|Candles (one for each in procession)
Flowering Branches (ditto)
Cakes (seed), Apples
Wine (white or something unusual like dandelion, or maybe mead)
Charging Bowl, etc.
|Cup, Pentacle, not on altar, but brought in as described below|
|(Note: People attending should bring their own candles)|
|(Also 4 ea. men & women in processional)|
The Circle is formed, with everyone holding their candles unlit, but only the Red and Black Women and Black Man are present (the rest enter as described below) -- the White Man waits at the East as part of the Circle, White Woman and Red Man at the West.
Meeting Dance & Circle Casting (by RW) as usual, except for the Charging Bowl, the ingredients of which are conjured as follows:
|Salt:||Salt of the Earth, I plant you here
As seeds are flung into fertile land.
Join us with Earth, our path make clear,
And power lend unto my hand.
|Oil:||Oil I pour, in darkling hour,
Reminding all of pleasure passed,
But by the blessing of your pow'r,
The darkness will be fled at last.
|Water:||Water of Life, the Mother's Blood,
I pour to quicken sleeping seed.
Your cleansing give, for all our good,
And waken Earth unto our need.
|Leaf:||Five-fold Leaf, bearer of dreams,
And living sign of growth anew,
I add for power to our schemes,
For blessing upon what we do.
When BW finishes the last "Honi Soit, etc.", on "the Circle is closed", all lights go out, and until the next light direction, the ritual is conducted in no more light than that of the Wards and the Altar Candles.
Black Man invokes the Quarters with the following:
|E:||The Sun returns; shall Earth be far behind?
O King, you wait the coming of your Bride;
Now join us, Merlin, with the pow'r of Wind,
And soon shall Nimue stand here by your side.
|S:||O Blessed Flame, awaken our desire,
And warm and free the cold and frost-bound Earth.
Prometheus, come with the pow'r of Fire,
And light the way for new life to come forth.
|W:||O Briget, beneath sacred apple trees,
Your day this is; oh, do not there abide.
Come to us, from your home beyond the Seas --
For you, our Western Gate will open wide.
|N:||O grieving one, your daughter is not dead --
She rises from the soil that gave her birth.
Now, Demeter, that Winter's chill is fled,
You can revive the flagging pow'rs of Earth.
|Dead:||Ye Dead, who lived in wisdom strong and plain,
Who worked of old the work we now begin,
Come, work, and feast, and live in us again,
Who are in spirit, as in flesh, your kin.
Now the three onstage celebrants come to the centre, and speak as follows:
|RW:||Dark the Earth in Winter's death,
Chilled by North Wind's freezing breath.
|All:||Come, White Swan!|
|BW:||Dark the village, dark the town,
Dark the barren, battered ground.
|All:||Come, White Swan!|
|BM:||White the Queen that awen brings:
The inspiration of all things.
|All:||Come, White Swan! (and so on)|
|RW:||She hangs her cloak on lightning rays;
Her dwelling place is all ablaze.
|BW:||Green and Gold the God reborn,
Crownéd King with crown of horn.
|BM:||Green and Gold the grass and grain
When the Lovers meet again.
|RW:||Long the Lord has sought his Bride;
In the shadow he abides.
|BW:||He has gone as Horse and Deer
Through the dark half of the year.
|BM:||Now he voyages as King,
And he shall wait within this ring.
(During this couplet, the White Man is cut in by the Black Man at the East, and led to the centre, where he waits silently, also with unlit candle, and Pentacle.
The refrain of "Come, White Swan!" continues, as a chant, becoming more and more urgent, to the point of desperation. Suddenly, the Black Man cries, "SILENCE!" He points, saying, "She comes."
Brief and complete silence.
The procession has entered quietly, with candles lit, women on the right in a line, and men on the left, with the Red Man leading and the White Woman following between the two lines, the White Woman carrying the cup and her lit candle.
The procession makes its way sunwise around the outside of the Circle, to end at the West, singing (Latin) and repeating if necessary (unlikely):
Mater Tarrae non moritus est, sed dormivit.
Ecce, venit, via Eius collucet,
Ex tenebris Brumalis.
The Earth Mother has not died, but slept.
Behold, She comes, Her way is lit,
Out of Winter darkness.
Filius Amatorque renatus
Pater omnibus qui sunt fiet.
Ecce, res virides surgunt
Ex sepulchris brevibus.
The reborn Son and Lover
Shall become Father to all that is.
