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This is the Newsletter for 2008. The 2007 letter is located here. The 2006 letter is located here.

January Goddess Ritual

At our first ritual of 2008, 19 people gathered together to honor all of the aspects of the Triple Goddess. Everyone participated in a number of small meditations on the aspects of the Goddess - Maiden, Mother, Crone, and Dark Shadow. The meditations asked us to apply these aspects to our daily lives and relate them to our working lives. There was a good amount of sharing between everyone in circle about how they relate and promote each of these aspects upon each of their daily situations. It certainly was a very thought-provoking ritual to see where and how each of us relate to the Goddess, especially with the start of a new year and continuation of the dark winter season..

Special Imbolc Ritual

We celebrated Imbolc with a traditional ritual of raising energy and charging a magical working. After casting the circle, each one of us spoke several lines from the Witches Creed and danced to raise our energy and the magic of the circle. As we did so we dedicated our tokens and tools to life, life of the water, life of the earth, life of the air, and luck and love. We had a brief meditation that took us through the five senses, then we were on to purifying, consecrating, and conjuring our devices. Our working was to clarify our feelings of love and union in the coming season. This ritual prepared us for our next working, our magic working circle.

Magic Working Circle

We carried on the theme of working for this circle. After a brief introduction to natural magic, we worked a written charm into our tokens, then placed our intentions into them through a visualization. We then worked some scrying magic, some with crystals, others with candles. The goal was to work with our will and visualization to make our magic more powerful.

February Imbolc Ritual

In this simple and elegant ritual we worked on light, and healing. Our candles and our earth connected in silence, and in meditation.

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. The real gift is being able to chat and meet with those who need the food, and realizing the common humanity that connects all of us.

Animal Allies Workshop

A dozen of us from the MoonFire and local pagan communities gathered together to learn and discuss from the locally known Animal Ally teacher Virginia Carper. First, each of us shared with the rest of the group what animal best represents us, animals that we each dislike, and recent animal encounter experiences. Ms. Carper then discussed how we relate each of our answers to our personal animal emblem, our shadow animal, and recent messenger animals. Thru the workshop, a number of us have begun to readdress our communications and relationships with our personal totem animals. Ms. Carper was open to offering her second class "Learning From Your Animal Allies" to Working Circle sometime next year.

Iroquois Spring Equinox Healing Ritual

For our Spring Equinox ritual of 2008, about 25 people gathered in Sacred Circle to understand what healing each and everyone present needed after coming through the darkness of Winter. We meditated to connect with the Healing Spirits who surround us. We asked what issue needed to be addressed in each of our lives, and how we might resolve those issues. Those who were motivated, each had a face-to-face to the Iroquois False Face Healer. False Face offered advice for moving forward with the coming Spring and with each person's healing resolution. He offered blessings from Nature to everyone to empower to resolve their own issues. In recitation, everyone in Sacred Circle offered a prayer of Thanksgiving to extend our own healing for the coming Spring with hopes that it would bloom prosperously. There was a lot of chanting, drumming, and rattling to give thanks to the all surrounding elements of Nature.

Children's Earth Day Ritual

After a simple, child-friendly, grounding of imagining we were trees rooted in Mother Earth, the ritual began by passing individually-selected stuffed animals (representing our sister and brother animals of the Earth) around the circle to cast the circle. The reading of Dear Children of the Earth: A letter from Home (by author Schim Schimmel) captured everyone's attention, regardless of age. This beautifully illustrated book explains our environmental problems clearly and simply, in touching and poetic words. It appeared that many participants had much to say in reply to Mother Earth. The writing and drawing of letters to Her was quite an engaging part of the ritual. Everyone took to the task eagerly while listening to nature sounds music and using the biodegradable soy crayons provided. We sang an adaptation of an African song , "Turn the World Around", to charge (dedicate) our letters, which we'll each bury near our homes with a promise to take better care of our planet and all Her creatures.

