A Ritual for Change and Changing of the Year
Performed at the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Winter Institute at Miami
Camp Owaissa Bauer, Homestead, FL
December 31, 2002
by Shining Spirits with Spelcastor

SWIM is a week-long camp that happens the last seven days of each year.
Here is an intentional community. On the last night, we gather to celebrate
the transitions though our lives and through time.

HPS lights the chalice and holding it high says :

Be ye far from us, O ye profane, for we are about to
invoke the power of the goddess and the god. 
Enter their temple with clean hands and a pure heart,
lest ye defile the source of life.

Proceed to campfire circle with chant:

        We all come from the Goddess,
        And to her we will return,
        Like a drop of rain - flowing to the ocean.

(HP and perhaps the corner callers) is at the entrance
to the circle with smudge and feather or with censor,
and cleanses each participant as they enter the
Circle, quickly with the words: "Welcome to our
Circle. Merry meet.")

(After all have found a place in the Circle, HPS rings
chimes 3 times and reads the invocation.)

(Invocation from Witches' Home Page)

HPS:
You have not arrived here by chance.  
You have put yourself on this Path long ago.  
We shall walk some of it together and rejoice.  
We first began in past sorrows, in past lives.  
We were of the Wicca, gazing at the stars, feeling
deep unnamed secrets; 
touching the Earth in joy and sensing life within; 
seeing birth and knowing that it was a miracle, a
Mystery, a joy; 
being still in the forest, being warm in the water... 

We are all lights, and we follow the Path through the
God and the Goddess, by all Their names, 
and in growing, we grow in brightness, following the
cycles of Sun and Moon, and glowing in Divine
Radiance.

(HPS rings chime 3 times.)

(Each of these three individuals steps off around
circle with their tool. HPS & HP lead chant. At the
end of each chant, the next individual steps off; and
HP & HPS chant.)

(Child casts circle carrying a broom)

Chant:
With innocence we purify
this sacred space twixt earth and sky.

(Young adult casts circle carrying a candle in a lantern)

Chant:
We cast this circle here today
With light to guide us on our way.

(Crone casts circle carrying smoking sage)

Chant:
We cleanse this space with burning sage
as we unite to honor age.

QUARTER CALLS:

HP:    
        By her sweet breath which is air,
        By the fire, her spirit fair,
        By water which fills her place of birth,
        And by her body, our sacred Earth.
        By these names, our quarters call,
        May the Spirits join us all.        
        Begin with the East.
     
All hail the element of Air,
Spirits of the East.
Come be with us this evening,
breathing the breath of reason,
And join our Circle.

All hail the element of Fire,
Spirits of the South,
Come be with us this evening,
Warming us with your passion,
And join our Circle.

All hail the element of Water.
Spirits of the West.
Come be with us this evening,
Bathing us with your emotions,
And join our Circle.

All hail the element of Earth,
Spirits of the North,
Come be with us this evening,
Grounding us in your nurturing,
And join our Circle.

HPS:
We invite the goddess to be with us for our celebration.
She comes to us from beyond the boundaries of time.
She is as ageless as the Earth which is her body. 
She is as ageless as the waters which are her blood. 
She is as ageless as the fires of the heavens and as
the air of her breath.
She was before time and she will be, when time has been  forgotten.
Across all boundaries of time we have honored the goddess.
For she is with us. 
She is with us in the quiet of the sunrise.
She is with us in the tumult of the ocean wave.
She is with us in the peace of the silent meadow.
She is with us in the violence of the storm.
She is with us and she is in us.
For we are all her children, no matter our age.
And she is our Mother, and 
She is Our self.

HP:
We invite the god to be with us for our celebration.
He is eternal and universal.
He is changing and he is changeless.
He comes to us from beyond the boundaries of time.
In all the ages of being he is with us.
In all the places of the earth we will find him.
He is the laughter in the ripples of water.
He is the solemnity in the dimness of the forest.
He is the joy in the bright light of the sun.
He is the awe in the dark of night.
He is the strength of the mighty oak.
He is the gentleness of the blade of grass.
He is with us and he is in us.
For we are all his children, no matter our age.
And he is our Father and 
He is Our self.

HPS:
        We are between the worlds,
        Beyond the bounds of time,             
        Where day and night,
        Birth and death,
        Youth and age,
        Joy and sorrow,
        Meet as one.

(HPS rings the chime.)

Magick Working of Transitions:

HP & HPS Together:    

All of life is a transition.

