The Temple to Luna, Goddess of the Full Moon, was built in the sixth century B.C. by Emperor Augustus on the Aventine Hill, overlooking the Tiber. There were tumbled tiled floors, double curved stairs, high archways, views of the river on all sides, groves of olives and lemons. On March 31st, upon the completion, a ceremony was held. It is said that the Emperor had commanded Homer to write a hymn invoking Luna, which was to be sung by 27 girls. And the story goes that, when the hymn was sung, Luna rode across the sky in Her silver chariot drawn by two horses, one white, the other black, pulling the Full Moon.
It became custom for a festival to be held each year on March 31st. This year was no different. The Temple had been busy all week with the Priestesses cleaning, scrubbing, prepping, to be sure everything was shining its best to be ready for the gala. People traveled across the land to take part, with vendors putting up stalls around the grounds selling their wares, magicians showing off their skills, seers forecasting futures, and healers creating ease where there was pain.
Prioress Selene woke just before sunrise. She opened the doors to the stone terrace and stood at the balcony. She loved this time of day … the stillness … and felt awed by the flow of the river, the undulating hills, the charm of the green fields and farms. The scent of rosemary, lavender, and sage lifted through the air that sparkled with dew. She closed her eyes, and gave thanks to Goddess Luna. She felt something different this morning ~ a charge in the air as goose-flesh covered her arms.
“This day feels quite auspicious,” Selene whispered to Luna. She continued quietly, “We not only celebrate the completion of your Temple, but there will be a second Full Crow Moon to light your way if you so bless us.”
She turned and walked to her hearth and with a flick of her finger, raised the simmering fire higher, bringing a bright glow and warmth into the room. The quiet flutter of her charges as they began their day could be heard outside her door. She knew soon the Novices would gather in the East tower, waiting for her. She knelt before her altar, bowed her head, and whispered prayers for good fortune. She continued softly, from her heart, “We celebrate you dear Goddess this day and all days, bringer of Light. Thank you for your guidance and for all that you provide. May the Chosen be known.” She ran her hand over the box made of Moonstones that sat on her altar. It was truly radiant and magical how the stones, with their rich transparent clarity, could change in an instant from pink to green to yellow to blue.
Selene believed this was the year that Luna would once again ride across the sky in her chariot when called by the Chosen as a dream before waking seemed foretelling. In the dream, Luna stood before her and spoke, “Prioress, I watch your care, your love, and will appear when I am called.”
Prioress placed the Moonstone box in a white velvet bag and walked to the East tower. With each Priestess she passed, they placed their hands over their hearts and prayed, ‘Bright Blessings to the Chosen.’
The air at the Tower was filled with nervous excitement and anticipation, a fizzy sort of vibration. The Novices bowed their heads when Prioress entered the hall.
“My daughters, it is a day like no other. You have studied and learned the magic of the Elements ~ Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. You know how to call them in, how to create peace and harmony where there is chaos, and that life cannot be without death and rebirth … the dark and the light … joy and sorrow. You have called on the Moon, on Luna, to open your heart and trust your intuition. You understand how She presides over the cycles of the Earth, agriculture, fertility, and childbirth. And you have given yourself to Her … you have made your vows to protect, to respect, to shield, and to harm none.
Prioress took the Moonstone box from the velvet bag and held it out in front of her. A sound of wonder filled the hall. “As you all know, one of you will be the Chosen, the one who calls on Luna this night to ride across the sky in Her chariot, bringing to us Her blessing.
We will know who the Chosen is when the light from the crystal orb inside this box shines upon her.”
Prioress opened the box and held the crystal orb in the palm of her hand. It began to vibrate, and, in the blink of an eye, a light rose, brighter than the sun. It began to dance and hum and then, as the room filled with rainbows, the light surrounded one of the Novices, Diana, and all went into a quiet hush.
Diana radiated joy as tears filled her eyes and made their way down her cheeks. Prioress stood back, watching the Novices surround Diana in hugs and kisses. It was truly a love fest. “It really is an auspicious day,” Selene mused.
