A Lammas Ritual for Global Warming

Notes for Planning:

For the dance in this ritual, you will need very small woven wreaths of grain for participants to hold.  You can buy wheat from either local or online florists or floral supply companies.  The internet is also full of wheat-weaving tutorials.  For this ritual, you need just a very simple braid of three strands, which is then tied in a circle.  It only needs to be big enough to be held comfortably, looped around the fingers, like a handle. 

It is very easy to get lost in the verses to the Mill of Magic chant.  My suggestion would be to have the words available for all participants who are not dancing.  They can sing the actual verse, and have the dancers join in on the repeated part: "Work the will for which we pray, Ee-Oh, Dee-Oh, Ha, Hee, Hay!"  Of course, if a bit of chaos is in keeping with the character of your rites, feel free to just teach the song and then let it be what it will be.

For this rite in particular, I would recommend using actual alcohol - ideally beer/ale in the Chalice.  You might want to have a second non-alcoholic chalice as well.  You may also want to give your regular attendees a heads-up about this, especially if you do not usually use alcohol in your rituals.

You will also need some bread.  If possible, bread made from this year's grain would be particularly meaningful.

This version of the ritual is written for 2 officiants, but it can be easily adjusted to one or four, and with a little creativity to other numbers. 

The form of this ritual is based on the work of the Temple of Witchcraft, but feel free to change the details to align with your own tradition, if you feel so moved.

You will notice that we are calling fire in the east and air in the south.  Many groups call air in the east and fire in the south.  The directions in this ritual are in the alchemical/underworld pattern, which places opposing elements opposite each other.  This arrangement makes for more confrontational, and therefore potentially more powerfully transformational energy.  Since this ritual is designed to confront a long history of imbalance and a huge threat to our environment, this energy seemed appropriate.  If you are using this ritual, I invite you to try this arrangement, even if it is not your usual practice.

Introductory Remarks

Officiant(s) give any directions they feel are necessary to help attendees participate fully in the ritual, and answer any questions.  If there is alcohol in the Chalice, be sure to mention that.

Entering a Meditative State

It is helpful for everyone in the room to enter a light trance together before the ritual begins.  There are lots of ways to do this.  Here is the version we use in the Temple of Witchcraft.

Officiant: Please rise as you are able.  Close your eyes.  Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.  Relax your head and neck, your shoulders and arms, your back, abdomen, legs and feet.

Take a deep breath and relax your mind.  Release all thoughts and worries from the day.  Take a deep breath and relax your heart.  Feel the love of the Goddess and the God.  Feel perfect love and perfect trust.  Take a deep breath and relax into your soul.  Find your inner light, which you can follow for guidance and protection.

Now picture a giant screen before you, like a blackboard or movie screen.  This is the screen of your mind.  On this screen, visualize a series of numbers counting down from 12 to 1.  As you count down, you will enter a meditative state.

12.  See the number 12.  12.  11. See the number 11. 11.  10. See the number 10.  10.  9. See the number 9. 9.  8. See the number 8. 8.  7. See the number 7. 7.  6. See the number 6. 6. 5. See the number 5. 5.  4. See the number 4. 4. 3. See the number 3. 3. 2. See the number 2. 2.  1. See the number 1. 1.

Cast the circle

Officiant walks the circle clockwise three times, using the Blade to cast the circle with these words:

(First round) I cast the circle to protect us from all forces that would come to do us harm.

(Second round) I charge this circle to include the most perfect forces for this night's work, and to keep out all other forces.

(Third round) I charge and consecrate this circle to be a space out of space, a time out of time, a temple of perfect love and perfect trust, where the highest will is sovereign.

As I will it, so mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

Call the quarters

One officiant can do all the quarter calls, a pair can alternate, or four people can each call a quarter.  Substitute the spirits or deities you have a relationship with in each quarter, if you wish.

All turn to face North, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.  To the north, we call to the element of earth and to the Stag to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work.  Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face East, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.  To the east, we call to the element of fire and to the Horse to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face South, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.  To the south, we call to the element of air and to the Crow to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work.  Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face West, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.  To the west, we call to the element of water and to the Snake to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work. Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

Evoke the Goddess and God

Officiant 1: We call to the Goddess as Ceres, the kindhearted and benevolent.  Ceres, the mother who taught us to cultivate the food to feed ourselves and our children.  Ceres, the one who ensures the fertility of the earth.  Goddess of the first harvest, bring your blessings, guidance, and aid to this night's work.  Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

Officiant 2: We call to the God as John Barleycorn, who is cut down in the first harvest so that we may eat.  John Barleycorn, the sacrifice who rises into bread and ale.  John Barleycorn, who rises again in the spring to begin the cycle again.  God of the grain, bring your blessings, guidance, and aid to this night's work.  Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

Story: John Barleycorn

There are many versions of this traditional song and story.  This version is selected excerpts from Christopher Penczak's version.

