|8. A year of High Day rituals. (100 words min. each)|
BELTANE WRITE UP
Beltane 2018 was celebrated solitary on May 1st on land between the lake and bayou at the University where I go to connect with the nature spirits. Manannan mac Lir, psychopomp, god of the Otherworld and the sea, was gatekeeper and Brigid was honored as the bringer of inspiration. I did not have any deities of occasion. I am so used to a Lord and Lady that I spoke to honor “all the fair Gods and Goddesses” who engage in the dance of fertility and offered whiskey in thanks. I offered gifts at welcoming, in honor, and in thanks to each of the three Kindreds, twice to Brigid to help me share my meaning, and to Manannan mac Lir at the opening and closing of the gates. Ribbons charged with fecundity for my body, mind, and Sprit were charged and I danced with them to share the energies with the Worlds. I charged whiskey when Hallowing the Waters, asking the Kindreds for blessing before imbibing. It was strange to directly address the Kindreds as real, living beings and to do them honor and ask for their blessings in return. It challenges my previous ways of being in the world. I felt the rustle at the back of the neck, the build-up of tension, the sudden hush in the world or whip of wind at a moment of deep feeling… it was strange and new and good. I especially felt this when blessing the ribbons and the waters. I felt a sense of acceptance when making my offerings of thanks. I did not complete a full two powers meditation, although I did use my usual tree-based grounding and centering that is very similar. I also forgot my Faery Oracle and thus did not take an omen, which I regret.
SUMMER SOLSTICE WRITE UP
I celebrated Midsummer with Nine Waves Grove, which is Anglo-Saxon in Hearth Culture. I coordinated the after-ritual potluck, which gave me a chance to show my love through food. This was my first full Core Order rite. It was lovely. I did not have a distinct speaking part. I was so caught up in excitement that I forgot to even consider bringing an offering to Brigid. I was focused on this mistake for a few minutes but moved quickly into the present moment as the ritual progressed. I found that the Two Powers was still too fast for my liking but was able to connect with the energies regardless, although not as smoothly as I would have liked. When it was time for open offerings, the Grove provided herbs for us, and although no words came, my heart flowed with love for Her and I felt She knew and accepted that my offering was to Her. Heimdall, the Grove’s patron, was the gatekeeper. The beings of the occasion were Sunna, at the peak of her powers, and her brother Thunor of the Storms. Offerings were made to Her, asking Her not tip us into drought here in Texas, and to Him as Lord of Storms. After we completed these offerings, we also worked magic asking Thunor to help the Atlantic and Gulf hurricanes of this season to develop and dissipate harmlessly at sea, fulfilling their climatological function without harming anyone. The energy was smooth and strong throughout. I felt such a lovely sense of connection throughout my whole self when I took the Waters of Life. The omens were good, indicating our offering was accepted. They also indicated change occurring and access to resources enough to make it through the changes.
LAMMAS WRITE UP
This Lammas was celebrated with the Grove August 3rd, 2018. The indoor ritual had about 18 people present, nine of whom had ritual parts. During the Core Order Ritual, I Honored the Earth Mother as Nerthus and the Sky Father as Tiw. I wrote the prayers myself after some research. It was a deeply moving experience to feel energy change tenor with my words. This ritual’s Two Powers used nine breaths to create Druid Mist; I found it a very powerful sensory experience. During open offerings I gave a prayer and spring of rosemary to Brighid and herbs to the unnamed spirit who is aiding me. Ing Frey was honored for his sacrifice as the Deity of the Occasion. Many of us made an individual sacrifice from now until Samhain to honor His. I sacrificed hiding in fear that holds me back from my own harvest; Rev. Lauren read the Anglo-Saxon runes and determined that my offering was accepted. I also gave Ing Freya a corn dolly I made in thanks for His blessings. Rev. Lauren read the omens. Our offerings were deemed creative and resourceful (Beorc). Tiw’s rune had appeared multiple times during the individual sacrifices; it appeared again as the Blessing from the Ancestors offering an ally to light the path as we travel in darkness. The Nature Spirits blessing (Thorn) provided a warning that we should beware of thorny things hindering our progress. The Shining Ones blessed us with ancestral wealth (Ethel)- the knowledge that the journey we are taking as a community will lead to the wealth we hand down to our children and theirs. After creating and partaking of the Waters, we channeled that energy into fresh baked corn muffins for us to take home and place in the Earth for blessings and protection.
