Blackberry Circle - Mabon in Review

(If you're not really pagan or Wiccan, you might want to skip this post....this entry deals with visiting an open pagan ritual and A)you might not be into that kind of thing or B)you just might not 'get it'....paganism and Wicca are experiential and if you don't do it, sometimes explaining it is.....many conversations over many beers/coffee....)

So, as the Fates would have it, with the shop opening and the need for networking, some friends and I happened upon Blackberry Circle.

When you go blindly into a community gathering, you really never know what you're getting into.  I'm always up for meeting new people on the bright side, but on the other side, the crazy side, you have to worry about things like drama, showcase gurus, and a plethora of other weirdness.

I'm happy to say, this outing was not the case.

Now, the instructions were pretty good, but I am partial to my GPS.  Through the combination, we drove out to Conroe, which is a bit north from Houston.  The place was easy to find, frankly, when you have that kind of gathering at someone's personal home, really, all you have to do is look for the cars.  And there were quite a few cars.

The gathering was about 40ish people - this apparently wasn't a largely advertised circle (I found it through the C.O.G. website, because I was interested in it and it showed that this particular group was trying to get ...a charter, I think?).  But the friends I had bought were skittish, and we entered in a closely knit group.

I think that started to dissolve rather quickly.  The gracious host coven and their more familiar regulars paid attention to new faces - greeting, meeting, introducing.

(Now....I will not interject etiquette points on visiting circles...that's for another post.)

The circle in and of itself was not lead solely by a high priest or priestess.  Everyone in the host coven had their part, and kindly, we were greeted to come into the circle, which was physically marked by fencing and, you guessed it, blackberry bushes.  Both open, but closed, it was quite a large circle, roomy, and easily accommodating the large group of people.  

The ritual itself was stylized Wiccan - instead of an open nemeton, it was the closed sphere that those that practice Wicca are used to.  

On a personal note, I have a lot of respect for the kindly woman who both opened and closed the circle - one person to cover that many people and let it be felt, that was really cool. I can't help but crack a smile at the thought.  I'm not so gifted that I can see auras or do past life regression - I believe firmly I have a sensitivity (stronger than some, not as strong as others).  I remember being a kid and playing a silly game where you placed your hand on someone's head and hit it with your fist, 'cracking an egg'.  Then you would lightly wiggle your fingers and brush down their hair, and they could feel the sensation of  'egg trickling down their head'.  The feeling that sneaks up on you when you hear really great music and it gives you goosebumps?  That kind of feeling - knowing someone really was 'covering' 40-something people with the power of the people and their will.  Totally cool.

If you're into magic and do it frequently, you know about 'raising the power'.  Some people use chants, some people use a strict format, tapping into the power of the past usage of a rune or rhyme.  The approach of this group was amusing for me - instead, they tapped the power of laughter and happiness.

The words 'mirth and reverence' come to mind.  The gentleman leading the ritual stylized his narration, his pageantry if you will, in the flavor of a southern baptist preacher.  And he told the story of the Lord of Light and the Lord of Dark, and the Ladies of Light and Dark.  The retelling is an old one, some referring them to the Oak and Holly king, (funny enough, with the joyous, playful catcalls coming from the circle.  "Amen!" "Holly-lujah!" And other cracks abound).  But even in the play, the ancient story flooded the mind and filled the senses as the moon, both half light and half dark, hung over the proceedings.

Back to the mirth....as cakes and ales consisted of Moon Pies (both chocolate and, yup, vanilla) and RC Cola (with profuse apologies to those who were about to experience diabetic shock).  The ritual came to a close, and the entire time, it was upbeat, playful, and swirling.  Like a bunch of kids hopping into a summer pool party.

Feasting and fellowship followed, light by LED and glowy things.  The food was great (I don't know who made the roast beast, but the flavor was excellent), fruits, flesh, fresh breads - all sorts of wonderful things.  I met some nice people, and hopefully, it opens doors for building friendships and being a part of the greater Houston pagan community.  

Unfortunately, we had driven a ways, so we had to cut out early.  We giggled all the way to the car as choruses of well-wishes, safe-journeys, and goodbyes came clearly through the darkness.

Thanks for the great times!  Looking forward to Samhain!

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