Three parts to everything : He One, She One, They One in the Third. – Celtic Triad
For the Celts, three was a sacred number. They had a threefold cosmology, dividing existence into the Realms of Sea, Land and Sky. Many of their Divinities were triple aspected, they grouped their histories and aphorisms in bundles of three for mnemonic purposes and to amplify the wisdom they contain, and they believed that three was the number of completion – the essence of physical manifestation. As alluded to in the above triad, it is the union of opposites which sparks the act of creation that brings forth something new.
At Beltane, a joyful celebration of fertility and regeneration, we can harness this creative spark to birth ourselves anew. Weaving together the wisdom that lies in the realm of the Unconscious and the insight that dwells in the light of Consciousness, we kindle the spark of Awen, the inflowing spirit of the Divine that empowers us to change and impels us to growth. Standing between the worlds at Beltane, when the veils are thinned and we have increased clarity with which to look at both the light and shadow aspects of the self, we can use this time of great fertility to plant the seeds for a ripe harvest of the soul as we enter into the Light Half of the Year.
The working that follows is set up as a solitary ritual because it focuses on coming into a creative relationship with the Self. If you feel you would like to conduct this ritual within the context of your spiritual community, it can be adapted to be performed as a group of individuals seeking a powerful inner relationship with the support of the working group, united in their collective intent. It is important to remember, however, that true Sovereignty can only be found on the path that leads within and even co-celebrants must walk individual yet parallel paths.
– Red Altar Cloth
– Prepared Maypole (details follow)
– A quartz crystal to act as the Stone of Intention
– Incense charcoal in sand-filled vessel, with handle or trivet
– Mistletoe herb for burning to represent the Realm of Sky
– Green growing plant to represent the Realm of Land
– Water-filled cauldron to represent the Realm of Sea
– A red candle, with the symbol of the three rays of Awen /|\ carved into the wax. (Seven day pull
out candles work really well for this purpose, but a regular taper or votive candle will do.)
– Beltane incense blend (a blend of traditional flowers can be made with hawthorn, cowslip, and rowan, will set a good energetic tone, but use what feels right to you if these are not available).
– A silver branch or rattle
– Offerings of food or libation to leave for the ancestors
– Seasonal flowers to decorate the altar
– Images or symbols of Divinities with whom you have built a relationship
– Matches or a lighter
In the days before Beltane, take some time to meditate on your ritual focus. In the Avalonian Tradition,we work on manifesting the Sovereign Self – that is, the authentic and fully actualized person whose life and choices are a reflection of our limitless inner potential rather than limited by our fears and servitude to the expectations of others. Think about the person you would be if your greatest gifts and desires were made manifest. What would your life be like if nothing stood in the way of your becoming the person you most feel called to be? I am not talking about obtaining material possessions or attaining societal measures of accomplishment, but about fully expressing the wholeness of the inner self – are you confident, living your dream, living in right action, engaging in right-livelihood? Do you love the person you are? Are you actively nurturing the person you know that you can be?
Coming into a fruitful relationship with the self may be the most difficult relationship you will ever have to cultivate, yet it is the key to birthing forth our sovereignty. Knowing the fullness of our potential as well as the limitations we have accepted because of our fears help us to chart the course of our unfolding, looking with clarify on each of the steps we need to take along the journey to authenticity. What will you concentrate on manifesting during the Light Half of the Year? To what end will you direct your creative energies? What do you wish to see birthed as a result of entering into and committing to maintain, positive and conscious relationship with the self?
When you have narrowed this down – and it is best to be as specific as possible with your intention – spend some time at your altar visualizing this goal and the impact it will have on your life and your spiritual path. Fill yourself up with the energies surrounding this intention and use them the charge the quartz crystal or other stone you have chosen which holds significance for you. Doing this for at least three consecutive nights before your working, wrapping the stone is a piece of silk or other cloth to keep the charge strong when you are not actively working with the stone, will assist in empowering your intention.
Creating the Maypole
Creating a personal Maypole is a powerful ritual focus and is especially useful for solitaries and those for whom constructing a full-sized Maypole to dance around is not possible or practical. In this working, we will be using a personal Maypole to channel the creative energies of Awen in support of the inner balance we seek to manifest during the Light Half of the Year. If you are doing this ritual as a group working, each person should create their own individual Maypoles by following the instructions below.