One officiant may easily present this alone, but if you have 2, they can alternate as indicated, or in some other arrangement to add more drama and interest.  If 2 are doing this together, some practice time to get the meter and cadence right would be time well spent.

Officiant 2:

There were three men who came out of the East

Three men born great and high

A Seer, a Sorcerer and a King

Who swore John Barleycorn must die.

 

Officiant 1:

There were three ladies who came from the West

Three ladies neither foe nor friend

The future, the present and the past

Who swore John Barleycorn must end

 

Officiant 2:

There were three shades who came from the North

Dead men one and three

They walked back to the land of life

To say John Barleycorn must go free

Officiant 1:

They plowed the land.

They sowed the seed.

They threw clods upon his head.

Officiant 2:

A Seer, a Sorcerer and a King

Vowed John Barleycorn was dead.

Officiant 1:

They let him lie for a very long time,

Until the heavenly rains would drown.

But there he sprang up his head once again

Covered in an emerald crown.

Officiant 2:

They let him stand til Midsummer's Day

Till his crown turned yellow and gold

And the king gathered everyone around

For it was a sight to behold

Officiant 1:

They've gathered men with the sacred sickle to cut him down in the field

They've rolled him out and bound him hard, so nothing was concealed.

They've gathered men with the pitch forked staves to pierce him in the heart

And the loader he has served him worse than that, for he's heaped him upon the cart.

Officiant 2:

They've brought him to the threshing room floor to finally face his fate

And they've made a promise to him, to serve him on a silver plate.

They've gathered men with the flailing sticks to separate skin from bone

And the miller he has served him worst than that, for he's ground him between two mill stones.

Officiant 1:

And the three Ladies gathered him up

With honey and milk, butter and eggs, water, salt and yeast.

Mixed him up and baked him upon hot stones for the Sabbat Feast

Officiant 2:

The three wise Men drowned him down

With only water and hops and yeast

Entombed him in his own casket cold to later give rise to a Beast

Officiant 1:

And the three Shades who rose from the grave

Knew they were once a Seer, a Sorcerer and a King

Just as they rose, they knew he would do too,

John Barleycorn would rise again in the Spring

Meditation

Get into a comfortable position and relax your body.  Follow the sound of my voice as I count down from 13.  There is no need to visualize numbers this time.

13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

On the screen of your mind, picture a giant tree, larger than any tree you have ever seen.  This is the World Tree.  Its branches reach up to the heavens, and its roots dig deep into the earth.  Imagine that the screen of your mind is a portal, like a doorway or window, something you can easily pass through.  Pass through the screen of your mind and stand before the great tree.  Hear the wind in its branches.  Smell the earth where the roots dig in.  Feel the texture of the bark.  Know the World Tree.

Place your hands on the bark and hold the intention of visiting the god of the harvest.  Search in the roots of the tree for a tunnel.  When you find the tunnel, follow it.  It meanders without rising or falling very much.  You see a golden light at the end of the tunnel.  Walk toward the golden light.  Come out into the open sky and the sunshine. 

Before you lies a field of grain.  It might be wheat, barley, corn, oats, or any other grain.  What kind of grain appears to you?  The grain in the field is ripe, ready to be harvested.  Walk into the field.  Walk between the rows of grain.  Reach out your hands and touch the grains, ready for the harvest.  Reach out and pick the grain from one stalk.  One stalk of wheat, one ear of corn, one head of grain.  Hold it in your hands. 

In your work to help heal the earth and restore balance, what have you accomplished?  What is ready for you to offer to the world?  What is coming to harvest for you?

Now, prepare to eat some of the grain.  Notice that to do this, you have to do some work.  You have to peal back the husks of the corn, or roll the grain of wheat in your hand.  You have to separate the grain from its shell, from its stock.  The grain must be separated from the chaff. 

What do you still need to release in order to bring your gifts to harvest?  What do you need to let go in order to offer healing and nourishment to the earth?  As you separate the grain in your hands from the other parts of the plant that surround it, commit to letting go of the things that no longer serve you in your quest to be a steward of balance.

When the grain is free of all else, eat it slowly and reverently.  Offer thanks to the God of the harvest.

Walk back through the field the way you came until you find the tunnel again.  Follow the tunnel.  Follow the tunnel as it meanders, back, back the way you came.  Follow the tunnel back and back until you are once again standing before the World Tree.

