This past weekend I attended the annual Yule ritual conducted by my Tradition. I have only attended this ritual once before, seven years ago, before I knew any of these amazing people, before I was a part of this Tradition, this community. I should not have let so many years pass between. It took place after the sun had set in a circle surrounded by woods. The night was unusually warm and the wind blew with an energy that reminded me of summer. The stars of Winter’s first night were unmistakable in the clear dark sky above. The path to the circle was lit by candles as was the circle itself and in the center of the circle a fire burned bright and warm and was tended by two members of my Tradition as an act of service.
The ritual is beautiful and moving. The White Lady of Winter speaks to those in attendance as does the Sun Lord. But in between, the Raven of the Void comes into the Circle and exhorts us to release those griefs, sorrows, fears and wounds that we have been holding onto as if they would somehow keep us alive. As it happens, I was holding onto much more than I thought.
After the Raven speaks, he invites us to keen, to release our pain by screaming, shouting, wailing and howling. The sound is not only unearthly and seemingly inhuman but it is impossible to remain unmoved when bearing witness to it. Before you are aware of it, you are weeping and keening and the Raven takes all of that sorrow and pain and through the fire, transforms it into something else.
I remember some of his words deep in my soul; they were not for remembering so much as for experiencing in that moment. They are not available to me as memory of language but as memory of magick. I know that when the ritual was over, I felt less heavy, less tight, less cold, less afraid. I felt cleaner.
I have spent most of the past year actively learning to let go, to allow life to happen, but I have so much more to learn about myself, about life, about how the Gods expect me to serve them and my community. I thought that I had done what I needed to do but, there is always more.
Sometimes you have to welcome the Raven of the Void.