THE INNER SANCTUM

BELTANE: COVEN RITUAL


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Beltane Coven Ritual



Set up a candle in each of the four cardinal directions. Lay the rest of the tools on the altar cloth or near it. The altar can be on the ground, a table, a rock or a stump. The altar should be in the center or just north of center of the Circle. Light the six candles and the incense, start the music and begin the ritual.

The Beltane ritual should start before sunrise or in the evening of April 30th. This is to welcome the sun in and to make effective use of the bonfire. The party or the ritual should finish some time after sunrise.

THE RITUAL
Facing North, the High Priest and Priestess kneel in front of the altar with him to her right. She puts the bowl of water on the altar, places the point of her athame in it and says:

"I exorcise thee, O Creature of Water, that thou cast out from thee all impurities and uncleanliness of the world of phantasm; in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia"

She then puts down her athame and holds up the bowl of water in both hands. The High Priest puts the bowl of salt on the altar, puts his athame in the salt and says:

"Blessings be upon this Creature of Salt; let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hencefrom, and let all good enter herein; wherefore so I bless thee,that thou mayest aid me, in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia."

He then puts down his athame and pours the salt into the bowl of water the High Priestess is holding. The High Priest then stands with the rest of the Coven outside the Circle. The High Priestess then draws the Circle with the sword, leaving a gap in the Northeast section. While drawing the Circle, she should visualize the power flowing into the Circle from off the end of the sword. She draws the Circle in a East to North or deosil or clockwise direction. She says:

"I conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou beest a meeting place of love and joy and truth; a shield against all wickedness and evil; a boundary between men and the realms of the Mighty Ones; a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain the power that we shall raise within thee. Wherefore do I bless thee and consecrate thee, in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia."

The High Priestess lays down the sword and admits the High Priest with a kiss while spinning him deosil and whispers:

"Blessed Be"

He then admits a woman the same way. Alternate-male-female-male. Then the High Priestess finishes closing the Circle with the sword. She then names three witches to help strengthen the Circle. The first witch carries the bowl of consecrated water from East to East going deosil, sprinkling the perimeter as she/he goes. They then sprinkle each member in turn. If the witch is male, he sprinkles the High Priestess last who then sprinkles him. If female she sprinkles the High Priest last, who then sprinkles her. The bowl is replaced on the altar. The second witch takes the incense burner around the perimeter and the third takes one of the altar candles. While going around the perimeter, each person says:

"Black spirits and white,
Red spirits and grey,
Harken to the rune I say.
Four points of the Circle, weave the spell,
East, South, West, North, your tale tell.
East is for break of day,
South is white for the noontide hour,
In the West is twilight grey,
And North is black, for the place of power.
Three times round the Circle's cast.
Great ones, spirits from the past,
Witness it and guard it fast."

All the Coven pickup their athames and face the East with the High Priest and Priestess in front, him on her right. The High Priestess says:

"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Lords of Air; I do summon, stir, and call you up to witness our rites and to guard the Circle."

As she speaks she draws the Invoking Pentagram of Earth in the air with her athame:

 1,  6

4      3

 2 7 5

The High Priest and the rest of the Coven copy her movements with their athames. The High Priestess turns and faces the South and repeats the summoning:

"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Lords of Fire; I do summon, stir and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard the Circle."

She does the same pentagram and then faces West and says:

"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Lords of Water, ye Lords of Death and Initiation; I do summon, stir, and call you u p , to witness our rites and to guard the Circle."

She faces North with rest of the Coven and says:

"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Lords of Earth; Boreas, thou gentle guardian of the Northern Portals; thou powerful God and gentle Goddess; we do summon, stir and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard the Circle."

