Presented at about 11 PM at The Gathering for Life on Earth on Victoria Day long weekend 2014 for a group of about 15 people.
Ritual description: If you hear the Wild Ones calling, come howl at the moon with us. This nude ritual will take place mostly outside and include an optional swimming component, so bring your cloaks, blankets, and towels. Definitely bring a mug; bring a drum if you want. Maximum 25 participants.
The indoor meeting spot: A small altar with a pillar candle in a container with a glass wind protector, a bowl of salt water, an offering bowl, an athame, and a goblet. Under the altar or nearby: a lighter, a couple of large thermoses of decaf chai tea, a flask of rum, and a plate of apple slices (or other fruit) and gluten-free, vegan cookies. Make sure tea and cookie packaging is available for people to check ingredients.
The beach: An altar covered in unlit tealight candles with four lit red candles towards the centre of the altar. Under and around the altar: drums and rhythm instruments, clay covered tokens* in a bowl, electronic candles for reading by, lighter, candle snuffer.
All meet the Priest at an indoor location. Once gathered, the Priest radios the Priestess that they are about to depart, then reads the following to the group:
Please disrobe and leave your clothing and your mug here. Feel free to keep your shoes on. Cloaks, capes, and blankets are allowed, and bring your extra blankets and towels and your drums.
Though we’ve tried to design a ritual that will work for a wide variety of people, you may opt out of any activity or leave the ritual at any time, for any reason. There is a portion of the ritual where the Priestess will touch your shoulder and you will be asked to respond to something. You do not have to respond out loud. If you do not speak, we will assume you have thought your response.
To opt out of an activity without leaving the ritual, step back and put one hand on the opposite shoulder. [Demonstrate.] As long as you are in that pose, we will skip you and assume your non-participation. To rejoin the ritual, just drop your hand and step back into the group.
Once everyone is undressed and organized, the Priest lights a pillar candle and asks for silence. He carries the salt water and leads everyone down to the beach. He stops them just before they reach the sand. Before going on to the beach, each person is anointed on the forehead while he says:
Be welcome and be safe.
After being blessed, the people go down to the ritual area a meter or two from the edge of the water, where the Priestess stands at an altar covered in unlit candles, and form a circle around the altar. The Priest places his salt water bowl under the altar and stands opposite the Priestess.
The Priestess speaks:
Under the waning moon, the Wild Ones call.
The Priestess leads a brief meditation:
Join hands. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in. Let it out slowly. Listen to the breath of those next to you.
Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the ground beneath you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the air around you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Come home to your body. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Be here in our sacred space.
While everyone’s eyes are still closed and hands still joined, the Priest begins to move clockwise, drawing everyone along. As the circle begins to move, the Priestess says:
Turn, turn, turn.
This space is sacred.
This space is safe.
This space is ours.
When the circle has turned three full times, everyone stops.
Close your eyes. Drop your hands. Be alone.
From the dark, the Wild Ones are watching.
From the shadows, the Wild Ones are judging.
If found worthy, you will be rewarded. If found wanting, you will be punished.
If you are respectful, riches may be yours. If you are disrespectful, you may never be heard from again.
Choose how you will meet them: Will you stand bravely, fist raised, bold? Or will you offer them honour, meeting them on your knees or humbly bowed?
Be ready to justify yourself.
If you would stand bold, what brave act makes you worthy? It is honourable to follow your dreams, to raise children in a scary world, to help the helpless, to stand up for what is right and true. Think on what proves your courage.
If you would bow low, what noble offering have you made? It is honourable to support a loved one’s dreams, to put yourself on hold to raise children, to care for the helpless, to give time and money to worthwhile causes. Think on what proves your sacrifice.
The Wild Ones are watching and waiting for your choice. Choose a pose: stand tall with a fist raised, or kneel or bow your head.
When everyone has taken a pose, the Priestess goes to each in turn, starting with the Priest and moving clockwise, and touches their shoulder and asks one of two questions, depending on the participant’s pose:
What act of boldness and courage makes you worthy of the Wild Ones’ reward?
