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Rites and Rituals

A Full Moon in November

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A heavier darkness now eats at both the beginning and the end of the day. The colors of Autumn have fallen and yielded to gray shadow. Spring and Summer drift further away, carried deeper into memory, upon the colder winds that have started to blow. The Full Moon rises over the river, Her bright light illuminating a world laying on the edge of sleep, waiting for the Wheel’s inevitable turn to Winter. Native people called this moon the Beaver Moon for they saw them using the last few days before the ice formed, readying themselves to outlast the impending cold. Others call this the Dark Moon or the Hunter’s Moon but I think they all seek to acknowledge the same awareness and sense of purpose. For me this moon is a reminder to be sure that I am prepared for the long dark journey through Winter back to Spring. Some rain laden clouds begin to stack up against the mountain and temporarily obscure the Moon’s light. The path I’m on is quickly swallowed by the darkness and I can feel the cold trying to wrap more tightly around me. Unable to see I simply stand and wait, breathing deeply tuning myself to this exact moment. I can hear the river, stronger now with the Fall’s rains, rushing past. Its sound is deeper and more serious than the carefree sounds it carried past in Summer.  There is nothing else moving this night. I feel the forest withdrawing. The harmony and united breath I felt within this place before, no longer exists. I can feel each tree standing alone, centering its energy within its core and grounding itself to the earth. They are all bracing for Winter’s onslaught. I wonder if those trees standing along the river’s banks now sense the vulnerability of their position. What was enchanted real estate through the Summer can unforgiving turn to misfortune amidst Winter’s storms. As I think about the trees, the Moon’s light breaks free from the clouds allowing me to resume my walk down the path. It was not that long ago when this path was seemingly covered with spider webs of all shapes and sizes. The air was a buzz with insects and the deciduous trees were ablaze in color .That is gone now, returned to the earth to be re-claimed. I am reminded of this with each noisy step I take down upon the crunchy leaves. Only the evergreens look the same, though I sense they worry about the burden of snow they’ll have to endure in the months that lie ahead. I slowly make my way to a spot that overlooks the river from the tree line. There is an old stump there, a tree felled by loggers long before I was born, that offers a perfect vantage upon the river while remaining within the forest’s hold. I sit down on the stump thinking it is not too wet and pull a small cauldron from my pack. I am pleased that I managed to keep almost all of the sand from the river inside the cauldron as I set it on the forest floor. Without a breeze blowing I am able to ignite the charcoal with a single match and shortly it is glowing red. I ritually place some sage on the coal and embrace the magick released. Throughout all the years I’ve tried to walk my path, breathe within a sacred moment and reach into another realm, I have found and collected those things that inspire my spirit. It is so simple a thing to burn sage, yet for me, there are few things that pull me away from the mundane so effortlessly and move me so deeply to another place. My thoughts turn to this Full Moon, the Beaver Moon and I think about what it should mean to me. I am so blessed to live where I do and actually have beavers that live not far from where I currently sit. I remember seeing all the young branches they had gathered a couple weeks ago when I was fly fishing. I think about the basic things I have gathered to prepare for the months ahead. My list is a bit different than what the Native people who were here had to do, but it seeks to capture the same assurance. Elemental basics, food, fire and water that I will need to sustain my physical self through the coming Winter, have all been gathered. What though of my spiritual self? What should I gather to nurture my spiritual self through the dark?  I sit in the dark stillness, staring through the gray smoke from the burning sage, searching the forest for the wisdom of the Crone. Her aspect for me singularly and poetically captures the essence of being alone in the dark. It is She who offers to take me on a journey to let go of everything that binds me to possibly discover what more I am.  I sit here in the cold darkness and I try to glean what Nature is showing me. I feel the forest around me, individually, tree by lone tree gathering strength. I begin to understand that unlike Spring and Summer now is not the time reach outward and spread one’s self too thinly. It is time embrace solitude while strengthening the core of my being. It is time to focus my vision into the great darkness and without fear, wonder. It is time gather my resolve, embracing my singular awareness that I might better understand my connection to the universe. I place one last pinch of crumbled sage upon the charcoal as I think about what I want to accomplish. Peering through the rising gray smoke of the sage to the place where the Moon’s light yields to the dark, I hear the Crone whispering, take what the natural world gives and trust it to lead you.  .