The Circle is completed and sealed. If anyone needs to leave, a gate must be made. Using the sword, draw out part of the Circle with a widdershins or counter-clockwise stroke. Immediately reseal it and then repeat the opening and closing when the person returns. In this part of the ritual the Goddess becomes incarnate in the High Priestess. The High Priestess stands in front of the altar with her back to it. She holds the wand in her right hand and the scrounge in her left. She crosses her wrists and crosses the wand and scrounge above them while holding them close to her breast. The High Priest stands in front of her and says:

"Diana, queen of night
In all your beauty bright,
Shine on us here,
And with your silver beam
Unlock the gates of dream;
Rise bright and clear.
On Earth and sky and sea,
Your magic mystery
Its spell shall cast,
Wherever leaf may grow,
Wherever tide may flow,
Till all be past.
O secret queen of power,
At this enchanted hour
We ask your boon.
May fortune's favor fall
Upon true witches all,
O Lady Moon!

The High Priest kneels before the High Priestess and gives her the Five Fold Kiss; that is, he kisses her on both feet, both knees, womb, both breasts, and the lips, starting with the right of each pair. He says, as he does this:

Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.
Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.
Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names."

For the kiss on the lips, they embrace, length to length, with their feet touching each others. When he reaches the womb, she spreads her arms wide, and the same after the kiss on the lips. The High Priest kneels again and invokes:

"I invoke thee and call upon thee, MightyMother of us all, bringer of all fruitfulness; by seed and root, by bud and stem, by leaf and flower and fruit, by life and love do I invoke thee to descend upon the body of this thy servant and priestess."

During this invocation he touches her with his right forefinger on her right breast, left breast, and womb, repeats the set and finally the right breast. Still kneeling, he spreads his arms out and down, with the palms forward and says:

"Hail Aradia! From the Amalthean Horn
Pour forth thy store of love;
I lowly bend Before thee, I adore thee to the end,
With loving sacrifice thy shrine adore.
Thy foot is to my lip (he kisses her right foot)
my prayer up borne Upon the rising incense smoke;
then spend Thine ancient love, O Mighty One, descend
To aid me, who without thee
am forlorn."

The High Priest stands up and steps backwards. The High Priestess draws the Invoking Pentagram of Earth in the air with the wand and says:

"Of the Mother darksome and divine
Mine the scrounge, and mine the kiss;
The five point star of love and bliss
Here I charge you in this sign."

The High Priest says:

"Listen to the words of the Great Mother; she who of old was also called among man Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianhod, Isis and by many other names."

The High Priestess, who should be in a trance, says as the Goddess: "Whenever you have need of anything, once in a month, and better it be when the Moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality. I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon Earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold I am the Mother of all living things, and my love is poured out upon the earth. I who am the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of Gods and men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And thou who seekest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; and if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee,thou will never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire."

This declamation can be said by the High Priestess, the High Priest or the Coven as a whole.

"Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny's pathway,
That now we bring forth into the light.
Mysterious Water and Fire,
The Earth and the wide ranging Air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And will keep silent and dare.
The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.
Four times in the year the Great Sabbat Returns,
and the witches are seen
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
On May Eve and old Hallowe'en.
When day time and night time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
The four lesser Sabbats are summoned,
Again witches gather in feast.
Thirteen silver moons in a year are,
Thirteen is the Coven's array.
Thirteen times at Esbat make merry,
For each golden year and a day.
The power was passed down the ages,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and ages began.
When drawn is the magical circle,
By sword or athame of power,
It's compass between the two worlds lies,
In the land of shades that hour.
This world has no right to know it,
And the world beyond will tell naught.
The oldest of gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of Magic is wrought.
For two are the mystical pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and the forces of the divine.
The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
This did our ancestors teach.
By night he's the wild wind's rider,
The Horn'd One, the Lord of the Shades.
By day he's the King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.
She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She sails the torn clouds in her barque,
The bright silver lady of midnight,
The crone who weaves spells in the dark.
The master and mistress of magic,
They dwell in the deeps of the main,
Immortal and ever renewing,
With power to free or to bind.
So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphames's fair land shall receive us
In peace at the end of our days.
And Do What Thou Wilt
shall be the challenge,
So be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
By magic of old, be it done!
Eight words the Witches Creed fulfill:
If It Harms None, Do What Thou Will!

The High Priest faces the Coven, raises his arms wide and says:

gabi lacha bachabe Lamac cahi achababe
Karellyos
Lamac lamac
bachalyas
Cabahag sabalyos
Baryolos
Lagaz atha cabyolas
Samahac atha
famolas
Hurrahya!"

