Beltaine - A Red Ritual by De-Anna Alba from Cauldron of Change
In the Mythic cycle/seasonal cycle of life, Aradia, Beltaine celebrates Her rite of passage into womanhood. She passes from girl-child to fertile woman and enters into the heart of Women’s Mysteries, the unique power that belongs to the female alone. With it come rights and responsibilities. She enters the house of the Moon and feels its influence within the ebb and flow of Her own body. She sees for the first time how the monthly cycle of Her body reflects the larger cycle of the seasons of the year, and of all life which passes into existence through the feminine. Her blood also celebrates that connection, and the connection to the Great Goddess at First Ancestress.
This ritual requires the red cords and red clothing, or white clothing with red “stains.” (or no clothes at-all!) The altar cloth and candles are red. A bouquet of red carnations or roses sits upon the altar. The bouquet includes one flower for each woman present. There is a garland of flowers for Aradia, as well. Wine, pomegranate juice, cherry juice, cranberry juice, or menstrual blood is in the chalice. The cauldron contains glowing coals upon which water may be sprinkled to create steam. If this cannot be managed, burn a smokey incense (like frankincense tears) on the coals. Incense, a candle, water and salt are placed around the cauldron. The youngest woman present will enact the part of Aradia. The eldest will be the First Ancestress and will wear the lunar crescent.
The ritual bath area should be lit with red candles; red carnations and white gardenias (or carnations) should float in the bath water. Add a few drops of musk oil to the water. An earthy incense should burn in the censer – patchouli, or another of your preference. Each takes the ritual bath, beginning with the woman enacting the roll of Aradia. During the bath, thought should be given to the special significance of menarche and how nice it would have been if we each had been honored in this way. Take time to honor yourself. As each woman emerges from the bath, the Facilitating Priestess gives her an herbal tea made for the bleeding woman. This could be a PMS teas, a tea for cramps, or one to encourage the flow. The choice is yours.
When all is ready and the altar candles are lit, the Facilitating Priestess casts the Circle, consecrates it and consecrates all present, and then invokes the Quarters. She then calls the woman acting the part of the First Ancestress to join her behind the altar. The Facilitating Priestess picks up the crescent crown and turns to face the women. She invokes Her saying:
“Oh Ancient of Days, Prime Progenitress, She who lived first so that we might live and our foremothers before us, be with us now to welcome your daughter, Aradia, into the community of all women and into the Circle of Life. Grant us Your presence and wisdom, and share your joy.”
The Facilitating Priestess crowns the First Ancestress and pauses a moment to allow Her to speak if She will. The Facilitating Priestess then calls the woman enacting Aradia to the front of the altar. She places the garland of flowers on Her head and says:
“Aradia, daughter of All Mother, today You enter the community of all women and assume the responses and responsibilities of a woman grown. The ebb and flow of Your body connects You to the cycles of the Lady Moon and the tides of Yemaya; to the Great Mother, Gaia, and the divine female in all Her manifestations. This is the time of Your greatest power and the elements will bless you to it.”
The Facilitating Priestess takes the chalice from the altar, stands beside Aradia, puts her arm around Her and gently guides Her to the Eastern Quarter. There she raises the chalice and invokes the element and Goddesses of Air, saying:
“Hear me O Mighty Ones, Great Queens of the regions of the East, we ask that you attend us here and consecrate this woman born with the power and wisdom of the spirits of the Air.”
The woman standing at the East takes the chalice from the Priestess and, dipping her finger (s) in it, anoints Aradia on the forehead (third eye) with the red fluid, saying:
“I give You the gift of focused attention. Of it is born intuition and action as well as awareness of Yourself and Your needs. With it You’ll know Yourself and others – their truths and their falsehoods; their intentions toward you for good or for ill. You’ll see to the heart of every matter and act with wisdom, integrity and honor. Each month when You bleed, remember me and my gift with an offering of incense and smoke.”
Aradia throws incense on the coals in the cauldron. The Priestess regains the chalice and guides Aradia to the South. Holding the chalice aloft, she invokes:
“Hear me oh Mighty Ones, Great Queens of the regions of the South, we ask that you attend us here and consecrate this woman born with the powers and the wisdom of the spirits of the South.”
