Ritual of Return
at the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (SUUSI)
Blacksburg, Virginia
July 19, 2006
by  Shining Spirits  

(As group approaches and assembles into a Circle, we will softly chant.)

   The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water, 
   Return, return, return, return.

(When the Circle looks fairly complete, HPS strikes energy chimes 3 
times and chanting stops.)


HP:   We welcome you to our Circle!
 Knowing that many here are assembled in a Pagan Earth Centered 
 Circle for the first time, we will include in our ritual information
 about what we are doing and why.

HPS:   For many of us this Circle is a Return. 
 We are returning the Goddess. 
 We are returning to an ancient religion. 
 We are returning to a Craft as old as the Earth herself.                 
 We are returning to reunite with our roots.      
 We are returning home.

HP:   For many of us SUUSI is a Return. We return to SUUSI year after 
 year after year.
 If this is your first SUUSI, we hope you, too, will return. And why 
 do we return?

(From designated speakers scattered around the Circle:)

1.  We return to Rejoice in all that life has given us.
2.  We return to Renew our commitments.
3.  We return to Reconnect with old friends.
4.  We return to Reach out to new friends.
5.  We return for Religious Education for our children and ourselves.
6.  We return to Refresh our spirits.
7.  We return to Relax among good friends.
8.  We return for the Recreation of shared activities.
9.  We return to Remember those who have gone before.
10. We return to Retrace steps in our journeys.
11. We return to Reconfirm that which centers us.
12. We return to Reflect upon our lives.

HPS:   We invite you to join with us now 
 as we return to our roots in this ancient religion.
 Breathe deeply. Again. 
 Through your breaths, cleanse yourself of all that is not here and now. 
 Put aside the cares you brought to this place.                           
 Put aside the busy swirling thoughts.                                            
 Cleanse yourself of any negative energy. 
 Be whole and be with us completely as we create Sacred Space. 


HP:   One symbol of paganism is the pentacle, a line-drawn star set in 
 a circle. We are that Circle, and we now create a star within as we
 share its meaning. This symbol, often misunderstood as a sign of evil,
 in reality connects our Universe. 

HPS:   There are five points on the star. 
 Four stand for the four directions. 
 And the four directions stand for so much more.

(Man and Lady come to the alter. Man picks up ribbon and hands it to 
Lady. She walks slowly with it to the directions during the presentation,
while Man remains at alter holding end of ribbon.)

HP:   (as Lady is in position to walk): North is the direction  of cool 
 crisp days. 

(The Lady walks toward the North unrolling the ribbon. A little
hoopla from the North folks.) 

HP:   North represents the element of Earth.
 Attributes of the North are: nurturing, grounding, and fertility. 
 Rocks, trees, mountains are associated with the North. 
 We dress the North in earth colors-this evening green.
(More hoopla as Lady arrives with ribbon. Direction person hands over 
new spool of ribbon and holds both of the ribbons till Lady returns to alter.)

HPS:   South is the direction of sunny skies.  

(Lady moves South. Hoopla)

HPS:   South represents the element of Fire.
 Attributes of the South are passion, energy, and creativity. 
 Candles, hearth fires, camp fires are associated with the South. 
 We dress the South in fiery colors-this evening red.

(More hoopla. pass spool, hold ribbon.)

HP:   East is the direction of dawn.                       

(Lady moves East. Hoopla)

HP:   East represents the element of Air.
 Attributes of the East are the intellect, communication, and inspiration.
 Feathers, incense, scents are associated with the East. 
 We dress the East in pale, airy colors-this evening, yellow.

(More hoopla. pass spool, hold ribbon)

HPS:   West is the direction of the sunset.        

(Lady move West. Hoopla)

HPS:   West represents the element of Water.
 Attributes of the West are emotions, intuition and psychic skills.  
 Shells, bowls, glasses are associated with the West.                     
 We dress the West in watery colors-this evening blue.

(More hoopla. pass spool, hold ribbon.)

HP:   There is a fifth point on the star. 
 And that point represents Spirit.
 We think of Spirit as the topmost point of the star, 
 as Spirit unites the directions and ourselves.

(Lady returns and hands spool to Man who cuts the ribbon and anchors 
ribbon under alter.)

(Direction people anchor their ribbons. Man or a ribbon sprite anchor
ribbons where they cross within the Circle.)

(Hoopla from all! Man and Lady step aside.)

HPS:   Spirit means different things to different people. 
 It may be a goddess or a god, or both.                                   
 It may be the spirit of the earth and the creatures who dwell upon her.                  
 Spirit may be the spirit within that responds in harmony to all beings.                          
 I invite you to take a moment to look within or without,  
 to contemplate the Spirit to which you are drawn, 
 and to focus on the Pentacle within our Circle.