High Priestess and the Coven repeat:
"Hurrahya!"

The High Priest and High Priestess face the altar. The High Priest continues:
"Great God Cernunnos, return to Earth again!
Come to my call and show thy self to men.
Shepherd of Goats, upon the wild hill's way,
Lead thy lost flocks from darkness unto day.
Forgotten are the ways of sleep and night
Men seek for them, whose eyes have lost the light.
Open the door of dreams, whereby man come to thee.
Shepherd of Goats, O answer unto me!"

The High Priest and the rest of the Coven then say:
"Akhera goittiakhera beitti!"

And lower their hands on the second phrase.

This is a ring dance as usual. This can be replaced or others added as desired. Everyone should take part. Use what music you feel comfortable with:

Walpurgis Night, the time is right,
The ancient powers awake.
So dance and sing, around the ring,
And Beltane magic make.
Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
Forever and a day.
New life we see, in flower and in tree,
And summer comes again.
Be free and fair, like earth and air,
The sunshine and the rain.
Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
Forever and a day.
As magic fire be our desire
To tread the pagan way,
And our true will find and fulfill,
As dawns a brighter day.
Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
Forever and a day.
The pagan powers this night be ours,
Let all the world be free,
And sorrow cast into the past,
And future blessed be!
Walpurgis Night, Walpurgis Night,
Upon the eve of May,
We'll merry meet, and summer greet,
Forever and a day.

The Coven spread themselves out around the Circle. They start a soft rhythmic clapping. The High Priestess says:

"Now it is time for the Oak King to impregnate Our Lady. No longer will she be the Virgin Huntress and Maiden. She is now to be Hecate, the Queen of Elphame. But first she must catch him."

This song is from Robert Graves "White Goddess". It is an old Scottish Craft song. In it, the High Priest turns into a variety of animals and the High Priestess chases him. Starting with the High Priest and Priestess, then followed by the other couples in the Coven, the men are chased by the women. The ladies use a scarf to signify the capture at the end of the song. The dancers should try to imitate the animals they are playing. The dance and the tune should be slow. After all the couples have done so, the High Priestess and Priest repeat it.

High Priest:
"O, I shall go into a hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
And I shall go in the Devil's name
Aye, till I be fetched hame."

High Priestess:
"Hare, take heed of a bitch greyhound
Will harry thee all these fells around,
For here come I in Our Lady's name
All but to fetch thee hame."

Coven:
"Cunning and art he did not lack
But aye her whistle would fetch him back."

High Priest:
"Yet I shall go into a trout
With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt,
And show thee many a merry game
Ere that I be fetched hame."

High Priestess:
"Trout take heed of an otter lank
Will harry thee close from bank to bank,
For here come I in Our Lady's name
All but for to fetch thee hame."

Coven:
"Cunning and art he did not lack
But aye her whistle would fetch him back."

High Priest:
"Yet I shall go into a bee
With mickle horror and dread of thee,
And flit to hive in the Devil's name
Ere that I be fetched hame."

High Priestess:
"Bee, take heed of a swallow hen
Will harry thee close, both butt and ben,
For here come I in Our Lady's name
All but to fetch thee hame."

Coven:
"Cunning and art he did not lack
But aye her whistle would fetch him back."

High Priest:
"Yet I shall go into a mouse
And haste me unto the miller's house,
There in his corn to have good game
Ere that I be fetched hame."

High Priestess:
"Mouse take heed of a white tib-cat
That never was balked of a mouse or a rat,
For I'll crack thy bones in Our Lady's name:
Thus shall thee be fetched hame."

Coven:
"Cunning and art he did not lack
But aye her whistle would fetch him back."

The High Priestess finally catches the High Priest at the last refrain. She drapes a scarf over his neck to signify her catching him.

The Maiden and the Coven say:
"TheQueen of Elphame has caught herSon who is also her Consort. They must mate so that the Earth may bear it's fruits and that man and animal may live. "

The High Priest and High Priestess, and the rest of the couples in the Coven, kiss with vigour. The men should wilt and fade back to the edge of the Circle. The women gather around the unlit bonfire or the cauldron with the candle in it.