Behold, the green things rise
Out from their shallow graves.
Tenebrae Brumali Sepulchrique
Tenebrae educatus fiet
Alvi ex quo omnes renati sunt.
The darkness of Winter and the Grave
Is become the nurturing dark
Of the Womb from which all are reborn.
Laudate Sponsa Collium Alborum,
Briget! Ave et Salve Ei
qui nos ad Lucem et Vitam fert.
Praise the Bride of the White Hills,
Briget! Hail and Welcome to She
Who brings us into Light and life!
They are let in, still humming the tune, while the Red Man announces Briget with the English translation above, and she circles sunwise, lighting everyone's candles from her own, returning to stand facing the White Man, whose candle is still unlit. The procession circle them, women on the Quarters, men on the Cross-Quarters, and set their candles down, joining the rest of the Circle. The singing fades, and WM and WW speak as follows:
|WM:||I am the Hunter, Lord of the Sunlight,
Master of Wildness; Earth is my throne.
|WW:||I am the Herder, Lady of Moonlight,
Mother of Kingship, mastered by none!
|WM:||I am the Seeker -- long have I travelled
Far to find She who was born with the dawn.
|WW:||I am the Sought-for -- done is your journey.
Briget my name is, the Exalted One!
|WM:||I am the poet; I am the hammer;
I am the sick one; I am alone.
|WW:||I am the poem; I am the blacksmith;
I am the healer; I am the one.
She lights his candle from hers, and they speak as follows:
|WM:||We are well met, and wedded well at last.|
|WW:||Let Earth bear fruit -- her barren time is past.|
The Cone is raised to the fruitfulness of Earth, and necessary healings (and the blessing of poets!!), and directed by both WW and WM. (Sugg. chant: Hoof & Horn)
Then the lights are brought up as they extinguish their candles (everyone else too?) and they embrace.
After this, WM and WW take thei tools up to the altar; wine is on his side, cakes and apples on hers. He pours into her cup, saying:
Wine sleeps in darkness, and in light is poured.
Seed, in darkness poured, is possibility.
The cup gets passed, and she places the fruit and bread onto his paten, saying:
In fertile darkness, life grows into birth.
I bring forth fruit, to show how it will be.
Feasting; power grounded and Circle broken as usual.
Notes from way better than a decade later... This is exactly as I wrote it, capitalizations and British spellings included (I took myself so seriously then...) except for one part: when I wrote it, I knew no Latin, and so I had a friend of mine do the translation for me. What I didn't know at the time was that he knew little more Latin than I did. I look now at what he did and cringe. So I retranslated the Latin. It sings better now, though it may still be incorrect in spots... Actually, I look at a lot of what's up there and cringe, but that's fine; it's a perfect picture of the person I was and what I thought was good...
For what it may be worth, the invocation of the Blessed Dead which I wrote for this ritual managed to weasel its way into the tradition -- I think nobody, anymore, remembers where it came from... Clearly that old stuff of mine wasn't all bad... ;) And for all that I'm sitting here dissing my old self, I have to confess that I'm still quite proud of the "Come White Swan" litany and the hymn. I remember how nervous I was right before my entrance (I was Briget for this ritual)... it really did mean something to me then, and in that respect I've never changed. Every ritual I ever do is really meaningful to me at the moment I do it, however I may feel about it before or afterwards.
There's a lot about this ritual that someone not familiar with standard NROOGD forms won't get. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the basic NROOGD ritual isn't online anywhere, or if it is, I haven't found it. But you can find out more about NROOGD at the CoG website. Suffice it to say that the gods and demi-gods invoked in the quarters are the traditional ones NROOGD always used.
The idea of Brigid=Bride is NROOGDy too. I don't particularly agree with that idea now, any more than I did then, but although I was replacing a ritual that had that idea (because there were other aspects of it I didn't like), I held myself within the constraints of the god- and ritual-forms provided -- later I cared less hard about so constraining myself.
Amusingly, it turns out that that same old NROOGD Imbolc worked its way into the local Thelemic community too in the late 70s or early 80s, probably by way of a particular priestess (Chandria) who was a member of both communities (and who, I think, wrote that original Imbolc ritual). And now I'm going to be replacing it again, since I feel that the cross-quarter days need Thelemic rituals for my Lodge to do. I've already begun the process with a Beltaine, and I think that by next year I'll have a new Imbolc for the first time in a long time. Then it'll be interesting to compare this with that...