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Wednesday, August 27

Litha Ritual 2014

I wanted something that had a lot of little roles, lots of small parts so that it would be suitable for a large family or something that a community with many children could use.  I wanted a song or fun chant.  I wanted sparklers.  I wanted teaching moments.

I think I did it.

This is the ritual my community used for Litha in 2014.  It was performed in a decorated circle with elaborate elemental shrines, chimes, and banners.

Prior to the ritual, you will need to create a large sun to be burned.  The creation of this is covered HERE.

Note that we chose the celtic Lugh to be our sun god in 2014.  You could use any sun deity of your choosing to honor.  Simply change out the myth told during that part of the ritual.  

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The Mama Stacey's Clan Litha Ritual
- to Rejoice in the Glory of Lugh -


Items needed we used:

Singing Bowl
Smudge Stick
Smudging Bowl
Lighter
Besom
Ritual Oil (something sunny, like calendula or grapefruit)
Cornmeal in an upcycled Tequila bottle
Cornmeal in 4 upcycled beer bottles (any glass bottle, will do)
Cards with elemental symbols drawn on them
Torch (try this one)
Athame
Drums, Rattles, and other instruments
Bowl of Herbal blend (lemon peel, epsom salts, marjoram, pine and other 'cleansing' plants)
Compass
Sparklers
2 Yellow candles
"Lugh" by Kelliana on MP3
"Element Chant" by Spiral Rhythm on MP3
Sun Wheel
Cookies
Tray of Ale (we use shot glasses)
Elaborate decorations for the circle (large elemental shrines, banners, flags, chimes, etc.)


Ritual Roles: 
Eastern Elemental (EE)*
Southern Elemental (SE)*
Western Elemental (WE)*
Northern Elemental (NE)*
Sun Spirit (or priest)**
Myth Keeper**
Priestess

*Each elemental has two actions during the ritual.  If you have a lot of volunteers (or want to make sure that everyone has a role in ritual) there can be two elementals per direction (1 to do the circle's direction invocations and 1 to do the ritual job).  

**If you have the opposite problem, a lack of volunteers, you can easily combine the roles of Sun Spirit and Myth Keeper to create a 'Priest' role or simply add them the the Priestess's duties. 


PRE-RITUAL PREP

Elemental shrines are marked and decorated.  An entrance to the circle is created beside the Eastern shrine.  For us, this was a seashell outlined pathway, but for you could be an archway, some lanterns, a special mat or runner, etc.  There should be a stacked firepit in the center of the circle, unlit.

To the northwestern side of the firepit, there should be a small Goddess shrine with a candle, bowl of sparklers, and goddess decor.  We chose a theme of blue and sea green to honor the ocean and water goddesses.  

To the southeastern side of the firepit, there should be a small God shrine with a candle, bowl of  sparklers, and god decor.  We chose red and gold colors for this altar in honor of the sun.

For ritual purposes, the elemental shrines should be well decorated with your choosing of items, however will need the following specific items:

East: 1 small bottle of cornmeal, a card with an air element symbol drawn on it, a singing bowl, bowl of mixed cleansing herbs

South: 1 small bottle of cornmeal, a card with a fire element symbol drawn on it, smudge, smudge bowl, lighter, wax torch, sun wheel

West: 1 small bottle of cornmeal, a card with a water element symbol drawn on it, tray of ale glasses, besom

North: 1 small bottle of cornmeal, a card with an air element symbol drawn on it, large cornmeal bottle, plate of cakes
Myth Keeper should have a stereo or set of speakers with MP3 player attached set up within reach of the circle, a written copy of the Lugh mythology to be recited should be on their person

We begin with all attendees waiting outside the Eastern entrance to the circle.  The Ritual Roles create the sacred space.


CREATING SACRED SPACE

EE rings the singing bowl around the ritual space, walking deosil.  EE returns the singing bowl to the altar and then stands before the eastern shrine.

SE carries the the lit smudge around the ritual space, walking deosil.  SE passes the smudge to the Priest/ess and then stands before the southern shrine.

