Redvane's Horse Rituals

"Any act based on love and pleasure is a ritual of the Goddess.  Her worship can take any form and occur anywhere;  it requires no liturgy, no cathedrals, no confessions."
-- Starhawk "The Spiral Dance"


About these rituals

White horses of Wiltshire, Rev. Penderleith, Witshire Archaeological Magazine, 1874 I've always based my ritual working on this very sound advice.  I've never been comfortable with the "high magic" arm waving bells and smells variety of ritual, it doesn't suit me (or my spirit companion who rolled about laughing on the couple of occasions that I tried it!).  Likewise I rarely write down these rituals beforehand (or after for that matter), instead I trust to the Goddess and the God (who I normally call upon by the name of Cerunnos in his stag guise) to guide me through what I'm doing.  It usually works!  

However this means that all the rituals I've described here are reconstructed from memory and my "Notebook of obscure bits" (I was too poor to afford a proper "Book of Shadows" <g>) - with the exception of the Handfasting ritual which (because it was a public ritual) was written and rehearsed before it took place.  This is not necessarily a bad thing as I don't believe that slavishly following someone else's ritual out of a book (what a friend of mine calls "Southern Baptist Wicca") is a good thing.  Take what you see here and feel free to adapt and use it as you think fit.  A word of caution though - if you use the horse rituals be sure you know what you are doing and are competent around horses. And  I don't need to tell you that you shouldn't take candles into stables do I?  Good.

 Ritual to Protect Horse and Rider
 Redvane's "Dances With Horses" Energy Raising Ritual
 The Handfasting


Tiny Ritual to Protect Horse and Rider

This is a little ritual - it takes only a few seconds and can be performed quietly in a stable with the horse you're going to ride (or even in full view if you whisper!).  I used to use this one a lot when I'm going out riding on roads or if me and horsey are going to be doing something a bit risky like showjumping.  This ritual contains the key to involving horses in your rituals... food!  This is appropriate as it's a direct offering to the Epona via her animal :-)

Take a small food offering (pieces of carrot are good), break in two speaking the following.

"Epona, Lady of the horses, mother of us all;  watch over <horse's name> and I this day, keep us safe from harm.  May <horse's name> and I be joined in spirit and mind that we might protect each other from all dangers.  In your name, Epona of the Horses, this I ask."
Then offer one half of the food offering to your horse before you mount and eat the other half yourself.  (extra pixie points can be won here by putting the offering between your teeth and letting the horse take it from your mouth, people will also think it's cute!)

Redvane's "Dances With Horses" energy raising ritual

This is a ritual I came up with for the solo practicioner to be conducted on horseback.  Essentially it's an energy summoning ritual and I last used it to help out a sick horse.  To do the ritual you'll need a decent sized menage (20m by 40m or larger) or open space so you can work up a decent amount of speed on the canters, a horse that knows what he or she is doing and a few riding lessons under your belt - at least enough to do canters on a circle and a couple of elementary dressage moves such as changes of rein, figures of eight and serpentines.  Parts of this ritual, such as the horse-merge, are very good if you are going to do any horse shapeshifting work or just want to know your horse better (or just want to use it as an excuse to do some schooling!)

Start by performing the  protection ritual shown above, or your variation on it, then mount and warm yourself and the horse up with walk, trot and canter on both reins for 10 minutes or so (this is going to be intensive so keep your wight off horse's back for as long as you can).  As you reach the end of your warmup start to centre yourself, straighten your back and open your shoulders so you can breathe properly.  Slow to a walk (either rein) and sit deep into the saddle.  Picture a shaft of light running through your head, down your spine, through the horse and into the ground, once you have that picture the light, still connected to the ground, speading out to cover both you and the horse. 

Now as you walk around, sit as deep as you can without slouching forwards start to draw in the light into a single point somewhere inside the horse (I ususally locate it around the heart towards the forelegs but you'll find what works for you).  Start to think of you and the horse as a single entity, merged together on a physical and spiritual level - feel the ripple of muscle, the breathing as he or she walks, the slow beat of the heart.  If you have got your position right feel yourself sinking into your horse until there is only one of you.

When you're ready start a slow rising trot, either in a circle or on the track of the menage and begin a chant (either silently in your head or, if no-one is going to stare and your horse isn't going to be freaked out by you nattering away up there) - The chant can be anything you like but when I did a horse healing ritual I used something that goes like this:

Epona. Cerunnos. Power of the Land.  Power of the Horse. Strong is the land. Strong is the Horse.  Deep is the Land.  Swift is the Horse. Epona.  Epona.  Strong is the Horse.

