A MidSpring Ritual

Midspring is a month away, and planning teams are starting to get to work, so in hopes of reaching the ears of said teams, I would like to propose a differently structured ritual, a Wicca that is inclusive of trans people, same-sex relationships, and asexuals. 

The upcoming sabbat, often called Beltane, is usually modeled after rituals where farmers would wish for the success of their crops. The actual historical truth of these events are less important than the myths that have been perpetuated of farmers engaging in real or symbolic cis-hetero sex to bless that years crops. The main thrust of the rituals I have been in is that this mock sex formed a strong parallel between plant fertility, human fertility, and livestock fertility; and that humans who did their part would ensure the safety of the other two.

This dovetails nicely with a few myths the cis-heteropatriarchy likes to push: that western models of gender apply to all humans and that plants and animals have genders which bear a resemblance to our own.

So what’s a queer to do? I’m not saying we should throw out gender as a social or magical construct. However, it is imperative that we allow the construct to grow and change to be compassionate to our fellow humans. After all, if there’s one myth we hold that nature does reflect, it’s that we are social creatures who are intimately connected to the natural world.

Group Version

Roles

  • 4 people minimum, there will be overlaps
  • At least one High Priest, Priestess, Priestex, or Priesten to be Officiant
  • Someone to call each of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water.
  • Earth people: usually women, who bring cakes
  • Sun people: usually men, who bring instruments
  • Rain people: usually non-binary and/or genderqueer folks, who bring the drink

Materials

  • A lighter, preferably a long one
  • Incense/censer/charcoal/tongs
  • A plate for cakes
  • A fancy goblet for the drink
  • A big altar table
  • Chairs for people who need them
  • An Athame
  • A symbol of the God (Sun, Men, Animals, Death)
  • A symbol of the Goddess (Moon, Women, Plants, Birth)
  • A symbol of the Godden (Stars, Nonbinary folks, Fungi, Decay)
  • If inside, a floor tarp
  • Non-toxic, water soluble green paint. NON-TOXIC.
  • Paintbrushes (optional)
  • Something to set dirty brushes on (optional)

Notes

  • Clothing is optional. Please do not shame anyone for their decisions in this matter, clothed, skyclad, or in-between.
  • Sun people should make sure they are okay getting paint on whatever instruments they bring, or pack some baby wipes to wash their hands as needed.
  • If you do not have hands or feel uncomfortable having your hands painted on, I suggest painting another body part you associate with friendship or a blank shirt that you do not mind ruining.
  • Please be aware of dietary restrictions when bringing cakes and drink. I advise against any alcohol. It is completely acceptable not to sip the drink if you have a contagious illness such as a cold or serious phobia thereof. Simply speak the blessings and pass the goblet.
  • Check beforehand if anyone has asthma or smell sensitivity that precludes the use of incense. In that case, saltwater in a spray bottle can do just fine.

Steps

  1. Setup and cleanse the space. I highly recommend smoke cleansing with rosemary.
  2. As each participant enters with their gift, the Officiant touches the athame to their sternum and issues a challenge: It is better that you should fall upon this blade than to enter with fear in your heart. How do you enter?
  3. The participant answers, “In perfect love and perfect trust.” The officiant then cleanses them with smoke or saltwater. They hug or shake hands.
  4. Participants should gather in a circle around the altar. If they brought idols or other altar items, they can be placed there now.
  5. Once all participants are present, the Officiant casts the circle according to their training.
  6. Each element is called in turn according to local customs regarding which goes in what direction. If you don’t have a local lore: Earth in the North, Air in the East, Fire in the South, and Water in the West.
  7. In the North: Earth, fertile soil, source of new life, new ways of living, source of bodies in all their variety, we invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, Earth.”
  8. In the East: Air, source of all breath, carrier of words and sound, uncapturable spirit, you who move the rain, we invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, Air.
  9. In the South: Fire, divine spark, great transformer, spirit of passion, you who bring warmth like the sun even in the dead of winter, we invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, Fire.
  10. In the West: Water, element of healing, who runs through our veins, rains that herald the flowers, we invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, Water
  11. The Earth people present their gifts to the altar and call the Goddess: Goddess, holy mother, soft strength, nurturer and nurtured, we bring you cakes and invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, Goddess.
  12. The Sun people present their gifts to the altar and call the God: God, holy father, constant companion, servant and protector, we bring you song and invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, God.
  13. The Rain people present their gifts to the altar and call the Godden: Godden, holy parent, creative balance, many names and none, we bring you drink and invite you to our mid-spring celebration. Hail and be welcome, Godden.
  14. The Officiant blesses the green paint and paint brush: In the spirit of the new growing season I dedicate this paint and brush with the energy of hope, love, and cooperation.
  15. The Officiant asks for a volunteer to be the first blessed. As the Officiant paints a pentacle on the first recipient’s hands, they recite: Heart to heart, hand to hand, let our work bless the land.
  16. The paint and brushes are made available. People ask to be blessed by others as they feel called: different locations, different symbols, multiple blessings. All that truly matters is consent and joy.
  17. Once all those who wish to be blessed have been, participants return to their original locations.
  18. The Officiant asks the Sun people to pick up the instruments and play.
  19. The Officiant picks up the cakes and passes them to a participant, saying “May you never hunger.” The participant takes the plate, saying “Blessed Be” before consuming a cake. They then pass the cakes on to the next participant with the same blessing.
  20. The Officiant picks up the goblet and passes them to a participant, saying “May you never thirst.” The participant takes the plate, saying “Blessed Be” before taking a sip from the goblet. They then pass the drink on to the next participant with the same blessing.
  21. This process will take some time as the Sun people will have to stop playing as the cakes and drink reach them. Enjoy it.
  22. Once the plate and goblet have reached the altar again, the Officiant asks the Sun people to stop playing and return the instruments.
  23. Rain people bid farewell to the Godden: Godden, creative balance, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  24. Sun people bid farewell to the God: God, constant companion, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  25. Soil people bid farewell to the Goddess: Goddess, nurturer and nurtured, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  26. In the west: Water, spring rain, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  27. In the south: Fire, strengthening sun, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  28. In the East: Air, warming breeze, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  29. In the North: Earth, new soil, thank you for joining us. Go if you must. Stay if you will.
  30. The Officiant releases the circle according to their training.
  31. Feasting and dancing may continue as long as folks want to go for.

