air, fairies all, hearken to this Beltane call! Bring winds of magick, breaths of Spring. Let our lives with music sing. South Children of the Fire, fairies all, hearken to this Beltane call! Bring sparks of laughter. Passions enflame. Let us all be glad we came. West Children of the Water, fairies all, hearken to this Beltane call! Bring waves of gladness. Cares wash away. Quench our thirst for love today. North Children of the Earth, fairies all, hearken to this Beltane call! Bring fertile thoughts and keep us grounded, as we strive to be well rounded. HP Blessed spirits, fairies all, hearken to this Beltane call. The Lord and Lady we invite. Come to us this Beltane night. HPS And if you choose to hear our plea. Bless us with fertility (Note: HP and HPS should not be "tied" to the altar but should move about the Circle as much as possible to facilitate hearing and inclusion.) HP (You may be seated.) We offer sweets to the fairy spirits. (Fairy places offering on altar) Come to us and show us your ways. Teach us herblore, divination, and all of nature's lessons. HPS Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Visualize a natural wooded setting. Sit down beneath a large tree with your back against it. Feel its strength. Connect with its life force. Relax in this setting, letting all your tensions and worries pour into the tree, down through its roots and into the soil. You feel renewed and completely alive. Now look around you. Be aware of the wildflowers, the ferns and the sunlight as it glimmers through the leafy green canopy above your head. Take another deep breath and go deeper into your mind's eye. Do you see a tiny flicker of light that catches your attention? Do you hear a faint whirling sound like tiny wings? Perhaps you hear the soft tinkling of bells. All these things signal the presence of a fairy. If you see nothing, consult the child inside you, for he or she surely will. If a fairy seems present, welcome it and ask it politely if it could teach you what you most need to know at this time. A flower fairy might reveal an herb's usefulness to heal you. A stone fairy might show you how to meditate with a particular stone. A divination fairy might give you a peak into the future. Spend a few moments with the fairy and learn from its wisdom. ( Lady Bridget sings "Here in the Woods.") When this experience is complete for you, you may open your eyes. Remember that you can always return to the woods. Many lessons can be learned from the fairies, if you will only listen and believe. HP Children of the God and Goddess, we have created sacred space. We have invited the Lord and Lady. We called on the fairies to create here a truly a magickal realm. Now it is our duty on this Beltane eve to ensure the fertility of the coming season. As a representation of what we hope to achieve, we will unite a couple in the sacred Rite of Handfasting. This is the magickal joining of a man and a woman for a year and a day, or "as long as love shall last." Will the Handfasting couple step forward. It is said that you both wish handfasting before the Gods. Is this so? (It is.) Are there any impediments, legal or otherwise why you should not be joined for at least a year and a day? (There are none.) HPS (places wreaths on the heads of the couple and anoints each one) You are consecrated in the names of the Lord and the Lady. HP The Lord and Lady have taught us that Handfasting is to form an equal partnership, tied together by the tenuous bonds of emotion and love. It is the most fragile of relationships and yet the strongest. It is fragile because it requires exactly the right mix of freedom and interdependence, of caring and of sharing, of being together and of being alone. It is strong because it involves the unseen forces of something we call love, mutual devotion, concern for the happiness of the other, joy in each other's company. There is no stronger force than this silent bond of love. Remember that this joining is only a symbol of what already exists in the silent places of your hearts. It is yours to define, yours to make real and yours to live. Starwind Evensong, have you considered these matters and are you very clear regarding the expectations of the Lord and the Lady? (I am.) Then repeat after me: Lord and Lady, in this place of power, I ask of you this: As I breathe your energy into my body, grant that I might see the divine in all. Grant me the hand of he whom I seek. Allow me to become his soul mate and to care for and comfort him. Allow me to accept with gratitude the love that he offers me. HPS Mikal Evensong, have you considered the matters of which we have spoken, and are you clear regarding the expectations of the Lord and the Lady? (I am.) Then repeat after me: Lord and Lady, in this place of power, I ask of you this: As I breathe your energy into my body, grant that I might see the divine in all. Grant me the hand of she whom I seek. Allow me to become her soul mate and to care for and comfort her. Allow me to accept with gratitude the love that she offers me. HP Are there symbols of this union that you wish to exchange? (Rings are place in a chalice) HP and HPS hold chalice between them. May these symbols be blessed and consecrated. May they ever be a reminder of the love shared here today. So mote it be. (Return rings.) HP Starwind Evensong, repeat after me: I, Starwind, take thee Mikal to my heart and my spirit. It is my greatest hope that our journey together will not end in this lifetime, but that we shall be born again at the same time and in the same place and that we shall meet and know and remember and love again. SWE (places ring on his finger) Thou art God, Mikal Evensong, and I love thee. HPS Mikal Evensong, repeat after me: I, Mikal, take thee Starwind to my heart and my spirit. It is my greatest hope that our journey together will not end in this lifetime, but that we shall be born again at the same time and in the same place and that we shall meet and know and remember and love again. ME (places ring on her finger) Thou art Goddess, Starwind Evensong, and I love thee. (The hands of the couple are joined with a red cord) HP These bonds symbolize the eternal coming together. This is the binding of the feminine powers of creation with the masculine powers of bringing to fruition. HPS As the sun warms the earth to bring forth life, so shall you two create something new by the blending of your energies. And by so doing, you represent us all in the great scheme. Beltane is the Sabbat of fertility. As you make your love grow, the magick will spread far and wide and all the land will be blessed. HP/HPS In the names of the Lord and the Lady, as is the tradition, we proclaim that your hands are fasted. So mote it be. You may kiss. (Fairy throws "fairy dust") (Remove bonds) RavenHawk's Poem (The couple's son recited a poem.) HP It is traditional for the handfasted couple to jump the besom. This represents the transition into a new life. (Fairy and RavenHawk hold the besom as the couple steps across.) HPS Go now together. Greet your brothers and sisters and receive their blessings. (Couple goes around the Circle. There may be some souvenir that they would like to pass out as well. During this time Lady Bridget is singing "The Pagan Wedding Song") (Cakes and Ale are passed.) (Chalices are lifted) HP Now is the time to give thanks to the Gods for the fertile blessings of Beltane. HPS May we ever be aware of all that we owe and be grateful. HP Eat and drink. Share and be happy. HPS And as we share, let us remember that all we have, we share with those who have nothing. So mote it be. ( Lady Bridget will sing a couple more songs.) (Note: try to find someone to sing, as we did, or taped music may be used.) HP As the ritual began, so it will end. But our celebration will not end here. We will enact together the Great Rite. The God and Goddess will unite as we dance the Maypole. At the end of the ritual, our Handfasted couple will lead us there. Now let us dismiss the Quarters: East Spirits of air, sweet fairies of May Thank you for this Beltane Day. Fly away quickly into the wind So the magic can begin. South Spirits of flame, fairies of fire Grant me soon my deepest desire Home with you now to your place in my heart And merry meet, and merry part. West Spirits of water, fairies of dew Help us make our dreams come true. Away you must go to your home in the sea Thanks for your message. The magick is me. North Spirits of earth, fairies of sand Thank you for lending a helping hand As you go off to your home in the mound We'll always remember that you are around HPS Lord and Lady, spirits of power Thank you for joining us this hour As you return to your place in the light Bless us and keep us this Beltane night. HP: The Circle is open but unbroken. Merry Meet. Merry Part. Merry Meet Again. Blessed Be. All Sing: To the Maypole we will go etc, my fair lady. (Tune is London Bridges) (Participants proceed to Maypole. "Circles" or "Lord of the Dance" is played on tape unless there is live drumming.) ************************************************************************* Altar: altar cloth, lots of flowers, God/Goddess candles, dish of salt water, smudge stick/feather, chalices, book stands, BOS, two head wreaths, red cord, besom, wand, tape recorder, cakes and ale, (powdered donut holes and ginger ale work well) bell etc. A horse is great for effect if possible.
© 2008 Eustacia Blackstar. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.