Tag Archives: sweat of your brow


 Public Domain picture of Sickle Use
As the Tide turns to the grain harvest, magic folk everywhere will put energy into the Unseen System to assure plenty through winter, and a renewal of the seasons.  They’ll do this because harvest is a time of sacrifice.  Not a time to take the help of the gods for granted.
We may not till the fields ourselves anymore.  If we do, it’s likely we’ve tilled a small garden plot.  (Okay, 5 pots of tomatoes.)  But someone out there is tilling and growing all the food we eat in order to survive.  That takes energy.  Mental, physical and magical energy.
If you’re fortunate enough to belong to a coven, or already gather with a group of like-minded friends to explore the old ways, below is one way for your group to infuse energy into the System, and with the gods, work to assure your own continued harvests.  If you are working alone at the moment … well, the concepts still apply.  If you don’t have a leader, it’s you — and you alone — who’s responsible for what goes on in your solitary circle.  So adapt this ritual to work for you, and work away!
Fashion a man of bread — a mellman (from the Old English meluground grain, and man).  Extra points if your mellman is made of flour ground from the grain of this season’s harvest.
Set your ritual space as usual.  Assemble before your Magister or other leader.  One by one, make an obeisance to him, and, describing your craft relationship to him, ask the Magister to acknowledge that relationship.  For instance, I might say “Magister, I am the Dame of Bendith y Cyrn, and your CraftWife.  Will you take me up?”
If the Magister acknowledges you as “one of his,” ask if he will make sacrifice for you.  You’re asking that, no matter what sacrifice the gods require, he will make it in your stead.  
I should talk about sacrifice at this point; it’s a bit of a loaded term.  For purposes of this rite, I use sacrifice in it’s original meaning of sacre (holy) + facere (to make).  Sacrifice here isn’t loss and suffering for transformation.  It’s effort translated into usuable metaphysical energy.
That being said, back on topic.  If you’ve dealt honorably with your covenmates and been whole-hearted in your coven work this year, then you have nothing to worry about. 
(I can sense some of you trembling in your boots, and perhaps you should be.  Working within a coven means mingling your fates.  It’s wise to remember this!) 
If his answer is “yes,” take the silver coin from your pocket (good thing you brought one, huh?), and hand it to the Magister with a kiss.
The Magister takes it and, by bending, piercing or otherwise marking it, he renders the coin useless for legal tender, but now suitable for debts in the Otherworld (much like a crooked sixpence).  He hands it back to you, as a token of the pact between you.  Although you were willing to pay, craft workings are a matter of love, not money.
After all have come before the Magister, he asks your help in preparing his sacrifice.
Set the mellman handy.  Dance, sing, chant, jump, all the while driving the Magister before you in a fun-loving way.  Work up a sweat.  When he’s good and frothy, run your hands through his sweat and anoint the mellman liberally with it.
The Magister takes up the mellman and lifts it to the east, south and west.  Not to the north, as the sun doesn’t rise directly in the north.  At each point, he asks the Powers That Be if the sacrifice (literally the sweat of his brow) is enough to work the Tides — to fuel the change in energy flow reflected in the seasons.  Then all chant “chop, chop, chop,” while one of your number flips a coin, pulls a rune or otherwise consults Dame Fate to determine whether the answer to that question is “yes” or “no.”
If no, the Magister returns to the eastern, southern and western points, offering up both the mellman and an additional personal sacrifice.  This additional sacrifice is a matter between the Magister and the gods, but usually takes the form of something given up or abstained from for a period of time, to show the Magister’s willingness to put aside his personal desires for the welfare of the coven.  However softly, the offer must be spoken aloud to be truly made.  The Magister continues to consult Dame Fate and add to the sacrifice until a sacrifice sufficient to the work at hand is found.
Once the sacrifice is accepted, everyone cries out in joy — the pact is made! — while the Magister breaks up and casts some of the pieces of the mellman to the points. The  coven members put some of the crumbs in their pockets to take home and cast on their own gardens, and then eat some.  (Yep. Sweat and all.  Taking all usual health precautions, of course.)
Then on to the feast.  You’ve brought the harvest home!

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