A UU Beltane

I was asked to host a Beltane ritual at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend shortly after the normal service this past Sunday.  Leading up to the ritual, I was so thrilled simply to have the opportunity to provide ritual to the congregation in a very public setting.  Mostly I was excited to share my faith with others and to show them what Paganism is about.

This ritual was very similar to the one performed on Sunday that I wrote about here, with some small tweaks.  I added a final offering after the participant offerings to provide a climax to the ritual.  We also had everyone kneel down and touch the Earth Mother as we called Her to ritual.  We also asked the children attending to wave their faery wands they had made earlier to help us call them.

In my opinion, the ritual went very well–much better than the one on Friday.  The larger number of participants (about 7) probably helped things.  I also feel that the final offering provided a much needed “high point” to the ritual.  Almost everyone after the ritual said they enjoyed it and thanked me for it.

The picture of the Omen won’t post correctly, so I will simply write about it here.

The first rune I drew was Kenaz, torch.  I see this rune as a rune of transformation and purification.  The second rune I drew was Berkano, birch.  Berkano is symbolic of the Earth Mother and new beginnings.  The last rune drawn was Sowilo, sun and strength.  All in all, this is a very positive Omen that points to the warmth of the Sun, reverence of the Earth Mother, and a new beginning due to some transformation.

I am so glad I was able to give my church family a glimpse of my world.  I hope I have blessed them as much as I feel they have blessed me.

Blessings, Rosemary


Beltane Blessings!

Today I hosted a Beltane ritual with my husband for a new friend and our roommate.  Beltane is a celebration of fertility, but we chose to celebrate the Faeries since kids were originally planned to be present.  (They couldn’t make it.)  Here is a picture of our altar after the ritual; I forgot to take a picture before:


I am in love with this fabric; it is simply perfect for Beltane.  It is also silky and floaty, which the picture doesn’t convey–perfect for honoring the Faeries.

To begin, I said words to open the ritual and create sacred space, offering some thyme mixed with lavender to the fire.  Our guest said the prayer for honoring the Earth Mother and made an offering of bread.  I then called the Ancestors and tossed some mugwort into the flames.  Our guest called the Nature Spirits (offering thyme and lavender) and Deities–my husband poured some wine into the fire for their offering.  I honored the fairies with fruit & nut trail mix.

After personal praise offerings, I took an Omen for the ritual asking what blessings were offered to us.


The rune on the left is Ingwaz, a rune of fertility–perfect for Beltane.  In the middle is Hagalaz, hail; I see it as transformative from harm to healing.  Finally we have Sowilo, sun and strength.  All in all, this is a very positive Omen for Beltane!

I called for a blessing into a bowl of water and sprinkled everyone with it, including myself.  We then thanked everyone we had called in reverse order, returned to ordinary space, and ended the ritual.

I will elaborate more on the ritual script on Sunday, after I perform it for the congregation at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend.  I prefer to keep the script private until then to have more of an impact on attendees.

The ritual was simple but beautiful.  I enjoyed it, and I look forward to performing it for my church.

Blessings, Rosemary

Spring Equinox Blessings!

Today I celebrated the Equinox with my husband.  The people we had invited to the ritual were unable to come, so we celebrated on our own.

Here is our altar and fire for the ritual:


On the altar are seeds and seedlings to be blessed, as well as my Sun Goddess circlet, offerings of bread, thyme, and eggs, and my rune bag.

Once the ritual began, I called upon the Keepers of Time and Place to transport us to a time outside of time and a place outside of place.  I offered them some incense that I had blended especially for the ritual.  Next we called upon the Nature Spirits, the Earth Mother, and the Deities of Fertility to be present for the ritual.  Then we offered praise and physical offerings to each being.  We offered thyme to the Nature Spirits, bread to the Earth Mother, and hard boiled eggs for the Deities of Fertility.

Here’s the Omen pulled when we asked what blessings were offered:


The first rune on the left is Ehwaz, which is the partnership rune.  In the middle is Laguz, water and life.  The rune on the right is Fehu, the wealth and growth rune.  Laguz and Fehu are especially appropriate for this rite.  Overall I consider the omen to be very positive and reinforcing.

Next was the seed and sprout blessing, which used these words:

Nature Spirits, Earth Mother, Deities of Fertility…we ask you to bless these seeds and sprouts with your abundance and life.  May they all grow strong and tall.  May they nourish our hearts and souls with their gifts

We then said farewell to all the beings we invited to be present, including the Keepers of Time and Place.  We closed the ritual by saying:  We have come together to celebrate the Earth Mother’s awakening.  As we return to our daily lives, may we carry respect for Her and all of Nature forever in our hearts.  Blessed be!

It was a simple ritual, but it was beautiful in its simplicity.

Blessings of Abundance and Fertility to each of you!


A whimsical Spring Equinox ritual (reflection)

The ritual outline I used can be found here.

Before the ritual, my fiance and I goofed around a little bit to get in the mood for the ritual.  We started the ritual with some very simple words welcoming the Kindreds.  (We didn’t record the ritual, so I have no idea what exact words were said.)

For purification (step 2 of the outline), we burned some lavender blossoms and smudged each other.  When we honored the Earth Mother, we both said some words thanking her for sustaining us and providing us space to live our lives.

Step 4 consisted of just stating why we were performing the ritual:  to celebrate the Spring Equinox.  We also took care to mention that we were honoring Idunna and that Heimdall would open the Gates for us.

We offered a frankincense cone to our “fire pot,” which consisted of a lit charcoal disk and candle stubs that were lit.  The stubs and charcoal created a nice big flame.  We offered a dime to the Well, and sprinkled and censed the Tree (pinecone on top of a pillar candle holder).  “Cense” actually isn’t the right word here.  We couldn’t get the smoke from the Fire fanned over the tree, so my fiance picked up the pinecone and waved it around in the smoke.