AUTUMNAL EQUINOX WRITE UP
I celebrated Autumnal Equinox with Nine Waves Grove 9/21/2018 as an ADF core order ritual in the Baltic Hearth. Astryd wrote and led the ritual, with support from Reverend Lauren. The beings of the occasion were sibling-spouses Jarylo, life/summer, and Marzanna, death/winter. We focused on mourning His death at Her hands and celebrating Her growing power through grief and despair in winter. The two powers was unique, exploring Belobog as light/order and Chernobog as dark/chaos, allowing these cosmic forces to mingle and find balance in ourselves. There was a breathtaking sensation within of energies dancing together. Deities included Mokosha and Dahzbog Earth Mother and Sky Father, Grandfather Spirit to bless the hearth, and Veles as Gatekeeper.
This was the most powerful ritual experience I have had; it moved me to tears. We always do a round of open offerings, and I made poetic offering to Brighid. I was anxious that She would not like it, but I felt Her acceptance flare up in my heart so strong I was shaking with it. The omen was read by Rev. Lauren using the Tarot, as that seemed appropriate to the culture of the area. The Magician indicated acceptance of our offerings. The interpretations that follow are her words. The Page of Swords (Ancestors) indicating many messages coming, perhaps too fast to catch them all. The Three of Wands (nature Spirits), saplings to tend as we look forward to our future. The Ace of Cups (Shining Ones)- love. We ended with a lovely potluck. I demonstrated making corn dollies, and everyone got to make one. We all felt the intensity- much “woo” as we say- and needed the time to celebrate and ground with good food and good connection after. It was truly a good fire that night.
SAMHAIN WRITE UP
I celebrated Hallows Eve with Nine Waves Grove in a full core order ritual on October 27th, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the UU church. We celebrated outside, in the dark, in inches of mud and knee-high grass, humidity and mosquitoes, and a fire ant pile I managed to be the person to locate. The Ancestors were the Beings of the Occasion, with individual offerings made to our own beloved dead and a group offering to the ancestors of us all. Some rituals flow beautifully forth; some are a comedy of errors. I was not my best due to external life demands and was to invoke, call the blessings of, and thank the Nature Spirits and Shining Ones. I went brain blank for the middle part, looked at Rev. Lauren in a panic, and she smoothly carried it forward. I have never been so out of tune in a ritual and yet I felt held in the Grove. The music was comforting, the Two Powers (of the Druid mist variety) filled me with energy and balance, and I felt our honoring of the ancestors in my bones and blood. Lauren took the omen; our offerings were accepted (ING- new beginning from old growth), and the Kindreds offered many blessings (Ancestors offered us movable wealth shared in a community that together we share and are enough (FEOH); Nature Spirits offered us enough to meet our needs, being enough as we are, and their joy in us (WYNN); and Shining Ones offered us burning away the unneeded to leave us with exactly enough for our Grove and ourselves to grow (NYD)). It was one of the most powerful rituals I have attended because it was so human, each of us giving what we could, connecting with ourselves, each other, and the Kindreds.
