Beltane Ritual

Needed:

  • Flowers
  • Dark green altar cloth
  • Dark green candles
  • Crown (either of flowers or decorated with silver crescent moons)
  • Cauldron
  • Fire materials
  • Maypole
  • Small drums or tambourines
  • Cakes and ale

Note: The outer edge of the Circle, and the altar, maybe decorated with flowers. The altar cloth and candles should be dark green. A crown lies beside the altar. In the north quarter stands a cauldron containing material for a fire (regular kindling or a candle or a Sterno® burner). In the east quarter is a Maypole — the Circle may be drawn extra large to accommodate it.

The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon Rite, if appropriate. The bell is rung three times by a Covener acting as Summoner.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait! We're off to the Sabbat, so don't be late!"

Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!"

All: "To the Sabbat!"

With Priest and Priestess leading, the Coven move deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing as each feels fit, with small drums or tambourines giving a beat. Circle as many times as you wish. Priest and Priestess start singing a hymn to the gods and all join in. Eventually all halt and singing ends.

Priest: "The Lord has reached the end of his journey."

Priestess: "The Lady sets her foot upon the path."

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif (e.g. triumphant return of the Goddess from the world between lives; creativity/reproduction; start of one of the breeding seasons for animals, both wild and domestic; dancing about the Maypole; driving of cattle between two fires to ensure a good milk yield). Bell is rung seven times.

Covener: "The gates swing back and forth and all may freely pass through. Our Lord has reached the ending of his journey, To find the Lady awaiting him, with warmth and comfort. This is a time for joy and a time for sharing. The richness of the soil accepts the seed; And now is the time that seeds should be spilled. Togetherness brings joy and abundance fills the earth. Let us celebrate the planting of abundance; The turning of the Wheel; The season of the Lady. Let us say farewell to the darkness And cry greetings to the Light. Lord and Lady become Lady and Lord As the Wheel turns and we move ever on."

Priest: "The Wheel turns."

All: "Without ceasing."

Priestess: "The Wheel turns."

All: "And turns again."

Priest: "Farewell to our Lord."

Priest and Priestess lead coven in a dance about the Circle leading to the Maypole. Each of the Coveners takes a ribbon and dances around the pole with it, intertwining one with another. This is continued till all ribbons are tied around the pole, symbolizing the union of male and female; the joining of all together. (Note: A suitable chant/song to sing while dancing is found in the Gardnerian book. It is Gerald Gardner's version of a Rudyard Kipling poem:
"Oh, do not tell the priests of our Art
For they would call it sin.
But we shall be in the woods all night
A-conjuring Summer in.
And we bring you good news, by word of mouth,
For women, cattle and corn;
Now is the sun come up from the south,
With oak and ash and thorn."
)

Priest and Priestess return to the altar. Priestess stands with head bowed and arms crossed on her breast. Priest takes up the crown and holds it over her head.

Priest: "Our Lord, with the lady at his side,
Has brought us through the Darkness to the Light.
It was a long journey that was not easy.
Yet did the gods show strength
And, through them, did we all grow and prosper.
Now may they both continue.
Now may the Lady, with her Lord at her side,
Move on down the path,
Spreading her Light and driving out Darkness."

Priestess moves to stand with legs astride and arms up and outstretched. Priest lowers the crown onto her head. As he does so the cauldron fire is lit by one of the coveners.

Covener: "Now is our Lady among us. Speak, Lady, for we are your children."

Priestess lowers her arms and spreads them wide to her coveners.

Priestess: "I am she who turns the Wheel, Bringing new life into the world And beckoning those who pass along the ways. In the coolness of the breeze you hear my sighs; My heart is in the rushing of the wind. When you thirst, let my tears fall upon you as gentle rain; When you tire, pause to rest upon the earth that is my breast. Warmth and comfort do I give thee And ask for nothing in return Save that you love all things even as yourself. Know that Love is the spark of Life. It is always there; always with you if you but see it. Yet you need not seek afar, for love is the inner spark; The light that burns without flicker; The amber glow within. Love is the beginning and the end of all things — and I am Love."

Priest kisses Priestess. One by one Coveners move around to kiss Priestess and to lay their offerings on the altar. When all have returned to their places, Priest and Priestess join hands and lead them in a dance (as singles or couples) around the Circle. As they come to the cauldron, they jump over it. After several times around they halt. The bell is rung three times.

Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Clearing the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar if desired).

The evening concludes with a feast.