The High Priestess says:
"The Oak King is dead. He has died of his love for the Lady that the Earth may live. So has it been for year after year, since time began. But the Oak King, the God of the Waxing year, must live so the crops in the Earth can come forth. "

The Coven shouts:
"Kindle the Beltane fire.May the Oak King live again. May the Earth bring forth her fruits, may the animals bear their young and the land be fruitful again."

The High Priestess lights the bonfire using a taper lit from the altar candle. She then says:

"Come back to us, Oak King, that the land may be fruitful."

The men gather around the fire, next to their partners, and the say in unison:
"I am the stag of seven tines;
I am a wide flood on the plain;
I am a wind on the deep waters;
I am a shining tear of the sun;
I am a hawk on a cliff;
I am fair among flowers;
I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke."

The High Priestess and High Priest lead a ring dance around the bonfire. Start out with "A Tree Song" from Rudyard Kipling's "Weland's Sword" story in "Puck of Pook's Hill". The dance should be joyful.

"Oh, do not tell the Priest of our Art,
Or he would call it sin;
But we shall be out in the woods all night,
Aconjuring summer in!
And we bring you 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!"

Continue the dance with this song and/or any others that sound appropriate.

This chant goes to the tune of the old folksong, "The Lincolnshire Poacher":
Come join the dance, that doth entrance,
And tread the circle round.
Be of good cheer, that gather here,
Upon this merry ground.
Good luck to we that faithful be,
And hold our craft so dear,
For 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
In the season of the year.
Oh, 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
In the season of the year.
While stars do shine, we pledge the wine
Unto the Gods of old,
Nor shall there fail the witch wassail,
Nor shall their fire grow cold.
Good luck to we that faithful be,
And hold our craft so dear,
For 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
In the season of the year.
Oh, 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
In the season of the year.
Throughout, about and round about,
By flame that burneth bright,
We'll dance and sing, around the ring,
At witching hour of night.
Good luck to we that faithful be,
And hold our craft so dear,
For 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
In the season of the year.
Oh, 'tis our delight of a shiny night,
In the season of the year.

Near the end of the dance, the High Priestess should call out the name of either a person or a couple. They should then jump over the fire while making a wish. They should then rejoin the ring and another couple or person do it. When ready, stop the dance and sit down about the fire. After a break, perform the Great Rite.

The Coven, except for the High Priestess and High Priest,arrange themselves around the perimeter of the circle, man and woman alternately as far as possible, facing the center. The High Priestess and High Priest stand facing each other in the center of the circle, she with her back to the altar, he with his back to the South. The High Priest kneels before the High Priestess and gives her the Five Fold Kiss; that is, he kisses her on both feet, both knees, womb, both breasts, and the lips, starting with the right of each pair. he says, as he does this:

"Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.
Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.
Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.

For the kiss on the lips, they embrace, length to length, with their feet touching each others. When he reaches the womb, she spreads her arms wide, and the same after the kiss on the lips. The High Priestess then lays herself down, face upwards, with her arms and legs outstretched to form the Pentagram.

The High Priest fetches the veil and spreads it over the High Priestess's body, covering her from breasts to knees. He then kneels facing her, with his knees between her feet.

The High Priest calls a woman witch by name, to bring his athame from the altar. The woman does so and stands with the athame in her hands, about a yard to the West of the High Priestess's hips and facing her.

The High Priest calls a male witch by name, to bring the chalice of wine from the altar. He does so and stands with the chalice in his hands, about a yard to the East of the High Priestess's hips and facing her. The High Priest delivers the invocation:

"Assist me to erect the ancient altar, at which in days past all worshipped; The altar of all things.

