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Wine and Cakes

We call this part of the ritual "Wine and Cake" even though it is usually neither.

I have been to rituals where there was Wine in the chalice, or mead, or wiskey. But for most open rituals we use juice instead out of respect for those who cannot partake of alcohol. Avoiding alcohol is usually wiser than providing it in modern America. There are too many liability issues. Alcohol has "spirit" and traditionally that is an important part of this section of the ritual. We consider fruit juice an acceptible substitute. Cider in the fall. Dark red juice for full moons. Light colored juice for first cresents. Fruit juice is the blood of the plant, it represents the spirit. Milk is inapropriate because it is the wrong bodily fluid. Soda will do if nothing else is avalible but is is a bit far removed from its source.

The word "cake" does not necessarily mean what we think of as cake. Any grain based finger food is close enough. We usually use bread or cookies. Likewise what we call Corn is a plant native to the Americas and not introduced in Europe until colonization. The word "corn" however is a Middle English word that meant, and still means in most of the world, grain; specifically the grain that is grown locally. Europeans call the God of the local grains the "Corn God". What we call "corn" the rest of the world calls "maize".

Food has always been an important part of ritual. We need food to live and in order for us to get food other living beings must die. Food is a necessity that must be worked for and prayed for and worried about.

Anytime you eat anything you are accepting the sacrifice of the God and the Goddess. Something has died so that you may live.

When we bless the wine and cakes we are remembering that living things die that we may live and one day we too shall die. Food and drink are the flesh and blood of the God. Everything that is born, lives, and dies is a manifestation of the God. The Goddess, who was not born and does not die, gave birth to life and watches the children she bore die.(see also Communion)

The sacred feast is the place in the ritual where we honoring and identify with that sacrifice.

Some food blessings to say before meals.

We got this one from the movie "The River" starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacic.
"Earth that gave us all this food
Sun that made it ripe and good,
Dearest Earth and dearest Sun
We'll not forget what you have done."
This one we wrote when we could find no other source for the same idea.
"I thank these spirits for their sacrifice
I give them homage, that give me life."
We thank the spirits of the plants and animals
who died or labored to bring us this food.
May it nourish us, and with this nourishment,
may we nourish the world around us.
Blessed Be!
We thank the spirits of the plants and animals
who died or labored to bring us this food.
May it nourish us, and with this energy,
may we heal and protect the world and the creatures on it.
Blessed Be!
We thank the spirits of the plants and animals
who died or labored to bring us this food.
May we use the energy of this food
to nurture each other and the world we share.
Blessed Be!

The Ritual Food Blessing

In Ritual the Blessing is usually done by two people. One holds the full Chalice in his or her Left hand while the other holds the Pentacle in his or her Left hand. They both place their Right hands over the object the other is holding. (We are using this awkward form to reenforce that is does not matter who does what and we do not want to codify it one way or the other.) The effect is a closed circuit. They cast the blessing with their right hands and receive it with their left.

This is a blessing we adapted from a poem called "All Bread" by Margaret Atwood.

The one with their right hand over the bread says:

Good bread has the salt taste
of your hands after a hard days work
The salt taste of your mouth
it smells of its own death

Lift these ashes to your mouth,
To know what you devour is to consecrate it
All bread must be broken to be shared
Together, we eat this Earth.

The one with their right hand over the Chalice says:
Good drink has the sweet taste
of your lover's lips after long absence
The sweet taste of your mouth
It smells of its own creation

Lift these juices to your mouth,
to know what you devour is to consecrate it
All drink must be shared to be savored
Together we drink this life.

The one Holding the bread breaks off a piece and feeds it to the other and is fed in return. Then the one holding the Chalice holds it to the others lips so they may drink and is given a drink in return. The ritual of being fed and nourished is symbolic of accepting the sacrifice and the blessing. The couple doing the blessing then share the blessing with the rest of the group. They may bring the "Cakes and Wine" around personally, feeding everyone or they may let the cakes and wine be passed person to person. In large groups or in small groups that are not quite comfortable with each other everyone feed themselves. When people refuse to be fed they are denying the connection between them. Feeding each other reinforces the connection.

In Large group Rituals there is frequently more than one Chalice and some one designated Waterbearer to refill them.

When the Pentacle and the Chalice are being passed there are many blessing that can be passed with them. Here is one set.

For the Pentacle: "May you never Hunger"
For the Chalice: "May you never Thirst"

At Some point a Libation should be given to the Gods. The dictionary defines a libation as a sacrifice that is poured out, we include an offering of more solid food in our libation. If you are working outside the liquid offering may be poured on the ground, and the cakes may be cast into the woods or the fire. When we are working inside we usually put the cake offering in the cauldron and pour the wine over it. After the ritual we leave them outside. My high priestess would pour the wine into a houseplant and feed the cake to the neighbors dog. Plants and animals may receive the offering for the gods. On special feast days it is appropriate to leave a larger offering. On Samhain we prepare a plate with a sample of each dish brought for the feast. Sometimes this is left in a graveyard for the dead spirits. Although since this is Samhain the dead spirits are not ristricted to the graveyard. In Mexico the food for the dead is left on the graves all night and feed to the children in the morning. The important part of leaving the offering is that it be received by someone who can represent the spirits: a passing stranger, a child, an animal. If you live in a big city you could prepare a full dinner plate and give it to a homeless person.

There are many stories of Gods disguising themselves as beggars to test peoples generosity. Several of the Greek Gods did it and the Norse God Odin as well.

Sharing of Joys and Concerns

After the Cakes and Wine have gone around once it is time for the group "Sharing of Joys and Concerns". This part is sometimes called, by the druids, the "Toast and boast". In some Native American influenced groups a "Talking Stick" is used. For Pagans a talking stick is a specially decorated wand. The person holding the Talking Stick may talk uninterrupted.

In small groups the second time the chalice goes around everyone can take a turn speaking when they have the Chalice. Wiccan ritual was designed for use in small groups and giving everyone the time to express themselves is only advisable or even useful for groups of less than thirteen.

In Larger groups there is not enough time for everyone to express themselves meaningfully and this moment of sharing can turn into a fatuous exercise in self congratulation. It is not possible for fifty people to express themselves meaningfully to each other in sound bites. In any case when people start engadging in secular conversation it is time to move on to the next part of the ritual.

This page created 1998, updated 08/18/01
1998 Sheherazahde, Braided Wheel Tradition
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