The January full moon is called, in some traditions, the Wolf Moon. I am posting my Wolf Moon ritual here. It is a story-telling ritual. I was inspired some years back by a PBS series called “In the Valley of Wolves” which featured the saga of a pack of wolves called (of all things) the Druids. They were at one time the largest and most successful wolf pack ever recorded in Yellowstone National Park. I highly recommend watching, especially if you love wolves.
My second inspiration came from Rudyard Kipliing’s “The Law of the Jungle”
I originally wrote this ritual a few years back, when I was a prominent member of a coven. At the time I felt that our group needed healing from some of the struggles that every coven experiences. The story told itself, easily and naturally. I hope you enjoy it.
This is a Wiccan framed ritual, with a bit of native american flair. I’m fond of mixing things up a bit. By “Wiccan framed”, I mean, we consecrate space, we cast circle, we call quarters (for protection and inspiration); we invoke deity; we perform a magical working to raise energy and set intention; we release or ground the energy (or sometimes place it into a talisman or physical spell piece); we thank and release deity; thank and release quarters; take up the circle and say farewell. I was taught that once one becomes proficient in creating and performing traditional Wiccan rituals, then everything is open to interpretation, creativity and innovation.
So here it is.
This ritual was performed for a crowd of people. But feel free to adapt and use whatever works for you.
I will also say that because this was “Story Time” and I wanted those gathered to hear with the ears and minds of children, I invited participants to wear pajamas, bring pillows, blankets, stuffed animals. We also used milk and cookies for cakes and ale.
With sage and sweet grass , each person faces outward from the circle and takes the smoking cauldron and assists in “marking” our territory with the scent. While High Priestess recites the following in the center;
Tonight we are pack – by our intentions made one;
This night in this space – no wolf is lone;
We gather to listen, open ears to what’s said;
We gather together, agreed to follow where led.
Our circle is cast by the territory marked;
With the scent of the ages, and our journey embarked.
We ask that the spirit of wolf packs world ‘round;
Be present here with us, as your truths we expound.
Like cubs may we listen to the story that’s told,
Open and child-like as the message unfolds;
Protected and safe this pack shall remain;
For the territory’s sacred, this space our domain.
In the east I invoke Eagle – From the skies join us here
Grant us your wisdom your logic so fair;
In the south I invoke Snake – from fiery desert appear
Grant us your passion, make our intentions clear;
In the west I invoke the playful Otter
Grant us the wisdom of joy – as you come from the water;
In the north I invoke the strong Buffalo;
Grant us fertile soil for our intentions to grow.
Mother Earth and Father Sky – please join us in this sacred space prepared in your honor. We wish to tell a story from which all may learn in the tradition of the old wise ones. Please help your humble priestess this night to tell it well, help our pack to hear the words which have the most meaning for them. And place in us all the wonder and joy of a good story told among friends in the spirit of love. Hail and welcome.
At this point High Priest/ess might give some instruction or set up the story a bit. The participants are invited to sit and get comfortable, with their blankets and teddy bears to listen as the story is told…
Dana Darkfur…. The story of one wolf’s Journey.
Dana Darkfur awoke to a strange feeling. She was being shoved, or stroked hard by something WET!
“EEEWW! Mom! Why the spit bath?!”
“There’s a pack council meeting tonight, pup! And YOU are going to be clean for it!”
Dana shook herself and tried to break free – to no avail. Her mother’s relentless tongue kept on cleaning. She rolled her eyes, “Aww… Council, schmouncil – what’s the big deal?” – “OUCH! Whatdya bite me for??”
Her mother, Aurora, a well respected pack wolf, had raised a litter or two. She had seen the good that could come from being a cooperative pack member… and the ill that can come from not. She glared at Dana… her most difficult pup to date and said, “Dana, one day you will understand the importance of being a member of the pack. It’s Survival! It’s Community! This is not just a way for grown up wolves to control our young, you know! There’s a REASON I teach you these things! You keep clean! You obey the elders! You never take from a kill of theirs without permission! If they say move your den, you move it! There are REASONS for all of it…..”
Dana allowed the lecture to continue without really listening. There was no escaping it. AGAIN. She reluctantly started helping with the bath, cleaning her muddy haunches. She began to daydream about hunting and playing with the other young wolves.
Soon she was free and out stalking a smallish weasel with her younger sister. Kyra was a pack wolf through and through. She ALWAYS obeyed, always followed the rules. Dana couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for Kyra.. so carbon copy – she rolled her eyes.
The grown ups usually left the young ones to their stalking and play-hunting. It was good practice. And Kyra, being the good pack wolf, tried to emulate the hunting style of the older pack members. They took turns, she observed, stalking and chasing, until their prey was worn out. Then they killed.
Dana, however, tried to hunt like a mountain lion or something. Kyra watched her chasing this little weasel. It was pretty quick! She knew not to interfere, because whenever Kyra tried to take a turn in their hunts, Dana would nip at her feet and chase her away! So she sat watching and let Dana chase. Dana ran this way and that after the weasel, which was wiry and kept changing directions and going around brush. It hid under one bush until Dana came close to one side and then burst out at full speed from the other side, setting off the chase again. This went on for quite some time until Kyra could see that both Dana and the weasel were breathing pretty hard, slowing down.
