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Group ritual & regular practices

Last Friday, I went to my first “group” full moon ritual (actually, my first group ritual of any sort) in over a year.

Between my initiation at Imbolc last year, and the directions my coven was heading at the time, I felt I needed a break to get my own house in order before continuing with that group, much less any group. I’ve done ritual by myself for nearly every full moon and new moon since, but a recent invitation to attend this ritual (and to keep attending if I so choose) was too good to pass up, especially coming nearly a year to the day after committing to a year away from group ritual.

The nice thing about this particular ritual was that it was hosted by my upline – the teachers of my now former high priestess. Most of the women there were people I’d circled with before – and because most of the group consisted of old friends, news of my pregnancy was met with hugs and smiles and love.  It was maybe the most truely Dianic ritual I’d been to for some time before my sabbatical. The two hostesses are older women – partners, grandmothers – and they’ve been at this a long, long time.

While solitary ritual has it’s place…group ritual is good too. Dianic rituals have a feel of bounded chaos, because you never really know what the woman standing next to you or across from you will decide to do; what particular flavor of energy she will call on or bring to the rite, what words or images she will evoke, and where they will take you. And while this ritual had no meditation…I didn’t miss it either. It had connections between people, and a joyful energy that sang through the group, raising both the good and bad of life up as signs that we still live. There was energy drawn for healing – healing for one of the hostesses who has some major complications from chronic illness, healing of stress and angst, and a lot of energy for me and the baby, which brought a lot of joy to all those present. It was a place where this pregnancy could be celebrated without diminishing the times I’ve sat in circle, surrounded by some of these same women, and wept over the journey of infertility – a very healing, very needed experience for me.

I should point out that pregnancy has been quite the spiritual experience for me thus far overall. Mindfulness of the current moment has been a big lesson here – pregnancy changes day by day, so no two days are the same, and it’s made me more attentive to the rest of life around me, and how it too must be savored right now, because the next minute is a different one to savor before it too is gone.

Pregnancy has also become a source of a deeper faith – I received what I was promised, which makes my trust just that much stronger, and I have a new understanding of my primary matron, Arianrhod. I once rejected her because she was just a fertility goddess, then I embraced the fact that she was so much more…and now I see it all from a different perspective, which both blends those two understandings, and invalidates them at the same time. Embracing her as “more” than a mother goddess invalidates that facet of her, just as dismissing her as “just” a fertility goddess invalidated the rest of her.

One of our hostesses drew down the moon, which is something I’d never actually seen done in a group setting, and never really attempted myself. But the experience…was fascinating, and wonderful, and I spent the whole ritual feeling the moon riding point on our journey. One interesting experience as part of drawing down the moon was *feeling* the moon filling me, filling my growing belly, taking that light and reflecting it through me, and incorporating itself into me. Having not done this while not pregnant, it’s hard to say how it would differ, but each part I played in the ritual had a similar effect – a connection I had not really felt before opened up to me. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention before, or maybe I just wasn’t reaching out and grabbing hold of that thread – or maybe it really wasn’t there before. But it’s definitely there now.

At any rate, I think I’m back on the bandwagon when it comes to women’s circles for the full moon, and plan to go circle with them as frequently as is practical. The drive isn’t any worse than any of the various incarnations of my previous coven. The connections are an important part of the energy involved, and community, in some form, is an important part of any spiritual practice. I will most likely still do new moons by myself – it’s a different energy, and one that strikes me as more suited to personal development and personal pursuits.

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