For the group ritual of the Wicker Man, we constructed a two-foot high little man out of grapevines. It is easy to find a roll of grapevines at most any craft store, and usually you can find small balls already formed. For our man we used a small ball for the head and a larger one for the body. A small roll of vine was soaked in water to make it soft and pliable and then it could be twined to bind head and body together and then constructed arms and legs. The "man" then has plenty of openings into which papers can be stuffed. He was displayed next to a jar of papers and pencils as everyone arrived. Before ritual they were asked to meditate on the onset of the season of sacrifice, when the grain of the harvest must die in order to provide food, and to reflect on something that they needed to give away and share in order to make space for new and added growth in their own lives. They were to write a symbol of what they would sacrifice and then stuff it inside the Wicker Man's body. At the central point of the ritual, the priest who was Lugh said the following:
Often we are faced with sacrifices that we must make. We come to realize that something we have must be given to others in order to open space within lives and souls for new growth. In thinking of what that may mean for you, you have placed the symbol of your personal sacrifice within this "Wicker Man," symbol of the sacrifice of your God. Meditate upon your own sacrifice and offer it willingly to the fires of Spirit with your pledge that you will go forth to carry it out also within your Life.
The Wicker Man was then put into the Sabbat fire, while we raised and released energy by drumming. Then the High Priestess blessed the cakes and cider:
Blessed be the sacrifice of the Lord of the Grain, the grains that have been reaped that you might eat. Blessed be the fruits of the vine of harvest. As you receive, share with the person next to you, sunwise around the circle, and savor the joy of sharing. When all have been served, we will offer a toast of thanksgiving and then taste and savor with love and gratitude. Be sure to save a small portion of both food and drink to return to the Earth, with love and gratitude for her abundance.
To prepare, set out symbols for each element, such as: a feather and incense for Air, a red candle for Fire, a seashell or bowl full of water for Water, a rock or a flower for Earth. In astrology, Air and Fire are considered of the masculine polarity; Water and Earth are of the feminine polarity. For the purposes of this ritual and for balance, we'll use the polarities to call upon both God and Goddess within.
Center yourself and create sacred space in your usual way. If you are using incense, light it, and light the red candle.
Hold the censer and feather in your hands and focus, saying: "God is within me and I hold the Air, mighty power of thought in my hands and in my mind. What will I do to direct that power and share it with my world?" Pause for a moment to listen for an inner message and then form your answer. Use the feather to direct the incense smoke as you walk around your circle and speak of what you will you to use and share your gifts of Air: rational thought, learning, communication...
Hold the lighted red candle and focus, saying: "God is within me and I hold the Fire, mighty power of spirit and inspiration in my hands and in my heart. What will I do to rouse that power and share it with my world?" Again, pause for a moment to listen for an inner message, and the carry the candle around your circle as you speak of what you will do to share your gifts of fire: energy, inspiration, courage, initiative...
Hold the container of water and focus, saying: "Goddess is within me and I hold the Water, mighty power of feeling in my hands and in my soul. How may I share this flow?" Pause for a moment to listen for an inner answer and then carry the water around your circle, sprinkling it with your fingers as you go, and speak of what you will do to share your gifts of water: intuition, compassion, sensitivity...
Hold the symbols of Earth in your hands and focus, saying: "Goddess is within me and I hold the Earth, her body, in my hands. How can I share my gifts of Earth? (Or, how can I protect and heal my world?)" Pause for a moment to listen for an inner answer and then carry the stone or flower around your circle as you speak of what you can do to share your gifts of Earth: responsibility, persistence, strength, practical manifestation...
Resolve that you will take steps to carry out the promises you have made within this rite.
The above ritual is adapted from the group ritual for Lughnasad in The Witch's Circle. In that group rite, the high priest, high priestess and two elders of the circle each presented one of the elements to each covener, saying "You are God/dess. You hold the [element] in your hands. What will you do..." and the participant then responded with a pledge.
by Maria Kay Simms