Ritual Archive 1997
Beltain for Couples is intended for celebration by partners in long-term, mature, sexually-active love relationships. Persons currently feeling the pain of not having such a relationship should be warned that that the ritual can severely aggravate that pain. The ritual is written from a heterosexual point of view because that is the only manner in which the author has personally experienced this Mystery.
The ritual is written to be celebrated by six couples acting as a Priest, a Priestess and a Bard (P, Ps &B) for each of the four quarters (E, W, S, N). The P and Ps of each quarter should be a couple. A younger couple should act as S-P and S-Ps; the E-P and the W-Ps lead the pathworking; the N-P and N-Ps represent the position of elders. The E-B and the W-B should be a couple, as should the N-B and the S-B.
Participants begin standing in a circle as couples, except for the Bards who begin outside the circle by their candles. Bards will remain outside the circle until the pathworking, when they will sit as couples to participate in the visualization. Bards also act as guards, ushers, etc. as needed.
Most Westerners will want chairs for sitting; if chairs are used they should be set in couples: two close, then a larger space, etc. Any regular altar objects should be placed in the center, and quarter candles should stand, unlit, outside the circle at the quarters. S-B and N-B need staves. No other tools are necessary.
Magical Note: The Priests and Priestesses play a catalytic role in helping the participants experience the presence of Deity. Even those P and Ps with relatively small speaking roles make an important contribution by their participation on the inner planes.
I. The Preparations
Song: Listen to the Lord and Lady
S-B strikes staff on floor and speaks:
We gather tonight, to celebrate the gift of love. Love is an awesome gift. Its power can unite lover and beloved into one being, and in the perfection of that holy union they also become one with the Lord and Lady.
Such power is not without the potential for misuse. True love cares for the beloved more than for the self. If that formula is reversed, the misuse of love can corrupt and destroy. Tonight we seek to touch that awesome power, to learn from it, and to use it to transform ourselves. This is not safe. To hold this power in its proper course requires a steadfast will and a selfless heart.
The power of Love is the Lord and Lady’s gift to us. Approach it in awe and in reverence.
Claiming the Circle
P or Ps of each Quarter – E, W, S, N – speaks from his/her place in the circle, then Bard for that quarter lights quarter candle. Standard Claimings
Sealing the Circle
We have stepped beyond time, to a place not of earth. In the presence of the Lord and Lady, we join together and are one.
Beginning with N-P each person takes the hand of the person on her left, repeating “We are one.” When the circle has been joined all around, all repeat together “We are one.” All sit except N-P, N-Ps and 4 Bards.
II. The Mystery
Welcoming the Lord and Lady
N-Ps invokes the Lord; N-P invokes the Lady.
Let the Children of the Lord and Lady step forth.
S-P &Ps step forward, N-P &Ps sit.
We are the Children of the Lord and Lady; speak to us of the Mystery of Beltain.
Hear the mystery of Beltain.
S-P &Ps turn to face South
All of nature lives by the exchange of love. The stag joins with the doe, pollen fertilizes the seeds, and by this new life comes into the world. As above, so below. We are the children of the Lord and Lady’s joining, and our bodies are magical tools for the performance of Their sacraments.
S-P walks to East; S-Ps walks to West. S-P speaks:
I am a Son of the Lord and Lady; speak to me of the Mystery of Beltain.
Hear the mystery of Beltain: A wife must regard her husband as an embodiment of the God; a husband must regard his wife as an embodiment of the Goddess.
I am a Daughter of the Lord and Lady; speak to me of the Mystery of Beltain.
Hear the mystery of Beltain: A man and woman who embrace each other in heart are themselves the place where the universe can unite, and are the image of the Lord and Lady.
S-P &Ps walk to North. S-P speaks:
We are the Children of the Lord and Lady; speak to us of the Mystery of Beltain.
Hear the mystery of Beltain: The place where man and woman come together is also the place were human and Divine come together. Unto you has been entrusted this most powerful of magics.
S-P &Ps turn, hold hands, and return to places. N-B speaks; S-P &Ps sit as soon as groups attention in on N-B.
The word “love” is without meaning by itself, love exists only when there is someone to love and someone to be loved by. The love of the Lord and Lady is beyond words. But love is never satisfied, it seeks ever to increase. And so the Lord joined with the Lady in love, and Lady gave birth to creation.
Open your spirit to experience all the beauty of the creation.
[Add heartfelt examples (flowers, etc.) as inspired.]
If you can feel all of these at once you can know the beauty of the Lord and Lady.
Open your heart to all the forms of love and caring among their Children.
[Add heartfelt examples (parents, etc.) as inspired.]
If you can feel all these at once, you can know Their love.
All this the Lord and Lady brought forth in order to share Their love with us, their children. In us they have manifested all their qualities, so that we may return that love. Thus we have the ability to join with them, to become one with Them in love. You have this ability, use it now. Answer Their call. Tell them of your love.
After slight pause, all Bards take their seats.
[The pathworking is not meant to be read as it is written. This is only an outline on the basis of which E-P and W-Ps extemporize the pathworking, while themselves entering into the trance. If a fully written pathworking is preferred, it should be prepared in advance of the ritual.]
