At some point in our paths we have the opportunity to be a part of either public or privately held circles. Being a part of a circle is a powerful experience, builds community, cohesion, and helps to deepen our spiritual path. I have always held the best way to teach our path is to be an active part of the path, not only by books alone but by experience.
Most of us started our spiritual path in some form of Christianity with a regular church attendance. With this in mind, there were certain observations one had to make so the service was not disturbed and everyone could benefit from the experience. While Pagan circles are not usually as formal as Southern church services, there is still a certain amount of etiquette one should observe when attending either public and privately held circles. Generally, it’s just common sense and common courtesy.
13. With social media making it very easy to locate and attend circles knowing when to RSVP and when not to can be tricky. Generally if it is a public circle and it states specifically to RSVP, do. The coordinator will probably want to know how many to expect for refreshments or other post ritual arrangements, the amount of supplies necessary, space, and parking. If you are planning to bring a guest please have them RSVP also, or RSVP for them.
“They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.” Liber Legis 1:15
During 2013, my magnificent partner in crime, love and magick and I wrote and performed a series of twelve public rituals in a de-sanctified little gothic country church in the middle of nowhere near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Each ritual was loosely based on the prevailing zodiac sign and ruling god. We also performed some of them at other gatherings in the southwest Michigan area. These were the MoonFire Workings and this is their story.
The story begins long ago during the heyday of the east coast Wiccan movement. My lovely partner, Pat, started an originally eclectic coven that was first adopted by trainers from Athanor, a Celtic Shamanic Order and then began initiations through an Alexandrian HPS, from the “Du Bandia Grasail” (DBG) tradition, whose initiations came directly from Alex Sanders and is the first documented Alexandrian Coven in the USA. Ironically, both lines of trainers traced their origins back to this same origin. Pat later also joined “The Order of Ganymede ” (OG) an Alexandrian Chhonioi organization also originating from the same lineage. The order is very Hellenistic in nature harboring a deep appreciation of Ceremonial Magick with the Cabalistic teachings of Dion Fortune having a large influence. Pat has always had a deep regard for Crowley and Thelema, and as many know, ceremonial Magick and Thelema is a major component of the foundation of Gardner’s system of Wicca.
When I met Pat, I started spending substantial time in southwest Michigan where she lives and which is now both our home. She would take me to the various local gatherings. These were much simpler and rustic than the quality of ritual found on the east coast, and of course in ritual groups like the OTO. Therefore, Pat and I decided to write and perform a ritual for a local Yule gathering that would combine elements of both Ceremonial Magick and Traditional Wicca, to show what dramatic ritual could be when “rightly performed with joy and beauty”. We wrote a Yule 2012 ritual celebrating the sun moving into Capricorn, using a goodly quantity of Pan imagery and texts. The ritual included the Star Ruby, a traditional Wiccan circle opening, the Hymn to Pan, reading of Liber A’ash and more.
The yule ritual had quite the effect!! Some loved it, others sadly lacked knowledge of the correspondences used in the ritual and so it went over their heads, one or two were uncomfortable with the ceremonial content and were ignorant of the huge impact Crowley and his works had on Gerald Gardner and Wicca.
Goaded on by the positive feedback, and with a grim determination to vanquish ignorance, we started to plot other deeds….
We felt called to restart Pat’s old coven and combine Wicca and Thelema plus Traditional Witchcraft and other powerful currents. We had attended the Occult Conference in Glastonbury (UK) a few months before where members of the British OTO, Wiccans, Druids and Chaotes agreed that well-meaning but uneducated solitary practitioners were dumbing down the Western Esoteric Tradition, and that the various mystery paths should recognize and celebrate their common foundation and heritage, and work together to preserve the heritage instead of bickering at each other. This resonated strongly with us, Pat being a Wiccan with a strong appreciation of Thelema, and me being a Thelemite who had practiced Wicca before getting interested in Ceremonial Magick and Traditional Witchcraft.
As we were starting to discuss and plan, a friend of Pat’s who runs an earth based pagan church in a cool little gothic church in the middle of nowhere asked us for ideas on how to get more people to attend her church… So we decided to write a series of twelve zodiac rituals, using our Yule/Capricorn ritual as a model and start performing them publicly at her church to draw people in.
The first ritual, the Rite of Aquarius, was written and performed in January 2013 at Eclectic Path Earth Resources in Otsego, MI. It was followed by a Pisces Moon ritual that included a full-blown Wiccan drawing down of the moon and five-fold kiss plus the Lesser Banishing Ritual Of The Pentagram. A Mars/Aries ritual that included an Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram for Mars and used war like verses from Liber Legis chapter III followed. Then we created a Venus Ritual that included grimoire Magick from “The Consecrated book of Black Venus,” a mercury ritual that included Liber Israfel, and so on and more through the whole year. Writing, planning and performing an 18 to 20 page hour-long ritual a month was exhausting, but also is a very magical and fulfilling rite of manifestation and will. The Rites of Eleusis, Holy Books Of Thelema, Orphic Hymns, Liber Reguli, The Star Ruby and more were all proudly put on display for those who have never witnessed traditional group magick before
Attendance started modestly with about 8 people, and rose to a high of some 35. We invited some of the regulars to be side officers, some of these asked for more training and exposure. This led to us inviting the most keen to form the beginnings of the new MoonFire coven.
As detailed knowledge of the occult arts, correspondences, et al, was lacking in some, the original rituals were written to include a great deal of explanation as to why certain tools, candles, or weapons were in use. They were also designed to subtly expose people to Thelema and Alexandrian Wicca without being evangelical. The rituals were therefore educational and taught people the use of correspondences in ritual magick, and indeed what good and deep ritual magick should be like.
The MoonFire coven is now very active in SW Michigan. As well as private rituals, initiatory work, and our public zodiac rites, we have spread our wings and started performing rituals in Chicago for the OTO, also Pagan Pride days in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Blackberry Farm gatherings and more. We joined the Covenant Of The Goddess. Our public Esbat remains very popular and is now its own tradition – running consistently at New Moon in Kalamazoo every full moon weekend for over a year now. We still occasionally perform some of our original twelve zodiac rituals. Our members have added to our cannon – writing rituals that are now joyously performed yearly. Many of have had the guts (and our bottomless thanks) to step up and be side officers at public rituals. NOT BAD FOR A FIRST THREE YEARS!!!……
What do I see in my crystal ball for the next three years….. I see us opening a store and pagan church/temple serving Michiana… I see more public rituals at the new store and elsewhere. I see us playing a bigger role in local pagan life such as Convocation, Pagan Fest, Pagan Pride, Pagan charities, interfaith out-reach. I see us starting an OTO body to serve Michiana. I see some of our initiates achieve their 3rd degree and start hiving to form new covens to celebrate our lineage and tradition but also continue the spirit of innovation. I see new coveners joining to bring their own spark to replace those who hive. For those who have been with us since the early days – we love you and thank you for abiding with us… To those that are new…. hold onto your hats – we’re just getting started……
Every MoonFire ritual is closed with a standard exultation composed of selected verses from Liber Legis, be it our public monthly esbats, or our private rituals or anything we do, and so I close this essay with the same.
“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us. This is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. The word of sin is Restriction. There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will. Every man and every woman is a star. And Thou hast no right but to do what thou wilt.”