Neighboring Faiths at River Road UU Church

Ed and Andy had the privilege this year of speaking to the 9:15 and 11:15 6th and 7th grade RE classes at River Road UU Church. Andy and Ed led a basic, meditative, ritual that got the kids in touch with the earth. As is always the case many of the kids were very interested in Paganism, as were the adults in the class. We talked about the historical roots of Paganism, how it relates to other religions like Christianity, and what type of Pagan traditions are being re-created today. The kids were great, everyone was welcoming and interested, and, despite the torrential rains, everyone had a great time.

May Basket Beltane Ritual

Melissa and Scott led a beautiful ritual for Beltane. With the Altar decked out in pink and white (check out the pictures at the Altar Picture Page), we called on the God and Goddess of May. Melissa read a poem written by her mentor in Wicca, which was both a blessing and a reminder that we all draw on a deep tradition of work from others that have gone before us in the faith. We then got to make May baskets, and say what was important to us about the May, and what we might do with our basket. The baskets were beautiful, as was the ritual and the company it drew together.

Fertile Ground 2008 - May 3rd-4th

On May 3rd, two MoonFire members led the opening ritual for the first annual Fertile Ground Beltane Festival. The festival was the idea of members of ShadowGrove, a grove located in Manassas, Virginia. The theme of Fertile Ground was building the pagan community and celebrating Beltane in an "old world style." Everyone was encouraged to wear Renaissance era clothing if possible. MoonFire, along with the Northern Virginia Pagan Network (NVPN) worked with ShadowGrove on planning the festival. The opening ritual focused on establishing a sacred space for the weekend and crowning the King and Queen of the May. Fertile Ground was a big success. Attendees enjoyed three rituals, workshops, a May Pole dance, a performance by Dragon Song and drumming by the fire circle. Be sure to join us next year!

Full Moon Working Circle

The Full Moon Working Circle Ritual was a small but intimate gathering. We used the power of the Full Moon to raise healing energy for those people who suffered from natural disasters, particularly our fellow Americans in Iowa. We even discussed other magic workings that can be done under the power of the Full Moon.

Sun Solstice Ritual

In this July ritual we honored the Sun as a God. We started with a very nice poem about the Sun God, then we offered to the God sunflower seeds and a herb which was later burned. As we offered the seeds and herbs, we said what we were thankful about the sun, what summer meant to us, or what we would like to see in our lives this summer.

Little Bennett Camping, June 20-22

This summer solstice family camping trip was hearty in communion and light on the camping. One stalwart couple led off by camping Friday night (with a little rain), 12 people were present for the day, and just one family camped Saturday night with two  dogs happy to be out in nature. Beloved pagan boy says more kids should come! We were blessed by a couple whose handfasting was at Little Bennett ten years ago! And some native American flute playing. (You had to be subtle to catch this shy musician.)  The weather Saturday was beautiful, although apparently the gnats thought so too. We found a large groundhog hole and an abundance of ripe wild black cherries, a fraction of which became our shared sustenance in Saturday’s ritual. After some enthusiastic fire building (thank you to Mr. “Be Prepared” for the firewood), we had a wonderful sundown ritual, expressing thanks for all that the sun and summer mean to each one in the circle, learned a new song about inspiration, and acknowledged our interdependence with the smallest, as part of Pollinators Week. Wonderful winds Saturday night, raining cherries onto our tent. On breaking camp Sunday morning, a large old brown toad hopped into our midst, and we found a hornworm caterpillar, as big and chartreuse as a circus tent, shimmering. Hail, Litha! Don’t forget to check for ticks!

Circle Dancing in the Park: July Working Circle

On Sunday, July 13, about 9 MoonFire members and friends gathered in Lubber Run Park (Arlington) for a circle-dancing workshop with UUCA's expert Judie David. She gave us a bit of background information, particularly how the movements of dance interact with the spiritual energy of a place, and how many ancient traditional steps are currently dying out as Western culture takes over. She said it's important to realize that modern culture physically separates so many of us from all but the closest of relatives and friends. Circle dancing is one way to connect--on many levels--with those around us and with the earth.

Judie went on to teach us some of the basics, such as patterns of movement--circles, spirals, and so on--various ways to join hands, and three different steps to use for different rhythms. We tried out several of them with a few of our favorite chants, and gradually learned how to work in community, matching our steps with the music and with each other.