WE swipes the besom around the ritual space, walking deosil.  WE sets the besom near the entrance to the circle and then stands before the western shrine.

NE pours the large bottle of cornmeal around the ritual space, walking deosil.  NE pours any remaining cornmeal into the firepit and then stands before the northern shrine. 

Priestess and Sun Spirit smudge each other and present the question,
"This is a temple of love and light.  How do you enter?" 
Proper responses are something along the lines of
"With an open mind and open heart." or "In perfect love and perfect trust."
Each then blesses the others third eye with a touch of ritual oil.  

Starting in the East, the Priestess and Sun Spirit smudge, present the question, and bless the third eye of the Elementals and the Myth Keeper.   

Next, the Priestess stands to one side of the entrance with the smudge.  The Sun Spirit stands at the other side with vial of ritual oil. Attendees enter one at a time and are smudged, presented with the question, and blessed with oil. 

After each attendee enters, Priestess says:
"Welcome to our circle.  Please walk once around the circle and then find a space that is comfortable for you."


WELCOMING

Priestess stands near the center so that all can hear.
"We'd like to welcome everyone hear today as we honor the Summer Solstice.  It is also known as Midsummer or Litha.  This is the day that the sun is at its zenith.  This day is often called 'longest-day, shortest-night', because the sun's light brightened the sky at 3:30 this morning and will glow until 11 o'clock tonight.  It is in awe and admiration of the sun's strength today that we gather."


CASTING SACRED SPACE

Priestess takes up the singing bowl.
"We will begin this ceremony with a series of breaths and yogic body rolls.  Stand tall with your feet steady on the ground, hands reaching up to the sky.  Now, allow yourself to roll forward at the waist, dangling your arms towards the Earth Mother.  Go only as far as is comfortable and relaxing for you.  With each deep breath, we will roll back up, arms to the Sky Father, and hold until the bowl is quiet.  On the out breath, we will roll back down."

"Our first breath in..."
Priestess rings the singing bowl once.
"And as you breathe out, feel your feet firmly on the groung, rooting down into the Earth.  Let Gaia support you."

"Our second breath in..."
Priestess rings the singing bowl once.
"And as you breathe out, let all the tension inside of you drain out through your fee.  Let Gaia take it away."

"Our third breath in..."
Priestess rings the singing bowl once.
"And as you breathe out, let the love and light from the heavens pour over you.  Let it rinse you clean, from the crown of your head to the roots of your feet.  Let if flow."


ELEMENTALS

Priestess:
"I ask for our Elementals to now lift up their bottles."
EE, SE, WE, and NE hold their bottles of cornmeal up.
"This is cornmeal, an item golden as the sun and sacred to the Celtic sun god, Lugh.  Lugh is a charmer, an achiever, a smiter of evil, and above all the Hero and High King of the Tuatha de Danann.  This golden meal will be used today to invoke the elements."

Myth Keeper begins a simple drum beat and says,
"We will us an old Pagan chant that you are invited to sing along with.  It goes like this: Earth my body, Water my blood, Air my breath, and Fire my spirit."

Myth Keeper continues to beat drum and chant the Elements chant.  Myth Keeper can play an MP3 of the song if needed.

Priestess cues the Elementals to begin while the circle chants.

EE pours cornmeal on the ground like sandart, forming the 'AIR' symbol on the ground.  EE uses the symbol card if they are unsure what the 'AIR' symbol looks like.  

SE pours cornmeal on the ground like sandart, forming the 'FIRE' symbol on the ground.  SE uses the symbol card if they are unsure what the 'FIRE' symbol looks like. 

WE pours cornmeal on the ground like sandart, forming the 'WATER' symbol on the ground.  WE uses the symbol card if they are unsure what the 'WATER' symbol looks like.  

NE pours cornmeal on the ground like sandart, forming the 'EARTH' symbol on the ground.  NE uses the symbol card if they are unsure what the 'EARTH' symbol looks like.  

Myth Keeper ends drumming and music.

Priestess raises athame to the cosmos.
"As above!"
Lowers the athame to touch the ground.
"So below!  May the Great Spirit fill this place."