You will need:
– Straight oak branch (approximately ½” thick) or dowel (easily purchased at a craft store) at least 1 foot high.
– Small cauldron or flower pot.
– Modeling clay
– 2 pieces of ribbon – one red, one white – twice the length of the branch or dowel
– Potting soil or earth
– Quartz Crystal or other stone of your choosing
To created your personal maypole, gather all of your supplies together in front of your altar and assemble the pieces with clear intention and focus. Take your oaken branch or dowel and your lengths of red ribbon and lay these on your altar. Securely tie the red and white ribbons to the top of the branch and lay this down on your altar, with the red ribbon extended down from the top and to the left, and the white ribbon down and to the right. This will create a symbol of the Awen, a Druidic symbol for Divine Inspiration – the creative force that will empower your endeavors.
Take the modeling clay and press it into the bottom of your cauldron, creating a layer several inches thick. Insert the unadorned end of your oak branch or dowel into the clay so that it stands straight upright in the vessel. Holding the ribbons out of the way, fill the cauldron with soil up to its rim, packing it around the base of the branch so that it is firmly supported in the upright position.
Once your maypole is securely erect in the soil, drape the red ribbon over the edge of the left side of the cauldron and the white ribbon on the right site, creating the Awen symbol once more. Place this in the center of your altar in anticipation of performing the entire ritual. It is helpful to have creating your personal maypole before the time of the working if possible so that your time in ritual is focused on the intention at hand, rather than on the setup.
Setting Up the Altar
Whenever gathering ritual objects to place upon your working altar, keep in mind the focus of your ritual and the energies with which you will be working. Beltane is a Fire Festival celebration of fertility and rebirth, and your altar should reflect this in ways that are meaningful to you. A red altar cloth is appropriate, as are seasonal flowers especially hawthorn and cowslip which are traditionally associated with Beltane.
Place your already-constructed Maypole in the center of the altar, draping the ribbons in the Awen position as described above. Place the red candle representing the energies of Awen at a safe distance to the right the Maypole so that it will not interfere with the ribbons when you are weaving. Lay your charged quartz crystal directly in front of the Maypole, keeping it wrapped in silk until the working begins. Place your gift to the ancestors in an offering dish on the left side of the altar, and a small bowl or other vessel containing your incense blend to the right of the Maypole.
Since this ritual is inspired by Celtic tradition, we will be working with the energies of Land, Sea and Sky rather than the four elements more familiar to Neo-Pagan workings. Place the cauldron filled with water on the left side of the altar, to represent the Realm of Sea. The plant should be placed in the center of the altar, directly behind the Maypole, to represent the Realm of Land. The vessel containing the lit charcoal and a small dish filled with mistletoe should be placed on the right side of the altar, as a representation of the Realm of Sky. Please be aware that mistletoe can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities, so be sure to keep the herb away from children and pets. If you are concerned, you can substitute dried oak blossoms for the mistletoe.
I personally believe that in ritual you should work with Divinities with whom you have already established, or wish to establish, relationships. You may place images or symbols of Gods or Goddesses that you actively work with on your altar to oversee and bless this rite. Or, you may choose to reach out to establish ties with some of the Celtic Divinities associated with Beltane; these include Blodeuwedd, the Welsh Flower Bride, and Belanos, an almost pan-Celtic God of light. If these Divinities are new to you, be sure to research their myths and symbols ahead of time so that you can place something on the altar to honor them appropriately.
Cleansing and Centering
Take some time to assess your personal energy, and connect with those places where you are holding negativity and stress. Breathe through these energies and send them into the outer layers of your auric field, where they gather to form a dark haze around you. When you are ready, use your breath to send these energies down into the Earth, visualizing them sinking deep into ground and being absorbed into the planet. In the place of what you have released, use your breath once more to envision streams of vibrant green energies rising up from the planet to fill your aura structure with the vitalistic life-force of the Earth. These energies both cleanse and center you, leaving you feeling grounded, renewed, and ready for the working to come.
