Spring is (finally!) upon us. The danger of frost has passed for most of the US, and warmer temperatures are on the horizon.
It’s time to knock the dust of your outdoor altar, pack a basket and head into the night for what might be your first outdoor ritual of the season.
You will need:
*Flower petals. Freshly picked are best, but store bought will do, or even some dried flowers from an old bouquet.
*Some natural altar decorations. Take the time to gather some spring greens from the forest. Moss or bright new leaves are nice.
*Dew gathered from the morning. Gathering dew is a lovely precursor to a night moon ritual, but I realize this isn’t always convenient, so spring or blessed water is fine.
*Dried chamomile. Or some other light floral.
*Cauldron or fire safe bowl.
*Lighter or matches.
Set up your altar. Decorate it with your spring greens and place the altar candle in the middle.
Begin by marking your circle with the flower petals. Walk in a clockwise fashion.
Light the altar candle.
If you have any flower petals left, ring the bottom of the candle with them.
Light your charcoal disk. Blow on it to get a good burn. You know the drill.
While it smolders, take your spring water or dew and anoint your Third Eye. Close your eyes and feel the fresh purity of the water. Imagine the newness of it radiating throughout your whole body, cleansing you of winter aches and old emotional wounds.
Place a pinch of chamomile on the charcoal dish, and picture the smoke carrying off winter, the past, and old pain. Stay there as long as you like. Don’t rush.
Extinguish everything, close the circle and welcome the fullest part of the spring season!
The cakes and ale tradition is most often an afterthought, tacked on to the end of the ritual for the sake of bringing everyone “back down to earth.”
But instead of some stale cookies and quick chalice full of whatever beer is in the fridge, why not make this full moon special by turning cakes and ale into a post-ritual after party?
Sometimes called the Pink Moon, or the Planter’s Moon, the apex of the April lunar cycle is an esbat of celebration to welcome the new season. This one is super special because it also happens to be the night of a lunar eclipse!
And I say, “What better way to celebrate than with beer and sugar?”
The bakeries are usually closed at night, so we just picked a restaurant. I try to chose local restaurants, and pick a different one every time.
One of the nice things about going out for just cakes and beer as opposed to a full meal is that you can try some of the fancier restaurants in your neighborhood without breaking your budget, so feel free to pick something a step up from what you’d normally choose. If you’re going with your family, a coven or a group, lots of places have desserts to share.
I like the idea of finishing off at a brewery. I think it enhances the sense of camaraderie and it’s a nice way to “seal” the experience.
Or, you may even make decide to make it a ritual unto itself.
I was inspired to start doing this by a recent trip to Germany, where we had the good fortune of tasting some of the best beers in the world. It was very nice to be able to pick up such amazing brews at the even the simplest corner grocery stores.
Our favorite Stateside location for this is a German restaurant in Georgetown called Old Europe. This charming little restaurant has its own magical quality, and atmosphere contributes to the spirit of the cakes & ale experience. I love the enormous, artful ship model hanging over the bar!
Have fun with this idea, and check back next month for more ways to mix up your Esbat!