Beltane 2013. Presented for a group of about 10 people and then again for a group of about 25 people. The second presentation was a last minute skyclad ritual, so the ritual was slightly modified due to a lack of tools and materials. Certain improvements were also made to the ritual, which have been incorporated into the text below. Among other things, we added a drummer to lead the power raising, which significantly slowed and improved the build of the energy, and the word “sweat” below was “tears” in the original. Used research and ideas from this blog post.
Tools and Materials:
Low altar (or an altar cloth right on the floor) with a centre pillar candle, a candle in the south quarter, a smudge stick and a holder in the east quarter, a dish of water in the west quarter, and a dish of salt in the north quarter. Also needed: an athame, a battery operated candle for reading by, pillows or chairs, a drum, a food plate with slices of red bell peppers and/or fresh strawberries, a pitcher of water and a goblet for each participant, an offering dish, and a small dish of water for the blessing. Optional: A heartbeat recording and a way to play it.
Both candles are lit and the heartbeat recording is turned on (if using).
Everyone will gather along one side of the room. One person will light the smudge stick from the south candle and cleanse the living room with the smoke:
By sacred flame
By blessed smoke
I cleanse this space
Still carrying the smudge stick, they will stand where people will enter the sacred space.
Another person will add salt to the water and cleanse the living room with salt water:
By sacred salt
By blessed water
I cleanse this space
That person will stand behind the person with the smudge.
Everyone will get smudged first, then blessed with the salt water, then form a circle around the altar.
Everyone gathers in a circle and holds hands. The leader leads the meditation:
Breathe in energy. Breathe out into the earth. Breathe in and feel the air around you. Breathe out and feel the ground beneath you. Breathe in and come home to your body. Breathe out and come home to our circle. Let us enter sacred space. Blessed be.
The Circle is cast using the athame:
The Circle is cast. Blessed be.
East quarter call:
Take a deep breath. Draw oxygen deep into your body. Welcome East: brother winds, our life-giving breath. Blessed be.
South quarter call:
Stretch your hands to the sky. Use your energy and your breath to move. Welcome South: father sun, our daily dances. Blessed be.
West quarter call:
Quiet your mind. Hear your pulse speeding with your movement. Welcome West: sister water, our blood and sweat. Blessed be.
North quarter call:
Plant your feet firmly. Feel the rhythm of the Circle. Welcome North: mother earth, our earthly flesh. Blessed be.
Lady of the young and loving heart, we call to You from our bodies. By bone and voice and movement and blood, we call to You. Bright Goddess of the Spring, be welcomed in our Circle. We feel Your call in our hearts and in our feet; Your call to dance in the flowers. Blessed be.
Lord of the wild and passionate heart, we call to You from our bodies. By flesh and breath and love and sweat, we call to You. Horned God of the forest glade, be welcomed in our Circle. We hear Your hoofbeats in our heart beat and feel Your call to run in the sunshine. Blessed be.
Everyone takes a seat on a pillow on the floor (or on a chair if required). Leader starts the mediation:
Close your eyes. Find your pulse in your neck or at your wrist. Feel it. Listen to it.
Pause for about thirty seconds.
Your heart is your life. It is your rhythm. It delivers oxygen to all parts of your body. It makes movement possible. It drives warm blood to your cold limbs. It is the organ of love and passion; it is Beltane and possibilities.
Your heart is also your timer, counting down. Barring accident or illness, your heart will be able to beat about three billion times in your life. Every beat is one less beat remaining. It is the organ that determines your life span; it is Samhain and endings.
A mouse’s heart beats about 700 times per minute and an elephant’s heart beats about 30 times per minute. Both get about one billion heart beats, counting down to the end. The mouse will live about three years. The elephant will live about sixty.
Reach out to your neighbours, right hand up and left hand down, palm to palm. Rest your fingertips against their pulse. Feel it. Listen to it.
Pause for about thirty seconds.
The pulse beneath your fingers has beat approximately one billion times so far. It will beat about two billion more times. Each beat is simultaneously creating life and counting it down.
Imagine all our hearts beating together. One circle; one breath. One circle; one heart. One circle; one body. Listen to the breath of the person to your left. Breathe with them. Breathe in… breathe out… Breathe in and come home to your body. Breathe out and come home to our circle. Blessed be.
Everyone drops their hands.
Even when not touching, we are connected. Our heart beats can synchronize with the rhythm of music. Our heart beats can even harmonize with those of loved ones just by seeing or hearing each other. Let us raise energy together through that connection and for that connection.
The drummer starts beating a slow heart beat rhythm. Everyone else joins in by drumming on the floor next to them (or on the side of the chair, or on their thighs). Gradually, movement is introduced as people alternate between drumming on the floor beside them and out in front of them (or drumming on their legs or clapping their hands together if in a chair), then the rhythm is gradually sped up to a peak.
Food and Drink:
Someone hold the plate while someone else blesses the food:
Through food, we take in earth and fire, water and air. By the elements, this food is blessed. By sharing food, we join with each other and with the earth. Fruit of the earth, nourish us. Blessed be.
The food plate is passed clockwise around the circle:
Be nourished. / Blessed be.
Someone holds the pitcher while someone else lowers the athame into it:
As the athame is to the lover, so the chalice is to the loved; and joined they are one in truth.
The pitcher is passed clockwise around the circle and each person fills the next person’s goblet:
Taste life. / Blessed be.
We will go clockwise around the circle with each person anointing the next person’s wrist pulse points with water:
May you be blessed with a strong and steady heart. / Blessed be.
Horned God of the forest glade, Lord of the wild and passionate heart, we thank You. From our sacred flesh and by our breath, from the heights of our love and with our sweat, we honour You. We hear You in our heart beat and remember Your lessons. Blessed be.
Bright Goddess of the Spring, Lady of the young and loving heart, we thank You. From the depths of our bones and with our voices, by our movements and in the rush of our blood, we honour You. We feel You in our flesh and remember Your lessons. Blessed be.
North quarter dismissal:
Thank you North. Thank you for the rhythm of our hearts and the strength of our flesh. Blessed be.
West quarter dismissal:
Thank you West. Thank you for the tides of our blood and the ocean’s salt in our sweat. Blessed be.
South quarter dismissal:
Thank you South. Thank you for the pulse of our energy and the heat of our dance. Blessed be.
East quarter dismissal:
Thank you East. Thank you for the flow of our breath and the wonder of oxygen. Blessed be.
The Circle is opened with the athame:
The Circle is open, but unbroken. Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again!
Beltane: The Heart by Melissa Hope is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.