Connect With Intention
Place some of your Beltane incense blend on the lit charcoal disk. Think once more about your long-term goals for the work of the Light Half of the year, the upcoming period of increasing growth and outer abundance. Keep the goals of this working clear in your mind, and pour any last energies into the Stone of Intention already charged and waiting on your altar.
Marking Sacred Space
Once you have set up the altar, cleansed and centred, and reconnected with the intention for the working, you are ready to begin. Taking the silver branch – a ritually created tool made from an apple branch to which you have afixed nine silver bells – or a rattle, walk a circle sun-wise around your working space as you shake it slowly and deliberately nine times, marking a boundary between this world and the Otherworld. When you are done, sing or speak the Portal Chant three times:
“It is a Day that is not a day
At a Time that is not a time
In a Place that is not a place
Between the Worlds am I.”
Evoking The Three Realms
Pick up the water-filled cauldron representing the Realm of Sea, and hold it in both hands before you. With your breath and intention, connect with the Realm of Sea, feeling your consciousness expand to encompass the deep vastness of these energies. When you feel immersed in this watery energy, lower the cauldron in a downward direction, and say:
“I stand nurtured in the deep reflective energies of the realm of Sea, resting place of the honored dead, our blessed ancestors and the those awaiting the gifts of rebirth. Bless my strivings with the elixir of the Cauldron of Wisdom, and may these sacred waters overflow the inner chalice of my soul. So may it be.”
Return the cauldron to its place on the altar. Pick up the plant representing the Realm of Land and hold it in both hands before you. With your breath and intention, connect with the Realm of Land, feeling your consciousness expand to encompass the ancient life-force of these energies. When you feel immersed in this earthy energy, extend the plant further out in front of you, and say:
“I stand centered in the life-sustaining energies of the realm of Land, in-dwelling essence of the spirit of nature and vitalistic force which empowers the sacred landscape. Bless my strivings with the energies of the Ancient Pathways, and may these lines of power revitalize the inner landscape of my soul. So may it be.”
Return the plant to its place on the altar. Place some mistletoe on the lit charcoal and as the tendrils of smoke rise to represent the Realm of Sky, carefully pick up the vessel by its handle if it is a small cauldron, or carefully balance it on the trivet, holding it in both hands before you. With your breath and intention, connect with the Realm of Sky, feeling your consciousness expand to encompass the cosmic expanse of these energies. When you feel immersed in this airy energy, carefully raise the smoldering vessel above your head and say:
“I stand reaching towards the illuminating energies of the Realm of Sky, eternal cosmic tapestry weaving the primal pattern of all existence. Bless my striving with the clarity of far-reaching Sight, and may the breath of the Divine reawaken my consciousness to its connection to Source found deep within my soul. So may it be.”
Return the burning incense to its place on the altar.
Blessing the Stone of Intention
Pick up the quartz crystal you have charged with the intention for what you wish to manifest during the Light Half of the Year. Immerse the stone with the of the Three Realms, seeking to empower your intent with these energies and asking that the changes you seek to make in your life occur on every level of existence.
Immerse the stone in the waters of the cauldron representing the Realm of Sea, saying:
“I ask that the energies of the Realm of Sea empower and bless the changes I seek to manifest during the Light Half of the Year. Standing at this time between the Worlds, may I know true transformation on the emotional plane, and accomplish healing of the wounds of the past.”
Lay your stone on the soil of the plant representing the Realm of Land, saying
“I ask that the energies of the Realm of Land empower and bless the changes I seek to manifest during the Light Half of the Year. Standing at this time between the Worlds, may I know true transformation on the physical plane, and become centered in the blessings of the now.”
Pass your stone through the smoke of the mistletoe incense representing the Realm of Sky, saying:
“I ask that the energies of the Realm of Sky empower and bless the changes I seek to manifest during the Light Half of the Year. Standing at this time between the Worlds, may I know true transformation on the mental plane, and obtain release from the worries for the future.”
Return the blessed and empowered stone to its place on the altar.
