Beating the Bounds

At our Grove’s Bealtaine rite, we beat the bounds of our ritual space during the Workings section of the rite. Since we began the day with relighting our hearthfire to establish our worship outdoors, this was the best time to beat the bounds and (re)define the land as ours, in a sense. As we rent our ritual space, this beating of the bounds is less about claiming and defining, and more about blessing the land with the fires that we’ve brought to it. Our worship uses two fires — the hearthfire, sacred to the goddess Brighid, and the sacrificial fire, which is only lit for the duration of our worship, and functions as a gate to the Gods. The text below could be adapted to use one fire only. The directional associations are from the Settling of the Manor of Tara, via Celtic Heritage by Alwyn and Brinley Rees.

So here on this land, after the harsh winter, we have returned. We have come back to the body of the Earth Mother, and laid down our Fire upon it, lovingly kindled with nine sacred woods. We have appeased those spirits that would wish us ill, and called forth our benevolent Kindred. We have brought honour to the Tuatha Dé Danann, and received a good blessing!

Though we rent this land just for a time, let us extend the blessings of the Fires to it.

[A drumbeat begins. A tiki torch is lit from the hearth fire.]
This torch is lit from the hearth fire, the centre of our tribe. Lit from nine sacred woods, this flame will carry us forward through the turning of the wheel!

[A tiki torch is lit from the sacrificial fire.]
This torch is lit from the sacrificial fire, the centre of our worship. Lit from the hearth fire, this flame carries our voices upwards to the gods and spirits!

[We walk once in a circle in front of the altar/around the gazebo before proceeding outwards to the West.]
Blessings of the hearth and the folk to the West, the direction of LEARNING — of foundations and of teaching; of judgements, of stories, of chronicles; of wealth and wisdom. Blessings of the Fires to the West!
[All] Blessings of the Fires to the West!

Blessings of the West on the hearth and the folk!
[All] Blessings of the West on the hearth and the folk!

[We proceed to the North.]
Blessings of the hearth and the folk to the North, the direction of BATTLE — of contentions and of courage; of strength, of roughness, of confidence; of pride and perseverance. Blessings of the Fires to the North!
[All] Blessings of the Fires to the North!

Blessings of the North on the hearth and the folk!
[All] Blessings of the North on the hearth and the folk!

[We proceed to the East.]
Blessings of the hearth and of the folk to the East, the direction of PROSPERITY — of abundance and of beehives; of manners, of arts, of green spotted cloths; of householders and hospitality. Blessings of the Fires to the East!
[All] Blessings of the Fires to the East!

Blessings of the East on the hearth and the folk!
[All] Blessings of the East on the hearth and the folk!

[We proceed to the South.]
Blessings of the hearth and the folk to the South, the direction of MUSIC — of melody and of fierceness; of nobles, of subtleties, of waterfalls; of fairs and fertility. Blessings of the Fires to the South!
[All] Blessings of the Fires to the South!

Blessings of the South on the hearth and the folk!
[All] Blessings of the South on the hearth and the folk!

[The folk resume their circle. The fires are brought to the centre.]
Blessings of the hearth and the folk to the Centre, the direction of KINGSHIP — of stewards and of dignity; of stability, of renown, of mead; of value and vision. Blessings of the Fires to the Centre!
[All] Blessings of the Fires to the Centre!

Blessings of the Centre on the hearth and the folk!
[All] Blessings of the Centre on the hearth and the folk!

Now, we purify ourselves as our ancestors did, and walk between two fires. We transform ourselves with the magic of the mythic landscape. We glimpse the shimmering veil that separates the worlds on this holy day.

May the blessings of the hearth fire be upon ourselves!
May the blessings of the sacrificial fire be upon ourselves!
May the blessings of all directions be upon ourselves!

[We dance between the fires, while singing Circle Fire Dance.]

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