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Updated January 27, 2008
Shinto Yule Ritual
As our last ritual of the year we decided to celebrate with a special Shinto-themed Yule ritual. The charming ritual consisted of calling on the Kami spirits to protect and guide us as we through about those things we most seek or esteem. Each participant was given a small gift box. Inside the gift box were three folded origami cranes. The cranes were labeled with thoughts or actions we might wish for, or wish for others. Each person had to decide which crane they kept, and which they would give away to the Kami, and which they would give to another participant. As we went around the circle expressing wishes for ourselves, others, and the spirits, we came to understand more about giving, that its just not the gift but it is the relationship it builds within, and outside, of ourselves. It was a truly magical christmas.
MoonFire once again held a ritual with a Native American theme as part of our annual thanksgiving ritual. David and Jeanet from NVPN put on a ritual based on a syncretically constructed Native American tradition that blended many different native tribal paths into one that focuses on the four directions. We were smudged with sage, then collectively read a poem to call the circle. After calling the quarters and invoking the deities of Mother Earth, Father Sky, and Great Spirit we heard a story of how the animals came to be associated with the directions, and did a brief meditation that allowed us to think about what we were thankful for during the past year.
For our November Working Circle we had a class on rune divination. Beth Taylor, a local rune teacher (www.runegoddess.com), gave us a condensed version of her usual introductory class. She discussed the history of runes, the various types of runes, and their divinatory significance. After that she went through many of the Eider Futhark, telling us about their divinatory significance, as well as other uses. We finished the class with a fun and very helpful guided reading of a single rune draw.
Samhain: A Tarot Journey
We had about 30 people attend our annual Samhain ritual, which focused on the tarot and how they relate to our lives' journeys. We began the ritual with a circle casting, and quarter calls. Our quarters entered the circle, then made the call while walking outward. This introduced a ritual of both meditation as well as movement. As participants were lead on a guided meditation based on (semi) random draws of cards, they were able to leave on their own journey beyond the veil. Individually participants passed the veil when they were ready, then encountered the High Priestess, Death, and the Hermit. Afterwards participants charged the tarot card they had drawn upon entering the ritual with a chant and circle dance. The potluck was merry, with much conversation and good food.
Working Circle: Tarot Practicum
In September, after our August class on Tarot, we held a practical workshop on tarot reading. This was both in preparation for our upcoming Tarot ritual, as well as to cement some of the things we learned at the previous working circle. We took turns reading for each other, and eventually broke into pairs for a individual reading that was assisted by everybody in the group. With the October Working Circle devoted to Samhain planning, we left looking forward to Runes in November.
Officer Installation and Unity Ritual
In October we held our annual officer installation and MoonFire unity ritual. It is a simple ritual, but one that asks the attendees to talk about what is meaningful to them in MoonFire. Many talked about the fellowship, and some tears were shed. After that we got the opportunity to talk to each other, about what we each mean to the other, through a web weaving. As the ball of yarn was thrown the person throwing said something about what the person catching the yarn meant to them. It was a very moving affirmation of the connected web that MoonFire creates in our hearts, and in our spirits.
Renaissance Festival Outing
On Saturday October 13th, 8 MoonFire members and friends attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival near Annapolis. The weather couldn't have been better - sunny and warm but not too hot! We enjoyed a variety of foods, shopping and shows and a few of us dressed in our "Ren Fest" garb. If you missed out this year, plan to join us in 2008!
Feeding the Homeless
On Sunday, September 30th five of us gathered to make sandwiches in support of ASPAN and feeding the homeless. We were rushed by a memorial service, but we made all 60 sandwiches in record time, clearing the kitchen for the caterers well before we were supposed to. Afterwards we hung around the parking lot (where we found a homeless person living and in need of food) until it was time to deliver. One of our teenagers delivering summed it up best when she said "this really makes me feel good."
Working Circle: Tarot Class
Our first working circle kicked off in August with a class on Tarot. Our guest lecturer was Geraldine Amarel, an established Tarot teacher who some of us had worked with in the past (www.tarotcelebrations.com). The class started with each of us intuitively describing what a card meant that we had drawn. Needless to say some got very close, while others were at the class for a reason! After an introduction to the Tarot, which included a historical background as well as correspondences, she lead us through a reading where we were able to observe each other working with her to figure out what the cards meant. For those who had very little knowledge of the Tarot, she gave us the background to understand the Samhain ritual and begin our own Tarot journey. For the more experienced amongst us it was a chance to work with a gifted teacher, and hone our understanding of the Tarot.