Scouting faith emblem ceremony

On Sunday June 29, UUCA and MoonFire both awarded faith emblems to our Webelos cub scout, who completed the "Love and Help" work for the Unitarian Universalist emblem, and the "Over the Moon" work showing for the pagan faith. MoonFire was pleased to sponsor him for the "Over the Moon" award, which included learning about the earth and nature study, learning about our faith and the old ways, and doing a service project. The award is a cloisonne pin showing a hart jumping across a crescent moon. (Boy Scouts of America asks scouts to go to their family's place of worship to learn and complete the requirements for a faith emblem. Unfortunately, BSA does not officially recognize the Unitarian Universalists or the Covenant of the Goddess, which established the "Over the Moon" program for pagan cub scouts.) At the opening of the service on June 29th, the congregation sang "Rise Up O Flame" while he kindled a fire, from which the chalice was lit. UUCA's Rev. Linda and a MoonFire Co-Coordinator explained the faith awards and his work. We pointed out that he and his mom joined MoonFire when he was six months old, and through MoonFire, ultimately joined UUCA, so he has grown up with us.

Helping with the Coffee Service

Each Sunday the UU service runs on coffee. So much so that even when they wanted to stop serving coffee in the summer people volunteered to put on a coffee service anyway. MoonFire took the non-coffee part of the coffee service (if that makes any sense) at the July 20th 10:00 AM service. About 8 MoonFire members showed up to serve lemonade, and doughnut holes to hungry and thirsty UU's. We also helped out with the coffee service.

Midsummer Druid Ritual

After a careful briefing and discussion with our ritual leaders, we were led into the Chapel where we encountered the three hallows: the well, the fire, and the tree. Working together with our Druid co-leads we called the various powers, consecrated the hallows, and opened the gate. Raising power through dance, and meditation, got us in the mind set for our sacrifice and thoughts of summer. We then got a chance to make offerings to the God and Goddess, and the other powers that were present. Sacrifices ranged from flowers and stones, to sacred water and tokens from past MoonFire rituals. Others chose to recite poetry, sing, or dance. After enjoying a sacred meal of lemonade and cherries, we thanked the various powers in attendance, closed the gates, and ended the ritual. This was a wonderful chance to see a working by those devoted to the Druid path, a path that provides deep structure and meaning to ritual and worship. The ritual raised questions of sacrifice, of what Gods and Goddess are named, and unnamed in rituals, and what meaning we should take away from our encounters with the power of the earth, fire, and the well. While each of us has to answer our questions in our own way, that is the meaning of eclectic Paganism, this ritual gave us many questions, and many answers in a moving and affecting way. Our thanks go out to our Druid friends and Druid UU fellow travelers for putting on such a moving and meaningful ritual. For more information and detail on our Druid ritual go here.

Summer RE

On Sunday, August 3, Porphyry and Barb worked together to put on an RE program for the Church. After a check-in with Rev. Linda in the Chapel, they led them through an interactive story. While Porphyry read, Barb helped choreograph the kids in movement and sound. They divided into those who represented the wind, the trees, and the leaves. The story was about how the wind talked to the leaves about the wheel of the year, birth and death. The tree was less cooperative and tried to discourage leave, but leaf hung on, and found that his friend wind caught him when he fell. It was a great story because the kids could act it out, and it dealt with issues of trust and mortality that were front and center at the time. After the story Barb worked with the kids in getting their hands dirty planting small pots of herbs that they could take home with them. Those that didn't want to plant had the choice of worked with Porphyry on drawing or mazes. It was fun for everyone, and the adults had about as good a time as the kids did!

Lammas Bread Ritual

At the end of July we held a special Lammas thanksgiving ritual. The ritual was build around a magical working revolving around the harvest. We started by calling the casting and calling, then we moved on to the key element of the ritual: rolling out and making our designs in dough. Melissa had constructed and risen a rich flour dough that everyone used to make whatever designs they wished. Some built Goddesses, others spirals, and others we didn't quite know what they were doing. After constructing our dough shapes we placed energy and intentions into them, and took them home later to bake. Many reported back that the resulting bread was very tasty!

