October Full Moon Esbat

Background
This ritual is a tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien. This is the Moon Before the Dark, but tonight we call it Isilnarquelie, the Moon of October. Narquelie, is an enchanting month. It is especially magic as we approach All Hallows. It is a time of dark evenings. The air is crisp and leaves crunch underfoot. Bare tree branches reach like silver hands toward Isil, the Moon. At this time of year we begin to draw closer to home as darkness enfolds us earlier each day. In times past when the harvest was finished, evenings were a time to gather with family and friends and listen to stories. Around the “tale fires” myths and legends would be shared. The gods and goddesses, and ancient heroes would come to life. This ritual includes a story.

October Full Moon Ritual
Moon Before the Dark

Setup
Items needed for this ritual include: Six candles, one of which should be silver (for the Goddess) and one gold (for the God); Pictures, trinkets or any memorabilia from J.R.R. Tolkien’s work to decorate the altar (optional).

The Ritual
As you walk the perimeter of your circle say:

Isilnarquelie, Moon Before the Dark,
To the realm of Middle-Earth, this night I mark,
Remembering the light of the two trees,
By the holy faeries, sacred space I decree.

Walk to the edge of the circle in each direction and speak, then light its corresponding candle on the altar. Stand in front of the altar for the Goddess and God.

I call to Formen, the North, and its power and strength. I call to the Dwarves, Durin’s Folk, masters of metalcraft; join me in my circle. Aiya.

I call to Romen, the East, and its glory. I call to the Elves, the Eldar who bring learning and beauty to Middle-earth; join me in my circle. Aiya.

I call to Hyarmen, the South, and its untrodden wilds. I call to the Hobbits, people of the Shire with joyful spirits; join me in my circle. Aiya.

I call to Numen, the West, and its mysteries. I call to the Vanyar, first and smallest of Tol Eressëa across the Western sea; join me in my circle. Aiya.

I call to Ilyaheru, Lord of All. Come, be with me as Laurelin, the Golden Tree and source of the sun. Aiya.

I call to Ilyatari, Lady of All. Come, be with me as Silpion, the White Tree and source of the moon. Aiya.

This is a story of how the world was formed and how the sun and the moon came into existence; according to Tolkien. The world itself was sung into existence by the music of Ainur, you can think of them as angels. The Ainur’s choir of beautiful voices singing exquisite harmonies was combined with the spark, “the secret fire that burns at the heart of the world”, which was provided by the gods. A soft light of white and gold lit this new-formed place. The “great ones” called the Valar, entered the new world. One of the four great ones was Manwe. His wife Varda, “Queen of the Stars”, was also among them. Others included Yavanna and her younger sister Vana.

This point in time was called Lomendanar, “the Days of Gloaming”. Even though the world was lit with silver and gold light, the light was not “gathered together” and so the world seemed always in twilight. To concentrate the light and make it stronger, two mighty lamps were raised upon great pillars. One lamp shed light of silver and the other of gold.

Another of the great ones called Melko (also known as Melkor and Morgoth), declared that the pillars were strong and would last for all time. However, he knew that the pillars were actually made of ice. Melko was the original bad guy who later became the mentor of Sauron.
The lamps upon the pillars blazed and lit the world, but their heat soon began to melt the ice. As the pillars thawed the seas rose. Eventually, the falling flame of the lamps created fires upon the land. The world fell into gloaming again.

The Valar moved west to the Outerlands and built mighty mountains around the land that became known as Valinor. In the middle of their land they dug two pits. In one they placed seven gold rocks from the sea and a fragment of the broken lamp of golden light. In the other pit they placed three large pearls and a star provided by Varda. Rich earth was used to cover each pit and then songs were sung around the newly created mounds.

After a time, a small shoot emerged from one of the pits. It began to glow with a soft yellow light. As it grew golden buds emerged and then leaves of dark green with golden light around their edges. Gold flowers hung in clusters and blazed like bright lamps that gave illumination to the world. This tree was named Laurelin.

