Living and its Ethics

Under Construction

This Ostara ritual is a celebration of living and of the ethics of living. The unique elements are: the Charge of the Goddess as adapted by Starhawk from the work of Doreen Valiente, the celebration of Spring with a passage from Song of Songs and singing “This is our Mother’s World”, and an elaborate journey to the Grove with side trips to visit the ToolMaker and the Source and to hear a story told by the GateKeeper (an adaptation of the story of Jesus and Mother Mary at the wedding at Cana).

This ritual could be conducted during the day and out-of-doors if weather permits.

The Preparations

All but Bard are seated in circle; Grove candle stands unlit on North altar

The Warning

Bard speaks:

We gather tonight to open the veil between the worlds, to seek the Lord and Lady, and to experience the Mystery of Their Love.

Hear this warning. To be touched by the Lord and Lady is to be changed. If you open yourself to that touch, you put at risk your comfortable view of the world. You risk experiencing a sense of awe to which worship is the natural response. You risk discovering Deity as your Lover and your Beloved.

Bard lights Grove candle.

Let none remain who is unwilling to be changed by Their touch.

Claiming the Circle

Remember these are spells and should be spoken with conviction and intent. All participants should respond “So mote it be” to each of the claimings.

East speaks:

In the name of the Lady of Light, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Men.

Let all within be bound to speak and hear the Truth.

So mote it be.

West speaks:

In the name of the Sacred King, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Women.

Let all within be bound to Perfect Love and Trust.

So mote it be.

South speaks:

In the name of the Lord of the Greenwood, and in my own name,I claim this circle as a place of Nature

Let all within be bound to the Sacred Web of Life.

So mote it be.

North speaks:

In the name of the Queen of Heaven, and in my own name, I claim this circle as Sacred Space.

Let all within be opened to the presence of God and Goddess.

So mote it be.

Sealing the Circle

Once all other Preparations are completed, all present within, the Circle is sealed:

Bard speaks:

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 the Bard, each person takes the hand of the person to the left, repeating “We are one.”

When the circle has been joined all around, all repeat together, “We are one.”

All sit except Priestess, Priest, and the four Quarters.

Inviting the Guardians

East speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of praise and honor, I call for one to stand in the place of the Sword,

To teach us courage and discernment and to uphold the pillar of the East.

East lights red candle on quarter altar.

Guardian of the Sword, Hail and Welcome.

West speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of joy and celebration, I call for one to stand in the place of the Cup,

To teach us compassion and understanding and to uphold the pillar of the West.

West lights blue candle on quarter altar.

Guardian of the Cup, Hail and Welcome.

South speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of life and connection, I call for one to stand in the place of the Tree,

To teach us of life and change and to uphold the pillar of the South.

South lights green candle on quarter altar.

Guardian of the Tree, Hail and Welcome.

North speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of holy awe, I call for one to stand in the place of the Stones,

To teach us reverence and ecstasy and to uphold the pillar of the North.

North lights white candle on quarter altar.

Guardian of the Standing Stones, Hail and Welcome.

The Mystery

Welcoming the Lord and Lady

Priest invokes Lady.

Priestess invokes Lord.

The Working

Priestess speaks: Listen to the words of the Great Mother, She who is called Astarte, Isis, Artemis, Aphrodite, …. and by many other names:

I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto Me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.

From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold – all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength, peace and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

Priest speaks: We have weathered the winter with its snows and darkness, and we have weathered the death of many hopes and laying away of sorrows. Hear the words of rebirth and renewed hope:

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. 1

Let us join in singing of the joy of life. This is the Lady’s World2.

The is our Mother’s world, and to my listening ears,

All nature sings and ’round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is the Lady’s world; I rest me in the thought

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; Her womb the wonders wrought.

This is the Horned One’s world; the birds their carols raise.

The morning light, the eagle’s flight declare the Hunter’s praise.

This is the Green Lord’s world; He shines in all that’s fair.

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass; He speaks to me everywhere.

This is the Lady’s world; oh let me ne’er forget

That though the harm may cause alarm, She is our Mother yet.

This is the Green Lord’s world; His dancing is not done.

The King who dies again shall rise and Earth and heaven be one.

Priestess speaks: We rejoice in the spring with the new challenges and opportunities to experience the fullness of life. Our vigor is renewed to go forth and do what we are called to do. We are called to live, with the Lady’s charge brightly shining in our hearts.

