warning - this post contains soul-searching and paganism. if that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. wait for another post.
Friday evening I finally got around to attending one of Earth Temple's open rituals. This one was a Dark Moon circle, the moon being a waning crescent. In Virgo, which is about service.
Earth Temple does one or two open esbats a month, as well as on the eight major pagan holidays. It's a gift for people who don't belong to a coven, who practice alone most of the time, but sometimes want fellowship. The officiants come in from different groups and traditions, so you never know who will be there, or what you are going to learn.
Friday evening, the ritual was led by Cerridwen Brennan, and her partner (sadly, I've forgotten his name, sorry). They are the only Pagan chaplains in the Colorado prison system (federal, state and county). They are also the only non-Christian chaplains in the system. They travel around the state, go into prisons and jails, and teach Wicca, and counsel, and listen. They get several paths of Wicca and paganism, as well as Buddhists and Daoists, who don't find solace in the other options. They talked about their work, what it involves, why they do it. And then made a pitch for volunteers, both to go into the prisons, and to write letters. Letters specifically relating to the prisoner's study and practice of Wicca/paganism. They were very clear that it's not a penpal situation, but more of a spiritual mentoring, by someone secure and comfortable and dedicated in their faith.
Which led me to the question; where am I in my faith? I'm not entirely sure. Do I believe that there is Something beyond and behind and within the world I see with my waking eyes? Yes. Do I perceive this Something most readily as Goddess and God, do I feel the Presence most strongly in nature, do the rhythms of the seasons resonate in my heart and spirit? Yes. Do I believe that the Source can speak through a person, consecrated or otherwise? Yes. Do I have a formal, daily practice? Not so much. I feel better when I do, but I get lazy and distracted. So I start over. Ah, the influence of Zen. Start where you are.
It's almost Samhain (Halloween); the time of year when I tend to have a spiritual renewal, a reawakening. As the earth turns toward hibernation, I start venturing deeper within my heart and soul. It's a bit barren lately, cold, filled with the ghostly crackling of dried leaves in the wind.
Lonely. Not desolate, just lonely. A wild, windswept plain with no shelter in sight.
But something is stirring. And shifting. And after many years of being almost exclusively Goddess-centered, of including the God mostly to be polite, my awareness and connection is moving toward the Lord of the Hunt, the Greenman, the Stag-horned God. A wildness is brewing. The sleeper awakens.
Sitting in circle Friday night, as the ritual Drawing down the Moon was carried out, I felt that shift in the energy that I have only felt at darshan, or at a trance possession. The priestess was gone, and SHE was there. I know the voice of the Source when I hear it. "Be mindful of your choices, for the choices you make today will shape your tomorrow". Not very original perhaps, but said in a way that said "pay attention! this is important kate".
I've been to a few public rituals. They tend to be on the superficial side. This one was intense, a powerful guided meditation, and a full-on drawing down the Goddess. And some useful questions to ponder. And possibly, an opportunity to be of service.
Some people have a set practice, a specific time and place, a meditation, a chant , a ritual, something that they do everyday for a certain amount of time. My practice is more fluid. I look up at the moon and the stars at night, and feel their beauty. I watch the sunrise on my way to work, and take a moment to enjoy it. I walk with my dog and watch the turning of the seasons at the park. I close my eyes, and breathe, and know that I am not alone.
Where am I in my faith? I'm right here. That's enough.
photo is from 4witches.com