Category Archives: Sabbat Recaps

Litha Celebration and Handsfasting

Litha Celebration and Handsfasting

On June 21st,  Serenity celebrated the Summer Solstice most festively.

Mare served as Priestess, with Fox as Priest; Barley and Morningstar served as Summoner and Sensechal respectively. Epona and Cernunnos were invited to celebrate the Summers Sun.

IMG_1590There was much love shared, as Christina, aka Mare and Kevin shared their vows in front of  family and friends, promising a commitment for all the seasons to come.

The newlyweds received the blessings of their tribe, and returned all the love they received with nourishment.

A Journey dance was held, brooms and fires were jumped, gifts were given, and love was honored. The Colloquy of the Oak and Holly King was performed over a feast of of summers freshest bounty.

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Imbolc 2014

Imbolc 2014
Imbolc 2014

The Altar

Serenity held our Imbolc celebration Saturday, February 8th. We began late that morning with a very artistic session of candle making. We did some molded candles, but the real fun was with the rolled beeswax candles, many of which were quite creative and beautiful. In addition, all three children took part in making granular wax candles (made much like a sand art bottle, but with a wick in the middle).

Ritual was held later that evening, with Morningstar and Barley as Priest and Priestess, respectively. Mare and Arianthe filled the roles of Seneschal and Summoner. It was an intimate circle, as there were only 2 additional attendants beyond the officiants. The altar was set, but so was a special shrine to Brigid. Officiants were deliberately all female, reflecting the traditional role of women as keepers of the sacred flame (as seen in both Celtic and Roman cultures).

Brighid's Shrine

Brighid’s Shrine

Prior to casting, each attendant was welcomed with a triple blessing, warmed hands to bless the head, heart and belly. Brigid was invoked in her triple aspects, and 3 cauldrons were also lit (symbolizing the Celtic Cauldrons of Poesy). Divination by fire was performed, using the 3 cauldrons (who knew that sterno would be such a good vehicle for fire scrying?), and when complete, attendants all brought a gift to the shrine, placing their offering in the well before receiving a single Tarot card to signify their fortune for the coming year.

It was now time to fill the room with light, so everyone lit a taper from the source, and while singing a fire chant, lit the countless candles scattered about the room. The chant continued a few minutes longer, and before releasing energy, we asked Brighid for healing.

 

 

After circle was extended, we proceeded to our traditional feast and socializing. The final working of the evening was to pack away ritual gear in preparation for the household/covenstead’s move into their new home. It was a blessed evening indeed.

Ostara 2014

Ostara 2014

A small, belated update.

This year Serenity’s Ostara was performed by Dreamingbear (Priest) and Arianthe(Priestess). This was Serenity’s first ritual in the new covenstead, on Riverside Dr.

Serenity’ Ostara celebration was held Saturday March 29th, calling the Goddess Eos (Dawn) and God Astraeus (Dusk) – asking them to join us as we woke the earth with traditional Egg sacrificing to wake up the Cocheco River Spirits. We planted seeds, and enjoyed a delicious potluck brunch.

There were a great many guests, and young children about – racing for eggs in the morning hours after receiving their Welcome Spring Baskets.

Samhain 2013

Samhain 2013
Samhain 2013
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The Samhain Altar

On the night of November 2nd, 2013, Serenity’s members gathered at the Covenstead to celebrate their Ancestors in a ritual officiated by Morning Star as Priestess, Stormcrow as Priest, and Fox and Barley as Summoner and Seneschal.

Most of Serenity’s members were present for the rite, and we also had some of our Unusual Suspects from Spruce & Yarrow Coven visiting for the evening.

In our first ever Double Drawing Down, Arianrhod, Lady of the Silver Wheel was invoked into Morning Star, and Arawn, Lord of Annwn was invoked into Stormcrow.

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The Veil and Ancestor Shrine

The Veil was parted with an adapted Jewish prayer of remembrance, as the assembled Coven and Grove chanted “We Remember Them!”

We all sat, and shared stories of our Ancestors and Beloved Dead, and afterwards Stormcrow called the Rolls of the Mighty Dead, with Fox ringing them in as they were called. Hinge Vows were taken in their presence.

After the ritual, the Circle was extended, and a place of Honor set for the Ancestors at the Feast Table, where we all enjoyed recipes that were passed down to us from those who came before.

During the Feast, we all gathered to hear the story of Blodeuwedd’s transformation into an owl, accompanied by a beautiful poem by Mare.

Lammas 2013

Lammas 2013
Lammas 2013
The altar ablaze.

The altar ablaze.