Once the Center of Fire, Well, and Tree had been established, I asked Heimdall to join us and help us open the Gates.  I poured some mead into the offering bowl.  My fiance then opened the Gates.  He also called to the Ancestors immediately after with an offering of hot chocolate (to the offering bowl) and the ringing of a bell.

Next I called to the Nature Spirits to join the ritual.  I dipped my fingers in the bowl of dish soap mixed with water and flung some suds into the air.  Their offering was a handful of Starburst jellybeans into the bowl.

I also invoked the Shining Ones, but I forgot to ring the bell.  I poured a bit of the mead into the bowl at first, then my fiance realized we should pour it in the Fire.  He did so, making the flames turn reddish-orange and grow larger for a few moments before fizzling out completely.  The next couple minutes were spent trying to get the fire going again, which we managed to do.

I also invoked Idunna, the Norse Goddess of Rejuvenation.  I thanked her for allowing the Earth Mother to have one of her apples of youth so spring could return.  We offered her a Reese’s egg that we had cut into pieces before the ritual.  We put this and all subsequent offerings into the bowl so the Fire wouldn’t go out again!

Finally, I thanked Freyja for being my Patron and thus offering guidance and strength.  I offered a bit of mead to her as well.

We took the Omens using cards from the game Magic:  The Gathering.  My fiance grabbed a stack, shuffled them a bit, then fanned them out and asked me to pick a card.  I did so, then he drew a card himself.  We repeated this two more times for a total of six cards.  The cards themselves and our interpretation of the Omen will be in a subsequent post to avoid making this one terribly long.

We asked to be given the blessings of the Omen into our cups full of milk.  I consecrated them and then we drank.  We thanked the Kindreds in the order we had invited them, though I now realize I forgot to thank Idunna.

I closed the gates and thanked Heimdall, and my fiance thanked the Earth Mother.  We ended with a simple statement like, “The rite is over!”

Overall we had a lot of fun.  I did think that the fire going out might have been a bad sign.  Looking back, it is possible that it was, as you’ll see with the next post.  I enjoyed trying something different and light-hearted.

D – Drama in Ritual


I realize I am late with this post.  I was busy during the week, so I didn’t have a chance to work on the post!

A good ritual is like a good play:  it is dramatic.  I use “dramatic” in the sense of emotional impact here.  The start of the ritual sets into motion an emotional experience that builds up to a high point, then tapers off.

Regardless of tradition, Pagan ritual has five main parts:

  1. Preparation
  2. Creation of Sacred Space
  3. Work to Be Done (whether it is simply worship or an act of magic)
  4. Deconstruction of Sacred Space
  5. Cleanup

Preparation consists of gathering materials needed for the ritual, purification of participants, and setting up the physical space.  Once sacred space is created, through casting a circle or other means, the buildup to the climax of the ritual begins.  The climax itself, the emotional high point and the most dramatic moment of the ritual, occurs in the middle of step 3, the reason the ritual is being conducted.

After this dramatic high point, a process begins that gradually returns the participants to a more normal emotional state.  In many cases the last half of the ritual serves to help participants reflect on the work done.  In ADF this is done using divination; in Wicca this is usually during Cakes and Ale/Wine.

Sacred space is begun to be dismantled by thanking any Otherworldly beings that were invited.  Then the space is energetically and spiritually returned to how it was before the ritual.  The drama completely disappears during cleanup, which physically returns the space to its pre-ritual state.

Since drama is arguably the most crucial part of a ritual, care must be taken to ensure proper buildup to it.  “Proper buildup” means that the ritual’s participants are sufficiently prepared emotionally for the climax.  If participants are not prepared, they may be confused or overwhelmed once the rite’s climax occurs, perhaps resulting in fewer participants at the next ritual.

If you have questions or comments, please share them!



A simple ritual

Grades for three out of my four classes are in for the semester.  I’m certain the last grade will be in the B range, so I am not worried about it.  My other grades are C, B+, and B-.   This means I am going to be a graduate on Yule (that’s when grades are “officially released)!  My degree will be a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies awarded by Indiana University.

I and many others have prayed to the Three Kindreds this semester and semesters past for assistance with college.  I decided to thank them with a simple and short ritual.  Here’s my setup:

Picture taken December 19, 2012, by Victoria Laughlin
Picture taken December 19, 2012, by Victoria Laughlin

Yes, that is an incense burner on the left (with a lit charcoal disc inside) and a lit candle on the right.  I included the candle because I conceive its flame as the Sacred Fire of ADF cosmology and liturgy.  “May you pray with a good fire” is a common statement within ADF.  The Fire transforms offerings into a form that the Kindreds will appreciate.

The ritual was very simple.  First, I gathered my materials (incense burner, tongs, charcoal, candle, candleholder, and incense).  Next I held the charcoal with the tongs and lit it.  Once I was sure the charcoal was lit I placed it into the base of the incense holder.  I put the candle in the candleholder, lit it, and said my prayer as I waited for the charcoal to stop sparking.  In my prayer, I thanked each of the Kindreds for their help over the past few years to ensure my success.  I also thanked them for the growth I have seen in myself.  I then made them an offering of herbal incense sprinkled on the charcoal disc, put on the lid, and wafted the smoke towards the flame.

I felt generous, so I made another offering of incense!  The candle is still burning while the rest of the incense burns so the Kindreds can receive all the smoke they deserve.

To finish the ritual, I will thank the Kindreds one last time and blow out the candle.

May the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones bless each and every one of you!