Vana Grimoire: An offering for the Wicker

When the Wicker Ritual starts on Saturday night, the Wicker is filled with offerings. From Friday morning till Saturday afternoon you’ll get the chance to place your own offering in the Wicker

Its own meaning for everyone

The Wicker Ritual at Castlefest derives from the customs of the Celtic festival Lughnasadh.

It marks the time the first crops are harvested. We thank Mother Earth for all the abundance we may receive and that we reap what we’ve sown. After this first harvest festival, the year knows two more harvest festivals: Mabon in September and Samhain at the end of October.

Every edition of Castlefest, the Wicker comes to us in a different shape. Each appearance brings its own strength and wisdom. It teaches us new lessons every year, while the lessons of the past will not be forgotten.
You can find the images and meanings of the previous Wickers in our blogs:
Wickers through the ages, 2007-2017
and Wickers through the ages, 2018 - now

Besides the meaning the Wicker and the Ritual bring, it may have an added personal meaning for you as well. You can choose to offer in dedication of this personal connection it has for you.
All offerings are welcome. We’re all connected during the Wicker Ritual, each with our own story, but still all together as one.

Placing your offering

On Friday morning, the Castle Domains area opens. Here you’ll find the Wicker next to the Forest Stage. From then on you can place your offering in the Wicker. You are free to decide when you want to offer, but be mindful that the queue will be quite long on Saturday afternoon!
When you reach the Wicker, you’ll meet the Wicker Guards. They ensure the Wicker is treated with respect and give everyone a chance to take a moment for their offering. They also provide guidance and emotional support for whoever wants it.

It may be that you have to wait before you can place your offering. The Wicker Team ‘cuts in line’ every so often to move all placed offerings to the back in the construction. They make sure every item will get a nice spot. Placing items to the back of the cavity creates extra space for all offerings yet to come.

Before the Ritual starts, they will also move all offerings added to the outside of the Wicker to the inside. This is done to make sure all offerings will be fully engulfed in the flames and there will be no burning pieces flying around.

Wat to offer?

You can choose to make an offering to symbolically close a chapter of your life, or let it mark the start of a new one. All that matters when making your offering is that it has a meaning and is treated with respect.

For example, you could write a letter, make a wreath or craft. You can also choose a non-handmade item. Maybe you have decided on a textbook of your finished studies or a few bites of the favourite food of a loved one?

It’s also possible to craft your own offering at the Castlefest terrain. You can write a personal message to be placed in the Wicker or weave a straw figure, fitting the Lughnasadh customs.
After the new Wicker design is announced, we’ll add all options to our line-up over the course of a few weeks.

What materials do you use?

Your offering can have any shape you want, but we ask you to be mindful of the materials you use. For the Ritual and safety, it’s important to use mainly natural materials.
The use of plastics in your offering is discouraged. Please refrain from using glass as well. If you use a small glass item like a miniature bottle, please make sure to not close it off. Additionally, offerings in which blood or ashes (prohibited by law) are not welcome.

However, you can use materials like wood, paper, cardboard, cotton, straw, flowers, and food!

Looking at the Lughnasadh customs, it is common to offer food in the Wicker. The only thing you should be mindful of is that not all food will burn well. Fruit like apples contains a lot of water, which makes them smoulder instead of fully burn.
Items like gemstones and jewellery won’t burn either.

Can I take a bit of ash?

We often provide the opportunity to take a little bit of ash of the Wicker Ritual home at the end of the festival. However, this is only possible in case the Wicker and her offerings are completely consumed by the fire and everything has gone turned into ashes.

After the Wicker Ritual, the barriers will stay around the spot for some time. When the barriers are there, the ashes are incredibly hot and may contain remnants of offerings and sharp objects. The Wicker Team, who builds the Wicker every year, will carefully filter the ashes once it is cooled down enough. They will take shards and metals from the pile of ashes and will make sure all remaining offerings (that did not burn) will be processed with the respect they deserve. When the Wicker Team is finished, they will remove the crowd barriers and you are free to take some ash.

In case the Wicker couldn’t fully burn down, which may happen due to factors like weather conditions, it will not be possible to take ash home. In those situations, the remaining Wicker parts and offerings will be burned later.

In the stand of current Wicker designer, Jeroen Overwijn of Magic Within, you can find Wicker hangers of multiple years. These hangers contain a bit of ash as well.

Finally, part of the Wicker ashes will stay with the organisation. When building the new Wicker, the Wicker Team will add these ashes of the previous year. This way, the past Wickers stay with us!

Check this out