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Previous Voices
<Something from a Preveious Newsletters>

In the Belly of the Mother.
Imbolc? No - Midsummer!

By Suki; Originally published in the 2010 Lammas Newsletter

I’m sad.
Because some people will never experience anything like what I experienced on Midsummer’s Eve: A well-crafted ritual inside a cave, followed by a vigil with good friends.

There were many valid reasons for some folks to miss this event:

  • Some people simply were unable to attend – the campgrounds can only accommodate 150 persons.
  • Some people have mobility issues. There are no elevators built into a natural onyx cave.
  • Some people are claustrophobic. Even though the cavern is large-ish, it is still somewhat confining.
  • Some people are afraid of the dark. Much of the ritual was conducted in total darkness – reminiscent of the total darkness of the womb.

Still, I’m also ecstatic for having had – and taken – the opportunity to attend this ritual.

This is a “living” cave – there is still water flowing through it and natural onyx is still growing in a cool, near-100% humidity atmosphere. To touch the walls or to get too near them with our candles could easily have damaged the natural progression of that growth. We were warned to wear sturdy, water-resistant shoes – there is indeed standing water in many places along the path.  We were warned to wear warm clothes, as the cave does not get above 60 degrees – ever.

John coached us in a pre-ritual workshop in the chants for the ritual. This, in itself, was a challenge; getting about 40 people to stay together in a multi-part chant in one sitting is only a hair’s breadth away from its own miracle. The addition of drums turned out to be miracle’s catalyst.

That evening, we processed to the cave, carrying our candles and our jackets, in over 80-degree heat, with 75% humidity (well, it felt like it anyway) and increasing cloud cover. Quickly shrugging into those jackets on entry, we made our way down the lit pathway to the sound of water trickling down the cave walls, chanting as best we could as we walked. Down and over, down, over again and down some more, ending up in a room that had once been a reservoir of the water that was flowing into the cave. With gravel under our feet and our breath condensing in front of us, we gathered.

There was no need for a microphone; the merest whisper could be heard across the cavern. Yet even the children in attendance seemed to sense that this was a time to stay close to their own mothers, and to watch and simply experience. Our candles were lit. The electric lights were extinguished.

There was no need to cast a circle; how could we define sacred space better than the walls of the cave?
“Air I am … Fire I am … Water, Earth and Spirit I Am.”
Folk Magic sanctified the space – if it could be sanctified more than it already was – with their clear, strong voices in the verse, and most of us joining with the chorus. The chills up my spine were not due to the temperature. At a word, the candles were extinguished. The Lady and Her Consort were wholeheartedly invited to join us. In the chilly velvet blackness, the drums beat a slow, steady heartbeat.
“We are one … With the soul … Of the Earth … Mother Earth.”
Then the next layer:
“Weavers (weavers), Weavers (weavers) … We are weaving the web of life.”
And the third layer:
“Spirit Weaver, Bone Weaver, Breath Weaver, Stone Weaver … We are weaving the Web of Life.”
And then The Calling:
“Pan, Herne, Osirus, Priapus, Baal, Dionysus, Apollo, Lugh”
And finally:
“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innana”
And always, the slow, throbbing heartbeat of the drums.

Well, how could They not show up with that kind of an invitation? With a few words for our waiting ears, She crowned the Horned One as her True Consort; Her partner in maintaining the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.

Well, things got wrapped up after that, and we picked our way back up the pathway to the entry of the cave, to be greeted by a great cascade of rainwater flowing down the steps – that cloud cover had hit its saturation point and dumped about a half-inch of rain while we were in the cave.

But did that stop us from lighting our vigil fire and watching for the sunrise of Midsummer’s Day? Not even close!

Awe: noun - an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.

Awesome: This Ritual! Thank you, John!

So you see, as your May Queen, I can hereby certify that the Wheel of the Year has, indeed, turned another 45 degrees. We are well and truly headed for the First Harvest of Lammas!

Lovingly submitted,
Suki [2010-2011 May Queen]

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