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In Spokane, Pagan Blackout Ritual Observes the Darkness of Winter


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In Spokane, Pagan Blackout Ritual Observes the Darkness of Winter

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By Annemarie Frohnhoefer

Over one dozen pagans gathered in Spokane Valley on Sunday afternoon to practice a Blackout Ritual hosted by Spokane Magickal Moot, a community of Spokane Wiccans and pagans.

Selene Blackstar, a priestess-in-training, presided over the event. She set the tone by reading spooky stories and prompting a discussion about darkness and the supernatural. 

Those in attendance sat at a round table and were encouraged to share their own experiences. Some told anecdotes about working in Medical Lake near Eastern Washington State Hospital while others shared their encounters with spirits in places like abandoned houses and haunted apartments. One encounter involved a frightening fireplace full of scratching sounds, yet empty of squirrels, birds or other scratch-creating creatures. What was it? No one was sure.

As storytelling wound down, the LED lights and lanterns that cluttered the table were extinguished and the remaining overhead lights were turned off. Blackstar began the ritual with a simple, unaccompanied song invoking the “Mother of darkness, mother of light.”

Her bright and clear voice contrasted with the words of the song. Other members of the circle joined in a chanted chorus. Still singing, Blackstar cast a circle around the group. She swept the circle with a besom, or broom, to cleanse the space and then encircled the group with an illuminated string of fairy lights. 

After some silence and introspection, a haunting song, replete with electronic instruments and a female singer who seemed to channel the spirit of Stevie Nicks, played from a nearby laptop. The meat of the ritual was about to begin. 

Gwydion Pendragon (his craft name) summoned the spirits of earth from his position at the North side of the table. From the West, Lola Stardust summoned the spirits of water. Rachel Heatley summoned the spirits of fire from her position in the South. The spirits of the air were summoned from the East by Fiona Greenwood.

If this sounds like a closed ritual, it was not. The moot (a pagan term for a ritual meeting and knowledge sharing event) was held at the Spokane Valley Library. Spokane Magickal Moot advertised the ritual in the Spokesman-Review and on their Facebook page. The public was encouraged to attend.

Sarah Olson, a mother of three young children arrived at the library prepared to hear scary stories and learn something new. However, she decided not to join in the ritual since no other children were present. Looking for something a bit more child-friendly and educational, she decided to take her children for a walk around a local cemetery. 

Olson explained that she is not pagan, but her sister-in-law is pagan. She wants to find a way to connect the spirit of Halloween with the earth and nature. 

“It’s a seasonal experience,” she explained. 

Though Olson didn’t stay for the event, her words were echoed by Lola Stardust, the High Priestess of a local coven. Stardust summoned Nyx, the goddess of darkness, and described the importance of accepting the darkness within oneself. The celebrants joined together to acknowledge the presence of the goddess as they travel through the darkness that comes during this time of year. 

“Like clockwork, or seasonally, if you will, there is a time to turn our souls inward and work on ourselves, give our souls rest so that new growth can come. We must go through the darkness to get to the other side of it,” Stardust said. 

The ritual ended by honoring the gods with cake and ale. In observance of the rules of the Spokane Valley Library, no ale was consumed. However, cups of pomegranate juice made their way around the circle. 

“We drink pomegranate juice in acceptance of the underworlds within each of us,” Blackstar said.

Once the circle was broken, conversation resumed and knowledge is shared. One member of the group was quick to explain that darkness is not evil.

“Darkness is not evil or bad,” she said.“It’s part of life.”

The rest of the group enthusiastically agreed.

“It’s like a forest,” Pendragon said. “There are cycles of renewal and growth.”

He went on to describe the natural processes of culling and that nature is not always happy.

“There are storms, drought, floods, famine,” he continued. 

Nodding in agreement, Stardust added that the pandemic was like a global blackout ritual; that the time out gave the world a chance to heal. Other members of the group spoke about the reduction of emissions and other pollutants while the lockdowns occurred.

Fiona Greenwood added to Pendragon’s statements saying, “It’s like toxic positivity. If all you want is for everything to be positive then you can’t deal with problems. You can only deal with problems if you face them.”

The final words of the ritual intoned the same central belief: “Remember that the darkness is necessary and sometimes you must go inward before you can move forward.”

This story was updated on November 1, 2022.

Annemarie Frohnhoefer
Annemarie Frohnhoefer
Annemarie Frohnhoefer is a writer, editor and ghostwriter based in Spokane. Their work has appeared in High Desert Journal, The Inlander, The Spokesman-Review and other publications across the U.S. They are a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and a baptized Roman Catholic.

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[…] has welcomed in the Celtic new year with a spectacular display in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park…US: In Spokane, Pagan blackout ritual observes the darkness of winter Spokane Favs Over one dozen pagans gathered in Spokane Valley on Sunday afternoon to practice a […]

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