Here in the Laurel Highlands of Western PA, Beltane marks the start of “planting” season, where we move our indoor seeds out into the greenhouse to harden off, where many seeds like carrots and beans start to go into the ground directly, and where the land is budding and blooming with the joy that spring offers. And so in today’s post, I’m going to share some Beltane spring garden blessing ideas for you, as you can craft your own sacred “druid’s garden”.
The concept of “blessing” is quite wide-ranging. In the broadest sense, a garden blessing is any working that offers positive energy and protection to a growing space for a season, ensuring your plants a bountiful harvest, long life, and joyful existence. Blessings can be extremely wide-ranging and pretty much anything you do can have some positive effect if you set to it with the right intention. In the tradition of this blog, I’ll offer three possibilities for doing garden blessings at the start of your growing season: prayers and offerings, rituals to raise positive energy, and creating a standing stone shrine. These blessings can be worked directly into a Beltane ritual or at any other time of power when you want to create a ritual link to your sacred gardening practice.
Preliminaries: Blessings, Energies, and Standing Stones for Sacred Gardens
I have a few preliminaries for consideration before we get into the Beltane blessings. First, you want to be clear about your intentions for growing plants or blessing this garden space. Are you growing annual vegetables (tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, beans, etc) for your family? Are you creating a sacred garden for growing offerings, smoke cleansing sticks, or other sacred tools? Are you cultivating a perennial flower bed for pollinators? Does it do a bit of all three or something else? I would suggest spending some time thinking about your intentions for the space you are blessing so that you can choose the right kind of blessing and establish your intentions clearly. Those intentions are set in part I of the ritual.
The second thing is that everything with the land should be done in a place of reverence, respect, and reciprocation with the living earth. I write this again and again on this blog for a simple reason: here in the USA, at least, we are so indoctrinated to take what we want from nature, see nature as a thing in service to us, and do damage to the living earth through our action that it is often a subconscious behavior. Thus, it takes a lot of mindful distancing and reprogramming our brains to think differently all the time. So as you do any of these blessings, bringing in that feeling of reverence, respect, and reciprocation is critical to this work.
The three aspects that I am sharing can be used together in a single ritual or they can be used individually. If you are planning a single ritual with the three, you will want to open up a sacred space as befitting your own practice (I use the AODA’s Solitary Grove opening, as AODA’s druidry forms a core of my practice). Once you have your space opened, you can engage in the three activities–or just do one. You can also adapt these specifically for your own needs.
I’m using the example of dedicating a newly expanded garden space that exclusively grows herbs for sacred uses (I will share more about this space in an upcoming post and how I developed it). I have a new bed that grows various sages, sagebrush, tobacco, and sweetgrass–all of these I use exclusively for sacred purposes such as making smoke clearing sticks and offering blends. I may give some of these plants away to friends and fellow druids, but I do not sell them. So my example below uses this in context: you should adapt this as necessary for your own needs.
For part 1, you will want rainwater or other sacred water, incense or a smoke clearing stick, and an offering (water with liquid gold, something you’ve baked, or your own offering blend), and some form of divination. You can also set up a simple altar with anything else you would like to dedicate the space. For Part 2, you will need a shovel or trowel, a small standing stone (any stone that can be placed 1/3 of the way in the soil and 2/3 out), healing waters, and spring flowers or other markers of the season (use what you can find locally). The stone can be as small as 6″ tall or much taller as you can find! Please make sure the stone is willing to serve in this capacity before you put it to use–sometimes finding a standing stone can take time and you can skip over part II and do it later if you don’t have a stone available. For part 3, you only need yourself.
This ceremony draws from several sources, but the most prominent is the Sphere of Protection used by the Ancient Order of Druids in America (which is adapted used in the 3rd part of the ceremony). For more on the magic of setting standing stones and on how to learn the sphere of protection, I recommend The Druid Magic Handbook by John Michael Greer.
The first practice is a simple one of acknowledgment, respect, and dedication–setting your intention for space, making an offering, and offering prayer and blessing for the garden. The second part of this ritual sets a standing stone in the center of the bed. Ancient cultures, including those who set stones throughout the UK, recognized that a standing stone offers light and blessing to the land. In the druid tradition, we recognize the power of standing stones, both to connect us to our ancient ancestors and also in radiating the solar current down into the telluric. The third part creates a sphere of protection for the garden for the coming season by drawing upon the energies of the seven elements.
Beltane Garden Blessing, Part I: Intentions, Prayers, Offerings, and Messages
Open up your sacred space.
