Oak Spirit Sanctuary continues to welcome all members of Columbia area
Edited by Maya Bell and Cleo Norman

When the full moon rose, so did Oak Spirit Sanctuary.

Oak Spirit Sanctuary (OSS), a non-denominational 501(c)(3) pagan church, held its monthly lunar gathering and ritual on Saturday, Oct. 8, on its land in Boonville, Mo. As members dressed in capes and hoodies alike drove through the church’s 160 acres of lush, forested hills toward the main gathering site, OSS board member Madeline Wright prepared the ritual circle.

A key component: her drums.

Between Wright’s professional vocal training and ability to weave intricate beats together, she is the unofficial bard of OSS.

“I get to be a feral human around the fire with handrums and howling at the moon,” Wright said.

This lunar gathering event was no different. At the thumping sound of Wright’s hands hitting the drum top, the heads of people lingering nearby perked up. Those standing around slowly meandered toward the bonfire as if pulled by a magnet. They knew they were in for a show.

Wright, remaining humble, emphasized how music time required not just her skills, but the whole community’s involvement to “make it what it is.”

“It’s why we call them chants rather than songs,” Wright said. “There’s this definitive difference between ‘musician performance, audience’ and [people being] collaborative. Everyone’s got a shaker, maybe stomping the ground, maybe they’re singing along.”

OSS will host its next lunar gathering on Nov. 12, with the night concluding with music around the fire and Wright leading the melody.