She laughed a little and encouraged Dana., “Look, He’s tired! Time for the Kill! Get Him!”
Dana said, “Don’t think I won’t!” and POUNCED… on nothing… the weasel had, well weaseled out of her grasp. She chased some more… angry now and POUNCED again!! … on nothing.
When the weasel escaped this time she rolled on her back and panted with her tongue hanging out. “I give up!”, she said.
So Kyra stood up.. trotted casually after the weasel, picked it up in her young but powerful jaws and shook her head and broke it’s neck. She raised her head high with the dead weasel dangling from her mouth, tossed a muffled, “Fanks fer wearin’ it out fer me!” and pranced off happily, with Dana gaping after her as she went.
This was the way much of Dana’s youth went. She always seemed a bit out of step, a little different from the others. She didn’t mind really. And she just didn’t understand all this emphasis on the pack, the pack – always the pack.
The Council of Elders and the Alpha, male and female wolves of this pack known as the Druids were so revered, even feared. But it seemed to Dana, that they only way they got to those positions was by being different, more aggressive. Even sometimes by killing a fellow pack member. The leadership changed paws so many times it was hard to keep track. This was a contentious group, fighting all the time.
Aurora had told her of a time in her own youth when the Alpha wolves and the council were steady and strong for a long time. And under their reign the pack grew to great numbers with many healthy litters each spring. It was a peaceful and prosperous time. Dana wondered what was different then. What did they do so Right?
As she grew to maturity, Dana did learn some pack lessons. She learned how much easier it was to hunt with friends and to partake of a group kill, when you didn’t have to be “The Star”. She also learned what and when she was allowed to eat. Sometimes learning was perilous!
She recalled a time as a pup when she spent a week in the den with a badly wounded shoulder, her mother pacing, and fretting over her, licking at the wound until she recovered. Dana had tried to take a small piece of a kill that the alpha male had brought in. A hard lesson, but well learned.
By the time Dana and her sister, Kyra, had reached mating age, Dana still didn’t know the secret behind the strength of those Elders her mother grew up with, but she knew the failure of this group. Rule was only gained by fear and death. She had a lot of friends who were, by turns terrified into submission, then longed for overthrow. Dana’s mother, Aurora, kept to the party line. “Pack life is pack life. Do what you’re told. Keep your head down. Get fed.” That was pretty much her mantra these days. But so often, to Dana, Aurora looked sad and worried.
“The Peace-time”, her mother had told her, “was marked by real trust. The Elders cared very much for their pack. They took their responsibility seriously. It had never been about Force. There was power, of course, but it had been tempered by Compassion. There was Honor, balanced by Humility.” These stories seemed to Dana to be just that… stories. She had never seen a time like her mother described. She doubted it was possible.
Aurora was still a young and healthy she-wolf and the Alpha males had mated with her on occasion. And this spring she was to give birth to a new litter from the Alpha. She was cautiously happy. The pack seemed to be growing.
But the Alpha Female, was not happy. Aurora threatened her place – because she had not been able to bear pups this year. And one evening very close to the birthing time, Aurora lay in her den, exhausted from the early evening hunt. And Dana watched as Genna, the Alpha female burst into the den and dragged Aurora out, snarling and biting madly.
She was about to intervene when she was stopped by Kyra. “Are you crazy?! She’s Alpha!” So the two young she-wolves watched as their ailing and pregnant mother was torn to pieces by this vicious bitch.
Two decisions were made that day. Dana turned and walked slowly out of the Druid pack territory, to become a lone wolf. And Kyra, no longer under the fair and watchful eye of Aurora, set her sights on the Alpha position, and began to plot her rise to the top.
Years passed. Dana was learning a new way now. She HAD to be the star of every kill. And sometimes she went hungry. But she was surviving. She learned not to leave scent or scat too close to the territories of other packs OR her former Druids. She was learning determination, over dependence. She was learning to shelter rather than socialize. It wasn’t pack wisdom, but it was wisdom just the same. And she was learning to lead, rather than follow.
Dana kept a sharp ear on the boundaries of other packs. Ear rather than eye or nose because wolf packs tended to mark their boundaries with howls back and forth between. Sometimes, Dana was right in the middle. And on those nights, sometimes – a loneliness over took her – and she would join the howling. But she dared not give it full voice, lest she be discovered. Dana was a tough wolf but certainly not tough enough to take on a whole pack. This much she knew.
One clear, bright, winter day, Dana was hunting an otter near a stream. She kept to smaller prey for the most part. There was only herself to feed. But this otter was giving her a run for her money. She would stalk, quiet and stealthy as can be and just when she was ready to pounce, the thing would do some kind of flip and land in the water with a splash. It seemed to be playing with her, mocking her! An Otter – Mocking a WOLF! Not a very smart otter… then again, maybe she wasn’t such a smart wolf.
