* De-Anna Alba's Solitary Ritual for Lughnasadh *
The Mystic Union
The idea for this ritual struck me some time ago, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. Some of you may think I've really gone off the deep end with this one, and others of you will be open to the possibilities. I hope at least some of you will try it in some form or another. I think it has the potential to be a quite profound experience; and I don't think you'll view your relationship to the Earth in quite the same way after you have worked this ritual. It is also one that could bear repeating at Lughnasadh for years to come, should you find it of value.
The idea of a sacred marriage with the Land is found in a variety of agri-cultures throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. It was definitely a feature of the Celtic cultures from which we have inherited the celebration of Lughnasadh, or Lammas. Lughnasadh means "the wedding feast of Lugh." The name of the holiday was changed to Lammas by the early Christians in an attempt to incorporate this holiday into their liturgical calendar in an effort to draw the Pagans into their belief system. Lammas means "loaf-mass," and with the name change came a change in focus from the sexual/marriage aspect of Lughnasadh to the fruitful outcome of the union aspect--the grain harvest.
Prior to the inroads of Christianity into the celebration, mass marriages took place at Lughnasadh in imitation of the sacred marriage between the king/chieftain and the representative of the Land which also took place at this time. This ceremony took place in order to assure the birth of a new crop the following Spring, now that the harvest was beginning. It was also to assure the health and continuance of the clan or community, and the health of the relationship between the people and the Land. It is this last relationship--between the people and the Land--that is to be the focus of your solitary Lughnasadh. More specifically, the health of your own personal relationship with the Land, and hence the Goddess and spirits of the Land.
It's beautiful out now. The days are hot and the nights are warm. It's a perfect time to do an extended, even overnight, Lughnasadh ritual at your power spot. If you don't yet have a power spot out in Nature, this would be a good time to find one. Plan on an overnight campout if you can and pack accordingly. If a campout is not possible, then adjust what follows to your situation. It is important that you be outside for a large potion of this ritual, however. If it rains or something, postpone the ritual until the next weekend. In the case of this ritual it's not the date that's important, it's the action. (Choosing a time in close proximity to August 1st would add to the power of the ritual, however.)
Since the word "marriage" means different things to different people (and not all of them good), I've chosen instead to use the word commitment or covenant in describing this ritual. What I'm asking you to do is make a commitment to the Spirit of the Land, and that includes all creatures, seen and unseen, that dwell upon it, in it or around it. This commitment or covenant (promise) is, in essence, to become a more active environmentalist in the Wiccan sense of that term. It means a promise to protect the environment, work for its improvement in every facet of your everyday life and your Magical life in order to improve, or enhance, the sacred connection between yourself and the Spirit(s) of the Land. It's a realization at the cellular level of your being that your health and the health of the planet depend upon each other, and symbolically represent each other.
So, in addition to your camping gear, what you'll need for this ritual is an offering to make/leave at each of the four directions, symbolic of the four elements of creation, and an offering for the center (which symbolically represents the Spirit of the Land as a whole, or Goddess). You will also take from the Land an item that is symbolic of your covenant with the Land for your home altar. Keep that in the back of your mind as you proceed through the ritual, so that you will recognize the perfect thing when you see it.
Go to your spot in the afternoon and set up your campsite and ritual space so that everything is ready when the Sun begins to set. Don't forget the bug spray and whatever else you'll need to be comfortable. You're going to be doing some Otherworld journeying at each of the four directions and at the center, so you'll need to be comfortable and undistracted. You'll probably also want to take a notebook to record your overall impressions from the experience when you are done. You may also wish to make and take along a dream pillow to encourage significant dreams related to this work when you go to bed. Cast your circle as the Sun begins to set. Invoke the presence of the four elements at the directions, keeping in mind that you will be asking them to assist you in a journey to Their realm within the context of the ritual. At the center invoke the presence of whichever Goddess represents the Spirit of the Land/the Soul of Nature to you. If you do not have a clear sense of what Her name would be for you, invoke Her by using titles that are symbolic of Her energy or appearance for you.
Now consecrate your offerings to the Land by passing them through the four elements at your circle's altar. As you do each one, remember why you chose it, what it means to you, and what this whole covenant ceremony means to you and your future.Take your Eastern/Air offering and your comfort items to your eastern gate and arrange your chair (or whatever) so that it is facing your eastern circle marker. Standing at your eastern gate with your offering in your hands, make your offering to the East by calling the things, beings, powers, scenes, etc. you associate with the element of Air to your eastern gate. Visualize them in your head while you sing, dance, speak or in some way make your offering and your promise to what you perceive to be the primary representative of the Powers of Air. Once the offering is made, sit in your chair (or whatever) and continue your visualization.
The Representative will give you some indication that your gift and promise have been accepted. When It does so, ask to be given further insight into Its realm, and ask it how you can best help the Spirit(s) of Air in your day-to-day living. You'll receive an answer in some form. You'll be shown something(s), taken somewhere, instructed in some way. Remember the experience so that you can write it down later and revisit it in other meditations. When the Representative is finished It, and the accompanying scenes, will fade from your inner sight, and you will know it is time to move on. Take a few moments to assimilate this experience. (Write it down now, if you want to.) Then move everything to the southern gate and repeat the entire process. Make your offering and your promise and then sit down and "see" what happens next. Repeat the process at the West and the North. Then move on to the Center.
At the Center make your offering and your commitment to Goddess of the Land. Again, sit down to continue the visualization. Again, you will get some indication of Her acceptance of your commitment. She will demonstrate its acceptance in some way. She may question you further about the commitment. She may show you things and interact with you in a variety of ways. Yes, these interactions may have a sexual feeling or component to them. This component will both root your commitment firmly in your body and throw it out into the Otherworld on all its levels for acceptance and institution. If you are not ready or willing to experience this in a sexual way, you will instead receive it through an overwhelming feeling of love and sharing between yourself and the Earth. That love may feel like that between a parent and a child (with you experiencing both parts of that relationship at the same time), or it may feel like the love shared by a couple of life-long dear friends. However it comes to you, it will no doubt have a lasting effect in your life and the way you view the reality/environmentalism from now on. When the experience fades, spend some time assimilating all that has happened. If you'd find it helpful, record your experiences in your notebook.
Remember that there is no hurry with any of this. It may take you a long time to feel ready to end the ritual. When you are ready, begin by thanking Goddess for Her participation in and continued guidance of your life and the life of the Land. Return to the four directions and thank each in turn for your experience of/with them in the ritual. Reiterate your promise to each of the directions, and expand upon those covenants based on your evening's experience with Them if you wish. What you do next depends on your situation. If you will be returning home at this point, do a thorough grounding exercise and have something substantial to eat (no caffeine or sugar). Now, go home and get ready for bed. Tuck your dream pillow under your regular pillow, or place it near your face, and ask for dreams related to the experience you've just undergone, or dreams providing you with information on what you can do to protect, improve and enhance the environment.
If you'll be staying overnight at your power spot, just go to bed. Staying in a fairly open and awed state may increase your chances of having significant dreams. If you feel you're just too blown away to be able to sleep, brew yourself a nice sleepy time tea, drink it, and do a relaxation exercise before attempting to sleep. Don't forget to put your dream pillow under your regular pillow or near your face. Its presence will aid in your dream seeking.
Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this blog. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.