Serenity held Lammas on Saturday August 10 at the Vermont homestead of acting Priest and Priestess Fox and Barley, with guests Coyote, Matt, and Rocco.  Joining them were Mare as Seneschal and Matt as Summoner.  Festivities really began the evening before, when the officiants gathered in preparation, and Barley, as a personal devotional, brewed a special batch of beer, a barleywine intended to age 1 year, for consumption at next Lammas.  Let us hope that Barleycorn’s Finest is indeed the finest… we will know in a year.  In addition, the spent brewing grains were incorporated into the dough for the bread man, also crafted that night.

Saturday itself was nothing less than a spectacular day, complete with warm sun, low humidity, and impossibly blue sky.  Much of the day was spent outside, enjoying sun, companionship and activities.  The craft for the day was tie-dyeing, which was initially intended as a kid’s activity, but was much enjoyed by the adults.  As light began to wane, we prepared for our outdoor ritual.  Barley led the group in a soul-alignment breathing exercise and a cleansing water rite before the call to worship, John Barleycorn Must Die, began.  Fox on mandolin was accompanied by Rocco on guitar.

No, really, impossibly blue.

No, really, impossibly blue.

A canopy tent had been erected as our place of worship, and it was there we cast our circle, calling John Barleycorn and Brigantia.   We then processed to the firepit for the working of the circle, which included making sacrifices to the wickerman (whom we dubbed WickerJerry), and to the field.  We witnessed the acceptance of the sacrifice as the fire burned, and a spontaneous chanting arose, before the solemnity was broken, and we chose to Always Look on the Bright Side (of death) thereafter returning to the canopy for the Great Rite and closing of the circle.

WickerJerry

WickerJerry

A harvest feast of Indian cuisine (the national cuisine of Britain) was enjoyed by all, and the rest of the evening included sitting by the campfire, enjoying the night air and the beauty of stillness.  A few braved the chilly night and camped in the backyard to commune with the crickets.  It was, indeed, a blessed Lammas.

Litha 2013

Litha 2013
Litha 2013

The Banners of Lleu & Blodeuwedd

On Saturday, June 22nd, the far-flung members of Serenity Coven and Grove gathered on the Rochester Commons for our annual Litha celebration. The weather was appropriately clear, and the sun was blazing overhead. Fortunately, the trees provided adequate shade. The altar was barebones, as candles would not cooperate in the summer breeze, but the gods were represented by heraldic banners made specially for the occasion.

The focus of our ritual was the marriage of Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Blodeuwedd, the sharing of the boons of life, the bounty of the earth, the warmth of the summer sun, and of family. The ritual was officiated by Morning Star (Priestess), Stormcrow (Priest), Arianthe (Seneschal), and Fox (Summoner). Also in attendance were Barley, (who provided the amazing wedding cake in lieu of the usual fare), Mare, Laughing Shadow, Dreaming Bear, Drumming Turtle, Ro, and our guest Coyote.

The barebones Litha altar

We started off the season of Music and Dance with a break from the usual singing, to dance, dance, dance our little hearts out (and our tired little feet off). Our Call to Worship kicked off the festivities with a wedding procession by dancing arches to “Solstice Call,” by Gaia Consort. We did a Barn Dance to cast the Circle to the tune of “Get Me to the Church On Time,” from the musical My Fair Lady, and danced the Migldi Magldi to Serenity’s adapted version of “Turn the World Around,” originally by Harry Belafonte.

Since we in Serenity can’t resist the opportunity to crack a good joke now and again, the Statement of Intent included the Twuwy Impwessive Mawwage speech from The Princess Bride.

“Mawwage…is what bwings us hewe togewwah, today!”

The invitation and marriage of Blodeuwedd and Lleu Llaw Gyffes were performed silently and reverently while Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love” played softly in the background. Wedding rings were graciously provided by Fox and Barley for the occasion, the couple got lei’d by all attendants (Oh myyy!), and the flame of love was literally present when athame pierced chalice.

Of course, we couldn’t have a marriage without more dancing!

In celebration of the union between Sun and Earth, we danced the Lazy Robin to “Come to the Dance,” by Emerald Rose (a truly exhausting feat, and there was absolutely nothing lazy about it!), and the Heel-Toe Polka to “Dance, Dance, Dance,” by the Steve Miller Band (now affectionately known in the group as the “Slide, Slide, Slippity Slide Song”).

A perfect Little Lleu and Blodeuwedd

When it came time to give gifts to the Gods, King Math provided the couple with the palace of Muir-Y-Castell and the cantrefs of Dinodig, Eifionydd, and Ardudwy, to reign there forever as King and Queen of Summer’s Light. However, these were not the only gifts granted to Lleu and Blodeuwedd. Arianrhod made her final appearance to give a wedding gift to the newlyweds, the gift of prophecy; Even as the sun rides at his peak, so too must he begin his decline, and the seed of darkness germinates in the Summer’s Light. One word alone fulfills the prophecy of the forgotten mother: Gronw.

