This past weekend, I had the pleasure of leading this ritual at Fertile Ground Gathering, a wonderful Beltane celebration in Northern Virginia. As a former Marine, I sometimes get tapped to organize and support events that are specific to veterans, so I was honored to be asked to offer a Warrior Blessing ceremony.
As I began to research and gather my thoughts, I found that there just weren’t a lot of Warrior Blessing ceremonies to be found, and those that were didn’t really strike me as ones I wanted to lead. So, I wrote my own. Please feel free to adapt it for your community if you choose to use it.
4 scarves or wide ribbon (at least 3 feet long): one in black, one in white, one in red, one in gold (or yellow)
Table to act as altar
Call to Circle: The National Anthem, sung or played from a recording
Statement of Purpose: Throughout human history, a small number of brave souls have chosen the path of the Warrior. These rare people choose to serve their communities through sacrifice. They give up years of their lives, relationships, career opportunities, and a certain innocence that can never be regained once lost. And they offer to sacrifice something else – their very bodies and lives. These are people willing to serve through blood. Warriors offer to give up their one wild, precious life to serve their people. They return to us changed, injured or sometimes not at all. Today we gather to honor the Warriors, to hold them high and to formally give thanks for the gift they offer our people.
Please form a circle and join hands.
Circle casting chant:
In the Circle of Earth and Sky
(©2002 Deirdre Pulgram Arthen)
In the Circle of Earth and Sky
My heart flies to yours
We gather, we remember
And the pattern endures
(chant is cut with a chime)
The tapestry of our world contains shining threads that embody the path of the Warrior. Through this weaving, we touch the threads of past, present, future, and mystery.
To the Halls of the Ancestors
To the Graves of the Buried
To the Battlefields of History
To the Mists of Memory
We honor those who have gone before: the Warriors who stand on the other side of the Veil. We honor their sacrifices, we honor their duty, we honor their faithfulness.
(holds up black scarf) Hail the Ancestral Warriors!
Response: Hail the Ancestral Warriors!
(places black scarf on altar)
To the Doorway of the Dawn
To the Spirits yet to Come
To the Descendents of the Order
To the Mists of the Future
We honor those yet to come: the Warriors who are children right now, or are yet unborn into this world. We honor their choices, we honor their commitment, we honor their faithfulness.
(holds up white scarf) Hail the Warriors to Come!
Response: Hail the Warriors to Come!
(places white scarf on altar)
To the Shadows of the Night
To the Hidden Places of the World
To the Unmarked Graves
To the Mists of the Unknown
We honor those whose fates are unknown: the Warriors who vanished, who were taken, who disappeared. We honor their stories, we honor their fates, we honor their faithfulness.
(holds up red scarf) Hail the Missing Warriors!
Response: Hail the Missing Warriors!
(places red scarf on altar)
To Camps and Bases near and far
To vehicles of Earth, Sea, and Air
To all those living who wore the Mantle
To the Mists of the Present
We honor those who bear the mantle of service right now, or who wore it at any point during their lives: We honor their labor, we honor their bravery, we honor their faithfulness.
(holds up gold scarf) Hail the Living Warriors!
Response: Hail the Living Warriors!
(places gold scarf on altar)
(gathers up ends of scarves together, ties one knot) Hail to the Sacrifices!
(Response: Hail the Sacrifices!)
(ties second knot at center of scarves) Hail to the Service!
(Response: Hail to the Service!)
(ties third knot at end of scarves) Hail to the Warriors!
(Response: Hail to the Warriors!)
(Holds up knotted scarf) Hail to the Warriors! (Response) Hail to the Warriors! (Response) Hail to the Warriors! (Response)
Not all Warriors return home. Not all Warriors who return home survive. (_________) will read In Flanders Fields by John Macrae. There will be a moment of silence, followed by a bell striking three times to honor the dead.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
(moment of silence, 3 strikes of a bell)
Honoring Those Who Serve:
Would all those who have taken the Path of the Warrior, or who currently walk it, please come to stand in a circle in the center of our ritual?
Please hold out your hands to touch a part of this cord. (places knotted scarf into the hands of the warriors in the center of the circle)
We honor your service and sacrifices. All beings gathered here, take a moment to feel gratitude for those who have chosen to serve. To feel love for those who have given so much in our name.
Once those emotions are strong, step forward and place a hand on the shoulder or upper back of the Warrior nearest you. If there are too many of us, then place your hand on the shoulder or upper back of someone who is touching a Warrior.
(everyone gets into position)
Warriors, we honor you. We give you our gratitude, our love, our appreciation today. We will share a hum and send that energy to you through our bodies, through this circle of community.
(hum – leader will end it with a chime if it doesn’t fade out on its own)
Let us once again stand facing each other in a single circle.
(everyone returns to circle)
Let us close this circle as it was begun: singing together as one community.
The Circle is Open by Irene Glasse
The circle, circle is open
But never, never broken
(cut chant with a chime)
May the Warriors of the Past, Present and Future feel themselves honored today. This ritual is ended. Hail the Community.