Priest speaks: On our way to the Grove tonight, we will linger at the Sword and again at the Cup to follow the paths that may open to the realm of the ToolMaker and to the realm of the Source. Among the tools we carry into our lives in the world are our ethics, our boundaries, and our commitments. These become firmly attached to our names as we live them – or demonstrate by our living that we are shaky in these areas, thus tarnishing our names. And so we seek the tools with which to maintain the honor and humility the Lady would have in us.

Priestess speaks: When we linger at the Cup and follow the path to the Source, we seek the blessings of peace and compassion, for ourselves and in our lives that we carry into the world. This is the time to be filled again with the peace and compassion the Lady would have in us.

Bard: Settle into a comfortable position that you can maintain without conscious attention while we journey together between the worlds, to seek the Lord and Lady and Their blessings.

South leads trance induction using imagery of being within a tree, flowing down into the roots, into the deep silence of the Earth

South: Placing your hand on the bark of a great tree, feeling its life, you find yourself within the tree feeling a hand on your bark.

The journey moves down through the roots into the deep silence of the Earth to a deep trance state, then back up through the roots to feeling the hand again on the bark.

Now you are feeling the hand on your bark – and now you find yourself standing at the base of a great Tree with your hand on the bark. You realize that the tree has a message for you.

When you have heard any message that the tree has for you, you look around to see the rest of us sharing the wonder of this place.

Take time in trance to have each person speak at least his name, re-establish the group experience. Keep it lighthearted.

East picks up the journey that follows the path through the woods.

East: Finding yourself before a great sword – you realize that the sword has a message for you.

Near the sword, there is a hint of a path leading into the woods.

East narrates a freeform trek through the words, over rocks, to the Forge, where the ToolMaker is working and welcoming.

West picks up the journey after a significant pause for individual interaction with the ToolMaker and follows the path to a stream.

West: Finding yourself before a cup, you realize that the cup has a message for you.

West narrates a freeform trek through the words above the stream, to the Source.

North picks up the journey after a significant pause for individual interaction with the Source and follows the path through the woods, hearing the song grow louder and more inviting..

North: We reach the Standing Stones, and we find the GateKeeper is sitting nearby, smoking his pipe, waiting for us.

GateKeeper: Friends, before you approach the Stones, if you will, I have a story to share with you – a story of LightBringer and his Mother. It is an old story, one you may recognize, but humor me, if you will.

At LightBringer’s wedding, he was celebrating with his bride and their friends – and this is before LightBringer embarked on the journey of the Sacred King. This is before he was at all widely known, while he was still gathering courage and intent – As the wedding feast continued, the wine steward came to LightBringer’s Mother and whispered, “We’re running out of wine!” Since the feast was going well, showing no signs of wearing down, LightBringer’s Mother came to him and said, “We’re running out of wine.”

In those days, running out to a store to buy more wine was not an option. His Mother knew of his impending challenges and even of his fears, but there was an unspoken challenge in Her own eyes, now. LightBringer saw it. He knew what she was asking. He knew… He tried, one time, to dissuade Her. He said, “Mother, it is not yet my time.” If he said, “Please don’t push me into this right now,” history does not record it. It does record that his Mother turned to the wine steward, pointing to LightBringer, and said, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nor does history record a quiet sigh before LightBringer called for the large jars of water set aside for cleanup and turned that water into wine for his guests.3

North speaks: As the GateKeeper chuckles and returns to puffing his pipe, we hear a beautiful song is coming from beyond the Standing Sones, almost as if our Mother is calling, and our path continues perhaps through a mist…

We step through and follow the path.

The Presence

Priest and Priestess remain responsible for bringing the group together when it is time to leave.

The Closing

Thanking the Lord and Lady

Priest thanks Lady

Priestess thanks Lord.

Thanking the Guardians

Quarters thank Guardians.

The Return

Bard recalls everyone to normal wakefulness.

Opening the Circle

Bard comes to center, snuffs Grove candle

Bard speaks: The rite is ended, the circle is open. May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with us all. So mote it be.

1Song of Songs 2:10-13 NRSV.

2The words were adapted from This is my Father’s World, a familiar hymn in the Protestant traditions, by the Fellowship of the Sacred Grove around 1990. It is sung reverently to the same tune as the original.

3John 2:1-11 NRSV: the Wedding at Cana

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