Word traveled quickly through the Temple, and soon the East tower was filled with the Priestesses to join in wishing Diana blessings. As the Sun sat high, and the sounds of the travelers and venders, magicians, seers, and healers rose to the tower window, Prioress suggested it was time for all to prepare for the festival. She motioned to Diana to follow her into the antechamber.
Before Prioress could close the door, Diana spurted out, “I’m scared. What if I don’t find the right words? What if I open my mouth and nothing comes out? What if the Moon doesn’t even rise? What if Luna does not appear?”
Prioress cupped Diana’s face and looked deeply into her eyes as brown and warm as the summer, “Trust yourself, dear one.” When she took Diana’s hands, they both smiled as light sparked out between their fingers. Prioress continued, “You will have the words. You will speak with clarity and grace.” She walked Diana to her room where a Priestess was waiting to help her dress and prepare.
As a chime sounded, the doors to all rooms opened, glowing lights shimmered along the gleaming wood floors and the towering ceilings, as the women who were dressed in their white flowing gowns belted with silver inlaid with moonstones, walked to the main door where Selene was waiting. She opened the door and a bevy of doves flew in a heart formation above their heads as they walked down the limestone stairs, stepping into a world of miracles and magic. The ground was covered with flowers ~ roses and daffodils, irises and tulips. The air was filled with song and laughter. Even the sheep seemed to be dancing in the meadow.
The day flew by quickly. The golden hour had come. Quiet filled the air as the Priestesses and Novices gathered in a wide ring of white candles, with each candle going to flame when a Priestess or Novice stood near. Selene spread her hands and confirmed ~ “We cast this sacred circle for ritual, protection, unity, and blessings.” Taking her athame from her belt, she pointed to each Direction ~ East, South, West, North. She then called in the Elements ~ Air, Fire, Water, Earth.
Once the circle was cast, Selene motioned to Diana to join her in the center. Diana stood quietly, gathering her faith, her trust, and her hope. She raised her arms with the grace of a leaf on the whisper of wind and prayed clear and true:
Goddess Luna hear our call
We ask you bless us one and all
In this holy place, in this holy hour
We call upon your light and power
Dark and Light, opposites each
This we know is what you teach
With honor and grace
We create this sacred space
To call on you Goddess bright
To bring to us your blessed Light
With the Full Crow Moon a dazzling sight
On this most auspicious night
As Diana spoke these words, with magic swimming through the air, star showers sprinkled down and a patchwork of dazzling rainbow colors danced across the sky. Then, in the breathtaking silence, the soft steady beat of hooves was heard. And there She was in all Her luminous grace and brilliance … Luna on her silver chariot drawn by two horses, one white, the other black, pulling the Full Crow Moon, big and bright. As Luna released the Moon in its rightful place, She looked down, and with her fingers, touched her forehead, mouth, and heart ~Luna’s blessing for a clear mind, true speech, full heart. And then She rode off out of sight.
The Moon shined a magical dazzling glow over the land and laid like silk atop the Tiber. The cool breath of the evening stirred Diana out of trance. Selene reached her in time to catch Diana as her legs gave out.
Diana drew a deep breath, “We did it! We brought Luna’s blessings to us.”
“You surely did my daughter, you surely did!”
Everyone slept soundly that night, with a deep sense of gratitude and reverence for the breathtaking beauty they had the privilege to behold, to feel their hearts and souls expanding, to feel and see such extraordinary magic and the wonders life holds for us all.
May it be so …
Patricia R. Antolino was born and raised in the Bronx in the 1950s. A self-avowed hippie, she couldn’t have asked for a better time to grow up. The civil rights movement, protests against the Vietnam war, and the women’s movement kept her engaged and solidified her desire to bring peace and remembrance of our connection to each other. After she retired, she moved to Tampa where she considered herself lucky to connect with Marilyn Myerson’s Imaginative Writing Group, and became a member of her “Crew.” Patricia’s lifelong desire is to bring hope, joy, and a smile to those she meets and through the stories she shares.