In January I attended my first ritual – I am new to pagandom. I attended Come as You Are Coven’s (CAYA) Full Moon Circle for Women (which is organized by their women’s group, The Grove of Artemis) in Berkeley. It was their first circle of the New Year, and CAYA had defined it as “giving us the opportunity to start fresh and redefine our intentions for the time ahead.” The ritual was to honor Calliope, the muse of epic poetry and writing. The circle would also invite the ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat, the goddess of writing, historical records, and mathematics.
I am a newbie pagan explorer, as well as being new to journalism. What a synchronous way to jump into the spiritual waters! Being new to pagan rituals, I wondered about the stereotypes I have heard about Neo Paganism and Wicca, and I wondered: Would there be sensual moaning and groaning, as witches are apt to do in movies? Would any of the ritual be “skyclad”? Would I feel foolish? Would I feel a surge of energy? Would I feel right at home? Would I be the oldest one there? And yes, I wondered if the women would be dressed in costumes (ranging from Tinkerbell green, to all cotton black, or flowing cloaks).
Of course, there were no answers beforehand. Deciding to trust in the experience, I didn’t research and talk to people before I went. Even if the women moaned and writhed naked on the floor in a state of pagan bliss, I promised myself that I would take in the experience as it was. I admit that I almost didn’t go. I thought of visiting Good Vibrations instead. Thank the Goddess that the perfect parking place did not manifest near the shop, and I drove on to arrive at the ritual a few moments early.
Needless to say there were no writhing, naked witches, nor were there stereotypical costumes. The experience was a diverse and religious one- the circle was Woman and I was encompassed with comfort. There were women of all ages and different ethnic backgrounds. Women had brought their babies and this made it a safe and welcoming space for me to be. I thank the mothers who shared them with us. We cast the circle, invited Seshat, made intentions for the upcoming month, conversed with our inner muse. We sang, we smiled, we connected with one another. Some of us sat while others danced and raised the energy in the circle. We shared blessed cookies and fruit and juice and wine. And eventually it was time for me to leave, to go home and sit with the experience in solitude.
When I slept that night, I received what I could only think of as a message from, well from something. While I was randomly dreaming of baby panda bears, suddenly a photograph appeared in the center of my vision. Everything else faded from view, except for that photo. I saw five women, dressed in housewife 50’s clothing. Startled almost to the point of waking up, I suddenly heard the women say one word in unison. They said, ‘Welcome’. And then the photograph vanished. My panda dream continued as if it had been released from pause.
At one point in the Grove of Artemis ritual, we had said to ourselves ‘You know your truth,’. I’ll trust that I do, even if I don’t yet consciously know what that truth is.
One ritual down – I’m thinking there will be many more to come.