When it comes to the Moon, I have a history of having to be outside with it. In the Winter, the Moon rises before dinner is over. The challenge is going out in the icy cold to freeze through a ritual. In the Summer, it's a different story. I am not a late night person- I like to be in bed with a book at 9:30pm! And so, the Summer Full Moon challenges me. I have to wait and wait for the Moon to rise, and then I have to wait longer for it to rise up over the trees. I always want to throw up my hands and give up, just knowing that the Moon is there, even if I can't see her quite yet. But I have found that it's in the waiting or freezing that makes the night special.
When I first became a Witch, I practiced my first year and a day outside, no matter the weather. My friend Sandy and I would stand in pouring rain, pelting ice, and freezing cold that made it hard to speak. We had found an abandoned shack in Dublin NH on the side of the mountain. It was a shell of an old ski hut. There were no windows left, just big open spaces. We made it our own over time, returning there often for a ritual. We would huddle in there on the most cold nights with the snow and wind freezing us to the spot. We would ask for 'protection during this harsh season', and really mean it. We Needed that protection- we might freeze to death otherwise. Though we always found that when we were engaged in ritual, it just never felt cold.
The first time I taught a group of Witches, I insisted on doing the whole thing outside. We met for a year and a day in the most harsh conditions. It was the coldest Winter I can remember, and we would meet outside for three hour classes. We made fires to try to keep ourselves warm. We learned that there is a level of cold where it doesn't really matter if you add another layer. We had a few people get frostbitten. It's no joke in Vermont to spend rituals outside- it gets into the negative temps around here. But I had declared that Witchcraft doesn't happen in our comfort zone or in shops or indoor spaces. At the end of the year, I admitted- gathering around the wood stove with candles is often nice too. And really, Witchcraft happens everywhere- it's just me that prefers Nature. I realized that I was being a bit extreme when I had actual concern that one of the group members might lose a toe. Perhaps, we went too far. I am more tempered now. And then- I still agree with my former frozen self. Witchcraft doesn't always happen in the most comfortable places.
So, on these Summer Full Moons, even when I really want to go to bed- I stay up. I owe that to the group of Witches that I pushed to discomfort. And it gives me a lot of time outside alone to think. I light the candles and incense and do anything I need to do to prepare for the ritual that I am going to do. And then, I wait. Our world moves us forward fast sometimes, and waiting for the Moon to rise is anything but. First, the trees become illuminated, with a silver outline around them. I have always loved that stage where you are wondering if it's the Moon or an illusion from staring so hard at the sky. On this Full Moon, there were the most amazing clouds. I saw a Dragon in one cloud, and an ancient man in another. At one point when I was feeling impatient, the clouds formed into a perfect crescent Moon. I tried to capture these things on the camera, but of course- it is never easy to get clouds to stay still for a picture. I hung out with a Grasshopper for a while; and then a Spider floated on a line to attach to my cauldron. He stayed for a bit, and then floated back on his line. I thought about the exact color of blue that the sky is on the night of a Full Moon. From deep azure to silver blue and everything in between. Sometimes, it's not just the Moon that is stunning. It's the trees and the stars and the sky. In Brattleboro, on Main St, someone wrote on the wall years ago, 'The Sky never looked so Sky.' And I remember that in these moments and know just what they meant. By the time the Moon appeared, I had completely forgotten that I had been waiting. I did my ritual and spells. I went to sleep and dreamed of everything from weddings, to my Dad, to catching a lost note and keeping it safe, to avoiding something that was harmful, to dancing in a circle with people. I woke up feeling better than I have felt in about 3 weeks.
It's all a reminder to me to be outside and to let Nature tell me when it's time to start a ritual. Sometimes I talk so much when I do Magic, that I have to be reminded to listen. That just doesn't seem to happen in the same way when I force things to happen at a certain time. Now, I don't always do a ritual outside. In the Winter, I do love my hearthside Magic. But I will Always go out, even if just for a few minutes, to gaze at the Moon, the clouds, the stars, and the sky. And when I do that, I realize that I am not doing the ritual alone, but in cooperation with the world around me.
It's been years, and I would never do that first year and a day any different. Freezing with one of my very best friends and finding abandoned huts and running through the woods was the best possible introduction to Witchcraft for me.