(Pause, then chime.)

UU/Pagan Connection:

(Lady and Man step forward, ready to receive the microphone.)

HP:   Our next words begin with a Charge of the Goddess. 
 The others words you may recognize.

HPS:   Listen to the words                                         
 of the Great Mother of All Life, 
 She who is the Mother of Mysteries:

Lady:   I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon 
 among the stars, and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your 
 soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of Nature that 
 gives Life unto the Universe.

Man:   We affirm our mutual respect for the interdependent web of all
 existence of which we are a part.

Lady:   Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold - all 
 acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Man:   We affirm our mutual acceptance of one another, and encourage 
 individual spiritual growth in our diverse congregations. We affirm 
 that all life-affirming paths of Spirit are useful 
 and valid to those who practice them, and that all seek One Source, 
 that Highest Good that lies at the end of every search for Truth.                                

Lady:   Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor 
 and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
Man:   We affirm our determination to work together for justice, 
 equity, and compassion in human relations, with a goal of world 
 community and peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Lady:   And you, who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and 
 yearning will avail you not unless you know the mystery; for if that 
 which you seek you find not within yourself, you will never find it 

Man:   We affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and 
 the universal right to pursue a free and responsible search for truth 
 and meaning.

Lady:   For behold, I have been with you from the beginning;  and I am 
 that Wisdom and Love and Peace which is attained at the end of the 

Man:   We affirm that there is Love in the Universe. We affirm our 
 commitment to expressing and developing ourselves as representations 
 of that Love. We affirm to our Deities, and to one another, our 
 Commitments Of The Heart.
                               (from Maureen Duffy-Boose, CUUPS Board)

HP:   So mote it be.

Group:   So mote it be.
Casting the Circle:

(Lady and Man step up to the alter; ready to take up their casting tools.)

HP:   We will now cast our Circle with Earth,
(HPS takes up cauldron and sprinkles a bit of sand.)

HP:   Air,

(Man takes up large feather and waves it.)

HP:   Fire,

(Lady takes up fake candle in chalice and holds it high.)

HP:   and Water.

(HP takes up bowl and splashes water in the air.)

HP:   As we cast the Circle, our Ladies will cleanse it with brooms.
 The broom is another symbol. 
 In ancient times it was rumored that witches flew on broomsticks.
 Now we use the broom for cleansing-to eliminate negative energy.
 In the same manner, may you eliminate negative energy from yourself 
 in this place.                                           

HPS:   Through casting and cleansing a Circle,
 we are able to create Sacred Space wherever we may be. 
 A church or temple is not needed. We create our own Sacred Space. 
 As we cast and cleanse we will chant again, Return.                      

(Cantor begins the chant as the four cast the Circle and the Broom 
Dancers dance.)

     The earth, the air, the fire, the water,
     Return, return, return, return.

(After all return to the alter, Lady, Man and broom dancers go back to 

HPS:   We're going to do another casting of our Circle to unite us. 
 We'd like you to help us by reaching out.

HPS:   (take hand of HP and says)
I cast this circle hand to hand.	
(HP takes the hand of the person on his left, saying,)	
HP:   I cast this circle hand to hand.                    

(At the same time the 4 Direction Callers take the hand of the person 
on their left with the same words. Then.)

HPS:   We are one!
 The Circle is cast!                                                              
 The Bell is rung,
 The Candles are lit,
 The Chant is sung.
 The Book is opened,
 The Altar is set,                                                       
 The Cauldron is stirred,
 The Group is met.
 We now proclaim to everyone
 That our Ritual has begun.

(HP taps altar with Athame) 	
HP:   Lemme hear a Blessed Be!                                                             
Group:   Blessed Be! 

The Invoking: 

HP:   Another part of creating Sacred Space is invoking the spirits of 
 the four directions.
 As we do that, we ask that you face the direction called. 
 If you wish, you may respond with a blessed be and draw a pentacle in 
 the air following each direction call. Beginning in the North.

(Direction teams of at least three, wearing the color of their 
direction - one with lit candle, one with ribbon or scarf,
one with shaker or bells. One of the group will speak.
As each direction is called by the HP, the team moves or dances around
the Circle to the alter. Drummer drum as they move about the Circle.)

(Stop at alter. Candle carrier places candle on corner of alter.
Speaker moves to microphone, others form a line facing their direction.)

(As next direction is called, the first team returns to their place by
proceeding around the Circle, not going back the way they came.)