Version for 1-3 People

Materials

  • A flat surface to use for an altar
  • A food
  • A non-alcoholic drink
  • A music-making device
  • A symbol of the God (Sun, Men, Animals, Death)
  • A symbol of the Goddess (Moon, Women, Plants, Birth)
  • A symbol of the Godden (Stars, Nonbinary folks, Fungi, Decay)
  • Green paint, preferably something non-toxic and water-soluble
  • A brush
  • Something to set the dirty brush on
  • Either an incense setup or a spray bottle with saltwater.

If you want to get fancy

  • Decorate your space with colors of new flowers and green shoots

Notes

  1. If you are alone, you will have to do all the calls and farewells.
  2. If you are two, one person will call and dismiss the elements, the other the deities.
  3. If you are three, each of you will call one deity, and one of you will call two elements. The least experienced person should call two elements. 

Steps

  1. Setup and cleanse the space with incense or saltwater.
  2. Claim your sacred space in your usual fashion. If you don’t have a preferred circle casting, try walking around the altar three times clockwise, imagining a barrier going up the encircles the whole room in a sphere.
  3. Call the elements as described above.
  4. Call the Goddess, God, and Godden using the calls above.
  5. Bless the paint and brush as described above.
  6. This is where things get different. If you are alone, paint a pentacle on your non-dominant palm. Put the brush down and clasp your palms together while blessing yourself: With an open heart and busy hands, my work will bless me and the land. If you are with another person or persons, bless each other.
  7. Feast. Make music, enjoy the cakes and ale! If you are alone there is no need to speak the blessings.
  8. Bid farewell to the deities as described above.
  9. Bid farewell to the elements as described above.
  10. Release the circle. If you circled the altar three times to put the circle up, take it down by circling the altar once counterclockwise and imagining the barrier going away.

A note on the term “work”. Our society gives many people the impression that work only counts if it makes something or value or earns money. That is not the case here. It is work to cook, clean, and raise children. It is work to hold space for the emotions of others. It is work to fight depression day after day, even if it looks as though you are simply stuck in bed. Fighting to live is work. Everyone does different work, and that is okay. Even if we eradicated every illness, everyone would still do different work, because that is the natural order for a social species such as humans.

In theory, this ritual could be made child friendly by not casting a circle. Please do not pose the challenge in step 2 to anyone under the age of 18 without prior informed consent of the participant and their parent/guardian. You may offer younger participants (13-18) the option of being challenged with a finger to the sternum rather than the Athame. I would like to emphasize the phrase “In theory” because children are small, beautiful agents of chaos.

If your circle has an imbalance in favor of one gender group or a complete lack of a particular gender group, it is proper to ask for volunteers to take on roles outside their typical designation. It is also acceptable for people to self-designate. For example, if a woman or nonbinary person feels called to the Sun group because they are a protective person, then gender is secondary.

I don’t expect any group to use this ritual wholesale, however it is my solemn wish that some of you will take some element. I also want to be clear that I don’t think every group should shift how they do things. There is value in reclaiming the sacred nature of human procreation. What I want is for people to have options, to realize that not all humans find the divine in procreation, that inclusion is an active decision to change, and that Wicca will benefit from growth. Above all, please enjoy your upcoming Midspring celebrations in a compassionate spirit.

About the Author

Hello there! My name is Critter, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, and I am: bisexual, agender, AFAB, perisex, white Brazilian-American, able-bodied, neurotypical, allistic, and alterhuman. Pittsburgh is my hometown, but I currently live in New England. My practice is a mix between Neowicca and Reclaiming Witchcraft. I write to bring queer and interfaith friendly options to Paganism and Magic. I also help run a group called Open Ritual Rhode Island, and lead workshops on making paganism more inclusive.

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