Thank the World Tree for this journey. 

Come back through the portal in the screen of your mind.  Come back to this circle.  Come back, come back, come back. 

When you are ready, open your eyes and rise in body or spirit.

Wait until all participants have risen, or at least opened their eyes. 

Working

Officiants can divide the duties of leading the working however you wish.  Participants may choose to dance or not.  Those who are not dancing should have special responsibility for the chant, as it is very easy to lose your place in the verses.  My suggestion is to have those who are not dancing sing the part that changes, and have the dancers join in on the repeated part: "Work the will for which we pray, Ee-Oh, Dee-Oh, Ha, Hee, Hay!"

Dancers should form two circles, one closer to the center of the circle, and one farther away.  They should have roughly the same number of people, but it is not necessary for this to be exact.  Have the inner circle face counterclockwise, and the outer circle face clockwise.  Give each dancer one of the wheat circles.  Have the dancers hold them in their right hands, that is, the hands closest to the people in the other circle.  The dancers will dance around in a circle, so you will have two circles going in opposite directions.  As they pass the people going the other way, they will hit the wheat circles together. 

Explain that this dance represents the mill stones that grind the grain and separate it from the chaff.  We ourselves are ground between the mill stones, as we let go of that which no longer serves and are left with that which gives life. 

The chant for this dance is the Mill of Magic.  Lots of versions of this exist online.  Here are the words:

Fire flame and fire burn.  Make the mill of magic turn. Work the will for which we pray, Ee-Oh, Dee-Oh, Ha, Hee, Hay!

Air breathe and air blow.  Make the mill of magic go. Work the will for which we pray, Ee-Oh, Dee-Oh, Ha, Hee, Hay!

Water bubble, water boil.  Make the mill of magic toil. Work the will for which we pray, Ee-Oh, Dee-Oh, Ha, Hee, Hay!

Earth without and earth within.  Make the mill of magic spin. Work the will for which we pray, Ee-Oh, Dee-Oh, Ha, Hee, Hay!

One officiant should be in charge of channeling the energy of the dance and deciding when to stop it.  Stopping this chant can be accomplished by gradually increasing the volume of the last line until the last Hay is shouted at the end. 

One of the officiants now directs the participants:

We are going to send the energy of this circle now to restoring balance and cooling the earth.  We raise our hands slowly, saying "EE-AH-OH", releasing on the "OH'.

All: EE-AH-OH!

Officiant: So mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

Officiant  now directs everyone to ground any excess energy.

Great Rite in Token/Cakes and Ale

For this rite in particular, I would recommend using actual alcohol - ideally beer - in the chalice.  You might want to have a second non-alcoholic chalice as well.  You will also need some bread.  If possible, bread made from this year's grain would be particularly meaningful.

The harvest is in.  The grain has been cut down.  The mill stones have turned.  The grain has risen in bread and in spirits.  We share now the first fruits of the harvest, and celebrate the love of the Goddess and the God.

Officiant 1 holds the Chalice.  Officiant 2 plunges the Blade into the Chalice with these words:

As the Sword is to the Grail, The Blade is to the Chalice, Truth is to Love. We bring together the energies of the Goddess and the God. So mote it be.

All: So mote it be.

Officiant 2 holds the plate of bread.  Officiant 1 draws an invoking pentagram above the bread with the blade and says:

Goddess and God, we ask you to bless this bread and infuse it with your love.  So mote it be.

All: So mote it be.

Officiant 2 passes the bread to all participants with the words, "May you never hunger."  The response is "Blessed be."  Officiant 1 passes the Chalice  to all participants with the words "May you never thirst."  The response is "Blessed be." 

Thanks to the Goddess and God

Officiant 1: We thank you, Ceres, Goddess of the harvest.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings this night.  Stay if you will, go if you must.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Officiant 2: We thank you, John Barleycorn, God of the grain.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings this night.  Stay if you will, go if you must.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Release the Quarters

Each quarter should be released by the same person who called it. 

All turn to the North, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.  To the north, we thank and release the element of earth and the Stag.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the West, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.  To the west, we thank and release the element of water and the Snake.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the South, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.  To the south, we thank and release the element of air and the Crow.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the East, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.  To the east, we thank and release the element of fire and the Horse.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Open the Circle

The same officiant who cast the circle now walks the circle counterclockwise once, opening the circle with the wand.

I cast this circle out into the universe.  May it join with the circles of our siblings, through space and time to the highest good.  The circle is open but never broken.

All: Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.