We had a coven-size group for David & Jeanette's ritual. It was a pretty laid back ritual we all forms of dark chocolate, not white chocolate was honored. For the main ritual, everyone shared their thoughts of what chocolate meant to them, and their fondest memories of eating chocolate or their first memories of eating chocolate. After the ritual, everyone shared in all of the various chocolate candies that were on the main altar and quarter tables.
Egyptian Amulet Ritual
We had 18 people show up for Lynn's ritual. We made amulet-bracelets with all sorts of glass beads that Lynn brought to share. We made the amulet for empowering something we wanted to move forward with the coming darker times of the year. The funny thing that happened was everyone trying to tie their amulets without all of the glass beads falling to the floor. We had a fun time picking up all of the fallen beads from the floor after the ritual.
Little Bennett Fall Campout
We had 7 people camp for the two days of the campout this year, with more showing up for the evening ritual. The evening ritual started as we have in the past at the "dark circle" where we called down the Lord and Lady and experienced the all encompassing love of nature. We then proceeded to the fire circle with the way led by the children. Locklin kindled the bonfire where we tossed in items representing that which we either wanted to gain or lose in the coming year.
Fellowship X Mabon Ritual
On Friday, 21 September, Patrick and Raina led a Mabon ritual for Fellowship X. Our correspondent reports:
There were about 18 people in circle, and after introducing what MoonFire is all about and the format of the ritual, each of us shared how our spirit was feeling at the given moment. A number of people who were in circle shared that they were a bit unbalanced, mainly from the accumulation week's of activities and worries. After the quarters were called, and God and Goddess invoked, Raina led us thru a short meditation encompassing each of the 4 basic elements to every major area of our bodies: legs - earth, waist - water, chest - air, and head - fire. Thru being awash in the elements, we brought ourselves back to a sense of balance basking in the bounty of harvests that this time of year brings and preparing ourselves for the coming darker times of the year. We had comments from members of Fellowship X that they were in a refreshed state of being after the ritual. Afterwards, a number of us went to Crystal Thai for dinner.
MoonFire participated in the Interpath service at DC Pagan Pride Day, the day after the Northern Virginia Pagan Pride day. Our correspondent Patrick reports: The event was certainly in more a public setting than the NOVA PPD. It was held in front of the FDR Memorial. There were about 8-10 groups represented at the event, but with no vendors since they could not do any vending on the Mall. The InterPath Service started about 4:30pm. Kim & Andy, Jenna, and myself represented MoonFire. There were about 12-14 groups represented bringing objects representing their tradition and their thoughts of community to the main altar. We as MoonFire brought the DC Community Water from our PPD ritual as Co-Mingled Waters of Gathering from the previous day. The folks representing the Baltimore PPD, placed their Community Water on the main altar as well. Other than the Correlians, I think we were the only NOVA group represented at the Service. After each group was represented, we did a spiral dance in celebration of community.
Pagan Pride Day MoonFire Community Ritual
MoonFire was asked to put on the kickoff ritual for Pagan Pride week at the Northern Virginia Pagan Pride day. The theme was community, and we decided to focus on the mingling of waters in a sacred well as a way to both share community in the circle, and give us something to share with the interpath ritual the next day and the closing ritual in Baltimore. The circle was cast with earth, and leaders from each of the major organizations present called a quarter. We then called the God and Goddess with each person present having an opportunity to call their vision of deity into the circle. We then mixed our waters into the well made sacred with blessed waters from many places. We heard about our role as Virginia Pagans, and had a moment of silence for all Virginia Pagans who might suffer or be silenced.
Shamanic Journey's Ritual
This ritual was a very moving and enriching experience. We went on a meditative shamanic journey. This is different than a typical guided mediation. For this journey we received our initial instructions, to go downward and through the earth to find our spirit guide animal. We then sat quietly for many minutes traveling through the underworld, and working with our spirit guide animal. It was a time when many encountered a variety of animals, each telling us something about our spiritual path.
Working Circle Tarot Class
Working circle got off to a good start with Geraldine Amaral (link), a local Tarot reader teaching us about tarot. She started off with each one of us reacting to a card, which she then interpreted. We then learned a little bit about the cards, and had another working session where we worked with a 3 card spread in a couple of different ways. It was very informative, and for those of us with limited tarot experience it opened up a desire to learn more!
Lammas Bounty Fairy Ritual
For this ritual we worked with the fairies at Lammas, not the usual time to work with them, but the fairies, like us, seem to celebrate every season! We honored the fairies through sacrifices of blueberries and coins that were buried in the ground. After calling on the fairy Goddess we reflected on the major bounties we had received this year, then we went on a meditation to understand what we seek for ourselves in bountiful harvest. The fairies manifested themselves twice times during the ritual: when the doors were locked mysteriously prior to the ritual and when the lighter failed in the middle of the ritual! We suspect they liked the coin and blueberries as they didn't follow us home!
