On Sunday, July 31st, Líithi Lushede Coven held their public Lughnasadh ritual at the gorgeous Waterfall Park in Independence, MO. Typically the hottest time of the year, this July day was a gorgeous 85F with a cool breeze. We always seem to get perfect weather for the public rituals, likely thanks to high priestess Gwenhwyfar Wyrrd's weather witchery!
It did rain a bit that morning, making it slightly humid. I think maybe the local community thought it would be too humid or still raining because the turnout was rather low for one of Líithi Lushede's amazing rituals. That being said, I was chatting with someone who had never attended a public ritual in KC before and she was amazed at just how many of us were there. Líithi Lushede's public rituals are definitely a highlight for the community.
Ritual began by mixing salt with water to create purified water, and fire with herbs to create incense. This process utilizes all four elements - earth, water, fire and air - to cleanse the circle.
The purified water and incense were taken around the circle by members of the coven, and included this adorable little guy who seems very intensely interested by the censer.
The quarters were then called...
And the circle was open!
This ritual was a bit different from what you might expect a Wiccan-themed Lughnasadh ritual to be like. In this ritual, HPS Gwenhwyfar took us to the realms of the Underworld.
And take us there she did as the park turned into a foggy, ethereal location not of this world.
Gwenhwyfar used a story from Metamorphoses, written in the 2nd century by Platonicus, about the love affair between Psyche and Eros that led ultimately to their marriage.
Donning wings and a gorgeous headband, much like how Psyche is often depicted in art, Gwenhwyfar gave us an amusing but poignant rendition of the tale:
Psyche, a name which implies deity of the soul, was an extravagant beauty who was said to outshine even Aphrodite. The Goddess Aphrodite took affront to this and asked her son, Eros to force Psyche to fall for a hideous man. However, Eros accidentally fell on his own arrow and thus fell for Psyche instead. Psyche, determined to marry someone she loved, remained single far past her parents' comfort. Eventually, her parents traveled to an oracle in hopes of finding out whom their daughter would marry. The oracle prophesied that Psyche would marry hideous man and to avoid this, they sent to her to live at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Devastated, Psyche's threw herself from the cliff face only to be caught by the wind and carried to an enchanted aisle. She had every comfort from food to clothing to riches provided to her and eventually took a mysterious lover who would only visit her at night. He specifically forbade her from looking at his face insisting that, otherwise, all of this would end.
Over time, Psyche came to miss her family and two sisters and begged her mysterious lover to bring them to her to visit. When she explained that she could never see his face to her sisters, her two sisters, told her that her new husband was clearly a monster that wanted to kill her. In truth, they were jealous of her new life and wanted her to ruin it by convincing her to disobey her new husband, take a look at his face and kill him.
One night, Psyche took a lantern and discovered she had been married to a handsome man all along, instead of the hideous beast prophesied. This handsome man was, of course, none other than Eros who had fallen in love with her and wanted to keep his jealous mother Aphrodite from knowing his mistake. Upon seeing his face, instead of killing him, she kissed him which woke him. Angry, Eros told Psyche that she betrayed him and that their relationship was ruined - they could never be together again.
Heartbroken, and unaware of whom she had fallen in love with, Psyche went to the Goddess of Love Aphrodite for help. Aphrodite gave her what she thought was three impossible tasks to complete:
The first involved sorting thousands of grains of rice. Psyche was convinced she could not do it but, aided by ants, the successfully completed the task.
The second task was to retrieve golden fleece from a special herd of angry sheep across the river. The god of the river told Psyche to wait until they were asleep and, sure enough, she successfully completed that task too.
Psyche's final task was to retrieve a box of magical makeup from the wife of Hades, Persephone. Thinking all was lost, she contemplated suicide but the a voice at the cliff told her not to and instead guided her to the underworld.
In order to get in and out of the underworld, Psyche would need two coins to pay Cheron, the ferryman of the river Styx.
And to get past the guard of the Underworld, Cerberus, she would need cake to distract him.
We were given these tools with wonderful music provided by the bard, John Mitchell, on voice and guitar with Cathy Burchett on the drum.
However, the one rule was that Psyche could not open the makeup box. Of course, Psyche defied this. Inside the makeup box was a darkness that put her into a deep sleep. Eros, angered by the way Psyche had been treated and no longer able to conceal his love for her, asked Zeus to intervene. Zeus not only woke Psyche but made her immortal by giving her a cup of ambrosia. Zeus then joined Psyche and Eros in eternal marriage.
Psyche and Eros would eventually have a daughter - named Joy.
The story of Psyche, Gwenhwyfar explained, embodied the personal growth and strength that comes from loss and fighting for what you want. While we often have many obstacles on our journey, often our biggest obstacle is ourselves. Throughout the story, Psyche often wanted to give up. Every time she didn't, she succeeded in her task and eventually made her way to Eros. The concept of reaping what you sew is integral to the celebration of the first harvest, Lughnasadh.
With that, HPS Gwenhwyfar closed the ritual by releasing the goddess Psyche...
... and the quarters.
Right as ritual ended, a very light sprinkle misted the ground for a few seconds, as if to cleanse the fog that hung in the air from the Underworld.
After a few community announcements, the celebration began with a potluck feast provided by the attendants, as well as a raffle to help offset the costs of the ritual.
This was one of my favorite rituals from Líithi Lushede Coven. Believe me when I say that I do the story no justice; High Priestess Gwenhwyfar Wyrrd can weave an amazing story that will keep you captivated until the very last word. Though I was flaring and had a massive migraine this day, ritual with Líithi Lushede completely cleared my ailments. I certainly never regreat coming. If you'd ever like to attend a Líithi Lushede Coven public ritual or any of the other wonderful pagan community meets around Kansas City, check out the Kansas City Witches Meetup group for more information!
A Blessed Lughnasadh to everyone!