For in old time, Woman was the altar. Thus was the altar made and placed, And the sacred place was the point within the center of the Circle. As we have of old been taught that the point within the center is the origin of all things,
Therefore should we adore it;
Therefore whom we adore we also invoke.
O Circle of Stars, Whereof our father is but the younger
brother, Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space,
Before whom time isashamed, the mind bewildered, and the
understanding dark,
Not unto thee may we attain unless thine image be love.
Therefore by seed and stem, root and bud, And leaf and flower and
fruit do we invoke thee, O Queen of Space, O Jewel of Light,
Continuous on of the heavens; Let it be ever thus
That men speak not of thee as One, but as None; And let them not
speak of thee at all, since thou art continuous.
For thou art the point within the Circle, which we adore; The point
of life, without which we would not be.
And in this way truly are erected the holy twin pillars; In beauty
and strength were they erected To the wonder and glory of all men."

The High Priest removes the veil from the High Priestess's body, and hands it to the woman witch, from whom he takes his athame. The High Priestess rises and kneels facing the High Priest, and takes the chalice from the man witch. (Note that both of these handings over are done without the customary ritual kiss. The High Priest continues the invocation:

"Altar of mysteries manifold,
The sacred Circle's secret point
Thus do I sign thee as of old,
With kisses of my lips anoint."

The High Priest kisses the High Priestess on the lips, and continues:

"Open for me the secret way,
The pathway of intelligence,
Beyond the gates of night and day,
Beyond the bounds of time and sense.
Behold the mystery aright The five true points of fellowship...."

The High Priestess holds up the chalice, and the High Priest lowers the point of his athame into the wine. Both use both of their hands for this. The High Priest continues:

"All life is your own,
All fruits of the Earth
Are fruits of your womb,
Your union, your dance.
Lady and Lord, We thank you for
blessings and abundance.
Join with us, Feast with us, Enjoy with us!
Blessed Be.

Then, draw the Invoking Pentacle of Earth in the air above the plate with the athame.
"Here where Lance and Grail unite,
And feet, and knees, and breast, and lip."

The High Priest hands his athame to the woman witch and then places both his hands round those of the High Priestess as she holds the chalice. He kisses her, and she sips the wine; she kisses him, and he sips the wine. Both of them keep their hands round the chalice while they do this.

The High Priest then takes the chalice from the High Priestess, and they both rise to their feet.

The High Priest hands the chalice to a woman witch with a kiss, and she sips. She gives it to a man with a kiss. The chalice is passed around the Coven, man to woman, with a kiss each time, until the entire Coven has sipped the wine. The chalice can be refilled and any one can drink from it without repeating the ritual once the chalice has gone around once.

The woman lays down her athame and passes the cakes to the man with a kiss,he passes them back with a kiss and they are passed around the Coven the same way the wine was. Be sure to save some of the wine and some cake for an offering to the Earth and the Little Folk. After the meeting,leave the offering outside of the house if working indoors, or behind in the woods or field, when you leave if you are working outdoors.

The High Priestess faces East,with her athame in her hand. The High Priest stands to her right with the rest of the Coven behind them. If any tools have been consecrated, they should be held by the person furthest to the back. The Maiden stands near to the front to blow out each candle in turn. The Priestess says

"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Lords of Air; we do thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart t o y o u r pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and farewell....Hail and farewell."

As she speaks, she draws the Banishing Pentagram of Earth in the air in front of her thus, each time:

 2,  7

4      5

 6 1 3

The rest of the Coven copy the Pentagram and chorus in on the second hail and farewell. The Maiden blows out the candle and the Coven faces the south and the High Priestess says:

"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Lords of Fire; we do thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart to your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and farewell....Hail and farewell."

She turns to the West and says:

"Ye Lords of theWatchtowers of the West,ye Lords ofWater;
ye Lords of Death and Initiation; we do thank you for attending our
rites; and ere ye depart to your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid
you hail and farewell ....Hail and farewell."

She turns to the North and says:
"Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Lords of Earth;
Boreas, thou gentle guardian of the Northern Portals; thou powerful
God, Thou gentle Goddess; we do thank you for attending our rites; and
ere ye depart for your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and
farewell ....Hail and farewell."

This ends the Circle. The party following this should be a loving one. If there is a May Pole available, circle the May Pole. Beltane is also a time for forfeits. The High Priestess picks out the people and their forfeit, except the High Priest picks out the last one to play on the High Priestess. Beltane is also a time for "green wood marriages" and other unbridled sexuality and such.