by A.C. Aldag
originally published in Fall 2007 p. 56
The 2007 Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) main ritual remained true to the week’s theme of “Lights of Liberty.” A lively bagpipe and drum led the festival procession on a march through the town, winding our way to the Stone Circle. As we entered the ceremonial area, we could easily view the incredible, hand-made statue of Lady Liberty, towering above the northern quarter. Her torch was held aloft, just like the famous lady in New York harbor. Called “Libertas” for the purposes of ritual invocation and ceremonial gratitude during the festival, she even shined with the patina of ancient bronze, true to form. She was breathtaking.
But would the main ritual live up to its lady? This was my first PSG, and I wasn’t really certain just what I was expecting. The ceremony, I was told, was intended to be a working for peace, an honoring of our war veterans and service members, as well as a celebration of the Pentacle Quest victory.
My husband Dave, wearing his camouflage Desert Storm uniform for the third day of pomp and circumstance, was even cranky. He doesn’t do crowds well, and there were nearly five hundred people within this circle. A gathering of that many worshippers can sometimes be fidgety and scattered. The magickal background noise was nearly overwhelming.
We settled into the western quadrant as the elements and God/desses of Liberty, Justice, and Peace were flawlessly invoked. You could feel the energy flowing into the circle, playing among the stones, at the same time simultaneously cooling, warming, cushioning, and invigorating. Along with many other veterans and spouses, Dave and I were privileged to have had a small part in the ceremony. We ignited white candles that represented the Lights of Liberty, which encircled the unlit ritual fire. This was to clear the way for the forthcoming festivities, as well as to honor the service members and spouses who’d earlier earned their Order of the Pentacle medallions. The drums pounded cadence to our march.
Next, priestesses clad in gauzy Grecian-style robes began to perambulate around the circle center, bearing swords, books, and scales which were symbols of American freedom. They summoned the Goddesses of Liberty and Justice into manifestation. Tibetan bowls intoned their ethereal vibration as the ritualists chanted, “Peace, responsibility, life, justice, liberty, let it begin with me…” Their gentle, yet powerful, voices rang with authority. Attendees worked to reveal their own concept of liberty, justice, and peace. As the ceremony progressed, the energy shot skyward. At just the right moment, Lady Liberty’s torch was lighted, shimmering and sparkling. Then it rocketed downward to ignite the ritual bonfire. Drums boomed a frenetic tempo and the attendees exploded in a joyful climax of ecstatic dance. The energy was released with the twang of a longbow, arching skyward, glimmering over the foothills.
Now, I’ve been attending Pagan gatherings for over 20 years, and this was the most powerful ritual I have ever witnessed. This was like a combination of a patriotic 4th of July parade and human rights rally, accompanied by music, pyrotechnics, and a very positive sense of accomplishment in the material world. Grounding seemed mandatory, yet we still swam in power for weeks afterward. Wow. Just, wow.
The Lights of Liberty have been ignited. Let’s make sure to keep ’em burning.