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Liturgy: Pagan


Let us give thanks for the elements and compounds that sustain us.
We come from carbon,
This earth and ourselves, products of dying stars
Coming to new life.
We depend now on our living star:
The sun, radiating its energy,
Allowing chlorophyll to cause growth,
And allowing the eaters to feed.
We depend on the compound of air:
Just enough oxygen not to burn all in sight,
With nitrogen abundant in air and on earth;
And we breathe what the plants discard,
And the plants breathe what we discard.
We depend on the compound of water:
Two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen,
Make life startlingly abundant;
Into water we can die,
And out of water we come to new life.
Dying, and rising, and, revived, living afresh,
Everything baptised into the life abundantly;
The Spirit, sweeping over the waters,
And washing anew.
And we are thankful for fire:
The energy of recycling,
Cleansing and renewing the possibilities;
One fire making more fires:
Converting matter to energy,
In a cycle that began
When energy became matter,
and became all living things.
Such required all these elements and compounds
That keep the round of life alive
And for which, we, being alive,
Can only express a thanks,
A thanks with:
The fire of energy,
The water of life,
The air we breathe,
And the earth on which we stand.

A Ceremony to Time, Material and Space:

The Spirit of God is with us

And we raise our hearts in thanks and praise

The world evolved into meaning
And we are thankful that in this
The prophetic voices have said
That we can find love within
As we have, and as we can
Now and in the future.
And so we can say with them:

Holy, Holy, Holy:
This material world and its journey
Is full of glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the one made into this life.

We praise and bless
This universe our home,
And its spirit of life.

And in this corner
Are the four winds:
With the blessing of Uriel of the dark and fertile earth, overshadowing Columba of Scotland, we have the cold wind from the north;
With the blessing of Raphael in his golden cloak, overshadowing George of England, we have the dry wind from the east;
With the blessing of Michael of the red flame, overshadowing David of Wales, we have the hot wind from the south;
With the blessing of Gabriel of the blue water, overshadowing Patrick of Ireland, we have the wet wind from the west. And east is for air,
South is for fire,
West is for water,
And north is for earth.

In the east we have the air, the very air we breathe;

[Gesture with hands across the holed goblet]

In the south we have the fire -
For which we light a candle for the evolving in the past, a candle
for the life and death of now, and a candle for whatever is to come.

[Light each of these]

In the west we have the water -
The very support of life, without which there can be none [Dip fingers into this] And in the north we have the earth

[Raise the small bag of earth or substitute]

It is across and into this earth
That life-sustaining air rushes
It is in this water, that life giving sustenance comes
It is in the warmth, that life becomes possible.
Anywhere that sustains gasses, water, heat and material
Will life struggle to evolve,
Dying and rising.
And thus we can say:

Creation dies
Creation rises
and Creation lives again.

And to what end does this life go?
It goes to make sentient beings:
Some self-conscious, Evermore creative and capable,
Empathetic and sympathetic,
Who can climb, purposefully, ethical heights -
Should they but develop them
And act upon them.

And so we can say,
To the Lord of all life,
Let us work together for the day
When the kingdom comes,
And justice and mercy will be seen over this world
Enlarging our hearts and minds,
To reverence all that lives:
Gathered in as if within loving arms,
Each joined with one another,
On that future day of transformation.

[Liturgical material on Saints as used by Alistair Bate]

And so we finish with the Lord's Prayer:

[Traditional words]


On a table is the ritual space of the egg. To the north on the egg shape is placed a container with a goblet of earth nearby, to the west a container with a goblet of water nearby, to the east a container of incense and to the south an unlit candle. A bell, an 'eternal candle' burning in a container with a handle, three unlit candles and an unlit chalice sit on another table.

Hold the eternal candle and gesture while speaking:

Here is the sacred circle
In the shape of the egg as spirit.
And east is for air, south is for fire,
West is for water and north is for earth.
This is our ritual space
All is represented here in symbol
Between all worlds and within all time
Where the elements of creation and destruction
Meet the forces of art and emotion,
And come together as one.

East: Pick up incense and container.

Quicksilver messenger
Master of the crossroads
Springtime step lightly
Into my mind
Golden one whisper
Airy ferryman
Sail from the East on the wings of the wind.

(Ring the bell.)

South: Pick up container of candle.

Desert flower, flaming will
Crackle with energy under my skin
Red lion roaring
Pulses racing
Roaming the South
I am open: come in.

(Ring the bell.)

West: Pick up empty water container.

Pearl-grey warrior
Ghostly quest
Prince of Twilight
Sailing West
Intuition, sundown lady
Ancient serpent of the Sea
Pearly queen of twilight waters
Silverfoot come silently.

(Ring the bell.)

North: Pick up empty earth container.

Mother of mountains, mother of trees,
Mother of moonlight, mother of earth.
Root and leaf and flower and thorn,
Come to us, come to us, out of the North.

(Ring the bell.)

('Valerie's Rhyming Invocations to the Four Quarters', in Starhawk (1979), The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, London: Harper and Row)


Incense lit at the east:

Blessed be, the air is all around,
And the skies are above.
May it stay clear to breathe
And oxygenate all life.
Blessed be, the air is as the exchange,
That gives our industry finance.
May we spend all money with sense
And direct the economy in sensible ways.

A candle lit at the south:

Blessed be, the sun beams down,
And is the fire for all.
May it shine on
And warm and brighten the world.
Blessed be, the fire is as all the energy
And the power behind all work.
May we use all fuels with efficiency
And energise the economy in sensible ways.

Water poured at the west:

Blessed be, the rain and streams sparkle,
And all is watered through.
May it give life
And refresh and enliven the world.
Blessed be, water is as all the transport
And the distribution that binds all together.
May we move all with care
And lubricate the economy in sensible ways.

Pour earth at the north:

Blessed be, the earth is beneath,
And goes deep to the core.
May the soil stay fertile and rich
And produce our food.
Blessed be, the earth is as our raw material
And the products at the end of the line,
May we extract and consume without greed
And provide for the economy in sensible ways.

Our world is natural in foundation, and on all the elements does the human economy depend, and so in finance, fuel, movement, and production can human activity pattern itself. Amen.


At this place we fashion,
Our own ceremonial table
Dedicated to the spirit and the symbolic elements
Made sacred by what is to be done
Beyond the supernatural and all superstition
So to go with the old to the presently new.

The principles of the noble Goddess extend everywhere
Throughout the many strange, magical
And beautiful worlds
To all places of wilderness, enchantment, and freedom.

The servant winds of joy express her. Smell with me this incense, the symbol of air.

The incense is lit.

This Lady of life stretches into the powers of death. Feel the warmth of this fire.

Light the candle at the south.

The serene mysterious seas express her.

The water is poured from the goblet into the container.

The sun of life lets her grow in the earth.

The soil is poured from the goblet into the container.

Here is the egg shape representing spirit and reproduction. Blessed be!

As above, so below...
As the Universe, so the soul.
As without, so within:
Blessed and gracious is this, being
To consecrate our bodies, minds and spirits:
Blessed be!

We may ask that what has been done is of noble art and faith
for all to experience
So that the children of this life
May reflect upon its existence
And follow the ways of peace and joy
In harmony with it in us and all around

This rite draws to its end,
The Goddess principle be with us!

Gesture to the collected elements.

(Using Slater, A Book of Pagan Rituals, 1978)


Here is the east, the Great Lord of the skies.
The heat and moisture of the air,
The habitation of the sylphs.
Let the air bring clarity to our bodies.

Light the incense.

Here is the south, the Lord of light.
The heat and dryness of fire,
The habitation of the salamanders.
Let the fire bring strength and passion to our bodies.

Light the candle.

Here is the west, the Lady of the flowing waters.
The cold and moisture of water,
The habitation of the undines.
Let the water bring life and sustenance to our bodies.

The water is poured from the goblet into the container.

