Double, Double Toil and Trouble;
Fire Burn, and Cauldron Bubble
I attended a full moon ritual, where I observed and participated in the ritual. It took place at Raven's Flight a WICCA association. (I took my children who helped me interview other participants). The leader explained that the full moon represents fertility. They planned to bless some flower seeds, water and the soil in order to help them grow. The atmosphere was casual. I was a little nervous at first not knowing what to expect, however I grew comfortable quickly and felt no culture shock. Though I was relieved we did not have to eat or drink anything during the ritual. There was a dessert potluck after the ceremony, and I brought some cookies.
The ritual took place in a backyard. The building looked like it used to be a house, but converted into a storefront. There was a wall sectioning off part of the building, which might still be used as a dwelling. We walked through the store to get to the backyard. It was a large cemented patio, partially covered with a wet bar. There were a lot of planters with various flowers and plants. There was a bonfire in the center of the yard. There was some wood patio furniture, but it was moved to the side to make room for the circle. There was a large red candle on a small table near the fire.
The ritual took place in the evening and was supposed to start at 8:00 PM, but they were running behind schedule and it started about 8:45 PM. I was told they often start late, but if you arrive after it starts you cannot get in. I'm glad it started late as I was able to talk to a couple of the "natives." The ritual lasted about 45 minutes. After it started, the time went fast. There were about 50 people, approximately the same number of men as women, which surprised me. I did not realize that men were so involved in WICCA. Everyone looked about middle class to me. Most people were in jeans and a few (about seven) wore black robes or capes. Other than my children, there were two younger children about five years old and one infant. Near the end of the ritual we had an extra special treat, as the couple who brought the infant requested a blessing for the child. I would compare this to a christening. Several people who were in charge held the baby and gave her a blessing. Then the couple exchanged rings and vows of commitment (they were not legally married). After that we sang an unusual rendition of Happy Birthday to two of the persons there.
The ritual started with the leader (Raven) chanting and walking into the circle in a spiral fashion until everyone was in the circle. We held hands as we walked and repeated the chant. The words of the chant had to do with making a circle. Someone was beating a drum as we walked into our circle. As we chanted someone went around the circle with sage to cleanse our spirits. When everyone was in their places, four different people had been assigned that evening to recite a part. We all turned and faced the same direction and the assigned person recited a prayer/poem regarding that direction (east, south, west and north). Raven then explained that the moon would bless the water, the earth would bless the soil and the fire would bless the seeds. The next day she and some helpers will plant the blessed seeds in the blessed soil and water them with the blessed water. They usually put the blessed soil and seeds in cups for the participants to take home, nurture and return. Raven broke the ice during her explanation, by making a joke about doing things differently tonight. She would start a chant and we would follow along. Each of the chants was easy to repeat as they made sense; they were about what we were doing. As we were chanting, one person held the seeds in a pie tin and shook it over the fire, (like roasting chestnuts). At the same time two people, one holding a large bowl with soil and the other person holding a large bowl with water and rose pedals walked around the circle. They stopped in front of each person and we put our hands in the water and sprinkled the water on the soil, to bless the soil. This took a long time because there were so many people. We continued the same chant for a while; the chant ended in lowering our voices. After all the blessings one person recited a pray to end the circle.
We talked to two participants Dina and Carrie. They talked a lot about their path. They have been attending Raven's Flight for over a year. They had met each other in a class offered at Raven's Flight. Dina used to be Christian and was looking for a new path. She found the philosophy of WICCA to be her speed. I asked her if she still believed in G-d and could someone possibly have a combination of the two faiths. She said she believes in the ways of WICCA as opposed to one heavenly body. Dina said she thought that one could follow a combination of beliefs because everyone has their own path and their way to deal with life.
The moon played a very important role, because it was a moon ritual. The moon was thought to be very powerful. Dina explained to me that when the moon is waxing, you make spells to gain things, such as a job or money. When the moon is waning, you make spells to get rid of things such as bad habits.
People attended because they felt comfortable there. They knew each other and felt they had a place and an important part in the ceremony. The procedure for the ritual was simple and I do not think there are strict rules to live by. I think this is another reason the followers enjoy belonging to WICCA. I think the WICCA rituals and beliefs satisfy the needs to belong, to feel close to the earth, and to feel like they have some control over what is happening to them.