Labyrinth Working Circle

The Labyrinth Working Circle was attended by a small group of Labyrinth curious folks. We were first introduced to the history of labyrinths, purpose of labyrinths, and the many types of labyrinths. Everybody then chose to walk a rainbow-colored labyrinth for whatever they chose to walk - finding answers, seeking solace, or just "transfixing on a moment of peace." Afterwards, the WC leader led the group to learn how to draw a working labyrinth on paper for those people who wish to create and walk their own labyrinth at home.

Egyptian New Year (Lughnassa) Ritual

For Lughnassa we celebrated the Egyptian New Year. The Egyptian New Year was a time when the Nile flooded and Egyptians were assured that another harvest would come, and there would be no drought and famine. After calling the quarters (Egyptian style) and Isis and Osiris (whose stars, Sirus and Orion were used to determine the date of the flooding), we heard telling of the various Egyptian flood stories and their meanings.

Church Blessing Ritual

MoonFire was honored to be asked to conducted the first "first Friday" service for the Church. Each month during the year the Church has a service on the "first Friday" of the month. This month they held a Church blessing service in honor of the 60th anniversary of UUCA. We processed throughout the Church, chanting to a drum beat, and smudging the doors. We then retired to the sanctuary where we lit candles, and spoke of our wishes for the Church. It was a wonderful service, and it was wonderful to feel such a part of the Church.

Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day

MoonFire participated in the second annual Northern Virginia Pagan Pride day with a showing of approximately 10 t-shirt clad MoonFireites. MoonFire had a table with MoonFire, UUCA, and CUUPS literature along with candy, tarot cards, and our various banners. MoonFire members personed the booth, attended workshops, and played with the dogs. It was a really good time, at a great location.

As part of PPD last year MoonFire led the main ritual, and this year we were honored to be asked to participate with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone in a Corn Goddess ritual devoted to Ceres. We provide the three Corn Maidens, and the quarter callers, while the role of the farmer was played by Gavin, and Janet of course was the Priestess. We had a great time, and the ritual was very well received by the 60 participants.

Mabon Apple Harvest Ritual

Pagans from the surrounding DC Metro area came together to celebrate Pagan Pride with members of MoonFire. There were over 20 folks in circle with pagans and solitaries from Maryland and Virginia as well a number of students from George Mason University. Everyone in circle learned that the Apple was a symbol of the Divine. Then, after some quiet contemplation, everyone came up to thank the Lord & Lady what then were most blessed or thankful for. As a symbol of Thanksgiving, everyone took home one apple of four varieties. Then we gave power to our blessing of Thanksgiving with a celebrated vine dance. After the ritual, everyone enjoyed our newly fostered pagan community together with a potluck of Mabon harvests of homemade apple pie, homemade apple sauce, and other goodies.

Little Bennett Camping, September 12-14

As Friday was a rain day, many of the usual campers stayed over only on Saturday night or not at all (we've been there, done that, with LB in the rain, its not much fun). Saturday was a beautiful day. We started with a Wiccaning, dedicating the child to the Gods and Goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon. We are always thrilled to see a child dedicated to the Gods and Goddesses, and being allowed to help is a privilege. We then followed that with our potluck dinner, hiking around the area, and various arts and crafts. We ended up with a small but very spooky full moon ritual marking the end of summer and the beginning of the reign of the Holly King!

Mithras Ritual

Mithraism was a mystery initiatory religion that competed with the early Christian church for dominance during the later stages of the Roman Empire. Mithraism reached the height of its popularity around the 3rd through 4th centuries, when it was particularly popular among the soldiers of the Roman Empire. During the ritual we called Mithras and his mother, the Goddess Anahita. After setting the circle and calling on the God and Goddess, we did a two-phase meditation. During the first part of the meditation we became ravens, reflective of the first level of initiation into the Mithriac religion. After we had become ravens we journeyed to examine our accomplishments, and what we were thankful for during the year. After the meditation ended we wrote what we were thankful for, lit a candle, and spoke what was on our minds. There was much gratitude, and much hope for the future.

