|Charging Bowl, etc
Censer & 2 kinds of incense
Knife blunted with duct tape
|Charms (may be wood, stone, etc, marked with runes or other guardian sigils) for all watchers|
|(Also 2 Attendants to the Goddess, and numerous Fey Things)|
The Goddess, the Kings and the Fey are hidden; the horn or gong is haning from a nearby tree limb. The circle is formed and the meeting dance done. Sacred space is created by 1stPs standing in the centre of the circle and swinging the bullroarer. 1st and 2nd Ps both then say:
IT IS BEGINNING. IT IS BECOMING. IT IS BEFALLING.
THIS PLACE IS SACRED. THIS TIME IS SACRED. THIS WAY IS SACRED.
The Charging Bowl is mixed by 1st Ps as follows:
STIR THE STUFF AND SING THE SPELL;
BOWL OF BLESSINGS BLENDED WELL!
SALT IS SAV'RY, STINGS THE TONGUE,
EARTHY ANCHOR EVER-STRONG;
OIL TO EASE THROUGH OBSTACLES,
FRAGRANT, NOBLE, MAGICAL;
WATER WASHES, HEALS US WHOLE,
SOOTHES THE SKIN AND FILLS THE SOUL;
LAST THE LEAF THE BREW TO SEAL;
VASTER VISION IT REVEALS.
STIR THE STUFF AND SING THE SPELL;
BOWL OF BLESSINGS, BLEND YE WELL.
LADY OF THE SILVER WHEEL,
LORD OF MAGIC'S MYSTERY,
WORK ACCORDING TO MY WILL,
ELEMENTS, I CONJURE YE!
Now 1stPs and 2ndPs go around the circle "smudging and sperging" everybody, using the following charms:
SACRED SMOKE NOW SPREAD AND FILL;
BREAK AND BANISH EVERY ILL.
BLESSINGS MINGLED IN THE BOWL,
TOUCH AND MAKE OF US A WHOLE.
NOW WE MUST LEAVE FOR A LAND FEW SEE:
NO MORTAL LIVES THERE, NOR LONG MAY STAND.
TO TOUCH IT SHATTERS THE MYSTERY,
SO HOLD INSTEAD TO THIS TALISMAN.
1stPs and 2ndPs pass out the charms, empowering them with this chant:
GODDESS OF THE CROSSROADS, LORD WHO SHOWS THE TRACK,
TAKE US SWIFTLY TO OUR GOAL, AND SAFELY BRING US BACK.
2ndPs invokes the Quarters & Dead as follows:
EASTWARD I STAND, AIR I BID LISTEN:
WHIRL US THROUGH WIND TO THE PLACE BEHIND THOUGHT;
PROTECT US FROM HARMS THAT COME BY AIR OR ARROGANCE;
HELP US TO KNOW THE MESSAGE OF ACTS.
SOUTHWARD I STAND, FIRE I BID LISTEN:
SPEED US THROUGH FLAME TO THE PLACE BEFORE SPIRIT;
PROTECT US FROM HARMS THAT COME BY FIRE OR ANGER;
HELP US TO SEE WHAT DARKNESS CONCEALS.
WESTWARD I STAND, WATER I BID LISTEN:
FLOAT US ON WAVES TO THE PLACE BELOW FEELING;
PROTECT US FROM HARMS THAT COME BY WATER OR FEAR;
HELP US TO DARE THE OPENING OF OUR HEARTS.
NORTHWARD I STAND, EARTH I BID LISTEN:
LEAD US THROUGH STONE TO THE PLACE BEYOND FLESH;
PROTECT US FROM HARMS THAT COME BY LAND OR AVARICE;
HELP US TO HOLD BODY AND SPIRIT TOGETHER.
CENTERED I STAND, ANCESTORS I BID LISTEN:
GUIDE US THROUGH WORLDS TO THE REALM OF THE GODS;
PROTECT US FROM THE HARMS THAT COME BY UNKNOWING;
GIVE US THE WISDOM TO DISCERN WHAT WE SHALL SEE.
[Note from LAH, a decade later: I don't remember if I wrote that Quarter/Dead invocation or if Anya did. It sure has been a long time... :/ ]
While the people dance widdershins, chanting quietly:
EARTH AND WATER, FIRE AND AIR,
CARRY US, CARRY US, CARRY US THERE.
