Rites and Rituals

January 1st, 2010

Embracing the Wolf Moon

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For me, every full Moon represents an opportunity to peer into an aspect of nature and try to find the spiritual relevance for the path I seek to walk.  There are many names given to the full Moons of each month and I believe that each of us must decide which best fits the place we live. In doing so, remember to acknowledge the memories of the past, while maintaining an awareness of the present and casting an eye toward the future. This month, January, I am going to share how I celebrate and understand the Wolf Moon, through my ritual.

I set my altar basically the same for each full moon. I use three candles to form a triangle. There is one to honor the Goddess, one for the God and the third candle to signify the energies joining to create a full moon. Along with the objects I’ve chosen to represent the elements, I will place a few items, small statues and photographs that visually remind the Circle of the wolf. In addition, I include an incense of pine or cedar, something that is able to conjure the deep dark of a forest, an anointing oil of similar design and an ambient music source that contains wolf sounds. If you are unable to find oil you like, try using a small branch from a conifer.  I find that when you include items that pull the senses more deeply into the ritual, the mind more easily follows and stands open within the sacred space. There are many gods and goddesses who are connected with wolves among the different pantheons, too many to mention here, so I suggest that each person does a little research to discover the deities who best relate to their own individual path.  The rituals I lead always begin with a breathing exercise with everyone standing around the altar. Once we have all relaxed and stepped away from the mundane, I start the circle cast. Most reading this probably have a circle cast, so I will not go into detail about the cast that I use. However if there is any interest in learning another one or any questions regarding casting circle, perhaps I can address this in a future column. This is a good place I think, for me to say how honored I feel to be asked to share how I experience this world and to share a little about myself. I am blessed to live in a place, with my wife and our two wolf dogs, where the Earth still sings loud and clear. Here in the forest, I am allowed to witness the cycles of nature. It is a place where salmon come to create anew and are granted release from their long promise. It is a place where a raging river reminds me that change is the only constant, while ancient trees stand patient and wise. Most important though, it is a place that whispers to the spirit, of the magick that exists in just a single breath of fresh air.

Once the Circle is cast, the space is cleansed, purified and sealed, the calls to the Watchers of the Quarters are made. The female and male leading the ritual then call to the Goddess and to the God and in turn light the appropriate candle. Together they hold a large wooden match, igniting it within the God’s flame while saying,” the God shines his light”. Then while moving the lit match into the Goddesses’ flame they say,” the Goddess captures and enchants the light”. Finally they light the full Moon candle saying,” and this night, bathes the world in her light and love”.  When this is completed and the altar is aglow it is time to speak of the meaning and the direction for the ritual. I feel it is important to give those in the Circle a basic framework so they can be at ease with me leading them into a meditative state. For this moon I let them know that we will be thinking about the significance the energies and spirit of the wolf may hold for each of us. Next I will light the incense and begin passing the wolf photographs around the Circle. As everyone is looking at the pictures and connecting in some way to the wolf, I make my way around the Circle to anoint their foreheads and say, ”I connect you to the Earth”. Once anointed each person takes a comfortable seat, within the Circle, closes their eyes and listens. The music begins, a lone wolf howls and I remember when,….

in the midst of a cold winter’s night we huddled together in fear of the wolf. He was a hunter, a walker of shadow, silent and ghostly he would come. Out of the darkness, from where the forest held its secrets and I dared not venture, the wolf crossed into my world.  I sat by the fire, fighting the sleep that called to me tirelessly and felt my heart beat ever faster as the howls grew closer.

Now I have taken much of the land for myself and seemingly conquered the night. I am safe, warm, dry and fed, yet I feel that there is something missing. It is not a thing I have forgotten to gather, but instead something I have lost. Perhaps my quest for dominance has quelled too much, the mysteries of life and I have allowed complacency to overshadow ancient fears that once raced my blood.

I have come full circle and now, as I peer into nature, I can realize what the wolf was always willing to teach me. To embrace the dark of night in the same way I do the light of day, to step away from the fire’s light and trust my eyes to see within the shadows and to remember that I am still a part of the wolf’s world. There is a haunting honesty I can hear in their calls, a cry out to remember that we feel something more, something that we need, to feed our spirit.

After I share these thoughts with out loud with the Circle, I tell everyone to continue with their own journey and I let the music finish. When it is done I give them a few minutes of quiet before gently bringing everyone back to the Circle. We share cakes and ale in some form, honor the Goddess and the God, release the Watchers, then begin to close our Circle. Once the Circle is been opened, we go outside to make an offering and give back some of our energies to the Earth.

Goddess of all that is, within and beyond all that I comprehend,

Maiden of magick, Mother and Crone of Earth and Moon,

I stand beneath you and I am complete,

a precious moment in between.

When I am more than just a man (or woman)

and nothing less than what I dream.

A glimpse of that which always holds true,

of the life that flows through me from you.