Learning from the Animals Ritual
For our July ritual, Jenna led us in a simple but moving ritual honoring both our animal spirit guides as well as our flesh and blood companions. After casting and calling everyone heard a story about the animals, then got a chance to share stories about their animals. Stories ranged from the absurd (a Scotty named Monty) to the sublime and moving (which would not involve a Scotty named Monty). We then drew cards and got a chance to learn from the animals in a meditation on encountering animal spirits. Much was learned, much was shared, and many left uplifted and encouraged.
In our first Summer RE class on July 17 Barbara designed and Ed and Elizabeth helped with a summer solstice celebration. The kids heard a story about the sun, and got to act out the planets journey around the sun. In fact the sun was so hot we had to all retire and read some more stories indoors!
MoonFire Participation in Wiccan Headstone Dedication
Our faithful correspondents, Leah, Andy, and Splash report on a moving and important event:
Freedom, Justice, and Honor for All
MoonFire Represented at Historic Headstone Dedication
On Wednesday, July Fourth, Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, author Margot Adler, Rev. Barry Lynn (a minister in the United Church of Christ and the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State) and about forty other patriots and Pagans gathered in Arlington National Cemetery to dedicate the recently ameliorated headstone of Mrs. Jan Deanna O’Rourke. The deceased wife of Army Captain William O’Rourke, Jan (1958-2005) was a Wiccan minister in Florida.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs had found numerous ways to delay the approval of pentacles on the grave markers of Wiccan veterans and their spouses for many, many years, but the lengthy and hard-fought court battle finally came to a victorious conclusion on April 23 of this year. Those who came together on the Fourth were eager to bestow upon Mrs. O’Rourke the honor she so rightly deserved. This is the first time in American history that a pentacle has shared space with a Christian cross on a government-funded tombstone, and obviously represents a large step forward in achieving true religious equality and freedom.
We came together among the numerous headstones as a simple altar (covered with a lovely purple pentacle cloth) was being erected and adorned. Then we cast the circle hand-to-hand as we spoke our names and affiliations. Reverends Fox and Barry spoke with pride of the landmark legal victory won on behalf of several veterans and veterans’ spouses across the country. The quarters were called by, among others, NOVA Pagan Network founders David and Jeanet Ewing before Selena Fox invoked the Goddess. Rev. Barry performed a moving non-denominational invocation of the Christian god in the spirit of the interfaith partnership that brought us all there in the first place.
A dear friend of Jan’s, Paula Johnson, stepped forward to speak of what a compassionate and giving woman Mrs. O’Rourke had been. She also expressed her deep gratitude to all who had spoken out, protested, and supported the court battle. At the end of Paula's speech, she mentioned Jan's love of chocolate and how it is sometimes eaten at funerals as a reminder of life's sweetness despite bitter times. So we each savored the Hershey’s kiss we’d been given before the circle was cast. Then, each of us turned to the person on our left and tied the ribbon we’d been given before the ritual on that person's wrist as another token of remembrance. Lastly, any who so desired were invited to share a blessing for Jan and her new headstone. One MoonFire co-coordinator and Kim and Andy read a three-part blessing of both the headstone and Jan on MoonFire’s behalf.
After the last blessings were offered, Margot Adler led us in chanting “The Blood of the Ancients” and all who so desired were invited to place flowers and such on the grave. After singing “The Circle is Open,” we mingled, took a few photo opportunities, and moved on--many headed for the Pagan rally at Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House. After the ritual, Ms. Johnson spoke again of how deeply moved she was by the strong turnout that day and the kind words shared by so many.
While the Wiccans have won this battle, the efforts to gain federal approval of headstone symbols for the Druids and Asatrus continue. To learn more about the political struggle and lobbying of groups like Americans United and Pentacle Quest, log onto Stars and Stripes’ website here.
Or you can go here for more information from Circle Sanctuary and Lady Liberty League.
Summer Children's Ritual
Melissa did an outstanding job with a well attended Children's Ritual on June 17. After a simple quarter calling routine involving colored handouts placed by the children on the altar, we did a suncatcher craft (in an extremely tidy and carpet friendly way) and heard a story about the light and dark parts of the year and "catching" the sun. The children were amused, the adults charmed, and everyone got to welcome in the sun with a very family friendly ritual.
Our "Paganism 101" class has ended. Several class members attended our final ritual, which gave a closure and "graduation" for the class. By all measures (attendance, people affected, happiness of the instructors) the class was a success, with several people saying that they learned the Pagan path was for them through the class. In particular the class seems to have struck a chord with those who were interested in a serious, intelligent, approach toward learning about Paganism. The ability to discuss and learn from each other was also valued. It is our intention to offer the class again in a couple of years, until then all of the materials and course outline will be archived on our class page.
