Several drummers and other musicians if possible. A priest and priestess who will represent the God & Goddess (and should be garbed appropriately), referred to herein as P & PS, plus a priest or priestess who will read the meditation and "stage-manage" the ritual (referred to herein as "N" for Narrator)
Very few. There should be a fire in the center of the circle, and a chalice of wine and a bowl of Nine Holy Herbs spray or other concentrated alcohol (we ended up using Jamaican overproof rum, which worked very well - flared up about six feet high!).
Bring in the people and have them sit. Have the musicians sit together in an inner semi-circle, behind the Narrator. One drummer should be playing a slow, hypnotic heartbeat during the first party of the ritual. The priest and priestess who will represent the God and Goddess should be hiding near the circle, and approach when the part about them drawing near begins.
N: "Beltane means many things. It is a celebration of spring coming into full flower, of the return of the Goddess from the underworld, the mating time of the animals, the return of the sun, and many other things. Above all, it is a celebration of life. But for us, here in this community, it is also the time when we leave the confines of our building and return to the temple of the forest.
"Wicca is a nature religion, but too often we worship in concrete cages, cut off from that nature, and from our own natures. And as we have now returned to nature in our choice of ritual site, I ask you tonight to return to nature in your hearts and minds as well, for the ways of the world within walls are not necessarily the same as the ways of the world outside.
"We meet in a small fragment of forest, within a city park. But now, I ask you to forget the city that surrounds us. In your mind's eye, let the city fade away and the forest extend on and on, covering the land that only moments ago was buried under concrete. For once this land was wild, and covered with trees, not buildings. Once the rivers and streams ran free, and the air was fresh and fragrant with the scent of cedar and sweet fern, not fouled by car exhaust and factory smoke. And it may be that one day, it will be so again, we have no way of knowing.
"But for now, picture the forest extending on and on, as far as you can imagine, in all directions. The great wild forest surrounds and embraces us, and we are the people of the forest.
"Here in the great wild forest, we have no need of a sword to cast the circle, for we have each other, our hands, our minds, our bodies. Join hands, and breathe in deeply, and breathe out, as one. Feel the circle being formed now by our touch, the energy leaping from hand to hand, deosil, around the circle. Feel it forming, a place set apart from the trials of daily life, a sacred, wild place...
"Here in the great wild forest, we have no need of a besom to cleanse our circle, for we meet in the wilderness, which is already clean and pure, and by its touch are we made clean and pure ourselves. Feel all fears, doubts and negativity ebbing away from you, as the forest absorbs them and transforms them to good...
"Here in the great wild forest, we have no need of incense to purify our circle, for we have the arching sky above our grove, and the rushing wind that ruffles our hair and caresses our skin. Breathe deeply, and take the wind and the sky into yourself. The spirits of the air are here always, it is we who have come to their place. Greet them, now, silently, in your own way...
"Here in the great wild forest, we have no need of a candle to purify our circle, for we have the balefire in the center of our circle, and the stars above. See the leaping flames now, hear their crackle, and see them reflected in the tiny fires in the sky above us. Feel their warmth, and take them into yourself. The spirits of the fire are here always, it is we who have come to their place. Greet them, now, silently, in your own way...
"Here in the great wild forest, we have no need of a water bowl to purify our circle, for we have the rushing stream in the valley beside us, and the dew that moistens the grass. Hear the water's call, now, feel the rising dampness in the air, and take it into yourself. The spirits of the water are here always, it is we who have come to their place. Greet them, now, silently, in your own way...
"Here in the great wild forest, we have no need of salt to purify our circle, for we have the earth itself, beneath us, and the firmness of our own flesh and bones. Feel the solidity, the vastness, of the earth, and take it into yourself. The spirits of the earth are here always, it is we who have come to their place. Greet them, now, silently, in your own way...
"Open yourself, now, to the pulse of life all around you. It is there, if you can free your spirit enough to sense it. Feel the life straining to be born in every sprouting seed, the exhilaration of the blossoms bursting from their buds on the trees, the joy of the very grass itself, of every bush and shrub and piece of moss, greening again as the earth is warmed by the sun, as the life-giving rains fall from the sky, and all of nature is borne into the ecstatic dance of life's return. And feel, in the midst of it all, the presence of the Lord and Lady, who are the soul of all nature, the consciousness of the wild, the beauty of the green earth, the sun and moon and stars, and the mystery of the waters. Feel them approaching! Even now, they near our circle, drawn by our love and our joy in their creation. Feel their power, their nearness...they approach...they come...THEY ARE HERE!"
Narrator throws the Nine Holy Herbs into the fire. As it flares up, the drummers begin to drum, and the priest and priestess representing the God and Goddess run into the circle and begin to dance wildly around the fire. After a couple of rounds, they each pull someone in from the circle to dance with them a few rounds, then each of the four pull other people in, and so on, until the whole circle is up and dancing (in high school they called this a snowball dance, remember?).
As the dance reaches its peak, the priest and priestess take the chalice, and hold it up above the heads of the dancers to charge it (this is made easier if your circle site is surrounded by park benches like ours is). If the energy is really happening, a formal wine blessing shouldn't be necessary, but one may be performed anyway if desired. When the wine has been charged, the narrator calls "Down!" and people fall to the ground.
N "Feel the energy swirling up and up above us, forming a fiery cone. See it explode in a shower of fireworks, the energy spiraling down to the earth like shooting stars, adding power to the transformation that is already underway, blending with the energy of every leaf and bud and blossom to aid in the greening of the earth. (Pause) Now rise, and join hands once again."
Priest and priestess take chalice around circle, and kiss each person before giving it to them, while people sing:
"Powers of the Earth
Powers taking form
Rising to rebirth,
Rising to be born."
When chalice returns, pour libation into the fire.
N "We need not bid farewell to our Gods, nor to the spirits that surround us, the wind, the fire, the stream, or the earth, for they are always here. It is we who shall take our leave of them, later on, and when we do, each of us shall say our own farewell, in our own words. But for now - LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!!!"
People feast, dance, make merry, etc.
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