I am thirty-three years an initiated witch this Yule (December 21)! I remember it as if I had just gotten out the candles. I smell the incense and taste the wine. I brought some awful Polish mead to the ritual and had to drink a whole chalice full! Ergh!
I learned my lesson though, and have passed it on to Dedicants ever since—bring a wine you know and like very much or one you don’t care if you will never want to drink again! The herbs in the potion quite spoiled the taste and the texture was cloying. I don’t know if that was the fault of the herbs my teacher added or not, but I still don’t have the moxie to try it again!
My Vigil was the longest night of my life so far. And even now, it is only (barely) eclipsed by the night before my wedding. I spent that lying beside my soon-to-be husband, the Coven Sword between us, praying desperately that we were going to beat the odds and make our very much mixed marriage a success. I knew then I never wanted to suffer through another night like that! I think if more couples spent the eve of their wedding with the sword between them, we would have a much lower divorce rate!
When the Vigil was ended about half an hour before dawn, Yule, 1975, I was told to wait in another room while the Circle was cast. The bell would ring and I would have to go into the other room. My robe had a big hood that fell long past my eyes, and when it was up, my vision was poor. I stood there shivering, waiting for the bell to ring, trying to remember the words I had been told to say.
Suddenly, I became aware that someone, also in ritual robes, was standing at the door. I could not see it clearly through the hood of my robe, but it looked vaguely like my teacher in height and weight. It did not speak to me, but made an unmistakable “come on” gesture and stood waiting for me.
Now, I knew that I had been told to wait for the bell. I also knew that tests were everywhere and often came when least expected. Was this a test? I didn’t know. I know that a lot depended on my response.
Thankfully, I had to lift my hood to be able to obey, and that bought me a little time. I fumbled, begging pardon, and lifted the hood, ready to go, bell or not, opting for obedience and praying that was the virtue being tested and not compliance with the Ritual …
There was no one there.
A few seconds later the bell rang and I stumbled down the hall to the room where the Circle awaited me, praying now that it was compliance with the Ritual that had been tested, and that by fumbling I had lucked into passing. My Teacher gave me no indication, aye or no.]
I went through the Rite in a sort of golden fog. Pieces of it come back to me as I write. A soft glow of candlelight around my teacher’s bent head, the sharp prick of the sword against my breast; a shock even though I knew it was coming, all went past me as if I dreamed awake. I made my vows and was accepted.
After the Ritual, I said to my teacher, “I was really confused when you came to get me before the bell rang.” My teacher looked at me. “I didn’t come for you,” my Teacher said. To this day, I wonder who or what came to my door that morning, and to what Initiation I might have gone had I just followed without fumbling with my hood. Whether I passed that test or failed it, I am here, and received the Initiation I had prepared for. I pray now that it was the right decision!
A last story on myself before I close this post. After the Feast was done, and all the candles out that frosty Chicago morning, I said to my teacher, “So when do I start feeling normal again?” My teacher snorted. “Baby-cakes, this is now normal.” After thirty-three years, my teacher was right.