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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4692
Age Group: Adult
Posted: September 9th. 2002
Stones Rising 2002
by Drema Baker
The Consecration Rite, conducted by the ceremonial Wiccan priests and priestesses of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, was actually a full day of preparation which culminated in a candlelit, solemn, beautiful ceremony among the Stones. In this rite, a small group of experienced priestesses and priests blessed each Stone in turn, linking them to each other and to the new Stones, and calling down the energy of the assembled participants to charge and renew them all. As I watched the crowd during the preparation for this ritual, I was struck by the rapt attention of the folks there assembled. It was drizzling--had been all day--and cold. Yet the majority of attendees stood watching the guides as they explained the procedures for the upcoming ceremony, and all showed due respect for a perhaps unfamiliar path. It was apparent to me that all present were here to worship the Old Gods, and to honor the work being done on this land. Later, toward the end of the rite, participants all joined in a wordless chant, the tone of which grew and swelled, gaining timbre and depth until I could feel it permeating my body in an enduring, beautiful, powerful energy.
Following the Assembly's ritual, Lance and I walked over to the bonfire, expecting the drummers to be warming up for a night of dancing. Instead, they were holding a steady, slow beat while a group of folks drew meticulous and beautiful symbols in cornmeal on the sand. I'd never seen these symbols before; I watched, curious, as they worked intently for over an hour. After a while, I saw some of the others standing near the entrance to the fire circle, "blessing" a large Corn Man with the smoke from fine Cuban cigars, and with large swigs of rum and other assorted liquid libations delivered from their own mouths. I finally asked Pam and Patrick, both members of the Church, what the people were drawing in the sand. They explained that the designs were called Veves, and that they were a sort of invocation to specific Orishas. When I asked Pam if the Veve was the ceremony where the Loa come and "ride" the dancers, she responded, "Oh yeah!" My excitement mounted.
When the cornmeal designs were completed to the satisfaction of the priest, Little John, he personally walked around the ritual site overlaying the designs with his "party powder." After the last bit was redrawn, he lit a long sparkler and got the attention of all those assembled (as if our attention had wandered to begin with). With a flourish, he lit the tip of one of the symbols, and the lines began to spark and burn, slowly but brilliantly and dramatically until all the Veves had drawn themselves in fire on the sand. Then we were called to "dance them in, " and the drummers picked up the beat.
While dancers surrounded them, one small group made offerings of rum, bourbon and chamba to the fire; then the dancing really got underway. I joined them, dancing ecstatically around the flames, occasionally standing back from the fire to dance in one place, letting the flames and the drums and the Loa take me where they would. The Corn Man took center stage at one point, when the priests brought him in to be burned in the fire. Late in the evening, Billy Bardo stepped up and began a recitation for those of us still present, talking of the mystery of our ways, etiquette not taught in books, and the joy of the moment... I can't remember all the words, but it was intensely beautiful and appropriately timed; I thanked him for it afterward. Through it all a man in a red sarong and red mask fed the fire, keeping the flames going for those who danced and drummed. It was a magickal night!
There was more... a lot more. So very much goes into this experience... from the little details that no one ever sees to the large elaborate ritual sets that are brought by the presenting groups, it is truly a community effort that will leave a lasting impression on every attendee to pass between the Stones. Try as I might, this is not an event that can be described in words, but is something that must be experienced personally to truly understand its significance. Stones Rising is about far more than merely the building of a Stone Circle. It is about the building of a family of the heart, the building of sacred space, the building of tribe, and the building of a legacy. Both the event and its hosting Church have withstood many trials, and will likely be there for many generations to come. I suspect that most people who journey to the land to see even one Stone raised will be back to see others raised as well. Each visitor will leave their mark on the land, and the land -- and the Stones -- will leave their mark on each visitor.
Review: Aranea, PagaNet News
Photos: Lance, PagaNet News
Web: Stones Rising and the Church of Four Quarters - www.4qf.org.
Web: PagaNet News - www.paganet.org.
For more info on The Labyrinth Project at the Church of Four Quarters, please contact Denise Scott, Dclausenscott@hotmail.com, (703) 719-7355; or Carrie Krystek, Ckrystek@yahoo.com, (703) 642-1912.
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