HPS:    
From the moment of our conception 
we are in a transition of preparation for birth. 
From the moment of our birth we are in a transition 
into childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age; 
We are in a transition from life to death.
We embrace these transitions as part of the cycle of life. 
Though we seek it not, when death seeks us, 
we will embrace it as part of our transition on the earth.

HP:    
Ours is a life affirming religion. 
We are here this evening to affirm and to celebrate
the transitions which mark our path.
Each of us is on a path through life. 
We shall walk some of that path together this evening 
and rejoice in our celebration.
As we later walk our separate paths alone, 
the joy of these moments will be with us.
We will remember and be refreshed 
by the memory of our celebration.        

                    Child Dedication
HPS: 
Will the children who are being honored please step
forward with their parents or guardians.

(When they are in place before the alter facing the circle)

HPS:
I present to you the children of our community. 
They are a part of us as we are all a part of one another.

(HPS leads as adults walk the circle deosil either
carrying or holding the hand of the child or children
to be dedicated. HPS carries a wand in the leading
hand.) 

Chant:
Joy to the children.
Strength to the children.
Courage to the children of the Earth.

(Return to alter, facing the circle.)

HP:
We ask the blessings of the goddess and the god 
for these children and for the adults who guide them. 
We know that their path upon the Earth is beautiful, 
but also treacherous. 
May they always enjoy the beauty 
and have courage to deal with adversity. 
May they walk always in the path of the goddess and the god. 

HPS:    
Will you please introduce each child to the community?
(Adults name children. As they do, HPS draws a Celtic
cross on each child's forehead with a polished stone
and gives it to them, while welcoming each child by name.)

HP: 
We are all the family of these children. 
As members of the community 
do you pledge to support and encourage them 
and to provide wise counsel to them 
and to their parents and guardians?

All: We do.

HPS & HP: 
We welcome you all to your family and your community. 
Walk always in courage and love. 

(Parents and children return to their places in the circle.)

1 chime

"Becoming Teens"

HPS: Will the youth who are making the transition into
their teen years please come forward.

(They form a line facing the group in front of the alter.)

HPS: I present to you the "becoming teens" of our community.
Our children walked with adults.
These youth walk alone,
yet with parents close at hand.
It is time to thank their parents, 
and to begin their movement away from them,
yet always safe within our community.

(HPS leads this group around circle, again leading with wand.)

Chant:
Widening circles, growth and change.
Your life becomes what you arrange.

(Return to alter and face the group.)

HP:
We ask the blessings of the goddess and the god
for these "becoming teens."
They have not outgrown the joy of childhood.
As they begin to forge their own path on the Earth,
they will also be forging their own self; 
their own identity.
May they walk always in the path of the goddess and the god.

HPS: Will each in turn introduce yourselves?

(As they say their names, HPS marks Celtic cross on
their foreheads with a rock which she gives to them,
welcoming them by name.)

HP: We are all the family of these "becoming teens."
As members of the Community, do you pledge 
to support and encourage them 
and to provide wise counsel to them?

All:  We do.

HP & HPS: We welcome you to your family and your community.
Walk always in courage and in love.

Rite of Passage into Young Adulthood

HP:    
Will the teens who are being honored in their rite of passage 
into young adulthood please step forward.

(When they are in place before the alter facing the circle.)

HP:
I present to you the young adults of our community. 
Our children walked with grown ups. 
Our young adults walk alone. 
Yet they are not alone. 
They are a part of us as we are all a part of one another. 

(HP leads with athame in the leading hand, as young
adults walk the circle.)

Chant:
As they cross the bounds of youth
Grant courage in their search for truth.

(Return to the alter facing the circle.)

HPS: 
We ask the blessings of the goddess and the god 
for these young adults. 
They have forged their path upon the Earth 
and have learned much of its beauty and its treachery.

At this turning point they may face difficult
decisions and doubts. 
May they always enjoy the beauty 
and have the courage to deal with uncertainty. 
May they walk always in the path of the goddess and the god. 

HP:    
Will you, each in turn, introduce yourselves. 

(As introductions are being made, HP makes a Celtic
cross on the forehead of each with a polished stone
and gives it to them, welcoming them by name.)

HPS: 
We are all the family of these young adults. 
As members of the community 
do you pledge to support and encourage them 
and to provide wise counsel to them?

All: We do.

HP & HPS:    
We welcome you all to your family and your community. 
Walk always in courage and love. 

(Young adults return to their places in the circle.)

(1 chime)

Honoring of Crones and Sages

HPS:    
Will the crones and sages who are being honored please step forward.

