An Early Samhain at MoonFire
Article ID: 4831
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,994
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Author: RuneWolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 26th. 2002
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Saturday night, the 19th of October, the Veil Between the Worlds parted for 35 to 40 adventurous spirits, as the annual MoonFire Samhain celebration (held at the UU Church of Arlington, VA) commenced.
Arriving celebrants were met by members of the hosting group, most clad in black cloaks clasped with silver. Each participant was asked to draw a single card from the three Tarot decks spread upon the reception table, and then ushered into the pre-ritual waiting area. We were encouraged to leave remembrances upon the long Samhain altar -- both for new souls who had arrived during the preceding year, and for those who had departed. Then, to the haunting strains of the latest Loreena McKennitt CD, we were counseled to meditate upon the card we had drawn, to draw from it whatever message it seemed to convey to us personally, and reflect upon how that message related to our journey through the past year. As so often happens, the card I had drawn -- the Seven of Cups -- flew straight to the heart of many of the issues I have been struggling with in the past months. My friend, who had just experienced a dramatic life change, drew The World; again, an unequivocal reference to his previous life, what happened, and the new life that lays stretched out before him. Sitting in the meditation area, we traded knowing looks, certain that this was going to be a deep experience.
After the period of meditation, the members of MoonFire entered the pre-rit area en masse, and the briefing began. The ritual Guardians took it in turns to explain the ritual structure and outline, and took great care to let everyone know that they were present specifically to ensure the safety and well being -- spiritual, emotional and physical -- of all of the celebrants. I give special kudos to MoonFire and their Guardians for this; too often this vital and necessary part of large, open rituals is neglected, and over the years I have seen people suffer as a result of that lack. This was not to be the case at MoonFire's Samhain, and it had a visibly comforting affect on all of us, especially the newcomers. Samhain "celebrations" can often seem anything but celebratory, as the issues we confront at this Sabbat are often dark, troublesome and emotionally loaded. It is always gratifying when a hosting group goes to such lengths to ensure that its guests are as secure and comfortable as they can be.
We were then introduced to the processional chant, and after a few rounds of practice, the ritual began in earnest. Chanting, we were led from the waiting area to the Gateway into the ritual area, where we were challenged and asperged. Once through the Gateway, we gathered in a large area where the Circle was cast. As part of the casting, we were led in a visualization of the Circle widening and widening until it encompassed the entire building. A somewhat unorthodox approach, but one that would shortly make good sense. We then met the principals of the ritual: the High Priestess, Death and the Hermit. Each explained their part in the journey we would soon undertake, and they then took up their positions in isolated part of the building, to meet privately with each participant in turn -- hence the building-wide Circle!
One by one, accompanied by MoonFire Guardians, we were taken into the presence of the High Priestess, who interpreted out chosen card in the context of our past year. She presented each of us with a feather, to represent the burden of those unresolved issues which we still carried. Then we were taken to Death, the Transformer, who gave wise words of counsel, and took away our feather-burden, showing us symbolically how we might transform our burden, in the moment, to empowerment. Then on to the Hermit, who in turn interpreted our card in the light of what was to come, given the insights of our experience that night.
After a further period of reflection, we gathered again into a circle for an exuberant spiral dance, releasing the energies, both light and dark, that we had raised within ourselves and the group over the preceding hours. The Circle was then released, and there was much applauding, laughter and hugging as we wished each other a Happy New Year. A pot-luck feast followed, during which -- as an added bonus -- celebrants were given the opportunity to walk one of the labyrinths maintained by the UUCA.
As all things must, this wonderful night had to end. Deliciously tired, introspective and deeply moved, my friend and I set out under the burgeoning Samhain Moon for home, content in the knowledge that, whatever has passed, and whatever is to come, we are loved and watched over by the Lady and the Lord.
MoonFire, renamed in November 2000, is an open CUUPS chapter that has existed for the past seven years, and is affiliated with the UU Church of Arlington, VA. The MoonFire Mission and Vision Statement reads:
"We strive to build a safe and nurturing community which is inclusive and provides for spiritual growth and service to the Earth and her children. We are the Hub of the Wheel of Life, the Crossroads where all meet; We are a Chalice of the Goddess; We are of the Earth, rich and empowering; We are a Rock, safe and secure; We are a Rainbow, diverse with many colors yet together in one band; We are a Flame of Spirituality, providing the light to see our path before us."
MoonFire conducts open rituals at the UUCA on the 3rd Sunday of every month, except October, when the Samhain celebration is held on a Saturday night. For contact and event information, visit the website at http://www.uucava.org/Moonfire/index.html.
Location: Reston, Virginia
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