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Rites and Rituals

The Long Night’s Moon and Yule

The Wheel turns and I feel my fire has burned away.

I feel the Earth holding me tight. I know the Crone now walks through the night.

And I know the Wheel still slowly turns, back to me to make me burn,

With the love, I forever, hold for thee…..”

For me, both of these moments separately mark very significant changes upon the Wheel. When they coincide within the same night, something that occurs roughly once every 19 years, there is magick in the air.  This night, I am able to witness and emerge myself in the middle of the dance that shadow and light eternally share. I am able to stand at the edge of the deep dark and reach out to touch the spark of the journey anew. It is to me, both the end and the new beginning of my own path around the Wheel.  As I sit in the quiet darkness I try to recall all of the signs, all of the sights and smells and the sacred moments I experienced throughout this turning of the Wheel. From the inward searching Winter’s hold asks of my spirit, to the first fragile glimpse of the dreams of Spring, I remember how the air felt upon my skin. Soon, the maiden began to dance away the snow, awakening the earth from her slumber and chasing away the last grasp of Winter. I remember feeling the forest come back to life. I remember the rich, deep breath the forest shared and how the air tingled with energy. The stillness of the cold was long gone, replaced with the passion and vibrancy new life promised. Where there was only black and white, there now exploded a world of color, fueled with the magick of wet and warm touching, and the days grew. Longer, warmer, filled with the sounds and scents of Nature’s rejoicing, the days stretched themselves into the night. The Tiger Lilies returned and the Ghost plant made its brief appearance as the shadows all but disappeared from the forest. The Spring rains faded and the Sun rose higher.  Sitting by the altar in my house, holding a rock I borrowed from the river, I think back to the morning of the Summer Solstice. I pick up my wand and trace my finger over the ring I burned into it that day, with the Sun’s fire. I remember how connected I felt that day, standing beneath the Sun, between the forest and the river.  Slowly I gaze over everything I’ve placed on the altar and savor the memory each item conjures. Shadow and light, love and death, the endless dance that weaves itself within the change beckoned by the turning of the Wheel, it all lies represented upon my altar. Beneath my altar I notice the coiled black cord. The black cord we used in our Mabon ritual to represent the Mother pulling up the shadows from the God’s passing. I reach out and hold the cord. I   wonder what the end of the ritual is like, for I have never witnessed the closing, choosing instead to embrace the path the God walks that night. I close my eyes and drift within the shadows of the Fall. I remember the way the feel of the air changes, a damp heaviness on my skin as I begin to smell the decay of those things forgotten by the fading Sun. My thoughts turn to the Crone and her lone walk through the trees under a stark moon. I recall the way her touch turns the leaves to the colors of his fire. I think about the last days of the salmon, keeping their long promise to return, giving themselves back to the forest and the river. I have come full circle once more and although my memories of the past flow with similarities, I recognize my need to embrace change. Here at the place where I believe the end and the beginning touch, I ready  my spirit to step into the unknown. In this night, within this moment the Goddess sheds the Crone’s dark mantle, her shadows sliding back into the Earth, revealing the Mother. I consider how I should honor the past and remember its weight as I acknowledge the Mother’s presence, breathing in the present. I light a single yellow candle to celebrate the return of the God. It is a small spark of light that will slowly push against the edge of the dark, until the days are once again long and warm.  Until then, I will hold space for the future and the untold promises of wonder, the new year that turns to me, can manifest.  Blessed be and Merry Yule to all,

John