Rite of Rhea: Mother of the Gods
This ritual alludes extensively to Greek mythology and cult, and was inspired by the observation that, except for Hesiod, the ancient Greeks tended to think of Gaia, Rhea, and the Phrygian Magna Mater as one and the same Goddess: the Earth Mother, the Mother of the Gods and Men. The ritual is written for five or six parts: Priest, Priestess, East, South, and West; Priestess may double as North. Some of these roles can be combined in a pinch, and the ritual would even work fairly well as a solitary rite. If the instruction "Cast Circle as usual" leaves you feeling bewildered, look at Anatomy of the Esbat - "Cast Circle as usual" is shorthand for Cast Circle, Invoke Elements, and Dance, but could be abbreviated to suit your ritual style.
Cast Circle as usual.
From the East we gather with call and answer echoing off the sloping hills.
From the West we gather with cold, clear water, drawn from deep and stony wells.
From the South we gather with joy and laughter, racing through meadows and forests and fields.
From the North we gather around the altar to mark the bounds of this sacred rite.
O ancient Mother of all living things, Source of unending bounty and abundance, Thy strength and beauty nurtures all: The carpet of life that unfolds from the soil, The beasts that walk under the sun, The fish that move in the deep, The birds that glide through the air; All these are Thy children. May all who stand here witness and understand The Nature of the most ancient mother of the Gods.
Black and deep are the fertile soils From which great trees reach highest, Aspiring to touch the brilliant sun. Black and deep are the fertile soils Where those mighty ones sink down again At the end of their days, Their bodies nourishing the roots Of a new generation. Black and deep are the fertile soils Where mortals plant abundant fields To feed their cities, And workers toil beneath the sky. Black and deep are the fertile soils Where the cities bury their heroes, The ground thick with legends To nourish the spirits of tomorrow’s children.
Earth beneath my dusty feet, the silent sky a distant blue; however fast I run, however high I climb, however far I fly, my feet will call me back to you. Earth beneath my callused hands, the bright sun warms my body through; however hard I work, however long I toil, however much I reap, my life will call me back to you. Earth beneath my sleeping head, The stars above like silver dew; However long I sleep, However far I roam, However deep I dream, My heart will call me back to you. O Thou, Who first from yawning chaos sprung, Mother and midwife to Thine own birth, Mother and wife of the starry sky, Mother of Gods and mortal races, Mother of beasts, Mother Earth, Hear our call! Answer us!
In the clash of cymbals and the din of drums She delights. In the shrill of pipes and the rain of rattles She delights. In the howling of wolves and the roaring of lions She delights. In shouts resounding from mountains and glens She delights, As all Earth’s children raise the ecstatic cry To hide the secret birth of Her mighty child.
It starts in the core, in the heart, in the heat and the darkness, under the weight of a world of rock. It starts in the depths, in the past, before the beginning, in the belching gulf at the start of time. It starts in the blood, in the womb, in the curve of the void, where truth is confused and worlds ignite. The seed of change, the crystal shard, the secret that lies hid in darkness where the wise will not find it; The beginning of chaos consuming order, of order emerging from chaos, the fall and rise of nations of gods - Behold the eternal mother of revolutions!
Mother of all and oldest of all, Feeder of nations, drinker of tears, Giver of life and tomb of the dead, Hear the invoking words, and appear! EVOE RHEA, PAN-GAIA, GE! EVOE RHEA, PAN-GAIA, GE! Earth! Mother! Hear us!
I have been with you from the beginning. For longer than you remember, I have been with you. You have woven in and out of life, rising from the soil, growing, loving, and falling back again, all to the rhythm of my heartbeat. Through days and nights, through the seasons of the year, through long ages of fire and ice, in time with the pulse of my veins. Heed my ancient wisdom: Rejoice in the love and pleasure that comes your way, for all sweetness is sacred to me. But in the face of obstacles and suffering, have faith that persistence and patience will bring all things to wholeness in the fullness of time. Know that I love you, though the terrible patience of an ancient mother may make that love seem cold and heartless in the passionate flame of your youth. I have given you green meadows and shaded forests to please your senses; but as I love my other children too, I have given them the thorn and the sting, and I have made them sovereign in their realms. Show them respect, and walk humbly among them. My voice echoes from the depths of the well of time, My arms cradle the ends of the Earth and all between, My breast nourishes the plants and beasts and mortals, My head is crowned with cities of light. All that you are and all that you may become are grounded in My nature. Never forget that you, and your gods, came first from me.
Behold the mighty mother of the gods, She who is the dust beneath our feet, She who is the centre of our universe.
Cakes and Wine.