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Through the Mists of Avalon
A journey beyond the rules of time and space...By Danny McGaw
The July night was chill, clear and the air electrified with expectation and magick. It was of course the period of the Blue Moon in Cancer. The Moon, shrouded in a halo of yellow and purple, gazed down from its velvet black realm as the children of Avalon gathered to pay homage to Vivianne, our High Priestess and patron.
Such was the scene, as we gathered for a special night of celebration and dedication. The hall was blessed and consecrated in the name of the Goddess. The children of Avalon brought forth their most treasured ritual items to beautify and enhance our altar to the Gods. A black iron cauldron sat centred on the purple altar cloth. Within it burnt a large 3 wick candle, a flame to honour each aspect of the triple Goddess. Surrounding the sacred cauldron, coloured elemental candles glowed softly. A large silver chalice, ornate with jewels and emblazoned with pentacles stood reverently next to it. The chalice befittingly held spring water drawn from the sacred well of Glastonbury. An athame of Arthurian design reposed on the opposite side as sweet incense burned in the sacred censor. A beautiful glass decanter held the libation of apple juice enhanced also with the waters of Glastonbury's sacred well.
The hall was cast in soft blue light as thick mist poured softly across the floor of our sacred meeting place. The visual aura was truly magickal. We were all entranced by the beautiful vision of Candy standing, cloaked and hooded, with arms raised in front of the soft blue arc light, shrouded in rising blue mist from the mist-machine. A vision resplendent of any I have seen in any gothic movie. Awesome visuals.
The children of Avalon... High Priestesses, Priestesses and humble seekers, such as myself, dressed accordingly as children of Avalon do, to invite and welcome Vivianne to our Circle. Our High Priestess, Janine, was resplendent in flowing maroon, velvet dress and cape. The cape held in place with an ornate elven leaf clasp. Rings bejewelled her fingers. Without exception, all my sisters were beautiful in long gowns reflecting a multitude of colours and shades. To honour my Gaelic ancestors, I myself dressed in a white, belted tunic with green tartan cape. We were of Avalon and Avalon was of us. The scene had been set for a truly memorable evening.
Around the altar, we gathered in circle. We waited in anticipation as the excitement and expectation built to a level I could almost taste. The High Priestess began raising the great Circle of Power by drawing power up through the Earth and into herself. Karen, our newest seeker, walked inside its perimeter invoking its power by Air and Fire with incense. Sacred water from Glastonbury was sprinkled along the perimeter and it was done ...Circle had been cast. The Great Circle of Power was in place.
The Watchers of the quarters were called, by those chosen to do so, in invitation to protect and empower the Circle so beautifully cast. Then in unison, the children of Avalon chanted an invocation to each elemental force to further enforce their inherent strengths.
Our High Priestess stood in front of the sacred cauldron and called upon Vivianne, to invite her to attend the ritual held in her honour.
"Lady of the Apple Trees
Vivianne had now joined us in our celebration to honour her as High Priestess of Avalon.
At the altar, I stood opposite our High Priestess and it was truly my honour to call upon the Merlin, to join us as Vivianne's consort. Cheekily, of my own accord and seeing as I have an affinity with Taliesin, I included his name in the invocation, along with the simple generic Merlin. After all Taliesin was Vivianne's consort. No harm done and I believe Vivianne would be happy with that.
Further words were spoken to the elemental quarters in ritual. We were now between Worlds.
In an emotionally, moving gesture, the High Priestess moved amongst us blessing each of us each in turn with the waters of Glastonbury. The sacred water was used to inscribe a half moon upon our foreheads.
Our High Priestess then invited the children of Avalon to partake of a guided meditation to Avalon. We settled ourselves comfortably on the sacred ground, of our ritual space, and journeyed through the mists to Avalon, far beyond the rules of time and space.
The meditation was exciting and to some of us, extremely powerful. I can only describe my own meditation as I do not know what others experienced.
I journeyed across the sacred lake, enshrouded in mist. The sacred site of Avalon loomed eerily as it began to take form and become solid. I stepped ashore and walked along a dark shaded path, guarded and flanked by sentinels of huge ancient oak. Their massive gnarled branches formed a leafed canopy overhead. The earth smelt sweet with the decay of leaf mould enhanced by recent light rain and the mists that cloaked the forest floor.
The path wound forever downwards and opened to a small glen bathed in golden light. A large, black cauldron, suspended upon a trivet, stood in the centre of the glen. Vapour arose from its contents.