DEITY INVOCATION

Priestess lights the Goddess candle.
"I call upon the energies of the divine feminine, the Venus, the Ocean Mother, the Great Matriarch to be here with us today.  She is known by many names and faces.  I now invite you to call Her into this circle by the name She has revealed to you."

Attendees step forward and take a sparkler from the Goddess altar, light them from the candle, and call out a Goddess name or energy.  Spent sparklers are tossed into the fire pit.

Sun Spirit lights the God candle.
"I call upon the energies of the divine masculine, the Greenman, the Sky Father, the Dancing Lord to be here with us today.  He is known by many names and faces.  I now invite you to call Him into this circle by the name He has revealed to you."

Attendees step forward and take a sparkler from the God altar, light them from the candle, and call out a God name or energy.  Spent sparklers are tossed into the fire pit.


GLORY OF LUGH CEREMONY

Myth Keeper stands in the center of the circle for all to hear.
"Lugh is one of the oldest Lords of the Sun in European culture.  His grandfather was  Balor, the Lord of the Underworld.  A prophecy told Balor that Lugh would one day kill him.  Balor tried to have Lugh drowned as an infant, but Lugh rolled away into the harbor and went on to live and study with master smiths, sailors, swordsmen, and crafters.  He returned as an adult to challenge Balor.  

Now, Balor's power lay in his eye.  He had an evil eye that should he look upon you with it, you would die.  Lugh used a sling to hit Balor's evil eye with a rock and defeated his grandfather, just as the prophecy had stated.  Lugh went on to become the leader of the Tuatha de Danann, the Celtic people.  He ruled with a flaming spear at his side.  He is worshipped as a defeather of evil, a man of eternal youth, a soldier, a craftsman, and King of all other gods.

Lugh is our champion today!  And, as the ancients and ancestors did for centuries, we will honor Him with fire."

Myth Keeper plays Kellianna's "Lugh" on the stereo or MP3 player while the fire is lit and grows.

SE steps toward the fire with the wax torch, lights it, and ignites the wood stack in the firepit.  

When the song is finished and the fire is burning, the Sun Spirit steps to the center of the circle.
"As the sun blazes in teh sky above us, I now ask that that same power and fierceness be extended to us.  Lugh, we invoke your might!  Burn away our troubles.  Blast away the tarnish in our lives to that we may shine brightly!"

EE walks the bowl of herbal mixture around the circle while the Sun Spirit explains.
"As this bowl comes around, take a handful and hold it tightly in your hands.  Close your eyes and push your darkness into it.  Push your pain, your fears, your burdens, and hold-backs into it.   When you are ready, approach the fire and throw it in.  Return to the circle."

When all are done, the Sun Spirit holds up the Sun Wheel.
"This is our Sun Wheel, a handmade offering for the Divine.  It was created by man of the folks here today and sat on our community altar all day yesterday to be changed with good thoughts and positive energy.  Some of you added to this blessing when you arrived today.  It is our offering so that Lugh may bless our lives."

All begin to drum, clap, and make noise to mimic a heartbeat.  The Sun Spirit holds the Sun Wheel up high and walks it around the circle deosil.  After the third circle, the Sun Spirit holds it over the fire.  Drums frenzy as it is placed in the fire.


COMMUNION

WE lifts the tray of Ale.  Priestess draws a pentacle over it.  
"Lady of abundance, bless these drinks that we may never thirst."

NE lifts the tray of cakes.  Priestess draws a pentacle over it.
"Lord of the harvest, bless this food that we may never hunger."


CLOSING

Priestess and Sun Spirit stand before the Goddess and God altars.  Priestess announces,
"Lord and Lady, we thank you for witnessing our joy this day.  Stay if you will, go if you must."
Goddess and God candles are extinguished.

"Elementals, we thank you for your blessings today.  Stay if you will, go if you must."

Priestess sweeps the besom widdershins around the circle to open.  She then rings the singing bowl a final time, allowing the vibration to dissolve the circle.

"Let the circle be open and let peace and love be carried in your hearts as you leave here.  Aho, Amen, and Blessed Be!"

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