The bride and groom granted their boons of brightness, life, and bounty upon the attended guests, and we all sealed those gifts in the Earth by dancing the Tarantella. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any footage of that dance, and it was a shame, because after much trouble in practice the night before, we finally nailed it in ritual.

The feast was served as a picnic in the park, and it was as bountiful as it was glorious.

Blessing of the Feast

A most merry time was had by all, and just like the Solstice itself, the only shame of it was that it had to eventually draw to a close.

(P.S.: We’re still in the process of editing all the video footage we took of the festivities. As soon as we finish with that lengthy process, we’ll post some videos!)

Lughnasadh/Lammas

Lughnasadh/Lammas
Lughnasadh/Lammas

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8878chOvfI

Barley and Fox are pleased to announce our first hosted event to our beautiful group of family. In honor of John Barleycorn we are presenting the festival of early Vermont Harvest with copious joy. This is a special holiday for both of us, and somewhat breaks with our traditional methodology. We only ask that you bring your beautiful selves and a small donation towards the feast, and we will provide the rest. We will begin the festivities at sundown on either Friday or Saturday (we’ll keep you posted) and will continue through until Sunday afternoon. The neighbors will be warned (and invited, possibly – at least the ‘cool ones’). There will be camping or sleeping arrangements provided in the old farmhouse (or barn, if Fox gets off his lazy ass and renovates).

We wish to provide a grand festival of family and companionship – and planning has already started.

With Much Love,

Barley and Fox

Beltane 2013

Beltane 2013
Beltane 2013
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Serenity’s Beltane Altar

Serenity’s Beltane ritual was held on Saturday, May 11th this year, and was run by Dreaming Bear and Arianthe, with Barley as Seneschal (Handmaiden) and Stormcrow as Summoner.

Unfortunately, the weather refused to participate in the merrymaking. Rain and gray dreariness kept us sequestered indoors, but a grand time was had by all in spite of the storm.

We incorporated the story of Arianrhod’s final curse upon Lleu Llaw Gyffes, and the creation of Blodeuwedd into our ritual, decorating the altar with countless wildflowers to call in the May. Both Lleu and the newly formed flower-maiden Blodeuwedd were called.

Activities were focused on building the bonds of love for self and the larger community, and in a sort of “Pagan Valentine’s Day,” participants were encouraged to write little notes of appreciation to each other to be placed on personal shrines of self-love later.

Dreaming Bear and Arianthe

We sang, we danced, we feasted, we drank Dandelion and May Wine (and a specialty brew of Moonlight Meadery‘s that bears our namesake) long into the night, and enjoyed the company of our cherished Pagan family as we celebrated the beginning of Summer.

We were all delighted to welcome Mare officially to Serenity Grove.

Guests and ‘frequent fliers’ included Selena (who as always, came bearing her famous cupcakes of awesomeness), Miss Honey, and Master Dickon, who brought a very special flowering staff to be used in our rite. (Thanks Dickon!)

Many thanks to those who attended, and may the light and warmth that we’ve kindled here continue to grow.



Ostara 2013

Ostara 2013

Serenity celebrated Ostara on Saturday, March 23.  True to New England spring, it was cold as a witch’s you-know-what outside, so we ended up spending most of our time inside, braving the outdoors long enough for Morningstar to lead the children out to tie ribbons on the trees to wake up spring.

Indoors, the children dyed eggs with natural dyes while adults broke open eggshells for use as planters in ritual.  Much cooking and socializing ensued.

Once guests arrived, we slowly transitioned into ritual mindset, and began our circle with an improv drum/shaker “jam session” (during which we passed around a shaker full of seeds for planting later), combined with an invocation to spring, composed and read by Laughing Shadow.  Fox and Barley presided over a classic Blue Star format ritual, with 2 major areas of work.  First, we planted seeds into the previously prepared eggshells, “seeds inside seeds” representing the potency of potential.  We then welcomed our deity guest, Dea Artio, with Morningstar as the vessel.  It was an intense contact with a powerful, primal deity who was pleased to have a receptive human audience.

Circle was completed and extended and it was on to delicious feast and consumption of “refreshments”.

Imbolc 2013

Imbolc 2013

Imbolc 2013 (2)Imbolc Altar

Our Imbolc ritual this year was run by MorningStar and Fox, with Barley and Stormcrow as Handmaiden and Summoner.

Pre-ritual crafts were aplenty, with Stormcrow leading a workshop on making brooms for the New Year. The children made Brigid’s Crosses with pipe cleaners. There was also spinning yarn from Alpaca wool with a drop spindle. With all the other crafting going on, we didn’t have time for any of our Grove‘s chandlers to get all the year’s old candle stubs together. New brooms were made by Bear, a guest from Rogue Star, along with Laughing Shadow, Barley & Fox, and Laughing Wolf.