What act of offering and sacrifice makes you worthy of the Wild Ones’ reward?
The Priest should respond out loud to model the kind of response possible. Participants may respond silently or out loud.
After the Priestess has made the full circuit, she touches the Priest again and he begins a very quiet chant:
The earth, the air, the fire, the water;
Return, return, return, return. (x2)
I-aye, i-aye, i-aye, i-aye;
I-oe, i-oe, i-oe, i-oe. (x2)**
Over the quiet chanting, the Priestess says:
We have been found worthy, and the Wild Ones have a token for each of us.
The Priest passes the basket of clay-covered tokens and everyone chooses one. Priestess:
In the mythology, the reward was sometimes even better than it first seemed, changing from meat or pottery to gold and silver overnight.
Take this humble token and hold on; your reward is yet to be revealed.
Hear the second challenge of the Wild Ones and choose again:
If you will be a hunter and will challenge your courage and dance and take the plunge, step over to this side.
If you will be a hearth keeper and will challenge your skills and provide the rhythm and the warmth, step over to this side.
Priestess to her group:
We will dance and run with the Hunt, and when the drums stop, we will howl to the moon and we will take the plunge. Stay in the water until the drums start again.
Priest to his group:
We will drum to the Wilds and then howl to the moon. It is our challenge to light every candle and then drum the Hunt back in.
Bring your token into the water and pass the challenge to collect your reward.
Ask a Hunter to carry your token into the water and complete your task to collect your reward.
After the Priest’s group has handed their tokens over to members of the Priestess’ group, the Priest hands out drums and rhythm instruments, arranges everyone in a circle around the altar, and sets a rhythm. The Priestess’ group takes off their cloaks and shoes and starts dancing or running around the outside of the circle. When the drumming reaches a peak, everyone howls, then the hunters run into the lake. The hearth keepers will put down their drums and hurry to light every candle on the altar. Once done, they will resume drumming and the hunters will come running out of the water and grab towels and cloaks.
When the drumming naturally peters out, everyone gets their own token back.
Congratulations on passing your tests of courage and skill. Rub the clay off your token to uncover your reward.
Food and drink:
The Priestess leads everyone back to the indoor location. The Priest extinguishes all the candles and follows the group.
Inside, everyone collects their mugs and forms a circle around the altar.
The Priestess holds the plate of food while the Priest blesses it:
By the Divine, this offering is blessed, and we share this food in the spirit of community. Blessed be.
All repeat: Blessed be.
The Priest places a piece of apple into the offering bowl and says: For the Wild Ones. All repeat.
The food is passed clockwise with each saying to the next: Blessed be.
When the food has been returned to the altar, the priestess fills the goblet from one of the thermoses. The Priest holds the goblet while the Priestess lowers the athame into it and says:
As the athame is to the lover, so the chalice is to the loved, and joined they are one in truth.
The Priestess pours a small amount of the tea into the offering bowl and says: For the Wild Ones. All repeat.
The Priest holds up the flask of rum and says: Spirits for the spirits! Blessed be! All repeat Blessed be. He pours a small amount in the offering bowl.
The Priestess pours half of the tea from the goblet into each of the thermoses and the Priest and Priestess each take one and fills everyone’s mugs.
There is but one choice left: To rum, or not to rum? That is the question.
The flask is passed around for those who want to add rum to their tea.
Once all the mugs have been filled and doctored, the Priestess toasts:
Bold and humble both; hunt and hearth together: be warmed. Blessed be!
All respond with Blessed be and drink.
Once everyone has finished eating and drinking, all stand and join hands.
We thank the Wild Ones for the challenges and the blessings. May they release us and may they go in peace. Blessed be!
All repeat: Blessed be!
* My Priest made beautiful custom pewter tokens using a sandcasting technique. There were five designs, one for each element: crow (air), snake (fire), salmon (water), stag (earth), and a star (spirit). Two of these tokens (snake and salmon) can be seen in the photo above. The tokens were covered in biodegradable, non-toxic, water soluble paper mache clay.
** By Libana; A Circle is Cast.
Challenges of the Wild Ones by Melissa Hope is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.