Repeat this, mix the words together - the words are not that important - but as you ride picture raising the energy in the space bounded by where you are riding - I find green to be a good colour and it's one that tends not to upset the horse. Work at feeling the horse's connection with the earth and your connection to the horse - try to retain that feeling of being only a single being.  Speed up the trot to a working pace - if you're already at a working trot and comfortable with that stick to it as I've found that extended trot messes the ritual up (but it might work for you-give it a go).  Now if you have the feeling of oneness work at raising the energy, draw the power up from the earth, through your horse, picture his or her hoofbeats waking the energies beneath you and your circling movements drawing those enegies together into one space. 

Now comes the tricky bit as you'll need to change rein.  Do this at the trot across one of the long diagonals.  Before you chage diagonals picture a silver thread trailing behind you from the central point you got earlier in the ritual - you'll use this thread to "tie up" the energy and weave the pair of you into it.  As you cross the diagonal feel yourselves penetrating through the power you've raised - I picture it feeling like warm water - and trail the thread through it.  Now just work at different paces, walk and trot, doing the chant if you like and continuing to raise and bind that energy.  Dance through the energy you are raising, drawing it all together.  If you are doing a ritual to heal someone who's not there picture them in the middle of the menage, surrounded by the healing energies you and horsey have raised.  What I like to do at this stage is to break into a canter coming off the track and drawing the enegy tighter into a circle (watch out for your horse slipping - don't exceed your limitations!)  A fast canter introduces a wildness into the energy, the spirit of the wild horse - don't be scared of it!

If your ritual is to heal the horse you're riding then when you have got your energy tightly bound and really humming, ride into the middle of it and stop, then picture all that power flowing into the part that needs healing.  If you're healing someone else, another horse for example, you can do the same, diricting in your mind the energy through the you/horse combination to whoever needs it.  A somewhat more risky approach is to ride several times throygh the centre of the circle, pocing up the spirit of the poorly horse that you have placed there and direct it to the same place in your horse.  However if you do this latter step it is imperative that you close down the ritual properly, ensuting that the afflicted horse's spirit is seperate from yours.

To close the ritual, unwind any remaining enegy by a slow trot in the opposite direction to that you started, letting the energy sink back into the ground, letting you and your horse cool off.  When done ride into the centre of the menage, offer up a word of thanks to Epona and Cerunnos (any words will do) and dismount.

Give your horse a big hug (this is mandatory in all my horse rituals) and share food together.

The Handfasting

This one I know is probably going to get me into loads of trouble with some folks out there.  However all I ask is that you keep an open mind and bear in mind the Starhawk quote I started this bit with...

As many people who know me know, I was privaledged to conduct the handfasting between the late Mark Matthews and his pony mare, Pixel.  This was back in 1993 and was, to be honest, an improvised affair even though it was something we'd discussed in the past.  The second horse and human handfasting I conducted was much more formal with an audience of family, friends (and horses!) in The Netherlands in 1998 (read about it here) and so, in conjunction with the participants, we came up with a ritual which went something like this...

To begin the ritual a circle is cast by the Priest(ess). If desired (garden-)candles placed at the four quarters.
The priest(ess) consecrates the circle by walking the circle clockwise three times with his/her staff tracing the circle, speaking:

"I cast and conjure this circle of my art to set this sacred space between the worlds. May all who enter here be protected and may no harm come unto them. May all enter here freely of their own free will and desire and may the blessing of the Goddess and the God be upon all who work the ancient rites in this sacred space."
On the third circuit the elemental quarters are called:
At the East:
"Hail guardians of the East, spirits of Air. Watch over this celebration and grant us your presence. You are
welcome, element of Air. Welcome to the Lady and Lord of the Watchtower of the East. May it stand in strength, ever watching over this circle."
At the South:
"Hail guardians of the South, spirits of Fire. Watch over this celebration and grant us your presence. You are welcome, element of Fire. Welcome to the Lady and Lord of the Watchtower of the South. May it stand in strength, ever watching over this circle."
At the West:
"Hail guardians of the West, spirits of Water. Watch over this celebration and grant us your presence. You are welcome, element of Water. Welcome to the Lady and Lord of the Watchtower of the West. May it stand in strength, ever watching over this circle."
At the North:
"Hail guardians of the North, spirits of Earth. Watch over this celebration and grant us your presence. You are welcome, element of Earth. Welcome to the Lady and Lord of the Watchtower of the North. May it stand in strength, ever watching over this circle."
Finally the Goddess and God are welcomed (the priest(ess) facing the celebrants outside the circle):
"Lord and Lady of all. Balanced unity of a thousand incarnations. Goddess and God whom our ancestors called Epona, the foal tender, mother of us all and Cerunnos, the horned. Be with us now in this sacred space. Come hither to watch and to bless this ritual of handfasting between {NAMES}. Come hither and be with us now. Come hither and honour us with your presence. I bid the Lady and Lord welcome and invite them to join us in this rite we hold in their honour."
"Hail to the Goddess and the God."
"The circle is cast."

