The Moirai have been circling me for quite some time. Maybe because I find them soothing (though overwhelming) instead of scary, maybe because of the spinning I do on my spindle and wheel, maybe because they are actually how I make sense of the world or maybe we just relate to the world somewhat similarly – that we are more What We Do than anything else. It was really sealed for me two Philly Pagan Prides ago when I saw three blond (fairly identical) teenagers walking through the park together, unconsciously looking like that slow walk entrance scene in every teen movie ever. And I suddenly thought to myself, what if that’s what the Fates really look like? Perfect, with zero fucks to give? Holy shit that’s terrifying. My Lachesis (the measurer) had a whimsical thought while at the shore – what if the Fates went on vacation? They would dutifully sun for a few hours before they all glanced at each other and silently agreed to do what they love – Clothos gleefully spinning cotton candy, Lachesis bellowing for people to let her guess their age and height, Atropos simply turning herself into a cat and eating every mouse that had the misfortune to make her acquaintance under the boardwalk.
So I started a long slow campaign with my ADF grove, Grove of the Other Gods. I started talking about immersive ritual and ritual drama and The Other Gods of the Greek Pantheon to anyone who was unfortunate enough to be close enough to listen to me. Somewhere in there, we started talking about A Brave Space instead of A Safe Space. We started talking about gender neutral kosmesis. We started talking what it means to spin and create, what it means to measure a thread, what it means to cut it because it was measured. For the first time in a very long time, this was something I was slowly creating, at first by myself and then with the help of grove members. We had Skype meetings. We had a planning meeting. I started to worry that people who were simply attending would never guess how big this had gotten. I started to worry that it wouldn’t translate into actual ritual space. I went on endless trips to curate the right everything for the ritual. I became as close to Spencer Hasting/Blair Waldorf as I was ever going to get. It was my job to spin and create. Once it was spun, I handed it off to another person to measure and cut which was so freeing. I tend to think in music. For this ritual, it was The Hunger Games soundtrack, primarily Come Away to the Water (Maroon 5, Rozzi Crane): Come away little lamb/ Come away to the darkness/ In the shade of the night/ We’ll come looking for you/ to the ones appointed to see it through/ we are coming for you . . .Which worried the other Fates a bit for our grove until I said, it’s not . . .like, personal. They’re coming for everyone. It’s what they do. Everything will be measured and everything will be cut. No more, no less, my sisters. Also, Kingdom Come (The Civil Wars): Run, run, run away/ buy yourself another day/ a cold wind’s whispering secrets in your ear/ so low only you can hear/ don’t you fret my dear/ it will all be over soon/ I’ll be waiting here/ for you . . .
At the ritual planning meeting, I started to slither to a seat to the side of the chair at the front of the room but I was quickly put front and center. Ten years ago, my exact thought would have been, Finally. Here I am. However in this actual current life, I am still shaking off my re-acquired introverted feralness from a year of writing, so I squirmed until I was joined by my chosen Druid-in-Charge for the ritual. As usual, I was sure to impress everyone with breath taking statements such as:
Me: My husband, Jow loves to have a morning cup of coffee with the ancestors. He burns incense for them, they have a little chat and it’s a thing that makes him happy and makes the ancestors happy. (flatly) I don’t do that. If we’re talking about what is a difficult part of our ritual format for me personally, it’s the ancestors. I don’t have a relationship with mine. It’s too difficult. It’s too raw. It’s too painful.
Everyone else: A stunned silence as though I had taken my dress off
Me: waits for E & N’s floor to swallow me
Somehow, despite my innate charm with my peers, people were signed on to the ritual and chose parts for themselves and seemed curious if nothing else.
Before I knew it, it was the day of the ritual. My experience with working with Clotho (the one who spins) was a whirlwind of Doing. Down time was foreign and a waste of time to her. I explained my days in service to her as something like, First, you go to work because working is good! Then you go to the market to get things for the ritual because presentation is everything! Then you clean your house because you are not a garbage animal. Now you’re tired and you go sleeps. Night night, tiny human! We’ll do even more tomorrow!
It was exhausting. Exhausting. And I’m a total power girl to begin with which apparently is nothing comparatively. But I was mostly calm and mostly rational and not terribly emotional (though sometimes panicked in the back of my brain). It was just a never ending check list that needed to get done. Things Clotho did not seem to like: when someone was being playful and messing with me by making stories up, television, the internet, faux food (bagels, pop tarts, meal replacement bars, etc).
