Circles

The full moon is a circle, both in its shape and in its cycle.  The Wheel of the Year is a circle, too.  March 19thand 20th, 2011, was the weekend of the “Supermoon” and Ostara, the vernal equinox. 

Circles speak of eternity, perfection, cycles and karma.  The word “circle” can also indicate a social gathering, like a women’s circle or a sewing circle.  I attended three different types of circles this special weekend; Tarot Circle, a Pagan circle and a drum circle.

Jack Spinning Poi
Jack Spinning Poi

Friday night, March 18, was Tarot Circle in Boynton Beach.  A Tarot Circle meeting can attract twenty people, or two.  Friday night there were four of us.  Together, we did some deep study and divination using Aces through Six, all four suits, of the Rider Waite Smith deck.  The result was a greater understanding of these twenty-four cards, of tarot numerology, and of how stories form in tarot.  The exercise also created for each of us an inspiring reading.

The next day, each of the four of us, along with many other people, attended the Lake Worth Full Moon drum circle.  My primary purpose in going was to conduct a short, informal Pagan ceremony in conjunction with the drum circle, to honor the Moon and the turn of the Wheel of the Year.

A few days earlier, I had done a tarot reading in my car.  It happens sometimes.  I don’t give readings whilst driving, but I will park and pull some cards if there is a need.  The following day, I switched out the deck I had used, because it felt light.  When I had time to count that deck, I discovered I was right, I was missing a card.  After arriving at Lake Worth Beach and parking, I took my supplies out of the car.  When I moved the seat back, I found my missing tarot card.  It was the Moon!  I placed it on the dashboard in the light of the Supermoon. 

Because it is turtle season, the drum circle was held on the grassy area, rather than the beach.  Because it was Saturday, and the Supermoon besides, there was a constant flow of traffic around the drum circle area.  It was loud and distracting, but created its own kind of circle.

The drum circle took awhile to get going, but once it did, it rocked pretty well.  I was happy to see some old friends, and make some new ones.  My son Jack had accompanied me with the sole purpose of trying his first “burn.”  That is, he wanted to swing fire poi.  My friend Brenda’s son was there as well, wishing he had brought his own poi.  The two young men found each other, and together, found the courage to honor the moon by dancing with fire, literally.  There were no injuries to report, and they each felt the power that comes from rising to a physical, mental and spiritual challenge; from controlling the element of fire.  As the sun set and the larger-than-life moon rose in the dark sky, the LED and flame poi created circles of light in the sky.

At 9 pm, a group of about 13 of us gathered to the side of the drum circle to honor the Moon and the Wheel of the Year.  I had advertised it as a short, informal ritual.  I have always wanted to work with the drum circle in this way.   The problem, it turned out, was we were too close to the drum circle.  The energy was good, but the noise made it hard to hear words spoken in circle.  Next time, we will move further away. 

The ritual was simple; we invoked the four elements, and invoked the Goddess by drawing the moon not into an individual, but into all of us.  As we invoked Fire, Brenda’s son walked by, spinning the fire poi for the first time.

To honor Ostara, we used a local-grown avocado as an “Ostara egg” into which we each placed our desires for what we wanted to “hatch” during this next turn of the Wheel.  We left the “egg” under a nearby tree.  I had wanted to end with a Spiral Dance, but wasn’t quite sure if the energy was right, so I left it alone.  Maybe next time we will try a simple group dance.

This was the first ritual of the Lake Worth Pagan Meetup that I have ever actually done in Lake Worth.  This Meetup group has quite a legacy, and more than 300 members.  When I first came to South Florida three years ago this group welcomed me warmly.  I was the keynote speaker for their anniversary picnic.  Shortly thereafter, they asked me to take over the group.  I declined at the time.  Though honored, I didn’t feel right leading such a group in a geographic area that was so new to me.  Since then the group has had several leaders, and I eventually became an assistant organizer of the group.  On Saturday, prior to the ritual, I stepped up as organizer, completing a circle that had begun upon our arrival three years ago.  Now we will begin a new circle of organizing, creativity, worship and fellowship.  The original intent of the group was not to do ritual together.  My intent has been to offer as many ritual opportunities as we can.

Another more personal circle was completed this special weekend.  Last week marked our official three year anniversary of the move that changed our lives; the move from the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania to South Florida.

After the ritual, the drum circle was in full swing.  I was thrilled to see Cassandra of HoopSoFly, who had been the original inspiration for my own hoop dancing practice.  The hoop is another circle, one that we dance within.

Happy enough with the ritual, I wanted to go dance within the drum circle.  There I realized how many different kind of drum circles there are.  Prior to coming to South Florida, I had spent a great deal of time at Pagan drum circles, Rainbow Gathering drum circles and the drum circles that formed around Grateful Dead shows.  In each case, the drum circle had specific focus and magickal energy, like a ritual.

Last Lughnassad I led a ritual at Sunsport Gardens in conjunction with the drum circle.  It was a great ritual, but some of the participants told me they could feel “energy holes” from the drummers who were just there to drum, with no magickal intent.

For me, the best drum circles have focused magickal intent and one hundred percent participation.  I often tell people that ritual is not a spectator sport.  Do not attend a ritual to watch it, or to see it.  Be present and contribute, or don’t be there at all.  I feel the same way about drum circles. 

When I entered the circle to dance, it hit me.  I was dancing for an audience.  There were more people sitting in lawn chairs watching and listening than there were people actually drumming and dancing.  There were more people photographing the dancers than there were people dancing.

I know that many of the drummers and dancers are professionals, and really need the opportunity to perform, and to take photos in action.  I know that the two boys swinging poi appreciated their audience as much as their audience appreciated them.  I am thrilled to have the photos of their poi spinning.  But I also know the amazing energy that comes when each and every person is actually part of the circle, and not just an observer or a documenter.  For me, the best drum circle offers the opportunity to raise energy and enjoy being present in the great dance of life, within the circle of community.   

As we said goodbye Saturday night, I felt such a deep appreciation for my tarot friends, my spiritual friends and the community of musicians and dancers.  I hold each one of them with gratitude in my heart for the wonderful weekend of circles.