When you attend a Willow Dragonstone Community & Coven, Inc., event, you can expect many things and it will never be boring or stagnant.
Most groups could tell you exactly what to wear (link coming soon). However, WDSC believes in no dogma of practice or belief. What you might notice right away is that there are all types of people at Willow. We like to say that if you have problems with race, sexual orientation, gender presentations, polyamory or, even, Christianity, Willow IS NOT the place for you! Consequently there will be all manner of dress. Many of our guys like to wear kilts. And many of our girls have long purple dresses to wear. This doesn’t mean they will be wearing that, just that people in kilts and purple dress are often members of Willow. You can wear, and should wear, whatever makes you comfortable. There is no “right” or “wrong” dress.
If you are coming to a Sabbat Celebration you will be bringing something to contribute to the potluck lunch or dinner that will be held after ritual. Willow has persons will all types of allergies including and not limited to: gluten, peanuts, certain vegetables (tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers), beef, pork, fish, milk products and egg products. Of course, no pagan group is complete unless a few of us are vegan or vegetarian. Given this, you should bring whatever your favorite dish. If you don’t cook, you can always stop and bring a case of water, toilet paper, plastic cups, napkins, flatware or a selection of drinks (Coke, diet something and a Sprite like offering). If you have been given a token (link coming soon) to attend a Full Moon event, there is no need to worry about a food offering to share.
The first thing you should know is that if the event is at the Covenstead (Dia and Tony’s House) then parking can be an issue. Don’t sweat it. Just park on the street and you may have to park pretty far down the street one direction or the other to find a place. Please don’t block the neighbors driveways or fire hydrants.
Once you park, enter the venue (there is no need to knock, the door is open come on in). If you are at the Covenstead, you will be greeted by people and two dogs, a golden lab mix named Alice and a small terrier mix named Ziek).They will bark until an actual person greets you. They are particular that way. At any other venue, you may or may not occur a dog or cat. Please try to not allow any animal to escape. This means, open the door, come in, and shut the door. Don’t be timid.
Once in the venue you will be directed to the Kitchen Witch or just the kitchen to unload your baked goods, savory dishes or offerings. If you have baked or cooked an offering, you should look for the allergy card (insert picture). These are written on with WASHABLE MARKER, they should be close to the allergy cards. You should fill this out right away and place on or very near your dish. There may be some tape near by for you to tape it to the dish if you need to.
After that, you should mingle and meet people. In the Covenstead this happens all over the house on the 1st floor and in the backyard. You might notice, outside that a ritual altar or some other preparation is being made. You are most welcome to ask questions if you are curious. If you have indicated to the vetting officers or Lady Dia that this is your first ritual, you will be paired with an experience member to sit with who can whisper during ritual what is going on as it happens. Most of our rituals, however, are explained as we go so you should worry!
Rituals can take many forms and many manifestations, so there is no telling what will happen. However, there will be a man or woman walking around with a large and ornately decorated staff. This is the Summoner. Eventually the Summoner will call for quiet and make general announcements, talk a bit about what ritual will be, give any advice about ritual, ask if you have mobility issues or issues standing for long periods of time that you let him/her know, and then give an estimated time until ritual. If you tell the Summoner about mobility or standing issues, the Summoner will ensure that you have a chair available in the ritual circle. At five minutes to ritual, the Summoner will ask that all socializing and general talking clam down and you enter quiet contemplation.
The Summoner will then ask for everyone to line up and the cleansing of participants will begin. If you want to observe the ritual only, and you are at the Covenstead, you can stay on the paved porch near the back door. Usually there are seat there for persons who want them. If you are at some other venue, ask the Summoner or the Maiden where to sit or stand to observe. If you are participating, you will go through the cleansing. You may be smudged with sage or bells or sprinkled with blessed water or offered oil to open your third eye. If you come up and you don’t want any of these things, you are always welcome to politely decline. Further if you have asthma or some other issues, please tell the Summoner and he will ensure that only bells are used.
After the cleansing the Maiden (whom is wearing a purple sash and can be male or female) will direct you to walk deosil (clockwise) into the circle. If you have requested a chair, she/he will show you to your seat. After that, whomever is acting as Priest and/or Priestess will start the ritual. Willow does have a Ritual Standard (link coming soon) that it uses. The Ritual Standard should not be viewed as an edict by Willow on how to create circles. It is one of the mechanisms to encourage group mind. Group mind is what makes a coven powerful and able to do far reaching magick. By having all members on the generally the same page, group mind is fostered within Willow and all her members.
However! This doesn’t mean the Ritual Standard will be used at all. We may do a more shamanistic ritual or a more hoodoo type ritual or a more Nordic oriented or a more Druidic oriented ritual. Don’t sweat it if ritual turns out to be different. The acting Priest and/or Priestess will explain everything as they go.
One of the things you should be aware of is that Willow often has a section in the ritual where everyone is invited to name the God or Goddess they personal worship or venerate. This might be done individually or simultaneously as directed by the Priestess and/or Priest. If this is accomplished individually, you can always say, “Pass.” Keep in mind all gods and goddesses are welcome. This means Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Buddha or any other god you can think of and many you have never heard of may be called. There is absolutely no judgement.
One of the last things that will occur is commonly called “Cakes and Ale.” Willow never uses alcohol in its open rituals. Typically it is a juice/ sparkling juice appropriate to the season. Cakes are often some type of cookie or cracker and usually there is a gluten free option. After the ale or cakes are blessed by the Priestess and Priest, they will be brought around. The Priestess will say, “May you never hunger,” if she is giving you cakes or “May you never thirst,” if she is offering you the communal chalice. If you can’t eat or do not want the cakes, you can simply shake your head. You will offered a hug or kiss on the cheek. If you do not want, can’t drink or are sick when offered the communal chalice, simply take the chalice and hold it to your third eye or shake your head. You will be offered a kiss on the cheek or a hug.
After the final parts of the ritual are complete, everyone will be asked to join hands. Willow will repeat its traditional ending and the lift their clasped hands and cheer. The Priestess/Priest will say “ring up!” or “hug your neighbor” and the ritual will be complete.
As we go:
The energy of the highest Mountains will continue to protect us,
The tides of the deepest oceans will gently bring us back,
The fires of the cauldron, hearth and forge will continue to sustain us,
The air of the dawn will strengthen our bodies daily,
The magic of this time will remain in our hearts, minds and bodies,
For our circle is open and never broken,
Merry Meet, Merry Part & Merry Meet Again!
(flag superscript) Written by Lydia M N Crabtree. (copyright symbol) 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. Do not reprint or republish with the explicit consent of the author. (in small text size)