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Updated November 22, 2009
January Animal Allies Ritual
Jenna led us in another ritual designed to get us in touch with our spiritual animal allies. We listened to Jenna tell a story about learning from animals, and we then all drew cards with various animal images on them. This years theme seemed to be insects, as many of us got various forms of insects. We all suspect she left out the dog card. Perhaps the alligator card ate the dog card. Anyway, after drawing the cards and having a good laugh we traveled on a meditation to seek out our animal ally, and what wisdom they might bestow on us. Many found that the ally had something to say to them, often what was least expected!
Animal Allies Workshop
At the first Working Circle of 2009, the Animal Teacher Virginia Carper led a group of 7-8 folks in a animal allies workshop. The worship was designed to help us find what our animal totems are telling us and to determine ways to communicate with our animal friends more fully and to deepen the connections of our relationships with our animal friends. We learned that we can discover our personal animal totem through our family surnames. We also learned we can access our animal totems thru their life cycle and rhythm, their adaptive behaviors, their potentials and skills, and its relationships to other animals and to its unique environments to which it lives. We finally learned we can work with our animal friends thru the use of medicine wheels and animal wisdom cards.
Special Imbolc Ritual
We celebrated the actual day of Imbolc with a very witchy ritual that got us thinking about the turning of the seasons, the milk of spring that begins to flow this time of year, and our own new hopes and dreams for the coming year. It was a time to light candles, reflect on the power of the sun, and the way that nature is changing all around us. The ritual reminded us that, just as the Crocus's are beginning to bloom, so to will the world begin to bloom in the coming months.
February Imbolc Ritual
February and Imbolc remind us all of Brigid and her role as a healer, source of power, and bard of inspiration. In our third Sunday ritual we focused on Brigid's role as a source of inspiration and poetry. The ritual centered on empowering us to use words to create our lives, and empower our futures. Each participant began by centering and grounding, then they drew the first of three cards, each containing a word. Using ancient Irish poems we cast the circle and called the quarters. During the circle casting we passed the second group of cards around, with each person taking a word. After consecrating our sacred well (a simple bucket), each person came forward, dropped a coin in the well, and took their last card. Everyone then went on a meditative journey to hear what the Goddess might tell them. Some interesting sequences of words and cards were drawn, with several individuals getting sentences or sayings that very much fit them. We finished up with a Valentines Day cakes and ale, and a merry potluck.
Tibetan Prayer Wheel Ritual
On Wednesday, February 11, MoonFire held a ritual for Working Circle led by Patrick. The ritual contained an enjoyable blend of pagan and Buddhist theory and practice. Twelve people attended and learned, through the ritual, about Tibetan prayer wheels. The short meditations to help bring proper prayers to mind for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community as well as for spiritual connection were fostered by the enchanted sounds of singing bowls. Participant search then had a chance to spin a hand-held Tibetan prayer wheel and a standing wheel to amplify prayers and wishes either spoken aloud or silently.
Participants also received feng shui coins as tokens for the evening and to bring prosperity to their homes.
Feeding the Homeless
Twice a year we work with the Arlington Street People's Network (ASPAN) to help feed homeless people in Arlington. We had a very good turnout this February, with many people helping make the sandwiches, and a larger number of people delivering than usual. We have begun to do a blessing on the food, asking the Lord and Lady to protect and aid those who receive the food, and to thank them for our own blessings. We did it again this time, and plan to make it a regular part of the event. It is a source of spiritual nourishment to us, and hopefully provides some aid to those who most need it.
We took a bit of a break from our usual rituals and workings to learn a little about Origami, the ancient art of Japanese paper folding. Ms. Mari Boyle, a well known local paper and craft artist, led us through a variety of folds, beginning with a simple box, and ending with a crane and boat. The workshop was both fun, and well attended.
Seminole Dream Ritual
After a smudging where we are all asked of our commitment to the earth, we entered the sacred circle where we learned and meditates and drew inspiration from the Seminole tradition. We heard three stories, stories telling of balance and renewal of the earth and all of her children. We then engaged in a meditation directed at promoting and manifesting our personal dreams. We wrote of these dreams on pieces of paper, which then we dropped into the cauldron where they exploded in a flash of fire and sparks, sending our hopes and dreams upwards to the great sky spirit. At the end the ritual leader presented gifts of dolls to everyone there, and special Seminole dolls were gifted to those who gave of themselves to put the ritual on.
