This story begins on Winter Solstice of 2010. For the first time in almost 400 years (the last one in 1638), there was to be a total lunar eclipse on the same night as the solstice.
At the time, every aspect of my life seemed to be in a funk. Depressed, unemployed, and with Canadian immigration plans stalled, hitting the reset button seemed to be the best way to help get life out of the ditch. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I spent weeks preparing for an intense ritual to revive the relationship with my longtime boyfriend and refresh my health and professional life, harnessing the power of both the solstice and the eclipse.
Every year on the winter solstice, the Gardnerian coven I belonged to would convene at our high priest’s house. Many coven members brought guests in addition to food and drink to share. We always started with a ritual focused on the seasonal themes, and then left the entire property encircled throughout the night. After the group ritual, everyone split off; some would gather to sing or read poetry, others would head off to the hot tub, and others, like myself, would find someplace private to do individual work.
I like burning things in ritual. I spent hours and hours prior to this evening crafting a small black coffin from heavy construction paper and sewing a poppet made to look like me, filled with personal effects, and writing things I felt burdened by on slips of parchment paper. These slips of paper then had a hole punched in them on one end, and a loop of string added.
I started with calling spirits and gods with whom I have a relationship. I called on my ancestors. I prayed and meditated. I poured out wine and whisky. I burned incense and candles. Once I felt empty, that I had spoken about everything in my heart, I anointed the poppet with fragrances that I wear and blessed it as an effigy of myself. Then I began to tie the slips of parchment on the poppet, reading them aloud as I did so. Once all the slips were attached to the effigy, I allowed myself to feel the crushing weight of all these blocks and burdens, visualizing each one as a tangible weight on my person.
When the weight of all that was stagnant in my life was clear and embodied, I took my boline and severed each thread that bound my effigy. I screamed a primal, raw sound as loud as I could (without alarming the neighbors) as I cut, breaking free of all that caused my stagnancy. When I was done, the effigy and the slips of paper were placed in the paper coffin. I said a short eulogy for that part of my life and then set the entire thing on fire from a candle. As I watched it burn, I felt lighter and lighter. I looked up, the eclipse was total. I smiled, not knowing that what I set in motion was going to change my entire life.