(When they are in place before the alter facing the circle)

HPS:
I present to you the crones and sages of our community. 
They, too, walk alone. 
They walk with great dignity, 
as they have earned a place of respect and honor
as elders of our community. 
They are a part of us as we are all a part of one another.

(HPS again leads with wand extended.)

Chant:
Crone and sage, crone and sage.
Wisdom is the gift of age.

HP:    
We ask the blessings of the goddess and the god 
for these crones and sages. 
They have learned well 
of both the beauty and the treachery of the path through life. 
May their learning be as wisdom to all who follow. 
May they walk always in the path of the goddess and the god. 

HPS:    
Crones and sages, as the elders of our community, 
you have seen much of life as you have walked your path 
upon our Earth.
This evening, you have witnessed 
the dedication of our children
and the rite of passage of our "becoming teens"
and our young adults. 
It is your responsibility, as crone and sage,
to guide the young. 
Share the wisdom of your years, 
but do so with the understanding that the young 
may not always be ready to hear it. 
Know that your words are like seeds. 
Only some will take root and grow. 
For the sake of those growing seeds, 
you must share your wisdom.
We honor you for your courage
in coming so far along the path of life 
and for all the wisdom you have gained in so doing.

HPS: 
The symbolic color of the crone is black. 
The emblem is the black raven. 
The years of crone and sage, the elder years, 
are our winter, 
a time of darkness and preparation for the end. 
While age moves us always closer to the end of life, 
so, too, it is a time for celebration 
of all that life has brought us 
and of all that we may continue to bring to life. 

HP:    
Let us begin by honoring the sages. 
(Crones step to the side and sages step forward.)

HPS:    
Will you, each in turn, introduce yourselves. 

(During introductions, HPS traces Celtic cross on
their forehead with a stone which she gives to them,
welcoming them by name.) 

HPS: 
May we now honor the crones.

(Crones step forward and sages step to the side.)

HPS:
We learn from the ancients.
The ancients honored and revered women, 
for women could bleed and not die. 
Women could produce life from within. 
When a woman reached the time when the bleeding ceased, 
she was at the height of her magickal powers. 
The magick and wisdom were now retained within her. 
The crones were the wisest of all in their tribe.
You are crones. We honor and are honored by you.

HP:    
Will you, each in turn, introduce yourselves. 

(During the introductions, HP traces a Celtic cross on
each crone's forehead and gives them the stone.
welcoming them by name. 

HP & HPS together: 
Welcome crones and sages. 
We honor you and we are honored by you.

Recognition of Those Who Have Gone On

HP: 
There is a final transition for all of us. 
Death is not the end  but merely another beginning. 
In our tradition it is believed that those who die 
cross over into the Summerland 
where they rest and gain strength.  
Rested and refreshed, 
they are reborn among those they have loved.

HPS: 
There are members of our community 
who have gone on to the Summerland. 
Regardless of our beliefs about death and rebirth, 
we are saddened by their loss. 
We reach for feelings of joy 
in remembering their life 
and in our hope that we may meet again. 
But first is the recognition 
that they have been taken from us 
and we grieve.

HP: 
We will name those from our community 
who have crossed over in the last year. 
Then we will take a moment to honor those 
from our home communities, our individual lives. 

(As they say each name, the HP/HPS lights a black
candle on the alter.)

HPS: 
I light this candle for our dear friend, .... I
remember and honor you, .... We will meet again.

HP: 
I light this candle for our dear friend, .... I
remember and honor you, .... We will meet again.

HP: I light this candle for all others 
from our community and from your own. 
If someone in your life has made this final transition,
we invite you to speak aloud their name 
or to silently remember them in your heart at this time.

(Pause to allow participants to call out names.)

HPS: 
This is not a traditional Wiccan chant. But the words
of Harry Chapin's "Circles" beautifully express the
cycles of life and death that we have celebrated here this evening.

All my life's a circle, sunrise to sundown.
Moon rolls through the nighttime till the daybreak comes around.
All my life's a circle, still I wonder why.
Seasons spinning round again; years keep rolling by.

Seems like I've been here before. Can't remember when.
I get this funny feeling we'll be together again.
No straight lines make up my life and all my roads have bends.
No clear cut beginning and so far no dead ends.

I've met you a thousand times. I guess you've done the same.
Then we lose each other. It's like a children's game.
But now I find you here again, the thought comes to my mind.
Our love is like a circle. Let's go 'round one more time.

All my life's a circle, sunrise to sundown.
Moon rolls through the nighttime till the daybreak comes around.
All my life's a circle, still I wonder why.
Seasons spinning round again; years keep rolling by.


Rite of the Passage of the Year

HPS: 
We are each of us at a transition point 
at this time of the year.