YULE WRITE UP
I celebrated Yule on the Solstice with Nine Waves Grove in a full Core Order ritual. I took the part of working with Shining Ones throughout the ritual, and organized the potluck again. We honored Heimdall as our patron, telling the story of forming the Grove and His patronage developing. This was my first time to hear it. Tyr was honored as the oath warder, invited to witness officer and voting member oaths. I was elected Secretary of the Grove in November; taking my oath of service was electric, with a sense of rightness within. There was excellent energy; new people opened the gates and took ritual parts. I could feel the movement of power in the room. Most attendees were guests and they participated fully, making offerings and signing along; the overall tone was joyful. The omens taken were excellent: Sol (victory, good guidance) indicated our offerings were accepted; the Ancestors gave us Mann (community, the community we build and the grove that we are together); the Nature Spirits gave us Tiw (Justice, the Pole Star, right actions that lead us toward bringing justice into the world); and the Shining Ones gave us Aesc (Ash, stubbornness, resilience, the strength to see our fight through to the end, to outlive and outshine the things that would dim our brightness).
I also completed a small personal ritual at the moment of the astronomical solstice, breaking a stick to mark the passing of the moment. I am working through the non-denominational Yule-a-long from Mountain Ancestors Grove. I have found that I need to make more space in my life for these small ritual moments. While I do daily prayers in the morning and evening, I have felt a peace in these additional small observances.
IMBOLC WRITE UP
This Imbolc was special for me as I wrote the high day specific portions of the liturgy from a Celtic hearth for Nine Waves Grove and co-led it with our Priest on February 1st. We had Danu as the Earth Mother, Lugh stood protector, and Manannan mac Lir was the gatekeeper. Brighid was the Deity of the Occasion, receiving blackberry brandy and home baked bannocks for offering, while the working involved using the Waters of Life to bless Brighid’s Crosses I made for us all to take home after the ritual. I took the omen using my ogham staves. The ancestors offered us awareness of our environment and the ordering of chaos (Ngetal), the Nature Spirits offered us protection and learning (Huathe), and the Shining Ones offered us the passing of old cycles and renewal (Ioho). This ritual was the one at which I have been the most attuned to the beings involved and to the energies as they flowed. My own energies grew and grew until I could hardly stand still, peaking when I did the working and then sharply returning to a pleasant relaxation after.
The night before my Core Order ritual with the Grove, I also conducted a private ritual with Herself, welcoming her in the form of a brideog I made into my home and offering her bannocks and honey and soy milk. I did a slightly longer version of my nightly flamekeeping ritual with Her as well. And I placed a braht Brighid outside over my rosemary bush to gather the dew and her healing touch as she passed in the night. It was deeply refreshing and renewed my bond with her.
VERNAL EQUINOX WRITE UP
First, I celebrated the balance of chaos and order, light and dark, potential and manifestation at the astronomical time with a prayer and a stick breaking. Then I celebrated a full Core Order rite in the Slavic hearth with Nine Waves Grove as Maslenitsa the following Friday. We celebrated Mokosha and Dahzbog as Earth Mother and Sky Father and Veles as the Gatekeeper. The Two Powers used Chernobog and Belobog as representations of the underworld and sky powers. It was very powerful. We also welcomed the Grandfather Spirit as part of the traditions of this hearth. Marzanna was the Deity of the Occasion and we offered bread and salt to all the beings, including the nature spirits and ancestors, as is traditional for the Slavic peoples whose continuous pagan practices have been a hearth and home based religion for hundreds of years. I also offered a corn dolly I had made for Marzanna at the Autumnal Equinox in thanks for the fallow times and lessons of the harsh, cold season that had just passed. The omens were good, with The Wheel of Fortune indicating our offerings were accepted. The Ancestors offer us will and wit (Queen of Wands), the Nature Spirits offered us a safe place of community (Four of Wands), and the Shining Ones offered us a respite and solace (Four of Swords). As the working, we all concentrated on that which we wished to release that was impeding our growth and poured those energies into a stuffed effigy meant to represent Marzaana. This was then set alight before being drowned as part of the symbolic drowning of Marzanna as the embodiment of winter that traditionally brings forth the Spring. The energy during ritual was very relaxed and pleasant, warming almost. We followed up with our usual potluck.