On Saturday night, close to a thousand women gathered at the eastern entrance of Los Angeles' Griffith Park. At the stroke of seven, they made their way up a narrow trail, lighting their way with flashlights until they reached a clearing at the top. Once they had all ascended the hill, the women turned their heads up to the sky and howled at the full moon.
The event was organized by Becca Gordon, a Los Angeles-based doula, yoga instructor and childbirth educator, who had initially invited nine female friends on Facebook to join her for a hike to celebrate January's full moon.
"The event struck a chord with other women and went viral," Gordon told The Huffington Post. Soon, the group, which she named The Urban Coven, amassed nearly 3,500 members. She estimates that 1,000 of those women turned up for the hike, which was intended as a way for women -- whether they identify as spiritual or not -- to connect with one another and honor the cycles of the moon. The gathering echoed celebrations that women from different religious and cultural traditions around the globe have carried on for centuries.
“I strongly believe that any time women come together in solidarity and sisterhood, great power emerges.”
The event comes at a time when many women around the world are finding ways to create sacred space with one another and form spiritual communities. The hike -- a celebration of the lunar cycle -- was reminiscent of celebrations from modern paganism that honor the full moon as a time of fullness and manifestation.
Amy Clarke, a musician who is active in several earth-based spiritual communities in Los Angeles, said she joined the hike as a chance to celebrate the moon in fellowship.
"At the full moon, I often feel called to celebrate in community," she told HuffPost. Such celebrations, she said, offer a chance to "connect with Mother Earth and our place in the universe."
Amy Clarke, left, and Becca Gordon, right, pose for a photo after the hike.
The popularity of the event "speaks to a yearning that modern, urban women have for connection with one another," Gordon said.
Many of the women at Saturday's hike were there in groups -- mothers and daughters, friends, colleagues. Some arrived solo and struck up conversations with other women or hiked in solitude.
Once they had gathered at the top of the trail, Gordon lead the women through a short ritual, inviting them to use the full moon as an opportunity to shed old habits and worries.
She asked the women to gaze up at the full moon, then look into the eyes of a woman they didn't know and tell her; "You are perfect, you are whole." Many of them heeded the invitation, and the message spread throughout the crowd.
"The ritual [was] designed to bring us together as a community of sister women and to give all of us an opportunity to share in that releasing or surrender associated with the full moon," Gordon said.
The full moon hikes will repeat monthly, with the next one scheduled for Monday, February 22, Gordon said. As the tradition catches on, she said she hopes to see the community grow.
"I strongly believe that any time women come together in solidarity and sisterhood, great power emerges," Gordon said.
Also on HuffPost: