Night Rites

December 1st, 2008

Northern Star Rite

As we approach the Yule season, we are reminded that although we have been in the dark half of the season, we will always return to the light. The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the return of the sun. Our days will continue to grow longer, and our nights will become shorter. It is a time of quiet reflection, but also joyous celebrations of winter.

This rite is in honor of the North Star that brightens the winter night and offers its power of guidance to all that accept it. The North Star can be found in many traditional stories of the winter holiday season, so this rite may be a comforting childhood reminder of the power of the brightest star in the night sky.

Gather with friends to perform this ritual on an evening before the Winter Solstice. This rite is written as if it would be too cold to perform outside, like it is here in Maine in December! However, you can certainly do all of this ritual outdoors as weather permits.
Disclaimer

Please use caution when burning candles and incense. Never leave candles or incense unattended or in the reach of small children or curious pets. Also, please use caution when handling ritual blades and burning candles. Inform participants ahead of time about the use of incense, and check on possible food allergy issues.

Supplies
Black altar cloth
Small bowl of water
Small bowl of salt
Incense burner with trivet
Charcoal tablet
Loose pinon pine resin
Feather
Athame or ritual blade
Chalice of milk
Plate of star-shaped cookies
One white taper candle in holder
Two red and white striped candles in holders
Several tea lights in holders
Matches
Markers
Thin ribbon and scissors
Gentle, instrumental music
Basket of wooden cut-outs of stars with holes pre-drilled for a hanging ribbon
Altar set-up

Spread out the black altar cloth on the altar. Place the white taper candle in its holder on the center of the altar. Place the bowl of salt (representing earth) to the left of the white candle and the bowl of water (representing water) on the right of the white candle.

Add the incense burner to the left side of the altar and place an unlit charcoal tablet on it (representing fire). Make sure to place the incense burner on a trivet to prevent heat damage to your altar. Have the pinon pine resin (representing air) handy nearby.

Also add the ritual blade to the left side of the altar. Place the chalice of water to the right side of the altar, along with the feather. Have the plate of cookies somewhere on the altar if there is room.

Place one of the red and white striped candles on either side of the altar. These candles represent the God (left) and the Goddess (right).

Place the tea lights in their holders and place them safely around the room. Use enough so you can turn off all the electric lights and still see and safely maneuver around the ritual space.  The tea lights represent the twinkling, starry sky. Light the tea lights right before you are ready to begin.

Rite

Lead the group in a grounding and centering breath exercise.

Sprinkle some of the salt into the bowl of water, and stir three times with your ritual blade or athame.

Light the charcoal tablet and place on the incense burner. Wait until the tablet is smoking, and then add a small amount of the loose incense on to it.

Have the first participant to volunteer approach you at the altar. Dip your finger into the water and draw the shape of a star on the forehead of the participant.  Then use the feather to move the incense smoke in their direction. Repeat with all participants (ending with yourself) while repeating:

Charcoal lit and incense burn

Salt and water stirred in turn

Earth, water, fire and air

Blessed in the name of the sacred pair

Once everyone has been cleansed and blessed, join together around the altar and take each other’s hand. Cast the circle by saying together:

Hand to hand, this circle is cast

Be us not in the now

Yet not in the past

From above and below

To dare and to know

Within and without

To whisper, to shout

As the Gods will it

So mote it be

Take a moment to enjoy the energy flowing between you all, and then release your hands.

You can call the four elemental quarters here if you like, but it is not necessary.

Light the Goddess candle (striped candle on the right side of the altar) and invoke the Goddess with spontaneous words.

Light the God candle (striped candle on the left side of the altar) and invoke the God with spontaneous words.
Drawing in the Star Power

Participants should find a comfortable spot to sit or lay down. Start playing the meditation music.  Add more incense to the charcoal, if desired.

Lead the participants through a meditation. Have them imagine themselves standing in a snowy, flat landscape, where are compelled to gaze at the magnificent, clear night sky. The sky is full of beautiful, sparkling stars, yet one stars stands out from the rest. This is the North Star. Spend some time developing the scene for the participants. Don’t rush things. Let the description naturally come to your mind’s eye and then describe it out loud to the group. When you’ve reached a full description, ask them to open their eyes.

Pass around a basket of thin wooden cut-outs of stars and encourage everyone to take one.  Then, pass around some markers.

Now, ask them to imagine themselves back at the landscape again. This time, they should imagine reaching out their hands and drawing the energy gently down from the North Star and into themselves.  Explain to them that the North Star’s energy is a guiding energy. Ask them to think about where they need guidance in their life.

Allow several minutes of time to pass, before asking them to open their eyes again and hold their stars. Ask them to write down on the wooden stars what they would like guidance on. When everyone is ready, have everyone gather around the altar, and light the middle white taper candle on the altar.  Ask everyone to hold their star between the palms of their hands, while reciting together:

Brightest star of the dark, night sky,

And kin to the sun in the daylight hour,

We reach out to you from on high,
And wish to honor your power.

Finding that within and that without,
Which guides our hearts and minds,
We follow you without any doubt,
Beyond the realm of places and times.

We take your strength within ourselves,
Hold fast to your rays of light,

Where our spirit and hope truly dwells,
With the sincerity of new sight.

We look upon your shining glow,
In need of wisdom, a path we seek
Please help us go, we must know,

At this night hour of your peak.

So mote it be!

Invite participants to come up to the altar, one-by-one and share with the group about how they plan on using their star energy to guide them. You can seal their star tokens by dripping a few drops of wax from the white taper candle onto the tokens and leaving them on the altar to dry. Be careful not to get any candle wax on yourself or the participant.

Allow the tokens to dry before moving them again. Invite the participants to tie a red ribbon on the star for hanging in a Northern-facing window at home.

When everyone is ready, pick up the chalice of milk and hold it out in front of you, saying:

We drink to the Gods, fair and true.
We drink to our kin, those we know and knew.
We drink to the evening sky and the stars so bright.
We drink to the slumbering earth and the cold, dark night.

We drink to honor the moment and times past.

We drink to change the future and help our magick last.

Blessed be!

Pass the chalice around the room and enjoy! Pour the remainder on the ground outside later.

Pick up the plate of cookies and hold it out in front of you, saying:

We partake in the honor our constant companion, the North Star.

Pass the plate around the room and enjoy! Toss the remaining food on the ground outside later.

Give thanks to the God and Goddess in any way you see fit.

Dismiss the four elemental quarters, if you called them.

When you are ready, gather around the altar once more and take each other’s hands, saying:

Hand to hand, this circle is broken.

Let us return to the now,
As our magick has been spoken.
Let us find harmony in the work we’ve done,
With greater good and harming none.

So mote it be!


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