A sudden SNAP of a branch behind her made her jump so high in the air that SHE fell in the water, and ended up facing the shore. The black male wolf standing at the water’s edge was snickering. She glowered at him, laying her ears down flat and baring her teeth. He didn’t flinch or move away. If this was an alpha from another pack, she could be in trouble. But he didn’t smell of a pack.
He gave in first. He sat on his haunches and dipped his head and nose down slightly. A gesture of friendliness. He meant her no harm. She relaxed – a little.
Finally he turned away and started walking, but not without looking back at her from time to time. She was meant to follow. She was very curious now, and fairly sure that he was Lone, like her. So she followed, – at a distance. He brought her to a fresh kill. He had, apparently brought down a young doe. Impressive. A good meal sized section of meat was already missing. He bent his snout to the carcass and pushed a bit of meat towards her. Then he backed up and sat down. She was very hungry. ….
Some distance away from this meeting of the minds, a fierce battle raged on in the Druid Pack. Kyra’s quest for power was both ruthless and brutal. She would not tolerate any other pregnant females. And her killing spree left the Druids’ numbers decimated. Now, Kyra and the Alpha female were the only two wolves who would bear pups in the spring. Kyra’s determination doubled.
After the night’s hunt, when the females were feeding, Kyra stepped up to take part before her turn. Genna had not taken her fill yet. This was forbidden by pack law, but Kyra refused to back down, and the battle began. They circled one another, ears layed back and snarling. As they leapt at each other, fangs flashing, Kyra’s fury was so great that she even wounded the Alpha male when he tried to step in.
As Alpha female, Kyra would continue her reign of terror on the other wolves. Fear and despair gripped the Druids. There seemed to be no hope.
Dana awoke in the early evening, with her new mate, Shadow by her side. They would begin their nightly hunt shortly, and as Dana gazed at the full moon she felt the first quickening of life in her belly. Suddenly, the strangest feeling came over her. It wasn’t quite fear. It wasn’t quite loneliness. But it was very like both of those.
As they hunted that night, Dana wondered how this would work in the spring when the pups arrived. Lone wolves with pups didn’t do very well. There was no one to watch the little ones when they hunted, and the kills had to be larger to feed the whole family. It was time to return to her pack. So Dana and Shadow started listening for their howls.
They returned to the Druid pack very quietly. And they were welcomed by some of Dana’s old friends. Although they were glad to see her, they looked even more haggard and frightened than when she’d left. And when she enquired after her sister, she discovered why.
Her friends tried to convince her to leave. The fact that she was pregnant made her a target for Kyra. They told her she couldn’t imagine how fierce and cruel her sister had become. But Dana knew. She had seen fierce and cruel, before.
She stood up straight and looked each frightened wolf in the face as she spoke. “There was a Peace-time in this pack once. Some of your parents told you about it. My mother spoke of it often. The leaders were wise and merciful. They saw their position as responsibility, not power. They protected the young. They allowed the adolescents to grow strong and to have a say in the way things went. The leaders of the greatest Druid Pack that ever was, ruled with love and trust. Their only thoughts were for the pack, ever the pack – and not themselves and their own power. We can make that happen again. We MUST make that happen again. For our ancestors sake… and for our pups sakes. Please… all of you… you who remember …. Help me.”
She turned and headed straight for the Alpha Den. Kyra had heard the commotion and was up and ready for her. The scent of another pregnant female had her already snarling. She attacked and somewhere in the midst of the bloody battle realized this was Dana, and flinched and hesitated. Dana didn’t waste the opportunity. In an instant her jaws were clamped around her sister’s throat and Kyra was on the ground, with Dana’s paw holding her there. It would’ve been simple to kill her, but Dana waited patiently until Kyra’s fury subsided and she relaxed. Dana held her just a little longer – until the whole pack was gathered and could see who had won this battle. Kyra began to tremble and whimper beneath her and this was the sign Dana was waiting for. She would not kill her sister. Kyra would bear pups this spring – healthy ones – and there were few enough here.
Dana finally released her sister and gave her a space of a few feet. Kyra let out a low growl with her head down, which turned to a whine as she backed away to find a new den.
Dana, now rightfully the Alpha Female, would assemble a council of wise compassionate wolves. This pack would be strong again.
She climbed the tall rocks, up and up as the moon rose in the sky. She pointed her snout skyward and let out a howl, full voiced and clear. Her pack-mates joined in and the sound grew strong and loud, transcendent. The howls rose up and enveloped her, spiraling up and up around Dana and above her to the sky, towards the moon. It was the sound of unity, and it made her pack stronger. It made the rocks taller. It made the moon brighter. And it made the world better.
At this point the High Priest/ess would howl and invite participants to join in and howl as a pack to help raise the energy and then let it fall back on the group.
The closing would be much the same as the opening, only backwards. There’s plenty of leeway here.
So there’s my Wolf Moon! I hope you enjoy it or at least enjoyed the story!