Goddesses Bast and Sekhmet Working Circle
In our April working circle we learned that Bast and Sekhmet are two aspects of one goddess. Bast represents the nurturing, loving, fun Goddess while Sekhmet represents the warrior and healing aspects of the Goddess. In honor of these deities, we made amulets like the Ancient Egyptians did long ago.
Festival of Bast Ritual
Our April third Sunday ritual was dedicated to cats, and the cat-headed Goddess Bast. The Ancient Egyptians held a grand pilgrimage and celebration in April every year in honor of the cat-headed Goddess Bast. About 25 people showed up to receive and take home special blessing for their beloved cat familiars in honor of this much loved Goddess.Ê
Religious Education Classes
Each year MoonFire puts on religious education classes for the "Neighboring Faiths" groups at our and other UU Churches in the area. This year we did classes for the 11:15 group, and for River Road UU Church.
For the 11:15 UUCA class in March Barbara, Ed, and Lynn did an Ostara Ritual where they talked about one of the meanings behind Ostara. The ritual was about letting bad habits grow to become a better person, not just for yourself but for the world. The kids were really into the class and asked a lot of questions. Lynn, our Egyptian witch, got a lot of attention and questions bout Egypt from those attending, and Barbara and Ed were able to capture everyones attention as they explained the various tools and symbols of modern neo-Paganism.
For the River Road classes in May Andy and Lynn presented a low-key Beltaine Ritual. A story about how the May Pole came to life was read. We discussed what all was on the altar but the kids did not seem quite as engaged as the kids did in March.
Celebrate the Earth Festival
On May 2, UUCA held the first annual "Celebrate the Earth" festival, drawing together groups from the church and from the Buckingham community just across Route 50. There were demonstrations of Bolivian and Guatemalan dancers, the UUCA dancers, Guatemalan weaving, and nature walks around the church, just to name a few of the events. MoonFire pitched in by providinga drumming circle and a maypole dance. A children's dance and choral
recital wa s given later in the day, and to round out the evening, the UUCA Clerestory Choir gave a dinner concert. While attendance was light for this first year, everything was well-received by those who did attend.
Drumming Circle Working Circle
One of our last Working Circle of the season was a repeat from last year of our "Drumming 101" workshop, led by Andy, who has had many years of various sorts of musical training, the last few in Stream Orstrum's beginning drumming classes at the church. After a little bit of explanation of the different types of drums from the different regions of the world, and the different ways to play them, the small attendance (well, the Caps were in a playoff game that night!) launched into simple rhythms, learned a few new ones, and jammed a bit to finish out the evening.
Beltane Faery Ritual
With an altar decorated in spring flowers we called on the faries to join us in a ritual dedicated to honoring them, and bringing some luck into our lives. After calling on the directions for protection we made offerings of milk to the faries, milk that was given to them after the ritual. For our "cakes" we had strawberries, a fitting fruit for the wee folk. We then went on a meditative journey to visit the queen of the faries, and be near to her presence.Puka's are small faerie animals that can be magically constructed to carry out tasks for us. We heard instructions on how to make a puka, which we would then carry out later when there were fewer distractions. Afterwards we retired to the terrace to dance the new, improved, maypole, which worked out very well.
May Family Campout
About 20 people participated in our May campout, with at least a couple of families camping. We spent the day on Saturday eating and doing various crafts, from beads to drawing and painting. After a light dinner we then held a ritual thanking the spirits of the campsite for all the good times they have given MoonFire over the years. This will be the last time we are able to camp in the Primitive area, as it will be closing for good this summer due to misuse by some unsupervised campers. After thanking the spirits and honoring the elements of the place, we spent a long time talking around the fire about our collective memories of the campsite, and what we will miss when we can no longer come there. It was a beautiful farewell, held on a remarkably beautiful day, in a lovely place.
Litha Sun Celebration Ritual
For our June Litha third Sunday ritual we stopped and enjoyed the moment of greatest light, warmth, and good feeling. We meditated, heard stories, and charged tokens that we could take home and keep to remind us that we should slow down, and live for the moment.
Litha with Turning Circle
For our Litha ritual Turning Circle, a Maryland CUUPS group, graciously agreed to put on a ritual for us exploring the element of fire. The element was explored many ways, as an association, as an element, and as passion. A quick association test showed that many MoonFireites are quite literal-minded.
Working circle on Norse cosmology
As preparation for our Norse ritual in August, Rath, a priest in the Norse tradition, held a special class for us on the Norse pantheon. He described the various races of man and Gods, the world tree, the various realms, and how they were connected. He talked movingly about the runes and Odin's great sacrifice that brought us the runes. As Rath talked it became clear that the Northern path is one of reliance on self and clan, of taking responsibility for ones actions, and of speaking boldly out for the Gods and Goddesses. The enthusiasm and boldness shown in Rath's faith inspired us all for the upcoming ritual.