The morning of the ritual, I needed to get lamb. My Atropos [the one who cuts] was in charge of Lamb for The Moirai, I was in charge of Lamb for People [Attending the Ritual]. N. had given me some pomegranate molasses and I was eager to do my part. Except . . .my grocery only had tiny lamb pieces. Lamblets. How was I going to feed a grove on lamblets? I paced the aisle, trying to figure out how many lamblets I would need to make enough for grove and I took a breath and marched myself over to where actual butchers were actually working and sweetly inquired about obtaining a shoulder. My new butcher bff was happy to cut me a piece to my size and it was (thankfully) in my budget. But nothing is easy, and I was sure to give myself a good burn on the foil pan that my lamb was resting majestically in. Possibly permanent scarring, who knows! Because in the words of Rasputina, if you take something precious from me/ I’m gonna take something precious from you.
Obviously, that isn’t enough pre-ritual excitement. I was about to pack my spinning wheel into my car when I realized the flyer wasn’t on. And I couldn’t find it. I was panicking and hyperventilating and crawling on the floor looking for it until I found it buried in the bottom of a bag of roving. I attempted to regain my composure and put on my ritual attire (a long black dress with crinoline layers, a short lace top over it, a black jet choker) and put my hair up. My Atropos arrived and we headed over to E & N’s house. We put some (additional) lamb in the oven and burned some ritual herbs and started arranging tulle, fresh herbs and grape vine over the world tree part of the bile’. I put down a sheepskin and put my spinning wheel on top of it, winding some deep violet tulle around the spokes of the wheel and put my basket full of plum merino, smoky grey merino and silvery glitz next to it. My Atropos and Lachesis joined me in the front room for kosmesis and I did their make up in the antique mirror, all of us reflecting back at each other as we donned ritual oil and fixed our hair. Our Persephone (and oh lordess, I felt so much of my Persephone when she walked in the room, it was bittersweet for me and a reminder of how far away I am from the girl who cried in our Demeter’s lap) dusted us with mica powder. The tops of my feet for me as that is so key to spinning.
When we chimed the beginning of the ritual, I gently kicked my bare feet against the wheel and started spinning as we went through our ritual invocations, the treadle a trance inducing steady sound. When it was our turn, we read the Orphic Hymn to the Fates. We then veiled ourselves in purple velvet and stood together as the grove drummed. I held the spool of yarn I had spun and each grove member came to us with a question (either said out loud or internally). We agreed long was yes and short was no and that the length of the yarn could be the length of time it would take. How long was long and how short was short was up to the member. To signify that they were ready, they would ask, Fates spin me an answer. I spooled the yarn to my Lachesis who measured and then gave it to Atrophos who cut the yarn in time with the down beat of the drum and proclaimed, your answer. Soon, we started hissing/chanting, we spin the threads- take their measure full – we cut the cords . . . and it got all kinds of trance-space for me under my sweltering veil. It was just a hyper focused hyper space of Doing the Thing (threading my yarn to Lachesis). When we unveiled again after the last question, I swayed a bit and then sat down again.
When the ADF rite had concluded, we went outside. We had been lucky enough to procure a fire tender so the fire was very hot as we gave The Fates offerings of lamb and fresh herbs. The three of us sat there for a very long time and then went under the grape arbor that was lit with fairy lights and candles and idly ate grapes and whispered to each other while everyone else gave us a wide berth. Eventually, we were hungry so we wolfed down (and I mean wolfed. I didn’t even chew) plates of rare lamb, garlic mashed potatoes and curried macaroni and cheese. Our Hestia was kind enough to make the plates and wrestle with carving the shoulder, so I was sure to thank Hestia with the shoulder bones. Many grove members had their yarn tied around their necklaces in fluffy exuberant knots.
For me personally, I’ve been sick ever since. First a stomach bug and now a cold. I’m trying to slowly reacclimate myself to what passes for normal life around here. I just brought my wheel back in the house. I’m getting up the nerve to wear my jet choker and my dress again. I’m adjusting to my recalibration drifting from a joyful single mindedness about Doing and back to my usual spectrum of human emotion. Mostly, I feel raw. Quick to anger, quick to sadness. I’m trying to smooth out my edges which are rougher than usual. I am changed by this. I couldn’t tell you how exactly. I don’t think I’ll know for a few weeks or months still. But I can be patient with this, as I start to build the Fates their shrine in my house and consider spinning the rest of the yarn.
Mabon Lamb for the Moirai
4 pounds lamb shoulder
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil (and more for brushing)
Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic paste
Heat your oven to 425. Brush your lamb with olive oil and then use salt and Montreal Steak seasoning on it. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the other ingredients. Pour over your lamb. Cover your lamb. Cook for another 60-90 minutes. My Hestia tells me that shoulder bones are v. challenging to carve. A video for your reference.