1stPs takes the circle to the otherworld with this invocation over the chant:
ON THE TRACK OF THE WHITE HART AND THE GOLDEN-BRISTLED BOAR;
THROUGH THE TRILITHONS, UNDER THE MOUNDS, IN NAMELESS, ANCIENT WOODLANDS;
UNDER THE EARTH, ABOVE THE SKY, JUST OUTSIDE OF TIME;
WHERE THE WORLD TREE STANDS, WHICH FIRE AND RAIN CAN NEVER FELL;
WHERE THE DEAD AND THE YET-UNBORN GATHER POTENTIAL TO BE;
WHENCE ALL IMAGES COME, SOURCE OF DREAM AND MYTH AND MYSTERY;
WHERE THE CAULDRON IS STIRRED, THE FORGE IS FIRED, THE THREAD IS WOVEN;
WHERE THE POOL'S WATERS HOLD KNOWLEDGE FOR WHO WOULD DRINK AND OFFER;
WHERE THE DREAMTIME TWILIGHT IS BRIGHTENED BY OUR FESTAL BONFIRES;
WHERE THE TREES AND WINDS AND SUN AND MOON TAKE HUMAN SHAPES;
WHERE THE COSMIC FORCES MOVE, ETERNALLY DANCING THE PATTERNS;
WHERE THE WATCHING EYE CAN READ THE CYPHER OF TRUTH FROM SYMBOLS;
WHERE EVEN NOW THEY WAIT FOR US! NOW WE COME TO THEM! NOW!
The chant grows and climaxes, then the Priestesses silence everybody.
There should be a moment of quiet, then eerie music begins; here one of the hidden Fey might light a stick of different incense. The point is to let the people know, through all of their senses, that things are different now.
The entire sequence in the Otherworld is done without any words -- there should be hidden musicians or a pre-recorded tape to play music appropriate to the action, as in Japanese Noh theatre. The action should be slow and dreamlike; the combat in particular should be slow and stylized. The Otherworld denizens should act as though the people of the circle are not there at all.
Here are the sequences of action, with suggestions for musical accompaniment:
|INTRODUCTION -- SETTING
The Fey pop out of the bushes and back in again.
Life in the Otherworld. Suddenly, everybody rushes into hiding.
|Strange, modal music; flutes/whistles|
|THE WINTER KING & THE SUMMONING
WK appears with staff, strides through the circle, goes over to the horn/gong and mimes sounding it (or actually does, if he can)
|A stately theme; then hunting horns, alarums, bells|
|THE SUMMER KING
SK comes out from behind the tree where the horn/gong is hanging. He looks WK up and down and throws his head back, laughing. When le looks down again, his face is angry; he draws sword and attacks WK.
|A merry theme; pipes or fiddle (or both). Should harmonize/polyphonize with WK theme|
The combat should move all over the place, through the circle, everywhere. Choreography is up to the participants, but after an initial success by SK, it should be made apparent that SK has severly misjudged WK. SK should be wild and frantic; WK self-assured. Eventually SK is disarmed and struck down. WK takes the sword.
|Percussion -- listen to Noh music for the right idea. Eventually WK and SK themes come in, played together, with each being more or less dominant depending on the course of the fighting. WK should be dominant at the end, with SK theme fading out|
The Goddess appears and stops the fight before WK kills SK. She perswades them to make peace with each other and convinces SK that it's time for him to step down. She summons her attendants, who bring the plate of cakes and the cup -- the wine too, but unobtrusively. She draws the blunted knife and hands it to WK. SK kneels, submissive; Goddess kisses him. WK takes SK by the hair and draws the knife across his throat; Goddess pours the wine out under SK's throat, into the cup. The attendants take up SK and carry him away; the Goddess goes with them, leaving WK with the wine and cakes.
|Sweet, gentle music; harps, et al. Should harmonize with both WK and SK themes. When SK is carried off, his theme is played as a dirge.|
For the first time in about 15 minutes (as long as this sequence should take), there is speech. 2ndPs goes to the edge of the circle, cuts a gate, and invokes WK as follows (music can continue; WK's theme, softly):
LORD OF HARVEST, HUNT, AND FEAST,
LORD OF FOREST, FIELD, AND BEAST,
LORD OF WINTER CROWNED ANEW,
HEAR US CALLING UNTO YOU.
HERE YOUR ALTAR WAITING STANDS,
HERE YOUR CIRCLE, HAND IN HAND.
COME TO US, WE PRAY YOU, HEED;
BEAR YOUR GIFTS TO ALL WHO NEED.
WK turns to the circle as if seeing people there for the frist time. He picks up the cakes & wine and brings them with him into the circle. He offers the cup to 2ndPs's lips, but she holds him off, saying:
LORD, YOU KNOW WELL THAT MORTAL RISKS HER SOUL
WHO EATS OR DRINKS IN FAERIE.