Norse Loaf-Fest Ritual
For our special Lughnassa ritual Rath, a practicing Norse priest amongst other things, agreed to lead us in a Norse ritual looking at the first harvest. After being welcomed into the hall by the Lady of the hall we drank from each of our cups. We then got a chance to place a corn cake on the altar and speak about something important that was coming to fruition from the past year. Later in the ritual we got a chance to take the cakes back when we make a boast or proclamation about what we were going to do in the coming year. Finally, as Rath led us in a very powerful chant, we got to work magic with with the sacred well that lies beneath Asgard and speak our wishes directly to the weavers of the Wyrd. As MoonFires's first Norse ritual it was both eye opening, and very moving.
Stregheria Harvest Ritual
For out third Sunday Lughnassa ritual we did a Sregheria ritual focused on Tana and Tanus, the God and Goddess of the Italian Witches. The blessings of the harvest were represented by a cornucopia which overflowed with what we are thankful for. Recognizing that our harvest comes with responsibilities, we each wrote down three commitments we would like to make in the coming year. One to ourselves, one to others, and one to the God and Goddess. The written commitments were then committed to the fire of the cauldron, while we engaged in a knot working that tied the magic of the commitments into our everyday lives.
2009 Pagan Pride Day
For Pagan Pride Day MoonFire led the opening ritual, held a workshop on Paganism, and had a table at the group/vendors area. For the opening ritual we led the crowd in a energy raising chant of Pagan-Pride. The ritual was designed to get everybody up and moving for the rest of the day, and it seemed to accomplish its intention. The workshop featured MoonFire members and guests discussing Paganism from a variety of perspectives. We had Celtic, New Age influenced, eclectic, and Northern traditions represented, and we all had a very insightful, interesting conversation which engaged both the participants and the audience. Our table greeted a large number of the curious, where we had candy and information about both MoonFire, and UUCA available.
Pagan Pride Toy Ritual
We cast circle based off the the nursery rhyme "What Little Boys Are Made Of?" We called the quarters based off of toy themes (airplanes for east, fire trucks for south, rubber ducks for west, hobby horses and teddy bears for north), and we called upon the God of Fun and Goddess of Joy as Lord and Lady. We did a meditation on our favorite toy and shared that experience or favorite childhood toy memory. Ritual was designed for adults to get in touch with inner child to recall the innocence and openness of that time in our lives.
Faerie Experience Ritual
For our September ritual, we call out the fairies, the Elves, Pixies, Mushroom Fairies, and Gnomes along with the King and Queen Mab and Oberon. The ritual was designed to allow everyone to experience fairies in their own way. After a brief meditation we discussed faery experience we had, or what they learned from the meditation. Then, the person got a Pez candy from a Pez dispenser that had a famous fairy as the head. Then we picked a divining coin and read the meaning of it: the future for everyone in the room. Our guidance was to learn from the past as we move into the future, a good sentiment!
MoonFire Community Ritual
Each year in October we hold our MoonFire community ritual. In it we weave a web between us, to demonstrate our interconnectedness, we share what we love about our community, and we recognize past and present leadership. Our web weaving this year was small, but merry. We managed to throw the yarn between us,which was enough! Each person also got a chance to share with the group what makes MoonFire, Paganism, or just this time of year, special to them. Participants placed a token on the altar, and remembered those who had been in MoonFire and left. We also inducted our new officers, with Lynn being recognized as the new incoming co-coordinator.
Samhain: Persephone's Descent
Our Samhain ritual opened with a short play representing Persephone's descent into the underworld to be the bride of Hades. After Demeter vowed to stop everything, the Gods and Goddesses in council decided that Persephone would return to the world, but, because she had eaten of the fruit of the underworld, must return there for half the year. We then processed through the veil and into ritual space. There we met the God Hades, Lord of the Underworld, Hermes the Messenger, and Demeter and Persephone. The God and Goddesses each gave a special token to one participant, and then heard the messages for the beloved dead, as well as hopes for the future. After thanking the deities, we had a fun potluck full of conversation and food.
English Harvest Ritual
It is traditional for us to do a ritual at Thanksgiving that combines both giving thanks, as well as sharing the harvest. This year our thanksgiving ritual was in the form of an English Harvest ritual, where we all got to say what we were thankful for in the presence of the God and Goddess, as well as each other. We then took up a collection that will be donated to the Northern Virginia Food Bank "Food for Others."