After we’ve constructed the circle and invited the Gods, we finally get to continue with the reason we’ve created the circle in the first place: the working at hand. This might be simple worship, this might be to set a spell. The working might be adding our energies to the god’s to help them turn the wheel of the year, or it might be for a hardcore divination session. You can even construct a magic circle for mediatation or yoga practice if you like.
Once the working is complete, though, it’s a really good idea to concretize the communion you’ve shared with the gods with the best symbol of communion we have on the planet–sharing food. In Wicca, we call this moment “cakes and wine” or “cakes and ale”, for it is generally performed with a lightly sweetened baked good and a brewed beverage. As Roderick notes, “cakes are a link to the earth through grain, which is a symbol for the fruition and body of the harvest. […] Earth itself is the mother; grain is her offspring.” Similarly, “wine is an old-world symbol for the earth’s life essence.” However, the food items really can be anything you want. I’ve enjoyed a good red wine and American style scones in the past, but these days I tend to opt for my own kombucha and a salty cracker.
When I perform a circle alone, I tend to quietly reflect upon my ritual experience during this time. In Hartwood Grove, cakes and ale time is a combination of reflection, fellowship, gossip, and fun. If our HP or HPS drew down a god or goddess during the ritual, he or she tends to spontaneously leave the bodies of our leaders sometime during cakes and ale–I guess the mundane decompression time is a good divinity repellant! On a very mundane level, having a little bit of a snack is a pretty good idea after magical work, and an even better idea if you’ve fasted beforehand. You burn a lot of physical and magical energy in circle, and putting some nutrients in your belly really helps you to ground out and transition from magical work to bringing down the circle and returning to mundane life.
Cakes and Wine can also be performed outside of the magic circle, which is what we’ll be doing today:
What You’ll Need:
- Simple sweet cakes (muffins, scones, sweet bread, etc.)
- Wine (or juice)
- An empty bowl for libations
To begin, pour some wine into your chalice and set it on the altar. Hold your natural athame (or consecrated athame) with the blade pointed to the sky and say:
Now we’ll feast in the Old Ones’ names,
Then fetch thy besom and hie the hame.
To north, to west,
To south, to east,
Blessed Be the sacred feast!
Now turn the point of the athame down. Hold it just above the wine-filled chalice, and say:
Gracious goddess, lend thy hand,
Gentle lady of the land,
From seed to leaf, from bud to vine
Mystic Mother, bless this wine.
Dip the blade of the athame into the cup and say:
Blade and vessel so combined,
The lover’s limbs are thus entwined.
Blend and merge divine duet,
Where the blade and cup have met!
Next, place the cakes upon your pentacle and touch the tip of the athame to each, saying:
Lord of living, lord of dead,
King of field and grain and bread,
Of this life we must partake,
Horned Hunter bless this cake.
Pass cakes to each group member saying:
May you never hunger.
Pass the chalice around for each member to drink, or fill each participant’s chalice with wine, saying:
May you never thirst.
Put a portion of the food and drink into the empty libation bowl and set the bowl upon your altar. After you’ve opened circle, empty the libation bowl upon the bare earth.
For this exercise, I decided to be game and use Roderick’s text even though it is a lot more flowery than anything I’ve used for this ritual before. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan. My tongue tripped up over the words quite a bit. I much prefer the classic: “As the athame is to the male, so the cup is to the female, and so conjoined they bring blessedness and delight” and the “Bless this food unto our bodies, bestowing health, wealth, life, love, and that joy which is perfect happiness!” And I really missed Hartwood’s silly-wonderful “Blessa, Blessa, Blessa!” conclusion. I guess I know what’s stuck with me for life!