Feeding the Homeless

Twice a year we work with the Arlington Street People's Network (ASPAN) to help feed homeless people in Arlington. This semester we had the best turnout ever (or darn close) with lots of people there to make sandwiches. We not only made the sandwiches, we then took a moment to bless them with positive and helpful energy that might benefit those who consumed them. We asked that those who consume them get strength and better circumstances from the love and thoughts we put into making them. We also acknowledged that we were as blessed in the making as they are in the consuming.

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 including many old MoonFire hands, along with some new folk. We managed to throw the yarn without catching anything on fire! 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, and with everyone giving special thanks to Leah as she becomes a co-coordinator emeritus.

Samhain Ritual

About 30 people attended our 2008 Samhain ritual. The ritual began with everyone in the sanctuary where they sang, drummed, danced, and learned about what we were going to do. After that they processed around the sanctuary and through the veil. Upon entering they were able to place their ancestor tokens on the ancestor altar. We then had a brief meditation followed by casting and calling. The circle casting was based on the wheel of the year, and recognized each sabbat in turn before returning to Samhain. We raised energy and placed it into scrying candles that were on the altar through a spiral dance, then had a chance to speak our ancestors names into the circle. Afterwards we feasted with the ancestors (who had already been served their spirit plate) and had a jolly time.

Stab Tein Seid Herbalism Class

Graham Butcher, instructor of this course, is one of the first four masters of the Tein Seid Herbalism of the Stav perspective. Tein Seid means 'thorough knowledge of the plants'. Stav is a Northern European martial art and mind/body/spirit system based on the runes of the younger futhork. Master Butcher discussed eighteen trees and eighteen plants for magickal use, herbal remedies, and practical applications as well (e.g., which tree is good fuel for fire or for staff-making).

Pagan Rite of Tea Deity Homage Working Circle

At the November Working Circle, Patrick led us in a Pagan Rite of Tea Ritual. Even though it was different than most rituals we have, it was different in a good way. The attendees placed their respected tokens on the altar and discussed why that deity was their favorite. Then, we consumed an apple-herbal tea while quietly contemplating what all our personal deity means for us a daily basis.

FYI: The Egyptian pantheon was well represented. There were three Bast statutes on the altar!

Cernunnos Reflection Ritual

At this time of year our thoughts turn to thanksgiving, and we hold a ritual that connects us with service and caring for others. What better way to do it than reflecting on the mighty Cernunnos, the European God of the Hunt. Hunters go forth and gather from the earth those things we need to live. In the ritual we gave thanks for those things that the earth gives so that we may live, and we had a chance to journey with Cernunnos' stag to meet the God and converse with him. At the end of the ritual we took up a special collection to support the Hunters for the Hungry program, a group that donates harvested deer to help feed the hungry. Our contributions will be used to support processing the donated animals, which are then distributed to needy families.

Witchballs Working Circle

After an unfortunately humorous introduction to the art and science of constructing Witchballs (started out as "Watch Balls" and are directly related to both Christmas tree balls and "Gazing Balls" that the over decorated put in their yards), we grounded, formed our intent, and got down to assembling our balls. We had a variety of materials, some of which was brought by the participants. From string, to yarn, to glitter, to pins, to shells, and various spices, we had a lot of options in constructing our spell materials in our witch balls. In keeping with the general theme of the event, that we were actually constructing active or protective spells in the balls, we then charged our balls with a simple chant, and put our intentions into them. A merry Yule themed time was had by all.

Yule Celebration Ritual

We celebrated Yule in high style with a traditional ritual that combined a bit of Yule history with some calls to the God and Goddess, and the receiving of some presets that incorporated the four elements. Each person got to take away a small satchel containing a shell, candle, feather (collected from fallen feathers), and a river stone (collected from fallen rivers). We also called on the Holly and Oak Kings who, wreathed (literally) in some amazing headgear, gave each other a good thwacking until the Holly King relented and the Oak King came into his own. Everyone left our Yule day (the correct day for once! Yeah!) celebration charged for the season ahead.


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July 2008 Coffee service