On Friday night, I had the joy of leading a ritual adventure on behalf of the Sisters of the Huntress in Tilden Park in Berkeley. Due to various life circumstances (some quite last-minute), my Sisters were unable to attend, and I missed them sorely. (We will do this again, I promise myself.) Artemis’s wild moonlit woods magic happened nonetheless.
CAYA’s priestx Melissa Ra Karit and aspirant Lynda Lou, my sister, a friend, and I began with a chanted invocation and annointing blessings. As I donned my antler-handle athame, blessed to Artemis, a pair of deer emerged from the woods to eye us and then silently move on. It was one of those moments when my breath stops a little and my heart soars in communion.
We spent the first hour cleaning up trash from woodland picnic sites as a devotional act. We laughed over the particularly Pagan pre-ritual experience of standing in a store looking at displays of items--potential food offerings, herbal essential oils, candles, and so on--and asking our gods, “Alright, what do you want?” We groaned about some picnickers’ decision to celebrate by scattering a site with improbable amounts of plasticized confetti. As the sun began to set in earnest, we gathered at a trailhead beside the last picnic area and prepared ourselves for a dusk-to-moonlight ritual hike.
We filled a container with creek water and added a few drops of sacred Artemis oil, and walked silently into the woods. Around us the night sounds were wakening--birds settling in, insects humming, unseen mammals rustling in the brush. We paused at great bay laurels and redwoods, offering greetings in prayer and in scattered nuts, dried apricots, Greek olives, and the blessed water. The growing dark and rising half-moon found us all perched in--or under, in a cave formed where hollow trunk and roots arc--a spreading laurel whose branches could comfortably host a scout meeting. The moon was bright enough to walk by with only occasional flashlight checks. I watched steady shadows cast by Her silver-blue light--mine, my companions’, the trees’.
We circled together in a broad grassy field bathed in moonlight. We honored the directions and the Huntress Herself with more offerings, and one by one spoke gratitudes and petitions to Her with libations of the sacred water. My friend frolicked wildly. Several of us plopped down, grasses waving high overhead and moon and stars higher still.
At last we returned through the dark woods, pausing to talk quietly or admire the gleam of moonlight on the creek’s surface. We lingered over a final circle, sharing gratitudes and blessings, before piling into my car and returning to civilization… with a little more holy wildness in our hearts.