Part One: E-P leads trance induction:
Join with me in opening yourself to the Lord and Lady of Beltain.
Continue with relaxation and deepening.
Part Two: W-Ps describes the Journey from Town to Temple
It is Beltain all day the town was full of song and merriment. In the afternoon, the unmarried men and women danced the maypole. In the evening the newly married slipped away to share their fertility with the crops. You and your beloved have done known these joys in past years, and you remember them fondly.
This year, however, you and your beloved have chosen to participate in the deeper mysteries of Beltain. As the elders have instructed your, you and your beloved come in darkness to the shore of the sea. You cry out to God and Goddess your desire and determination. Your beloved undresses you, and you enter the cold sea to purify yourself. You walk out into the chilly waves, then plunge your whole body into the cold sea. The water steals the heat from your skin, and you offer it willingly, as your sacrifice.
You emerge shivering from sea to find yourself alone. As the elders instructed, your beloved has taken your clothes and gone on ahead. Far up the beach you see your goal, a moonlit cliff beneath which lies a hidden cave. From ancient times, this cave has been a temple of the mysteries. As you make your way toward the cave, you remember the young couples working their magic in the fields, and for a moment you envy them their warmth. But your heart longs for the deeper mysteries of love, and so you ignore the cold wind on your skin and push on toward the cave.
As you approach the mouth of the cave you see that a figure stands waiting for you. For a moment, you are conscious of your nakedness, but then you see that the figure is your beloved, dressed in a simple robe of white. Your beloved holds a shell filled with holy oil and uses it to ritually anoint you, that you might be worthy to enter into the holy temple. Then your beloved steps aside and gestures for you to proceed alone into the cave.
Within you find a platform made of three great disks of stone. One disk lies upon another, each smaller than that beneath, so that they form three steps up to a circle only two paces across. In that circle stands an indistinct form, concealed by a haze which fills the cave, and yet despite that haze this form is so filled with glory that you cannot help but know that this is what you seek.
Part Three: E-P (echoed by W-Ps) describes The Temple
Here the pathworkings divide, from this point on the men should listen only to my voice, and the women listen only to the voice of the priestess. Cling to your visions while the other voice is speaking, and do not let it disturb your experience of the mystery.
[The next visions are described first by P as a male viewing the Goddess, then by Ps as a woman viewing the God.]
You step up to the first of the three steps and the figure in the center becomes clear: she is the Goddess of Love, the Goddess in Her Divine Beauty, naked before you. [Describe as inspired; Ps echos with similar description of the God.]
Drawn by the beauty of the Goddess, you step up to the second step, and as you do the vision changes. The Goddess stands before, but she appears in a body worn out by service to others. Her belly is large from bearing children, her breasts sag from nursing them. Her skin is rough and withered from years of caring for others. Her youth and her beauty are gone, she is scarred by time and care. Again she is naked, but now she shows to you every unlovelyness of the female form. The Goddess spreads her arms invitingly, and for a moment you are repulsed by the prospect of embracing Her.
Then you see that every wrinkle, every defect, is a sign of the love she bears for her children. Here lies your test. Can you look upon the ugliness of the Hag and love her for the good she has done? Can you see the beauty in the withered breast that has given itself to uncounted children? Can the marks of a life of selfless giving rouse in you a deeper love than the fleshly perfection of the maiden? Gaze upon the Goddess, and prepare to make your decision. [Ps echos with similar description of the God. At the end she tells women that once again they should listen to the voice of the Priest.]
You make your decision. Moved more by love than by appearance, you step up to the top of the platform and embrace the figure that awaits. As you embrace, the figure changes again. You know without doubt that the figure you embrace is Divine, the Goddess Herself or the God Himself, you feel the Divine love and glory through every pore. But the figure you embrace now has the form of your own beloved. In this familiar form the God or Goddess embraces you as a lover, and in response you make the embrace an act of worship. [Pause several minutes to let participants experience vision.]
The Great Rite
Stand, now, and and face your beloved. Gaze into his eyes and see him not as mortal man, but as the embodiment of the God. Take his hands in yours and feel the touch of the Divine.
Remember your most intense romantic feelings for your beloved, and pour those feelings out to the Goddess. Remember your most intense feelings of awe at the Goddess, and feel that same awe of your beloved.
After long pause all Bards return to their candles. S-B speaks:
There is no limit to joy. Happiness has no end. When you stand in the love of the Lord and Lady, every cell in your body dances for joy. You breathe in and out with the entire universe. In this state your life is fulfilled.
This is how the Lord and Lady mean us to live, intoxicated in love and joy. And through our joy, They receive Their joy. The joy of the Children is the joy of the Parents, and the joy of the Parents is the joy of the Children.
Song: Lord of the Dance
Verses assigned to individual singers, all sing chorus.
III. The Closing
Thanking the Lord and Lady
N-P &PS thank Lord and Lady
Opening the Circle
N-B strikes staff on floor and speaks:
The circle is open, the right is ended. May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with you always. So Mote it Be.