So, autumn equinox has come and gone, and I spent a good bit of it very frustrated with the way ADF members (or not?) responded to one person asking if ADF would consider supporting Black Lives Matter.
I’m not proud of that.
However, for the dedicant’s path, I have a week to hold my ritual, so I’ve been busy scripting away — mostly modifying the script of last year’s disasterous ritual — at a script I can use when I have some time to myself tomorrow.
I’ve decided this year, to observe something of the Eleusian Mysteries in the ritual, giving myself some purpose to a high day that seems popular only in the opportunity it gives ‘reconstructionists’ to be disparaging.
The mysteries, obviously, are mysterious. We don’t know exactly what they taught, but I did find this quote from Cicero:
For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called “initiations,” so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope.
Cicero, Laws II, xiv, 36
Somewhere — in a book by Robert Graves, perhaps — I’ve read something about the Eleusian Mysteries promising something similar to the Christian ‘eternal life.’ The best I could find is this:
When Demeter came to our land, in her wandering after the rape of Kore, and, being moved to kindness towards our ancestors by services which may not be told save to her initiates, gave these two gifts, the greatest in the world – the fruits of the earth, which have enabled us to rise above the life of the beasts, and the holy rite which inspires in those who partake of it sweeter hopes regarding both the end of life and all eternity, – our city was not only so beloved of the gods but also so devoted to mankind that, having been endowed with these great blessings, she did not begrudge them to the rest of the world, but shared with all men what she had received. The mystic rite we continue even now, each year, to reveal to the initiates; and as for the fruits of the earth, our city has, in a word, instructed the world, in their uses, their cultivation, and the benefits derived from them.
So, I have no intention at all of preparing a ritual which will ensure eternal life. But, I’ve read suggestions that it’s the combination of Demeter as a giver-of-life here on the surface and Persephone as Queen of the Underworld that suggests we are forever in the care of the two.
Either way, as the seasons are shifting here, to me it makes sense to make the two — using their Roman names Proserpine and Ceres — the focus of my ritual.
Container to serve as well
Bottle of water
Separate containers for drink / water as well as grain / birdseed
Paper / Pen
- Acoustic signal: Clap hands three times.
- Grounding: The two powers meditation
- Purification: Holding arms out ‘around’ altar space, focus on setting space ‘apart’ for worship. — Perhaps speak a few words.
- Honor the Earth Mother: Looking to window, extemporaneous words of praise, offer some grain
- Statement of purpose: Extemporaneous words to the effect that I come to observe the equinox, to relate the story of and honor Ceres and Proserpine, and to strengthen my relationship with the local spirits.
- (Re)create the Cosmos.
- Put the silver dollar into the well. Say something spontaneous to the effect of: “The realm of the deep, home of the ancestors.”
- Light the candle. Say something spontaneous to the effect of “The realm above, home of the shining ones.”
- Offer water to the tree. Say something to the effect of “The middle realm. My home, as well as the home of those I care for and the nature spirits.”
- Invoke the Gatekeeper, Open the gate
- Invoke Proserpine. “Proserpine, you who move between worlds, giving life in this world, ruling over the next, I ask that you join this rite as Gatekeeper.”
- Open the gates. “Proserpine, join your magic to mine and open these gates, let this fire be a gate, let this well be a gate, let this tree be a gate.” Making a spiral gesture, visualize a portal opening above the well and fire.
- Invite the Kindred
- Invite the ancestors. “Ancestors, old ones, whose blood flows in my veins, whose passions inhabit my mind, I ask that you hear me this day. Accept my offering” — pour out some drink — “and from beyond this mortal realm, join me this Equinox in ritual.”
- Invite the nature spirits. “Spirits of the land, of beast and wing, of stone and tree, I ask that you hear me this day. Accept my offering” — offer some bird seed — “and join me this Equinox in ritual.”
- Invite the gods. “Shining ones, matrons and patrons, from your realm on high I ask that you hear me this day. Accept my offering” — pout out some drink — “and join me in this Equinox ritual.”
- Beings of the occasion: Ceres and Demeter.
- Name and make an offering to each of the beings of the occasion, relating merely that it is appropriate to honor them and the separation they are soon to undergo as the dark season is now upon us.
- Prayer of sacrifice?
- Up-or-down omen on whether these offerings have been accepted. In the case of a ‘no,’ a Tarot omen to see what the will of the gods is.
- Speak earnest praise individually for the ancestors, the nature spirits and the gods as the Tarot cards are shuffled. Maintain focus on their presence and the presence of the gate.
- “I take these three omens, that I might know the will of the ancestors, of the nature spirits, and of the gods in this rite and in my life.” Turn over one card as each Kindred is mentioned.
- Contemplate first impressions — Deeper ‘book’ meanings will be looked up later.
- Write omens down!
- Workings: Relate the story of Ceres and Proserpine, honor them, honor the suffering of their separation.
- Thank the beings
- Thank the gods. “Shining ones, I thank you for your participation in this ritual today. Your presence has inspired me.” Pour out more drink. “I praise and thank you.”
- Thank the nature spirits. “Nature spirits, I thank you for your participation in this ritual today. Your presence has encouraged me.” Scatter more birdseed.
- Thank the ancestors. “Ancestors, I thank you for your participation in this ritual today. Your presence has strengthened me.”
- Thank Proserpine with an offering of flowers. “Proserpine, I thank you for your assistance today, without which this ritual would not have been possible. Your presence honors me.”
- Close the gates. “Cernunnos, with gratitude for the assistance you have provided me this Solstice, I ask that you once again close the gates.”
- Thank the Earth Mother. “Earth Mother, I thank you today not only for the bounty from which we live in excess, but for the assistance you have provided here today.” Empty the drink.
- Close the rite. “With [Insert emotion here] I hereby end this ritual.”
- Audio signal: Clap hands three times.
- Extend hands, focus on integrating the space set aside for worship back into the secular world.