After twelve hours of light from Laurelin a shoot arose from the other mound. It shed a soft silver light. As it grew its bark was like a white pearl. Blue-green, spear-shaped leaves sprouted, followed by great flowers that blossomed and spilled radiant silver light across the land. Its light was not as bright as Laurelin’s. This tree was named Silpion.

The trees didn’t have sap as we know trees to have. Instead their sap was light, and so each was “watered” with the light of the other.
As Silpion’s silver light grew in strength, the light of Laurelin faded. And so the cycle began: As Silpion’s light grew, Laurelin’s faded, and then as Laurelin’s grew, Slipion’s faded. Laurelin’s bright golden light created day and Silpion’s luminescence softened the darkness. In between times, during the fading and growing of light, a delicate mingling of gold and silver created a soft twilight.
And so for several thousand years there was peace and beauty in Valinor. This was the time when the first born, the Elves, were awakened and brought into the world.

But the mountains that surrounded Valinor did not keep Melko out. He hated the rekindled light and plotted to destroy the trees just as he had the two lamps. Forming an alliance with the great horrible spider, Ungoliont, they crept into Valinor during a festival, attacked and devastated the trees. Once again, the world fell into darkness.

The Valar were grieved that their trees of wonder had been destroyed. Gathering all the gold they could find, they “watered” Laurelin with all their wealth. Yavanna brought phials of gold and silver, stood between the two trees and cast down the vessels in an attempt to revive them, but to no avail.

The Valor went to their homes but Vana stayed behind. As she wept upon Laurelin, she wrapped her long blond braid around the tree stump.

A small shoot appeared from the blackened tree.

“Light hath returned,” she shouted and the other Valar returned.

Blooms appeared on this new shoot, but a wind blew the petals from the tree. One radiant flower remained and produced a fruit. Vana said to cut it from the tree, but others disagreed. Before anything could be decided, the fruit fell to the ground. As it broke open a dazzling light like red and amber flames shot skyward. The Valar called upon the gods to build a ship and launch the brilliant light into the heavens beyond Melko’s reach. As it rose in the sky, the heavens turned from black to blue.

Lorien, one of the Lords of the Valar, sat beside Silpion and sang. As had happened with Laurelin, a small shoot appeared, followed by a few dark green leaves. As the leaves grew, one flower appeared and was called the “Rose of Silpion”. Before the flower could fully open, the bough broke and crashed to the ground bruising the Rose.

Lorien called on the gods to create another ship with which to launch the Rose of Silpion into the heavens. A boat of clear Elfin glass was made to hold the Rose. The Ship of the Moon was sent into the sky and eventually, like the dance of light between Laurelin and Silpion, the courses of the sun and moon were set.

Now, when you look upon the sun as it crosses the sky and when you see the moon’s mysterious sheen, think of Valinor. Remember the two trees, the beauty and the peace that once existed.

After reading take a little time to enjoy the simple pleasure of reading or listening to a magical tale. When you are ready, extinguish the candles in reverse order from which they were lit.

Ilyatari, Lady of All, thank you for the beauty and mystery of moonsheen. I will carry in my heart the memory of Silpion, the White Tree. I bid you farewell. Laita.

Ilyaheru, Lord of All, thank your for the beauty and radiance of the sun. I will carry in my heart the memory of Laurelin, the Golden Tree. I bid you farewell. Laita.

Numen, West, holy Vanyar, thank you for your presence this night. I bid you farewell as I return to my own realm. Laita.

Hyarmen, South, dear Hobbits, thank you for your presence this night. I bid you farewell as I return to my own realm. Laita.

Romen, East, blessed Elves, thank you for your presence this night. I bid you farewell as I return to my own realm. Laita.

Formen, North, stalwart Dwarves, thank you for your presence this night. I bid you farewell as I return to my own realm. Laita.

Facing the altar, say:
My circle is open but unbroken,
No longer sacred, this space I decree.
Words of wonder have been spoken,
In faith and unity, blessed be.
Laita.

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