Imbolc 2013 (15)Broom Making

Imbolc 2013 (8)Imbolc 2013 (13)

Ritual:

Our Imbolc festivities included washing of hands and feet, a touchstone ritual to the chanting of “Water in the Well,” the lighting of a great many candles to welcome warmth and light back into the world, along with fire scrying and spiral dancing to the chanting of “We Will Kindle the Fire.”

Two pairs of deities were invited: Brigid and Dagda, and in keeping with our focus on the Welsh pantheon, Arianrhod and Gwydion were also called. A singing bowl was used in lieu of the bell to welcome the Gods.

Stormcrow told the story of The First Tyngedd, which is the second part of his saga adapted from the Mabinogion, called “A Year and Change in Welsh Myth,” which follows the life of Llew Llaw Gyffes through the Wheel of the Year.

Post-ritual feast was amazing as always, with lamb shanks, colcannon, roasted root vegetables, beer, mead, canned preserves, and cupcakes.

Imbolc 2013 (3)Imbolc 2013 (9)

Imbolc 2013 (6)Imbolc 2013 (4)

Yule, 2012

Yule, 2012
Solstice Altar

Solstice Altar

Winter Solstice Ritual was performed by Stormcrow and Arianthe.

The pre-ritual crafting time included arts for the kids, and making of Pomanders for the home.

Ritual:

For the Quarter calls this year, we did something a little different that bears mention for all the Wiccan Parents out there. A little nod to child within, and the children who surround us as well – and we called as Directional Guardians, Jack Frost(East), Mrs. Clause (South), Frosty the Snowman (West), and Santa (North) – complete with ringing them in with Jingle Bells.

shadow puppets
As part of our transition to working with Celtic Deities of the Mabinogion for a year, we Called Gwydion and Arianrhod. Stormcrow told The Birth of Llew (Yule), the first part of a saga he adapted from the Mabinogion which he has titled “A Year and Change” – that follows the life Llew Llaw Gyffes.   This telling was accompanied  by a shadow-puppet show performed by Arianthe.

bonfire
Outside we lit a bonfire for the burning of the 9 Sacred Woods, and inside we honored the Silver Wheel of Arianrhod – and the 13 Sacred Moons.

There was an exchange of Secret Santa Gifts, and Much feasting and Merriment.

Other pictures of the bonfire:

Yule 2012 (8)Yule 2012 (6)

Yule 2012 (9)Yule 2012 (3)

Yule 2012 (2)Yule 2012 (1)

Yule 2012 (7)Yule 2012 (4)

Yule 2012 (5)

 

 

Samhain 2012

Samhain 2012

Samhain this year was a great success, with our full Serenity Family present, including it’s newest members Fox and Barley, as well as some of our favorite Unusual Suspects from other Blue Star groups.

Our acting Priest and Priestess for the night were the newly planted (Neophyted) Stormcrow, and recently Initiated Arianthe.  The evening included a drawing down of the Morrigan, parting the Veil facilitated by the Priest and Priestess, a memorial of those departed, and an all night vigil.

Due to the late hour and ritual gravity, the children opted out of the Ritual itself for movies upstairs, but they did partake in some crafting earlier on.

Mabon 2012: Blue Star Family

Mabon 2012: Blue Star Family

Mabon 2012 was a grand affair for all New England Blue Star family.
The ritual was held in the Unitarian Church of Wakefield MA, and was performed by Stormcrow and MorningStar.

The ritual was full of powerful song, and poetry. Every Blue Star group that attended was announced and represented by an individual. The phases of life and wisdom of the ages were recognized and honored, children helped to pass the harvest around the circle. The 30+ Participants assisted with the raising of a lighthouse to call the Pagans home, and help the lost ones find their way.
As is customary, Feast was part of the Mabon celebration, and the giant pot-luck feast was heartily imbibed.

Much gratitude goes out to all who attended, and assisted with making this event go off without a hitch. Kudos to all the organizers who procured the facility, organized the feast, wrote the ritual, and took active roles.

 

Lammas 2012

Lammas 2012
Lammas 2012

Lammas 2012 was put together by DreamingBear and Laughing Shadow were the authors and performers of this years ritual. In short notice they put together a simple and beautiful ritual honoring Ceres and Saturn, and included the traditional elements of offerings to the cauldron and breadman.  The children were primarily absent during ritual due to birthday shenanigans, though Drumming Turtle did partake of cakes and Dreaming Bear made monkey bread with LaughingWolf .

As Stormcrow could not be in attendance, and his traditional salute to Eris at all our festivities was missing, at the farewell portion of ritual we reminded those in attendance to remember the law of guests and fishes in her honor.