Embodying the World Tree
Having acknowledged and activated the energies of the Three Realms, we will harness the portal energies of Beltane to embody energies the World Tree which stands between the worlds. When you are ready, envision yourself as a mighty oak tree, standing with your arms outstretched high above your head, and your legs open and firmly planted on the ground. Your legs form mighty roots sinking deep within the planet, and each toe grows deep into the soil, seeking out the primal source of water below you in the Realm of Sea. Your torso expands, becoming the powerful trunk which empowers and centers the tree. Connect your center with the supportive essence of the Realm of Land, the life-force energy that both sustains and is
generated by all living things.
Feel your arms as tree limbs, with each finger becoming green and growing branches reaching up to touch the Realm of Sky above you. Visualize your tree becoming one with the great World Tree that bridges the Three Worlds, and which unifies that which is Above with that which is Below, both becoming manifest on the physical plane – here, in the Middle World.
Calling Forth the Awen
One of the ways of connecting with the energies of Awen is through the Illumination of Song, a Druidic technique of repetitive chant which shifts the consciousness and allows the Divine Spark to flow forth. This is a powerful tool, and should be used with due respect and clear intention. In this working, we will channel the creative energies of Awen to assist us in birthing forth the vision of the Sovereign self we seek to manifest during the Light Half of the Year.
Clear your mind and center the red Awen candle on the altar in front of you; your matches or lighter should be close at hand but do not light the candle yet. Focus on the symbol of the Three Rays of Awen, and meditate on the Triple energies which permeate Celtic thought, and the three aspects of the self that come together in the act of co-creation.
When you are ready, begin to chant the word Awen repeatedly, drawing out the vowels to make the sounds “Aaaaa — – oooooh — – eeeen” (“eeeen” rhymes with “when”, not “wean”).Take your time with this process and do not rush. You may begin slowly, and as the energy builds you may find yourself chanting faster and faster. Do not have any expectations surrounding this process and be open to the experience. Stay as focused and intent as possible as you chant, and when you feel the energy has built to its peak, light the candle. Chant the word “Awen” three more times and use the flame as a focus to hold all of the energies you have built.
Literally and symbolically, you have kindled the Beltane fire and it stands between the worlds filled with the fertile energies of all possibility. Pick up the stone of intention and hold it in front of the Awen candle. With your breath and with your focused will, fill the stone with the creative energies you have raised through chant and intention. As the stone becomes charged, envision the energies of Awen being directed to empower your intention to manifest your sovereign self. When the crystal is completely charged, bury the crystal with consciousness in the soil directly in front of, and in line with, the central branch of your Maypole. As you do so,visualize the energies of Awen streaming down from Source to be made manifest in the physical plane. Take as much time as you need to keep this image clear in your mind, and when you are ready, place the burning candle within sight of the Maypole but at a safe distance from the ribbons
Take the white ribbon in your right hand and say:
“I call upon the energies of the Upper World, dwelling place of the Sacred Divine and storehouse of all Knowledge. I call forth the essence my my conscious self, and seek to connect with the high peaks of the mind. May all that I need to pull down from the realm of the Higher Self be revealed, and directed to birth my Sovereign Self.”
Take the red ribbon in your left hand and say:
“I call upon the energies of the Lower World, dwelling place of the Blessed Ancestors and archive of all Wisdom. I call forth the essence of my unconscious self, and seek to connect with the deep well of the emotions. May all that I need to bring forth from the realm of the Shadow be revealed, and directed to birth my Sovereign Self”
Connect your intention with the central shaft of the maypole and say:
“I call upon the energies of the Middle World, dwelling place of all who live, and the realm of abundant manifestation. I call forth the essence of my integrated self, and seek to connect with the vitalistic bridge of the body, where that which is above and that which is below can come together and take form.”
Visualize the three-rayed symbol of the Awen overlay the maypole and its outstretched white and red ribbons. Connect your intention with this energy of creativity and Divine inspiration. When you are ready, begin to weave the red and white ribbons around the maypole, alternately passing them one at a time from right hand to left hand in from of the pole, and from left hand to right hand behind the pole. Weave the ribbons slowly and with intention, willing the energies of creation emanating from source to travel down through the Realms as the ribbons wind their way down the pole. As the energies descend, envision them entering and empowering the crystal buried at the base of the pole, thereby imbuing your intention with the sacred energies of creation.
