Fire has long been a standard ritual tool for the Nomadic Chantry of the Gramarye. We scry in the fireplace when the weather is cool enough for us to build a fire. Additionally, the Lady has charged us to ask at the time of the full moon for that which is our desire, so we burn our petitions to the Goddess and the God during our Full Moon Circle. It is the burning of petitions that I will address, as it is an excellent and magical way for the petitioner to clarify, in his own mind, his objective. I use the generic "he" and "his" as it is less cumbersome. If you feel the need, you may substitute "she" and "hers" where appropriate. The petition, ideally, is something that is lacking, or sorely needed, to fulfill the life of the petitioner.
Prior to gathering in Sacred Space to celebrate the Full Moon Circle, each participant is given a small sheet of parchment paper, which is available in most stationery stores, and is encouraged to write his petition on the parchment. The sheet must be small enough (one inch by two is sufficient) to burn thoroughly and quickly so the cauldron will not become clogged with paper and the burning delayed. Petitions should be stated in four or five words. This helps the petitioner to truly define his thoughts. "I want to be rich" does not qualify. We have found that if the petition is lengthy the true wish may be come ill-defined, and may reap less than the desired response. Petitions should be written in pencil. Not only does a pencil write better on the parchment, but it seems to bond the wish more firmly to the parchment, and produces a better result. I have no idea why this is so, but many years of petition burning has proven it to be true. The petitioner will carry the paper into Circle with him.
Sufficient pieces of parchment paper
A cauldron large enough to hold the petitions, but not so large that the supply of fuel required would cause a fire larger that anticipated or desired. My small cauldron is three inches high and five across, and will handle up to twenty petitions. For more than this I use my large cauldron which is six inches high by ten and a half inches across.
A supply of fuel. I use grain alcohol. Everclear is one of the names under which it is bottled, and it can be obtained in any liquor store. It seems to burn more evenly and cleaner than the Sterno type of solid fuel. The amount needed is surprisingly small; indoors never more than a shot, and usually much less. Outdoors the amount will vary depending on the depth of the cauldron, the strength of the wind and the ambient dew point and barometric presssure. I strongly advise that the practicioner experiment with the amount of fuel and the size of the cauldron required to burn a specific number of petitions. It could be disastrous to go it blind. The area where the burning is to take place, if in a home, should be magically fireproofed, and a container of water somewhere in the near vicinity is a wise idea. If the burning is to be done outside it is a really good idea to get permission for an open flame if the site is not in your own backyard. Our good name is precious, and we need not antagonize the owners of a property or the guards of a park.
A long taper or match with which to light the cauldron. The word "long" is not used lightly. The flame may jump higher than expected. It is beautiful, but dangerous to the unprotected hand.
During the Circle ceremony, after the cleansing and casting of the circle, and after reading the "Charge of the Goddess, the cauldron is placed in the center of the Circle or the Sacred Space. The HPS declares it is time to petition the Lady and invites the congregation to come forward and present their petitions to the flame while reminding them of their part in the procedure. One receives according to the effort one has put forward to obtain his desire for himself. Truly does the Lord (and Lady) help those who help themselves. While the petitions are being fed into the cauldron, and afterward while they are still burning, the Circle chants the following:
Fire, fire, burning higher, making music like a choir
Bring to me my heart's desire.
When the fire has burned out the cauldron(s) should be removed from the center of the circle. Please remember the cauldron is HOT, and should be handled with a utensil or with gloves or a pot holder.
The Full Moon ceremony is expanded during the Sabats, each Solstice and Equinox. Since these are a time of transition, two pieces of parchment are prepared; one to rid oneself of a habit, trait or condition that has become unnecessary or honorous during the past year, and one to bring to ones life a new condition or dimension, much like the Full Moon petition. Two cauldrons are used. As one faces North their placement is thus; the one for riddance is in West where the waters may wash the slate clean, and the one for aquisition is in the East where we find beginnings. The procedure is the same, with the cleansing cauldron the one which is lighted first.
During the years we have been burning our petitions, the Goddess, the God and the gods, spirits and watchers have truly blessed us with riches. We have gained new jobs, new dwellings, mates and health. When you have completed your wishing and have received your blessings remember to thank Deity, who helped you get them.
Rosemary Kooiman, Reverend High Priestess Nomadic Chantry of the Gramarye
The hour now is finally here,
Excitement is high, mingled
with a little fear. .
The garb is white and oh, so long
Feet are bare this we wait
to say we belong.
Hands bound with yellow, tight,
Eyes blinded now, to give inner light.
We enter answering with love and trust,
Magick names and follow we must
Around the circle that has been cast,
Each of the quarters named, honored, and past.
Each question asked and answered in kind
We are all now of same heart and mind.
The Wiccan Rede abide we must.
Now, out of darkness we are thrust
Altar first we see with candles all afire
Deities' power that flows through us , grows higher
Hands now free and held out in love,
Feet to walk the chosen path is our resolve.
Annointed in Air, Fire, Water and Earth,
Three times three our class is worth.
Now called Witch, each of the nine,
Tears flow with power that's been raised,
time after time.
Again the quarters we are to honor and bid farewell,
Nine hearts beat with magick as the power swells.
The Circle is now open but never broken,
Apprentice's Yellow at the waist now the
Chantry has spoken.
One turn of the wheel, a journey it has been,
Merry meet, Merry part
and Merry may we meet again.
This was written by a Celebrant after the First Elevation Ceremony of a class of Nine persons from Novice to Apprentice, Nomadic Chantry of the Gramarye, June 17, 2001.