Start by setting your intentions for the garden space. This should come from the heart. You can adapt the following:
“Spirits of place, spirits of this garden, I dedicate this new garden bed for the purposes of growing herbs for my sacred work in walking the path of druidry and healing the land. Sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, lavender, and mugwort, may you grow tall and strong. May you thrive in the heat of the summers, and may your roots and seeds rest with the deep winters to emerge again in the spring. May we work in partnership and joy this day and through the coming season.”
Make your offering to the garden bed as you see fit. I like to place mine just in the soil.
“I make this offering in friendship and respect. With my hands and my heart, I will work to prepare this space for you to grow and thrive. May I always remember to take only what you are willing to give, and may we work in partnership.”
Now, pour the rainwater over the bed.
“The waters of life bless you, this day and always.”
Light the smoke clearing stick and blow the smoke gently across the bed.
“May the fire of the sun and the ashes of these herbs bless you this season.”
Pause and simply take a moment to enjoy being in the presence of the new garden bed. Pull out your divination system and ask, “I would love to hear what messages you have for me, that might guide my work with you this coming season.”
Use your divination system (drawing a card, using inner communication, drawing an ogham, whatever you best use)
If this is the end of your ceremony, close out your grove. If not, move to part two.
Beltane Garden Blessing, Part II: Setting a Standing Stone
Hold the stone before you (or touch it, if it is quite heavy): “I honor this grandmother stone. She who is millions of years old, and who carries with her the wisdom of the earth mother. Dear stone, will you aid me in bringing blessing and light to this garden?”
Wait for a clear indication to proceed (this may be an inner response or some positive feeling).
Dig your hole to place the standing stone. The stone should be placed 1/3 of the way into the soil and remain 2/3 out, reaching to the sky. Once you’ve dug your hole, pour the healing waters in the hole and say, “Cradle of the earth, accept this stone and the blessing of these sacred waters. May you be blessed and nurtured this day and always.”
Place your stone. As you place it, intone the words of power, “Awen, Awen, Awen”. Pack the soil tightly around the stone. Pour the remainder of the water on the stone, saying “I offer you this water as a symbol of gratitude for your blessing in this garden.” Circle the stone with spring flowers. “I adorn you with flowers, honoring the life that you will bring.” Chant additional “Awens”. As you chant, feel the rays of the solar current descending into the stone and radiating out into your garden bed.
Close your sacred grove or move to part III.
Beltane Garden Blessing, Part III: A Sphere of Protection for the Garden
Say, “Now that this garden is blessed and the stone is set to radiate energy to this land, I offer a weaving of protection for the season to come.”
Move to the east and call the east in whatever format you see fit or use this: “Spirits of the east, powers of the rising sun and the hawk of May soaring in the heights of the morning, I call to you to protect this sacred garden, this day and always.” Feel the powers of the east present in your space.
Move to the south and call the south in whatever format you see fit or use this: “Spirits of the south, powers of the summer sun and the stag in the summer greenwood, I call to you to protect this sacred garden, this day and always.” Feel the powers of the east present in your space.
Move to the west and call the west in whatever format you see fit, or use this: “Spirits of the west, powers of the salmon of wisdom in the sacred pool, I call to you to protect this sacred garden, this day and always.” Feel the powers of the west present in your space.
Move to the north and call to the north in whatever format you see fit, or use this: “Spirits of the north, powers of the great bear in the starry heavens and the tall stones, I call to you to protect this sacred garden, this day and always. ” Feel the powers of the north present in your space.
Place your hands on the soil of your garden bed. Call to the telluric currents of the earth in whatever format you see fit, or use this: “Spirits of the land beneath this sacred garden, spirit below, telluric current of energy that flows through this land, I call to you to well up and protect this sacred garden, this day and always.”
Stand up and raise your hands to the sky. Call to the solar currents of the heavens in whatever format you see fit, or use this: “Spirits of the skies above this sacred garden, spirit above, solar current of energy that flows from the sun and the turning wheel of the stars, I call to you to descend and protect this sacred garden, this day and always.”
Place your hands upon the stone at the center of your garden (or on your bed if you did not do part II). Call forth to the six elements and ask for their protection. “By the six elements here invoked, and here present, I call upon the lunar current, spirit within, the spark of life within all beings. May these elements combine and form a sphere of protection around this sacred garden, this day and always.” As you do this, envision the elements coming together in the center of the stone and then radiating outward to form a multicolored sphere that protects the garden bed. Firmly establish this image in your mind.
Step back and offer gratitude, “I thank the powers for their blessings on this garden and on this working.”
Close your sacred space.
Dear readers, I would love to hear how you’ve done garden blessings and if you decided to use this at any point. Blessings of Beltane!