Here is the north, the Great Mother of creation.
The cold and dryness of earth,
The habitation of the gnomes.
Let the earth ground our body and give wholeness.

The soil is poured from the goblet into the container.

Look at the shape of the egg, the symbol of spirit.


The rite draws to its end. Blessed be!


O winds of the East blow sweet and pure for the Lady reigns again!
O warmth of the South bring forth life from the earth for the Lady reigns again!
O waters of the West glisten clear and fresh for the Lady reigns again!
O lands of the North grow rich and bounteous for the Lady reigns again!

(Ring the bell.)

(From the Pagan Solitary Beltane ritual based on the four elements)


May the power of air bring us a clear mind to see our ways.

Light the incense using the candle.

May the power of fire bring us strength and passion to go along our ways.

The chalice is lit.

Out of the waters of chaos order came. Out of the waters of baptism new life comes. May the power of water bring us life and sustenance and the courage to feel through our ways.

The water is poured from the goblet into the container.

May the power of earth bring us grounding in a strong body to be centred in our ways.

The soil is poured from the goblet into the container.

(After Ann Arthur in With Hands Together, 1987, 1)


See here the egg shape, the symbol of spirit


Blessed be!

Krishna claimed that the full vision and wisdom of himself, through the practice of yoga, is only achieved by the one in thousands who strive, and those who strive are only one in thousands of everyone. His visible nature is earth, water, fire, air, ether; the mind, reason, and the sense of 'I': but beyond his visible nature is his invisible spirit that he claimed as the core of the universe.

The earth of Krishna is to us dark and mysterious, damp and dusty, the smotherer of the breathing, but the bed of birth and growth, the ground of rebirth.

The soil is poured from the goblet into the container.

The water of Krishna is to us the water of life, pure and free, the banisher of guilt.

The water is poured from the goblet into the container.

The fire of Krishna is to us the burning of destruction and sacrifice but the source of heat, the way of light and the passion of the spirit.

Light the candle.

The air of Krishna is to us the speedy fierceness of cold but the carrier of the warmth and the breath of life to all creatures.

Light the incense using the candle.

And the ether, the mysterious myth of the spaces between, is to us the vacuum of nothingness with the quality of existence and the way of silence.

And the mind and reason, the sense of I, is to us the belief in ourselves, the font of destructive but also productive humanity, the way up the stairs to true knowledge, true vision, true wisdom and the invisble progressive spirit. The egg here is the sign of spirit.

Gesture with the right arm through space.

Thus we have gathered the sprites of nature to delve into that which lies beyond. Our inner eyes are made strong with vision. And the mystery is shown. Blessed be!


It is the way of the new ones and the new religions,
As of the old ones and the old religions,
That the rich meanings of humanity
Should spread from all places and all times
Through words, thoughts and senses,
To all places of language and symbol
So to build from elemental dependence,
The nature of our power, energy and actions,
And the ways of justice, freedom and care.

Our power can connect,
Our energy can do good,
Our actions can make us free,
So that the Word can include.

The air of life has been and become the blowing away, speech as hot air, objective insistence; but it can be the breath of life, speech rising, circulating, learning theory, new vocabularies, new ways of the mind.

The fire of life has been and become the burning of heretics, the spilling of blood, destruction, book burning, the burn out, more heat than light, eruptions, explosions, uncontrolled energy; but it can be controlled energy, mindful passion, the messages of new torches, healing, purification, more light than heat.

The water of life has been and become the drowning of enemies, the drenching of thought; but it can be new life, positive emotions, love, daring, courage.

The earth of life has been and become casting away, the dark and cold, smothering, killing, burying; but it can be rootedness, grounding, creativity, growth, the jewels of life.

We live through air, we may go to fire; we live needing water, we will go to earth, like all land creatures. We are indeed part of nature, from where we come, live and where we return, but our uniqueness is in our made culture, our made language, always new thoughts, new ideas, new ways. Today, like at no other time before, we know that these are ours to do with what we will, and we do them.