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There I was, standing before my altar. I had not performed an esbat in some time, so I had made the decision to celebrate every full and dark moon for at least one year. Given that this was the first of a year’s worth of spiritual discipline, I wanted it to be perfect.
The candles were new and freshly lit. Aromatic incense smoke wafted up from the censer and delicately perfumed the room. The air was crisp with the energy I had raised and placed in the casting of the sacred Circle. The intention of the night’s esbat was to commune with the Lord and Lady, and so I proceeded to make the ritual gestures and open my heart to Them. The words that I ad-libbed seem to flow effortlessly and flawlessly, so much so that the beauty of the ritual took me aback.
It was exactly at that moment that I felt things happening.
Personally, I like to eat very lightly before having a ritual. Some apple slices or a simple fruit salad provide me with the sustenance that I need without giving me that “heavy” feeling that often comes after a more hearty meal. Of course, eating an all-fruit meal also gives me a little “added bonus”. Being so excited about the night’s rite, I completely forgot what fruit does to my stomach.
So imagine my horrified surprise when, in the middle of my speech to the Goddess, I passed gas.
I could not believe it. Everything that I had prepared for the night was ruined with that one little spout of air. What would the Lady think? Would She be offended? The beauty of the ritual now seemed to have been profaned. What was worse, there was nothing I could have done about it.
This terrified panic lasted no more than three seconds, as I was able to quickly come to my senses. I considered what had happened, grinned my inner-trickster grin, and said, “Blessed be.” The beauty of the ritual restored, I continued with my words to the Goddess.
Now, what on Earth would prompt me to say, “blessed be” after what had just happened? I said it because what had happened had been completely natural. Being Wiccan, I practice a nature-based spirituality, and the natural world is seen as gloriously sacred. All of nature’s cycles are likewise celebrated and viewed as divine, and it is the continuation and evolution of life that Wiccans perceive with the highest reverence. This need not only be viewed on the grand scale with such things as the Wheel of the Year, but on the smaller scale as well. What I had done -- the eating of the fruit and the natural processes that had taken place -- was the result of a natural cycle that had occurred in my life-filled body.
For me to have hung my head in shame would have been to offend my own body, my Wiccan brethren, and the sacred All-Life/Godhead that I venerate. Sadly I have seen this very attitude rear up all too many times with a number of individuals and groups. The Lord and Lady are praised aloud from hilltops, but the crying baby is hushed or taken where its wails cannot be heard by those gathered in the Circle. Women speak in hushed voices to one another that they cannot participate in the spiral dance because of their “issues”.
The guy who ate only fruit for dinner politely excuses himself from the guided meditation . . . Unless it is to be accompanied by loud drumming and voluminous amounts of incense.
Such behaviors, it seems to me, are antithetical not only to Wicca, but nature based religions in general. By definition, our spiritual practices ought to hold all facets of nature in high regard and not just those that humans have deemed to be appropriate. To pick and choose leads to a severe limiting on our religious practices, exploration, and spiritual development as we are hindered by self-appointed taboos that have no logical merit. After all: would it be so bad for a woman to proudly proclaim, as a result of her radiant life force, that she is menstruating?
Am I saying that all circles must allow for screaming, crying children? Not at all. Am I saying that every event must include a time for all the ladies to comment on which part of their monthly cycle they currently are? Hardly. Am I saying that everyone should indulge in large quantities of fruit in order to offer up a “joyful noise” to Divinity? Not so much.
What I am saying is that the ways of nature --all of the ways-- can be viewed as sacred and should never be shunned. The crying child may be taken away from the Circle so that the participants may create a quieter atmosphere, but the child ought to be praised for its demonstration of the God‘s ferocity to live. She who is experiencing her natural cycles need not announce it to all and sundry, but let those who know honor her as an emanation of the power of the Goddess. Those experiencing the digestive consequences of certain foods ought to simply let what happens, happen.
Just use a little extra incense.
Last night, I prepared for another esbat. I had a lot of things to do before the ritual, and did not manage to eat anything beforehand except a cup of fruit and yogurt.
The altar room was prepared: Candles were lit, incense was burning, and the cakes and ale were set out. This would be only my second full moon esbat since deciding to celebrate the full and dark moons for a year, and I was eager to feel that particular magick that comes from a full moon celebration. I raised the energy and cast the circle of the art. Candlelight glinted off the blade of my athame as I carved the glyphs of power into the ether. I spent time communing with the Lord and Lady, and then worked the magicks as I had planned. All went well. Everything was physically, emotionally, and spiritually satisfying and I approached the altar to speak my thanks to the Lord and Lady before closing the rite. I raised the chalice and the blade and opened my heart . . .
And passed gas again.
I immediately became thankful for the outward manifestation of my vitality, and acknowledged the moment as a sacred act. I said, “Blessed be”, and continued with the closing of the Circle. When all was finished, I left the altar feeling joyous and content. The remnants of the energy of the magick still danced about my body, and I was pleased with how my communion with the Lord and Lady had gone. Was I ashamed over what had once again happened? Not this time. My acceptance of the incident as being sacrosanct had been the best way for me to honor myself, the Lord and Lady, and all of life. Although They grinned at me over what had happened, I know the Lord and Lady nodded in approval at my sacred flatulence.
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