He nods, with a little smile. There should be a little more of the "Introduction" music to go under the next part, but gradually it should fade out before the end; while the people dance deasil and chant:
WIND AND FLAME AND SEA AND STONE,
CARRY US, CARRY US, CARRY US HOME.
1stPs retunrs the circle to our world with the following words:
SUMMER'S KING IS CARRIED SWIFT AWAY TO THE ISLE OF APPLES;
HEALING AWAITS HIM THERE AND IN HIS OWN TIME HE'LL RETURN.
OUR TIME HERE IS ENDED, AND WE MUST AS WE CAME MOVE HOME.
WHERE FLESH IS SOLID, SIGHT IS TRUTHFUL, THOUGHT HAS MEANING;
WHERE FOOD NOURISHES, TASTE AND SUBSTANCE FIRM THE BODY;
WHERE HOMES AND TILTH AND SACRED GROUNDS INFORM THE SELF;
WHERE SUN AND MOON AND STARS AND LIVING PUT US IN TIME;
WHERE THE QUARTERS AND THE CIRCLE'S CENTRE PUT US IN PLACE;
WHERE OUR LIVES ARE ENRICHED BY THE GIFTS WE BRING FROM OTHER WORLDS;
WHERE REMEMBERED VISION WORKS IN ALL OUR ACTS AND PERCEPTIONS;
ELEMENTAL POW'RS AND HONOURED DEAD, THANKS FOR YOUR GUIDANCE!
NOW OUR HOMES AND LIVES ARE WAITING. HERE THEY ARE! NOW!
WK should sag a little at the end of this (it may not be voluntary!) signifying that the God has left. Then, finally, the cakes and wine are passed around, 2ndPs saying:
THESE GIFTS BROUGHT BACK FROM THE OTHERWORLD
RETAIN THEIR BENEFIT BUT NOT THEIR DANGER.
EAT NOW WITHOUT FEAR AND SHARE THE OTHERWORLD'S BLESSING.
The circle is taken down by whirling the bullroarer in the opposite direction, and the other Celebrants are let in to be fed and grounded. Take time and care about this, so that all are firmly back in this world. I like the grounding from the Samhain sabbat (q.v.). [Note from LAH a decade later: actually, that particular grounding appears to have become S.O.P. for NROOGD sabbats, much to my amusement and delight...]
The Summer King should be Jack-in-the-Green, with leaves and goat horns. The Winter King should be Herne, wearing (if at all possible) buckskin or buckskin-looking longhunter clothes, with antlers (a horned helmet is fine). The Goddess should look queenly, and the Priestess playing Her has every license to dress as her own idea of the Goddess indicates. The Fey should be fey (anything from Midsummer Night's Dream faeries to the tribal Otherworld denizens from Moonheart. Leaves, flowers, small horns, featehrs, etc, are all possibilities.)
[First, one last "decade later" note: I can't believe I actually wrote what follows here. How pretentious! Oh well. I dunno who I was trying to convince... but perhaps I may be excused, it was a long time ago -- I was so much older then, I'm so much younger now... ;) ]
Yes, this is a heavy one. However, by no means should the ritual suggest human sacrifice; not only should the Summer King (who is the Spirit of Vegetation) die without any indication of pain or fear, the whole point of the ritual is that the Otherworld is not this one, and is not the habitation of humans. The actions are deliberately dreamlike, making obvious their archetypal nature. There are indeed darker aspects of the subconscious, which should neither be condemned nor shut off, but recognised and redirected; our Gods do not require human sacrifice, but neither do they require us to sacrifice our humanity. As we move into the half of the year that is physically darker, we should move also into our own subconscious, from active to contemplative, from intellect to that which cannot be encompassed by the intellect; in most of the elder cultures, the "light half" of the year is seen as the time of physical work, where the "dark half" is seen as the "sacred season" or the time of spiritual work. Thus, the Summer King represents not only the Vegetation Spirit but also aspects of Civilisation, Domesticity, and the conscious mind. As long as there is struggle between the conscious and subconscious, there will be turmoil elsewhere; the first step toward unifying the two is allowing each their times of supremacy. It may be argued that the non-rational side gets every night of our lives, why should it get a whole six months? The answer to which is, the six months from Midsummer (and particularly the three months starting with Samhain) are the night of the year; while we may not go as deeply into the non-rational as we do in sleep (after all, most of us have day jobs even in the Winter...), we might do well to spend some of our wakign ours this time of year in contemplation and spiritual pursuits.