The Priestess hands the chalice to the woman at the South, who anoints Aradia’s womb with the fluid therein, saying:
“I give to You the gift of passion and the responsibilities thereof: to give of Your body to those You feel are worthy; to take delight in the pleasures of the flesh along with the emotional honesty and clarity it demands; to know and to respect Your need – and the needs of others – for separation as well as for union; for privacy as well as for intimacy; for gentle love as well as for driving lust. Know, too, that Your body can now create, nourish and birth a child – a sacred task not undertaken lightly, if at all. Be mindful of the choice. Each month when You bleed remember me with an offering of fire.”
Aradia takes a new candle from beside the cauldron, lights it from the cauldron’s cols and sets it up to the South of the cauldron. The Facilitating Priestess takes back the chalice and escorts Aradia to the West, where she invokes, with raised chalice:
“Hear me oh Mighty Ones, Great Queens of the region of the West; we ask that you attend us here and consecrate this woman born with the wisdom and powers of the spirits of the West.”
The woman in the West takes the chalice and anoints Aradia’s breasts, saying:
“Mine is the gift of intuition – to know Your body and the cycles of its seasons. Such knowledge of your body will increase Your psychic abilities and will ease the transition into and out of Your greatest time of personal power, which is centered within Your bleeding time. Go into Your Moon Temple at that time and divine the future, integrate the past, decide Your course of action for the present, and remember me with an offering of fluid.”
Aradia takes the chalice and pours a small libation from it into the cauldron. She then returns the chalice to the Priestess, who takes it and guides Her to the North. The Priestess invokes with raised chalice, saying:
“Hear me oh Mighty Ones, Great Queens of the region of the North, attend us here and consecrate this woman born with the wisdom and the powers of the spirits of the North.”
The woman standing in the North takes the chalice and anoints Aradia’s feet, saying:
“May Your feet rest firmly on the understanding I bring – the knowledge of the sacred ground upon which You walk. The Earth, Herself complete with cycles and seasons of life and of death as reflected in Your body and Hers. Your own divinity is a diminutive reflection of Her Holiness. Each month, when You bleed, remember me with an offering of salt.”
Aradia throws a pinch of salt into the cauldron. The Facilitating Priestess returns the chalice to the altar picks up the bouquet and gives one flower to each woman in the Circle except for Aradia. Aradia, escorted by the Priestess, is then presented to each woman in the Circle, beginning with the woman to the left of the First Ancestress. Each woman hands Aradia her flower with a wish for Her. Each woman then connects her red cord to the waist portion of the cord of the woman to her right, saying something about the monthly blood connecting us to the women who have gone before us, or about it being a red thread woven into the tapestry of all women’s lives.
When Aradia comes to the First Ancestress, She receives a flower and wish from Her. Aradia is then placed in the Circle to the right of the First Ancestress. The Facilitating Priestess ties Aradia’s cord to the waist cord of the woman on Her right. The Priestess then ties the cord of the First Ancestress to Aradia’s waist, saying:
“Thus is the last connected to the first and the first to the last within the Circle of women. Your blood connects You to all who have gone before and to all who are yet to come, and binds You directly to She Who Bled First. And the red thread spins on in the hands of the Ancient of Days.”
She touches the hands of the First Ancestress. The Facilitating Priestess steps to the center of the Circle near the cauldron, replenishes the smoke, removes her own cord, lays it in a circle around the cauldron and the four elements on the floor, and says:
“And when we come to the time when our bleeding stops and it returns to the elements from which it came, we will gladly stand on the rim of the cauldron of transformation (she straddles it) and embrace and honor the changes it brings.”
All women untie themselves from each other and remove the cord from their waist, dropping it at their feet in a ritual foreshadowing (or remembering) their own menopause. The Facilitating Priestess says:
“And our connection to each other will turn from red to gray.” (She indicates her hair.)
The First Ancestress is thanked, and the crown is returned to the altar. The ritual of Milk, Honey and Grain is celebrated. All sit to feast and to share stories of their own menarche – how they felt, and how their mothers reacted. Any information relative to the May Moon is passed on. The Quarters are dismissed and the Circle is declared open.
The Rite is ended.
Beltaine The Red Ritual by De-Anna Alba. This ritual is from The Cauldron of Change: Myth, Mysteries, Magick of the Goddess. Delphi Press, August 2993, ISBN: 978-1878980083. Used with permission from the author. De-Anna Alba has a ritual consulting service and provide spiritual direction for Wiccans, Pagans and Goddess Worshippers of all stripes. Interested parties may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org