Ritual at the Hunter’s Moon

This past full moon, often called the Hunter’s Moon, marked my eighth year in working with the Wylde Hunt. This year has already made me keenly aware of how quickly time can fly by. An eight-year milestone in something that still feels so new to my path is mind boggling to me, and yet… here I am nonetheless.

I typically mark the Hunter’s Moon each year. It’s become something of a tradition to honor my relationship with my hunter god and his cohort then. Autumn has well and truly fallen upon us now. Samhain isn’t far behind. The winds are fierce and chill. It is their season, after all. That this Hunter’s Moon fell upon the anniversary date of that fateful evening in my parents’ backyard felt especially potent.

The past five months or so have also revolved around beginning a new chapter in my life. I touched on this in my post for Lughnasadh, but much has changed in my life. A couple big moves. A new career choice, new relationship. The freedom of having my own vehicle. My time since last year’s Hunter’s Moon has been spent in a sort of transient path of self discovery- I’m not actually certain that it’s ended yet. This season, I believe, has been a lesson in realizing there needn’t always be a direction or a plan.

At any rate, I wanted to mark the occasion with something special, and also to reaffirm my path which had been left to the wayside for months while I was in Georgia and in the process of moving and settling in again. The ritual I constructed drew on a few different things that had been potent to me in the past. One of them was Damh the Bard’s post about the Ritual of the Wild. Another was a rite originally dedicated to the Washer at the Ford aspect of the Morrigan found in Stephanie Woodfield’s book Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan. There were also some affirmations made along the way through my Bardic Studies that found their way into this ritual. What it resulted in was a potent ritual of rebirth and reaffirmation of my path.

It was cold, but clear that night, and the moon rose quickly to cast its silver glow on the whole of our yard. I gathered a vessel of water, an offering of whiskey, and some herbs I had blended and stepped out into the night. It was too windy for fire, and so I brought a small flashlight with which to read my notes by.

The night wasn’t as quiet as I’d hoped. Somewhere in the distance, a boat horn could be heard loudly and intermittently blasting from over the bay and the river to the south east (My girlfriend later pointed out: was it a boat horn? or the hunter’s horn? I’m sure I know the truth, but the more imaginative answer makes me feel less frustrated by it in hindsight). It had been ages since I’d cast a circle. Doing so just felt natural though; how many times had I walked that same circular path around our firepit? I couldn’t say, but the energy of that memory bolstered me.

I called for peace at the quarters, and stood, facing the northwest and the forest I couldn’t see in the darkness. I called to the Hunters then. Sometimes, the reassurance of something larger than ourselves is subtle- a gentle rise in the winds and in the whispering of the cottonwoods overhead, a certain rising of goosebumps on the skin. 

I returned to the center, where I’d placed my tools on the cold stones of the firepit. A little billow of ash danced in the wind and off into the darkness. I emptied the herbs I’d prepared into the water, and I called to the Hunters for rebirth. I meditated a moment on the things I wished to leave behind, on the person I wished to become. And then, as the oils and herbs had steeped the water, I washed my hands with it, symbolically scrubbing away the old and worn out things that were holding me back.

Then I knelt and placed my head to the ground, and using some of the dialogue from Damh’s Ritual of the Wild and affirmations I’d used along my bardic studies, I spoke my desires into being. I struggled a little with remembering the words- but then felt a gentle reassurance: “Just speak from your heart.” I spoke aloud affirmations about feeling renewed on my path, about finding my place as a teacher and using my skills to guide others. I affirmed a release of relationships and toxic behaviors that hold me back. I spoke of living more fully and completely in the world- whatever joys or struggles that might entail.

As I stood, the wind gently rose again, bitterly cold from the northwest. And I raised my offering to the Hunters. Another turning has come, and I walk with renewed purpose. I buried in the soft ground around the firepit some wooden staves marked with the things I intended to leave behind and those I wished to manifest, and the necessity of change and transformation to achieve that end. I thanked the Hunters for their guidance, and I opened my circle.

My mind’s eye is always a little more colorful and dramatic as I’m preparing rituals. It’s why I’ve quit truly planning them altogether. The thing I’ve learned about initiations and dedications however, is that the shift in question has already begun long before the ritual take place. The ritual simply calls it into your conscious mind; the changes have been being made, little by little, for some time. And so, it needn’t be a flashy dramatic ritual with intense supernatural experiences. Sometimes, subtlety is even more potent.

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

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