December 06, 2004

Pagan Ritual At The Rollrights

During my time at university, I became heavily involved in the Pagan community. I have always been split in my loyalties to Buddhism and Paganism, and find myself dancing merrily between them both. For me, they both share many similar attributes, but where Pagans immerse themselves entirely within the cycle of life, Buddhists try to find escape from it. In fact, many Pagans I have met over the years, have said that Buddhism is their second preferential religion.

At that time, I belonged to a local Wicca group, who I shared many interesting celebrations with. Perhaps, the best of these occurred at the Rollrights - an ancient stone circle in Oxfordshire, that was constructed 3000 BC. Unlike Stonehenge, which authorities restricted people from entering, we were given permission from the owners of the land to perform our ceremony.

Over forty Pagans from various traditions, such as Druids, Nordics and Wiccans, convened to celebrate Lughnasad (or Lammas), a Celtic festival which gives thanks to the Sun God, and the harvest provided for the winter months ahead.

As twilight gathered the last remnants of light, and the moon glided high in the sky, several bats accompanied us, creating an almost cliched scene. A fire was lit at the centre, with a large cauldron above it. The cauldron has always been an integral part of Celtic worship, representing the source of creation, in the form of a mother's womb. It is also symbolic for transformation and rebirth, so offerings of herbs and incense are combined within it.

The ancestors who built the circle, were invoked to join us, and there was an almost tangible sense of them being present, whether it was in the flickering shadows of the stones, or in our stimulated imaginations.

We danced and chanted, rotating round and round in a large circle, and thoroughly enjoying the ambience of the moment. There was nothing evil in what we were doing. The Devil had no part in it. We were simply celebrating the cycles of nature that allow life to continue.

For just a few hours, it was possible to be taken back to the ancient paths that had been practiced for millennia, but have since faded away into obscurity. On that evening, as magic permeated the air, those ancient stones were restored with their original purpose.

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