Oct. 31, 2009 in West Asheville Park (View original flyer)
This year's ritual was fabulous and elemental! We set Wiccan precedent by conducting the Asheville Public Witch Rite for the first time ever in a local neighborhood park. But dealing with city government is never a picnic ...
We'd drawn up an astrological chart to deduce what challenges we might face, and it foretold a lot of martial influence, or fiery anger. (Roll your mouse over the chart, right, to find out how we knew this.)
It was so true! An angry, intolerant deputy Fire Marshal tried unsuccessfully to shut us down. Everyone kept their cool, as always, and once the marshal departed, we lit the torches around and candles within the park pavilion where we were holding the rite, and we had great fun thereafter. We had decorated five picnic tables as elemental altars, and they were truly beautiful.
The daughter of the couple we'd handfasted greeted arrivals and handed out glow-necklaces and Coven cards, and had everyone pick out a Magic Hat divinatory bottlecap.
For children attending, the rite was both inspiring and exciting. Kids spontaneously worshipped the torch flames on bended knee; all were thrilled to bob for apples out of a real iron Witches' cauldron.
The rain didn't dampen anyone's spirit — our hand-in-hand circle filled the large pavilion. (It's auspicious that, without fail, we only experience rain or chill on Samhain when we conduct the rite at a site that includes appropriate shelter. Although we miss the beautiful, half-wild site we used the last three years, if we had held Samhain there this year, it would have been a washout, since that site has no shelter.)
We formally cast the circle, then Lady Passion talked a bit about the meanings of Samhain. Everyone walked a widdershins circle keening the names of those who had crossed over in the past year.
The Lady then reminded attendees of Pagan accomplishments such as saving Asheville's magnolias, and encouraged them to take that empowerment back home and become more active in their communities.
We danced the meeting dance, kissing everyone we passed by, then danced several Spiral Dances to the romantic world-music strains of Silk Road Café, by Kriztal Entertainment.
A snake dance followed, then a free-form dance, where a young boy cut in while *Diuvei was dancing with Lady Passion. She taught the boy a lot of moves — no doubt he'll be a hit at future parties!
We turned the wheel of seasons from fall to winter, and the rite concluded. Everyone ate candy and talked animatedly with each other while waiting for their turn to get a cowry-shell reading from Lady Passion or a pumpkin-seed reading from Atargatis.
Too quickly, it seemed, it was time for breakdown and the Afterparty at the Covenstead.
We were so thankful that the community donated the exorbitant park rental fees (almost $400.00 this year) and took the awesome pictures you see here.
We were gratified that, when confronted with official aggression, everyone acted peacefully protective of us. When a couple of attendees got on people's nerves, they acted compassionately, making them feel welcome regardless of their obvious "issues".
The rite felt intimate and snug to us — and we're pleased that the tradition continues. We hope that Samhain 16 will be quite a celebratory affair, hefting ales at Pack's Tavern, then spiral-dancing round the magnolia trees in downtown Asheville!