As you weave you can chant or recite the following three times:
“Creative spark of Awen flow
Through Sky, and Land, and Sea
From Source Above, to birth Below
Channeled through the World Tree”
When you have woven the energies down to the end of the may pole, ground the energies by tying off the ribbons so that the weaving remains affixed to the maypole, visualizing as you do, that the essence of your intentions have grounded themselves into the crystal “seed” you have planted, empowering and sustaining it through the light half of the year.
Spend some time working with the energy you have built and focused, and envisioning your intention become manifest.
An Offering for the Ancestors
Take up the plate or cup that has been sitting on the altar filled with a food offering or libation for the ancestors. Charge the offering with gratitude for their guidance and support of your working, and bless it with the energies of the Three Realms by sprinkling it with some water from the cauldron, adding to it some soil from the plant, and passing it through the mistletoe smoke. When you have completed the ritual, leave the offering outside by the roots of a tree, or leave it overnight on a window ledge if you do not have access to a garden or outdoor space.
Releasing and Honoring the Three Realms
Pick up the water-filled cauldron representing the Realm of Sea, and hold it in both hands before you. Extend it downward towards your feet and say:
“I give thanks to the deep reflective energies of the realm of Sea, resting place of the honored dead, our blessed ancestors and the those awaiting the gifts of rebirth. May I ever know the blessings of the elixir of the Cauldron of Wisdom, and may these sacred waters continue to overflow the inner chalice of my soul. So may it be.”
Return the cauldron to its place on the altar. Pick up the plant representing the Realm of Land and hold it in both hands before you. Extend it out in front of you and say:
“I give thanks to the life-sustaining energies of the realm of Land, in-dwelling essence of the spirit of nature and vitalistic force which empowers the sacred landscape. May I ever know the blessings of the Ancient Pathways, and may these lines of power continue to revitalize the inner landscape of my soul. So may it be.”
Return the plant to its place on the altar. Place some mistletoe on the lit charcoal and carefully pick up the vessel by its handle or by the trivet. Raise it above your head and say:
“I give thanks to the illuminating energies of the Realm of Sky, eternal cosmic tapestry weaving the primal pattern of all existence. May I ever know the the blessings of the clarity of far-reaching Sight, and may the breath of the Divine continue to reawaken my consciousness to its connection to Source found deep within my soul. So may it be.”
Return the incense vessel the altar.
Opening the Sacred Space
Once again, take the silver branch or rattle in your hand. Walk the perimeter of the circle moon-wise as you shake the branch nine times, visualizing the remaining energies of the working being absorbed down into the Earth and grounded as an offering to the area. Become aware of the boundaries between the worlds fading, and when you are done you should feel completely in the now outside of sacred time and space. If you are not feeling grounded and centered, bend and place both hands flat on the ground and discharge any remaining ritual energies down into the planet until you feel balanced and clear.
Keeping the Spark Alight
Once a candle has been lit with a sacred flame, its spirit can remain in the wick of a candle even after it has been extinguished. To preserve the energies of Awen in your candle, with clear intention and consciousness, smother the flame of the candle with a candle snuffer or a spoon while envisioning the Divine Spark becoming concentrated in the burnt wick. Keep this candle for meditation on the work you have set into motion anytime you need a reminder during the Light Half of the Year, or at anytime you can use the blessings of Awen in your life. When you light it anew, it will still hold the essence of this working and the energies of Awen; be sure to snuff it out again when you are done.
Keep your personal Maypole on your altar until Lughnasadh/Gwyl Awst as a reminder of the intentions of what you seek to manifest during the Light Half. Then, at Lughnasadh, time of the First Harvest, reflect on how far you have come in manifesting your intention and what yet needs to be done. You can then either burn the ribbons from your Maypole to catalyze the work of transformation for the remainder of the Light Half, or bury them to reinforce your desire to manifest these fruits of the spirit.
More information about Beltane/Calan Haf can be found here: Beltane: Portal of Transformation.
(This ritual first appeared in Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac: Samhain 2011 to Mabon 2012, “Between the Worlds – A Beltane Ritual for Divine Inspiration”, by Jhenah Telyndru)