With the circle cast the handfasting ritual proper can commence.
The Priest(ess) makes the announcement to those gathered to bear witness to the ceremony:
"We gather here to bear witness and to join the celebration of the handfasting of {NAMES}. Let them approach the circle."
The bride and groom approach the Priest(ess) in the circle but do not enter. The priest asks the pair:
"I charge you that only if you are both willing to join each other in love and trust may you enter this space, sacred to the Goddess of the Horse and the Horned God of Old. If you come of your own free will only may you approach this hallowed place."
The Priest(ess) draws an arc with his staff, opening a doorway in the circle:
"Then enter, , this saccred place and the presence of the Goddess and God."
The pair enter and stand before the Priest(ess) who says:
"We stand in the presence of Epona and Cerunnos, the Lady and Lord of all life, to join {NAMES} in the union of handfasting, the marriage of our ancestors. They come into he presence of the Goddess and God seeking this union, a statement of their commitment to and love for each other."
The priest(ess) takes her athame and touches it to the shoulder of the groom.
"{GROOM}. Beside you stands {BRIDE}. Before these witnesses, seen and unseen, will you to the best of your abilities, keep her safe from harm, protect her and care for her as your partner in love, through all the times to come?"
The groom responds:
"I do so promise."
The Priest(ess) lays her hand on the mare's mane and whispers :
"{BRIDE}. Beside you stands {GROOM}. He has promised before the Horse Goddess and the Horned God to protect and keep you as his partner in love and herdmate. If you so desire this then shall be. If you do not so wish then you may leave him. May Epona carry this words to you and in your heart may you so choose your path."
The priest withdraws a step to allow the bride to make her decision. If she stays the ritual continues.
Bread is broken by the Priest(ess) and taken by the groom who speaks the following:
". As we share this bread may we share the physical realms together. As we share our breath may we share our spirits. May we share all that we are together for as long as the Goddess and God so will it. I thank thee {BRIDE} for consorting to be my mate and I swear that I will uphold my promise to you."
The bread is shared by bride and groom and breath is exchanged
The Priest(ess) takes a braided red and white ribbon and binds bride and groom together:
"I now declare before all these witnesses and before the Lady and Lord that {NAMES} are one in body and spirit. Their plegde to each other has been made in the presence of the Goddess and God and none may come between them and none may break that plegde."
Speaking to the bride and groom he continues:
"Go now in perfect peace and perfect trust. May the Goddess of the Horse and the Horned God ever watch over you and protect you in your life together."
The bride and groom may leave, or stay if they wish.
  The Priest(ess) closes the circle anti-clockwise starting in the north, extinguishing each candle in turn if they have been used.
To the North:
"We thank you Lord and Lady of the North, we thank you spirits of Earth for thy presence, witness and protection of our ritual. Go now with our blessings and thanks and may we meet once more."
To the West:
"We thank you Lord and Lady of the West, we thank you spirits of Water for thy presence, witness and protection of our ritual. Go now with our blessings and thanks and may we meet once more."
To the South:
"We thank you Lord and Lady of the South, we thank you spirits of Fire for thy presence, witness and protection of our ritual. Go now with our blessings and thanks and may we meet once more."
To the East:
"We thank you Lord and Lady of the East, we thank you spirits of Air for thy presence, witness and protection of our ritual. Go now with our blessings and thanks and may we meet once more."
The direction from which the Goddess and God were invoked is faced, and the Priest(ess) speaks again:
"Goddess and God. We thank thee for thy presence here. We thank thee for the protecction. We thank thee for thy blessings upon . This ritual is ended but may you ever remain with us."
"This rite is ended."
"So mote it be."
The circle is walked once more anti-clockwise to close it fully and the ritual is ended.

Feel free to adapt this ritual as you wish depending on the participants.  However please, please do bear in mind that any handfasting is a serious undertaking and is not to be embarked upon lightly.  In both the cross-species handfastings I've conducted I have been absolutely sure that this is what all the participants wanted to do in their own way. I do advise you to make sure that you do too - Epona is not someone you want to piss off lightly!!!