Spring Family Campout
On June 2-3 we held our spring family campout. During the day on Saturday we held a brief nature hike, made clay sculptures, and had a gigantic potluck. The centerpiece of the day on Saturday was the coming of age ritual for one of our 12 year old members. It was a "women's only" ritual where the girl and her friends heard older women give her blessings, and talk about women they admire. It was definitely a time when things of childhood were put away, and, with the strength of a community of women, the journey toward adulthood begun. The Saturday night ritual focused on healing the world, with our newly wiccan'ed girl leading the procession with a bouquet of flowers. We took a meditation up into the top of the trees where we gathered moonlight and starlight for world healing. We had many campers, and two dogs, who all had a very good time.
Luck and Magic Ritual
On Sunday, May 20 we held a special crafting and magic ritual. We cast the circle by each speaking a word that says "summer" to us. We called the quarters and on the God and Goddess through brief visualizations or guided meditations. Then we blessed and cleansed ourselves in a ritual Beltane fire. For the main working we constructed a talisman designed to bring us luck and creativity in the coming summer months. We worked from a wider range of fun items, from beads to stones and shells. After charging our items we all were called to the after ritual potluck.
Special Beltane Ritual
On Sunday April 29 we gave thanks to the God and Goddess in a special Beltane ritual. We each got a chance to speak about what we were thankful for, and then we all got a chance to perform MoonFire's Wobbly Maypole™ dance. The Maypole leaned and wobbled, and had at least one structural failure, but it didn't come over and is now wound tightly waiting for next year!
On Sunday April 15 we had an Ostara ritual that was beautiful, and meaningful. After an anointing with lavender oil, we got to decorate our boiled eggs with symbols and writing of what we wanted to accomplish in the coming summer. After hiding the eggs we went about the ritual, until they were retrieved and blessed.
Ostara Northern Virginia Pagan Network (NVPN) Ritual
This ritual was co-sponsored by MoonFire and held on March 24th. Twenty-four people attended and good community energy was raised. The ritual was lead by David and Jeanet Ewing, and Faye Allen of NVPN. It featured an egg divination. Participants were instructed to draw four symbols of what they wanted to progress in. At the end of the ritual, eggs were rolled down a hill. Whatever symbol faced up was a message of what to work on during this time.
Spring Wind Empowerment Ritual
About 25 people showed up for our spring Native American ritual. The ritual was based on the Native American Windy Moon Rite. After invoking the one Creator God we meditated on the direction (quarter) that called to us and received a special empowering message for that direction. We then made a sacrifice of either tobacco, corn, or rose petals to the Creator God, and had a chance to speak what was in our hearts. It was a thoughtful, colorful, and moving ritual.
MoonFire has endorsed the Covenant of the Goddess (COG) awards curriculum for awarding the religion in life badges required by organizations like the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts (not that the latter would recognize us).
Feeding the Homeless
Despite the snow and ice, on 28 February eight Pagans showed up to make sandwiches and help feed the homeless. We made the usual baloney and cheese sandwiches, but had to change our "peanut" butter in our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because of the church's new rule against peanuts. The consensus was it was an acceptable swap. Erich and those that delivered reported that the inclement weather kept many of the homeless indoors and we had extra food to deliver to the women's shelter.
February Imbolc Water Ritual
We held our 3rd Sunday ritual on 18 February. Using water from the January Hestia house blessing ritual, we dedicated a well of community and blessings to the Goddess Brigit. After calling the quarters as a community, we called on Brigit to come and bless our well. Then we read and spoke our words of inspiration and thought. After a brief meditation on a set of words we gathered water and tokens from the well and charged them with our collective energy.
February Imbolc Fire Ritual
On the full moon, and Imbolc, we held our special Imbolc Fire Ritual. We lit fires of hope, and warmth, from Brigit's sacred flame as the candle was passed around the circle. We then kindled a sacred fire in the cauldron, and to much chanting and dancing, jumped the fire. Some of us more than once! The moon came out from behind the clouds just when the Goddess was called, and when we lit the sacred fire. She was with us.
January Hestia Household Protection Ritual
We had a big turnout for our January household protection ritual. Raina and Melissa did a great job of putting together a ritual that combined simplicity with depth of emotion. After calling on Hestia to guide and protect us, Melissa spoke about the Goddess and what she means. Then we all undertook a meditation to recall what home really means for us. That prepared us to come forward to the altar and share something from our homes and about ourselves. In a thoughtful and moving time people came forward and talked about loss and change, cats and dogs and house stones, and what really made them feel at home. It was a time of both tears and laughter. During our potluck, we welcomed many newcomers, both from the church and community.
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