I approached the cauldron and was aware of a person, clothed in a black hooded cloak, also approaching from the opposite side of the glen. Stopping at the cauldron, the figure pulled back the hood and before me stood Vivianne. Long, straight black hair, framed a pale face the colour of buttermilk. Her large emerald green eyes, full of love, intelligence and a thousand other attributes gazed intently upon me.
I moved before Vivianne, fell to my knees and kissed her pale, bare feet. She gave me her hand and I arose. I kissed her fingertips and she bade me welcome with a slight enigmatic smile.
I was overcome with awe and reverence for this most gracious Lady, Our Lady of the Lake. I told Vivianne I would like to pledge myself to her. She explained many things to me ranging from the extent of commitment required to my concerns that I would still be able to honour my own Dark Goddess. As Vivianne said, the Goddess has many forms and my Dark Goddess is but one of them. I was elated and pledged myself to Vivianne and Avalon. She asked me if I was sure of this and I stated yes. Vivianne then smiled widely with joy and I once again bowed and kissed her fingers in reverence.
Our Lady then raised a ladle full of liquid from the depths of the cauldron and bade me drink of it. It tasted bitter as it was brewed from mugwort and juniper berries.
Vivianne invited me to journey with her. In her place stood a velvet black raven with emerald green eyes. I turned to my left and saw a great black feathered wing projecting from my back. I turned to my right and saw another great, black feathered wing. I had shape-shifted into a glorious black raven, ready to join and follow Vivianne wherever she may lead me.
Vivianne bent and flexed her clawed feet and sprang into the air, soaring above me. I stretched and flapped my wings, launching myself awkwardly into the bright blue sky. I soon became accustomed to the feeling of flight and followed close behind Vivianne as we flew high above the ancient forest of oaks and enshrouding mists of Avalon.
I could feel the butterfly gut feeling as we wheeled, dropped and rose again in circles over many landscapes. Vivianne drew my attention to the follies of mankind as they unfolded below us. She spoke to me saying, "Despite all the despair mankind has visited upon itself there is still Avalon. As long as you believe in your heart that Avalon exists it will always be there for you."
My flight was as real as anything could be. My eyes saw through raven eyes. I felt the sensation of flight and revelled in its freedom. Eventually, Vivianne guided me back to the glen where we alighted on the soft green turf. Vivianne and I transformed ourselves back to human form. She embraced me with both arms and kissed both my cheeks and wished me Blessed Be. I responded in like manner. It was now time for me to leave Avalon and return to Circle.
I was once again seated in Circle, amongst the other children of Avalon. Each of us journeyed in various ways and I for one was quite happy to impart to my sisters and brother what I had experienced. I could only give glimpses of my experience as many times, coming out of trance, one hasn't had time to compose oneself or move properly back into reality. Hopefully, my words written here will convey a bit more of my journey than I did on the night.
Rising unsteadily to my feet, I joined my sisters and brother in a ceremonial partaking of Apple juice and water from the sacred well of Glastonbury. I needed a drink after all that flying as flying is darn thirsty work indeed.
The ceremony continued. We then began a slow spiral walk around the inside perimeter of the Circle. Rex, held forth the Arthurian athame and I the silver chalice of the Goddess, raised before me. We kept pace with a slow drumbeat raised by our High Priestess. When we had completed several rotations of the Circle, the closing ceremony began.
Vivianne, Our Lady of the Lake, was thanked with a loving hail and farewell by our High Priestess and the response given by the children of Avalon. The Merlin, as Taliesin, was likewise thanked with a heartfelt hail and farewell by me and the response again given by the other children of Avalon.
In turn, the quarters were thanked for protecting and empowering our Circle then reverently bid hail and farewell.
As we walked three times around the Circle, we closed it with voices raised in song:
"May this Circle be open but unbroken,
The Circle was closed and a beautiful ritual completed. Vivianne would have been proud and honoured I'm sure.
We continued our ceremony with a feast of food and friends. Enough food to feed a small nation as usual, as the Circle of Amber Light Catering Corps did itself proud.
After all this it makes me wonder why anyone would willingly want to miss one of our special celebrations without good reason. In the thirty years since I first made contact with the witch community, I have seen many things, I have partaken of many Circles and I can truly say that the Circle of Amber Light can hold its head proud amongst any tradition in its celebration of ritual. So maybe, I'll see ya at the next one.