HP:   North! Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of the Earth, of North, 
 Be here as we call you forth.
 Nurture us and ground us, too.
 This is what we ask of you.

HP:   East! Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of the East, of Air,
 Join us with your spirit fair.
 Guide our word and guide our mind.
 Thoughtful speech with you we find.

HP:   South! Let the drums sound.

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of the South, of Fire,
 Be with us is our desire.
 Spark our creativity
 With passion that will set us free.                                              

HP:   West! Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of Water, of the West, 
 Join us now with all the rest.
 Bring us emotions, your water, our tears.
 Bathe us in feelings through all of our years.

HP:   Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

HP:   We will now honor Spirit by invoking the goddess and the god.
 Then you will be given an opportunity to invite spirits of your 
 choosing into our Circle.

HPS:   We invite the goddess to be with us as we return.
 She comes to us from beyond the boundaries of time.                      
 She is eternal and universal.
 She is changing and she is changeless.
 She is as ageless as the Earth  which is her body.                       
 She is as ageless as the waters  which are her blood. 
 She is as ageless as the fires of the heavens  and as the air of her breath.
 She was before time and she will be, when time has been forgotten. 
 Across all boundaries of time  we have honored the goddess.
 For she is with us. 
 She is with us in the quiet of the sunrise.      
 She is with us in the tumult of the ocean wave.
 She is with us in the peace of the silent meadow.
 She is with us in the violence of the storm.
 We come from her and it is to her we will return.
 She is with us and she is in us.
 For we are all her children, no matter our age.
 And she is our Mother, and  She is Our self.

HP:   We invite the god to be with us as we return.
 He comes to us from beyond the boundaries of time.
 He is eternal and universal.
 He is changing and he is changeless.
 In all the ages of being he is with us.
 In all the places of the earth we will find him.
 He is the laughter in the ripples of water.
 He is the solemnity in the dimness of the forest.
 He is the joy in the bright light of the sun. 
 He is the awe in the dark of night.
 He is the strength of the mighty oak.
 He is the gentleness of the blade of grass.
 We come from him and it is to him we will return.
 He is with us and he is in us.
 For we are all his children, no matter our age.
 And he is our Father and He is Our self. 
HPS:   What spirits would you invite to join us now? 
 Is there someone missing from our Circle who you would like to have here? 
 Is there someone missing from your life who you would like to be a 
 part of us? 
 Is there someone who has gone on to the Summerland 
 who you want to bring into our Circle? 
 Call out the names of those you would invite to join us in spirit.

(Pause while people call out names.)

(When the calling stops, HPS chimes once.)

HPS:   We are between the worlds,
 Where we return again and again,             
 Where day and night,
 Birth and death,
 Joy and sorrow,                                                                                
 Meet as one.

HP/HPS:   May you all be here in peace and love. We bid you welcome.

(HPS chimes thrice.)

The Magickal Working:

HP:   Our Circle has been cast.
 Spirits of the directions have been invoked.                            
 The Goddess and the God have been invoked,
 as have your own particular spirits.
 We move on now to what we call the Magickal Working.

HPS:   As we do our Magickal Working, we will invite your 
 participation. What we ask is that you share this experience
 with us from the depths of your being and grow from it. 
 Our Magickal Working is one of Return.

HP:   Once more we have returned to this place. 
 This place is our Circle, uniting us with each other and with the ancients. 
 We have returned to our roots.

HPS:   We have returned here for guidance on our journey,
 our journey through life. 
 We will now ask the Goddess and the God for their wise counsel on 
 that journey. 

HP:   We know that return may mean different things to us.
 Look within for your own return.

HPS:   Do you return for guidance?

HP:   Do you return to guide others?  
HPS:   Do you have something or someone returning to you?

HP:   Do you will something or someone to return to you?

HPS:   Does something or someone return unbidden and unwelcome?

HP:   Look within for your own return. (Pause)

(HPS tips bowls so all may see during these words.)

HP:   We have before us containers of stones and beads of differing 
colors. Color is our focus in this magickal working.
Just as it is in the Mundane world, each color carries with it a 
meaning. Hearken to these meanings and remember them well.				

(Spoken slowly with much deliberation.)

 Green means proceed,
 Yellow means caution, 
 Red means halt, 
 Blue means serenity, 
 Black means change, 									9
 White indicates a spiritual connection.

(HPS and  HP cover the bowls of stones with a scarf so that 
participants will not see what color stone they are drawing.)

HPS:   The stones and beads shall speak to you. 
 Each of you will draw one stone or bead.         
 Its color will be a message to you.                                              
 Others may interpret, but only you can decide.

(As the HPS holds her wand over each bowl going from one to the next, 
the HP speaks.) 

HP:   Lord and Lady now we seek                                                    
 to hear your words in stones that speak.
 May each stone tell a message true
 that we may know what is best to do.

HPS:   I invite each of you to draw a stone when the bowl comes to you.  
 Keep it, as a focus for your meditation as you go forth from this place.
 As we draw our stones, let us softly chant a chant of empowerment.

Chant softly: 

     I give thanks for unknown blessings
     Already on the way.
     I give thanks for unknown blessings
     Already on the way.
                         (adapted from Christina Langdon, UU Minister)

(Lady and Man come forward and take a bowl with the HPS & HP. The four 
pass their bowls, each to one quarter of the circle, and return to 
the alter, placing their bowls, uncovered, on alter. Lady and Man 
return to the drums. Chant stops.)

HP:   Sun and Moon and Stars this hour,
 Grant us now your focused power.
 The spell is cast; our paths we see,
 Let magick reign; so mote it be!

HPS:   The Lady and Lord have heard your need.
 Your answer will come with due speed.
 Insure that the magick will come true
 By helping it happen in all that you do.

HP:   An it harm none, do what thou will.                                          
 The Wiccan Rede you must fulfill.

HPS:   Let us chant again, our empowering chant of unknown blessings,
 chanting now with the strength of new knowledge,                         
 new knowledge of our path for the journey.

Chant with vigor! 

      I give thanks for unknown blessings
      Already on the way.
      I give thanks for unknown blessing               
      Already on the way.                                                      

HP:   And now we all kneel to touch the Earth 
 and ground the excess of the energy we have raised, 
 by returning the energy to our Mother from whom it came.

(Pause as we all kneel, then stand again.) 

Opening the Circle:                  

HPS:   In a pagan circle, the closing is the opening. 
 We now approach the close of our ritual. 
 We began by casting a Circle and invoking spirits and deities.   
 We will now dismiss these spirits and deities and open our Circle.

HP:   We came together in a spirit of love
 meeting beneath the sky above.
 As we go forth, this love we will share
 with others, thus making them more aware.

HPS:   My Lady, our thanks to you tonight  
 for sharing this time at the edge of light.
 Our thanks for your guidance now we give         
 and our thanks for teaching us how to live.
 May we always live peaceably and always love.

HP:   My Lord, our thanks to you tonight                          
 for sharing this time at the edge of night.
 Our thanks for your guidance now we give
 and our thanks for teaching us how to live.
 May we always live peaceably and always love.

HPS:   Silently, in your hearts,                                                         
 you may dismiss the spirits you invited into our Circle.
 Often a dismissal concludes with the words:
`Stay if you will, go if you must.' 
 Let that be your message to the spirits you brought here.


HP:   Let us now dismiss the Quarters, starting with the North.
 Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of the North,
 Powers of Earth, we thank you
 For joining our circle, 
 For being a part of our Return. 
 We bid you well as you depart.
 May there be peace between us. 
HP:   West! Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!
 Spirit of the West,
 Powers of Water, we thank you
 For joining our circle,                                                  
 For being a part of our Return.
 We bid you well as you depart.
 May there be peace between us.

HP:   South! Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of the South,
 Powers of Fire, we thank you
 For joining our circle,
 For being a part of our Return.                                                  
 We bid you well as you depart.
 May there be peace between us.

HP:   East! Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

 Spirit of the East,
 Powers of Air, we thank you
 For joining our circle,
 For being a part of our Return.
 We bid you well as you depart.
 May there be peace between us.                                                   

HP:   Let the drums sound!

HP:   Let the drums cease!

HPS:   The light of the Maiden surrounds you.                                   
 The love of the Mother enfolds you.
 The wisdom of the Crone empowers you.
 Wherever you are, the Goddess is.
 And all is well.        Blessed be.

(Silently the HPS takes up her wand and with wand raised opens the Circle                        12
by walking widdershens around the circle. No drums.)

(HPS returns toi altar.)

HP & HPS Together:  							
 The Circle is open but unbroken,
 May the Peace of the Goddess,
 And the Strength of the God,
 Be ever in your hearts.
 Merry Meet and Merry Part, 
 And Merry Meet Again.

Chant three times:	

     Go now in peace. Go now in peace.
     May the spirit of love surround you
     everywhere, everywhere, you may go.

HP:    It is a part of my tradition 
 that we hug one another following a Circle.


               HPS                                HP
               Lady                               Man
               Cantor                             Broom Dancers
               Quarter Callers & Teams        12 Designated Speakers
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