The what, when, where, why, how and who of ritual.
by Donna Henes
Dear Mama Donna,
I have always felt drawn to the full moon and would like to have some kind of ritual in its honor. The problem is that I don't know anybody else in my town who would want to join me. Don't you need a circle of people to have a ceremony?
-One is the Loneliest Number in Ohio
Dear Number One,
MacQuantity does not equal quality. Powerful and meaningful ritual can be practiced by any number of people. And one is as good a number as any. One person, a single, solitary individual, sufficient unto herself, is a perfectly adequate quorum, a complete minion for the accomplishment of creative, effective and fulfilling ceremony.
And by the same token, once is enough for any one ceremony. It need never be repeated to be consummate. As a matter of fact, it is completely impossible to perfectly replicate any particular ritual once you consider that the amalgam of the combined variables of the weather, the moon, your mood and the chemistry of any other participants will never again be precisely the same. Each time, each subtle permutation is true to itself.
It takes a certain disciplined sublimation of our acculturated egos to release the nagging control of the question, "How many?" as if that were any more a measure of success than, "How much?" After all, how many, how much, is enough? And just when is enough enough?
When, 30-some years ago, I first started to facilitate public rituals, I used to become nearly paralyzed with panic about how many people would attend each event. It took years of celebrating with groups as large as several thousand and as few as two, for me to understand that no matter how many people are present at a ceremony, the ultimate ritual experience always occurs within each individual participant. The number of people in attendance is not testimony to its profundity or the value of the rite. The only way to count true transformation is one by one.
On the other hand, in the case of the full moon, realize that there are at any moment millions of like-minded individuals worldwide who are soulfully attuned, just like you, to the magical ambiance of the night. Really, all our lunar ritual is but part of an age-old human reverence for the moon. Worship of the moon was pandemic, and in most cultures preceded a more recent shift of allegiance to the sun.
Even today, the most dapper, jaded urban dwellers will take an instant astonished notice of the full moon as if seeing it for the very first time. In so doing, they celebrate a simple celestial observance that connects them with the cosmos if even for a single mystical moment. This awe-filled gaze is ceremony at its most elemental. Observance = Observance. Know that you are never alone in the universe. Celebrating with the cycles of the moon is a super way to remember and honor that profound cosmic connection. Reach out and join the ancient song of our species. Stand with your feet on the ground and your gaze toward the heavens. Do this with intention. Do this with due ceremony.
Feel free to celebrate the moon and celebrate yourself at the same time. We are all, after all, sisters and brothers in space. Look for yourself in the moon's reflection. Honor your own devotion. Howl for the hell of it. Be proud to be part of this glorious universe.
Yours in the spirit of solo celebration,
Send your questions about seasons, cycles, and celebrations to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com.