Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

A Brightening Ritual

It’s the February Sabbath! Midpoint between the winter solstice (Yule or Midwinter) and the spring equinox (which I call High Spring), it is the time when the light is noticeably returning after the deep darkness of winter, and the hope of spring is growing. It can thus be called Brightening, anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

Where I live, it’s the time when it rains constantly, and so I have named this Sabbath, for my own purposes, Riverain, the Festival of Water.

This is a concept for a Brightening/Riverain ritual I came up with this year. We did an adapted version of it in the Atheopagan Saturday Zoom Mixer today.

The ritual draws on both traditional seasonal imagery of the sacred well and the forge, associated with the Irish goddess and saint Brigid, and my personal association of this season with rain and water.

Needed: A small anvil, a 3-lb (1 kg) sledge hammer, a decorative metal punch stamp, stainless steel, pewter or copper discs, a cauldron filled with water, snacks and drink to share.

Arrival: Ground, focus, and invoke the ritual state of trance. If in a group, form a circle and hold hands (if consenting; if not clasp your own hands before you). Start with some deep breaths and grounding, and establishment of sacred space. If you are on colonized land, a land acknowledgement should also be offered. When ready move on to invocation of qualities.

Qualities: Speak the qualities–emotions, characteristics–you would like to be a part of this ritual’s work. In this case, qualities like perseverance, luck, success, aspiration are all appropriate.

Working: for the “Deep Play” or Working of this ritual, each participant carries out the following steps.

  • Use the decorative punch and hammer to stamp one or more designs into a metal disc (atop the anvil), while concentrating on your wish for the coming season. When all have completed this, then
  • Still concentrating on their wishes, each participant throws their stamped disc into the cauldron “wishing well”. The wishes are made!

Gratitude and Benediction: Each participant expresses the things for which they are grateful, while they share food and drink. When the gratitude expressions and snacking have ended, participants say:

May the good Earth be honored, and thanks for our lives;
May all our wishes come true.
May spring bloom brightly, and bring the sweet summer;
And these our rites carry us through.

As the materials for the ritual are being put away, participants can recover their discs from the cauldron and keep them for their Focuses or as pocket talismans. Pour the water from the cauldron onto house plants or the Earth.


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