HP: 
We stand on the brink of the new year.
We look back with joy and sorrow.
We look ahead with eager anticipation.
We will now empower ourselves to bring to the new year
what we want,
and to cast aside that which is harmful.

HPS:  
An it harm none, do what thou wilt.
Thus runs the Wiccan Rede.
Remember it well.
Whatever you desire;
whatever you would ask 
of the God and the Goddess;
whatever you would do;
be assured that it will harm no one
not even yourself.

HP:   
The Lady and Lord have been good to us.
It is meet that we thank them for all that we have.
They also know that we have needs
and they listen to us when we call upon them.

HPS:  
Then let us join together
to thank the Goddess and the God
for those favors they have bestowed upon us, 
and to ask for guidance and help in our growth.

(Quarter callers walk the circle deosil with a basket
of sturdy wood chips, distributing them in their quarter.)

HPS:  
This wood is small, but it is strong.
Let it represent a strength or positive energy of yours
from this passing year which you wish to bring with you 
into the approaching year.
Step forth and add your wood to our fire,
thus adding your energy and strength to the whole.
For through your strength are we all stronger; 
through your joy are we all more joyous;
through your peace are we all more peaceful. 
As you come forward to add your wood to our blaze,
you may call out your strength,
say it softly, or speak it only in your heart.

(HPS begins followed by HP, and participants move
forward adding their wood chips to the fire.
Quarter callers now walk the circle deosil with a
basket of dry leaves, distributing them in their quarter.)

HP:  
As you have strengths to bring from the passing year,
you also have sorrows, bitterness, angers to be left behind.
Let that burden be represented by the dry leaf you hold.
While the wood added to our fire,
this leaf will but flair and turn to ash,
as will the failing it represents. 
Step forth and cast your leaf into our fire,
thus freeing yourself from the burden
of the negative energy it represents. 
As you come forth, you may call out what you are
leaving behind, 
say it softly or speak it only in your heart.

(HP begins followed by HPS, and participants move
forward throwing their leaves into the fire.
Quarter callers now walk the circle deosil with a basket of small
candles, distributing them in their quarter.)

HPS:  
What blessing for within yourself
do you wish to see in the awakening year? 
What change, strength, joy, do you wish for yourself?
Let that blessing for yourself be represented by this candle.
Step forth and light your candle from our alter candles
or the candles held by priest and priestess.
As you light your candle,
hold it high and shout, whisper
or in silence acknowledge the blessing to come.

(HPS begins, then HP and participants light their candles.
Following the lead of HP and HPS, everyone extinguishes their candles.)

HPS:  
Take the candle with you 
to remind you of the blessing you sought this evening, 
and to remind you to ever endeavor to achieve that blessing.

HP:  
The Lady and Lord have heard your needs 
and will answer in time.
You must also act in accord 
by doing everything possible to help yourself. 
And as ye will it, so mote it be.

HPS and participants:  
So mote it be!

Chant:
  We are a circle, within a circle.
  With no beginning, and never ending.

HPS:     
Youth and age are the joy of the Lady and the Lord!
We move forward in joy and celebration!
The blessings of courage and wisdom are with us all!
        
HP: 
And now we all kneel to touch the Earth 
and ground the excess energy we have raised, 
returning it to the Earth for her nourishment.

            CLEARING OF THE TEMPLE

HPS:  
We came together in love and friendship; 
let us part the same way. 
Let us spread the love we have known in this Circle 
outward to all; sharing it with those we meet.

HP:  
    Let us now dismiss the Quarters, 
    starting with the North:

Farewell, Spirits of the East,
We give you thanks for your presence here.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
May there be peace between us.

Farewell, Spirits of the South,
We give you thanks for your presence here.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
May there be peace between us.

Farewell, Spirits of the West,
We give you thanks for your presence here.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
May there be peace between us.

Farewell, Spirits of the North,
We give you thanks for your presence here.
Stay if you will, go if you must.
May there be peace between us.

HP:  
Lady and Lord, our thanks to you 
for sharing this time together. 
Our thanks for watching over us; 
guarding and guiding us in all things.
Love is the Law and Love is the Bond.

(HP rings bell three times.)

HPS: 
The light of the maiden surrounds you.
The love of the lady enfolds you.
The power of Gaia flows through you.
Where ever you are, the Goddess is, 
And all is well.

HP and HPS: 
The Circle is open but unbroken,
May the Peace of the Goddess,
And The Strength of the God,
Go in your hearts.

Merry Meet and Merry Part,
And Merry Meet again.
Blessed be.

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