Samhain Weekend Summary

Samhain Ritual Weekend
November 7th and 8th, 2014
Deity of the Occasion: Ana and Lugh / The Ancestors and Manannan
Offerings: mask-making / bread
Omen: J Sowilo – Ingwaz – Ansuz / Uruz – Thurisaz – Gebo
Return flow: cider / bread
Attendees: 9 / 19


Fire Watch was pleasant, despite the neighbors honking their car horn in an effort to annoy us. Ten of us were there to light the ritual fire, swear in the Grove officers for their new term, and our very stripped-down Pompaia ritual to bless the nemeton.

Nine people were at the afternoon rite, all adults, to honor Ana and Lugh. The ritual went well enough, but using a ritual script written to be accessible to children when children don’t show up is seeming more and more silly to me these days. The afternoon rite is far more likely to get adults who can’t make it to the evening ritual, and I feel like we’re doing them a disservice and we should really just do one of our regular unscripted full-on High Day rites instead. It’s not like those are child-hostile.

The evening rite saw nineteen people brave the darkness and the somewhat cold to join us in our illuminated nemeton to honor Manannan and the Ancestors. The setting is always beautiful, and there was a real presence and a real power to the rite.

After, we had our Ancestor Supper, participated in by all of five people, because as I’ve learned over the years, most people would rather do the social jibber-jabber thing than do yet another religious thing. Still, I’m a Priest who takes the whole “honor the Kindreds” thing seriously, and I’d rather see it done with just a dedicated few of us than not see it done at all.

Now it’s time for us to get all warm with three indoor rites before we return to our nemeton in the spring. Until then, may our ritual space spend the winter sleeping well beneath Danu’s shiny blanket.

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid (for yet another term), Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

Fall Equinox Ritual Summary

Fall Equinox Ritual
September 21st, 2014
Deity of the Occasion: Sif
Offerings: grain and whiskey
Omen: Jera – Fehu – Ehwaz
Return flow: bread
24 attendees


Our first non-Celtic High Day ritual. I’m still not thrilled with the idea, as I think we should be focusing on our Grove pantheon for High Day rites and work with other cultures at other rites, but I’m sensing that most other people don’t feel that way. In any case, the rite went smoothly, and Rod did a good job of leading it.

We had nineteen people from the Ann Arbor Universalist Unitarian Church attended as part of their youth education program, which wasn’t quite overwhelming, but close! They were great guests and asked a lot of good questions.

I’m sad we didn’t get more of our own members there, though. I know it looked like it was going to rain, and it really did come down hard the night before (we cancelled Fire Watch because of it) but we only got a few brief showers. Clearly we don’t have that “must do all of our rituals outside no matter what” mentality that some groups do.

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

Sacred Fire at Detroit Pagan Pride

Back in May, I was intrigued by the online updates from the pan-Pagan Beltania festival in Colorado from the Rev. Bill Ashton, ADF’s clergy member in Boulder. He spent the entire four days of the festival tending the ritual fire and assisting the festival attendees with making offerings or doing other workings. That sounded like an amazing way to share ADF’s practices with the rest of the community, and one that I might want to try locally. Well, not for four days, but for some decent amount of time at a public event.

A fire at ConVocation would be out of the question, of course, because of its indoor setting, and I knew the Michigan Pagan Festival already had a weekend-long flame that somebody else took care of, so I suggested the idea to the organizers of Detroit pagan Pride Day, and once we got the details of how big the fire would be, they agreed!

Drum was kind enough to transport, me, my wheelchair, and the brazier and other supplies to Hazel Park, and Jeff from Cedarsong Grove brought firewood. We had a location next to a large oak tree which gave us shade for the first few hours of the event, at least (pesky moving sun) and got the fire going easily enough, given the stiff breeze that kept trying to put out the firestarter sticks. Once the fire was burning on its own, I added the nine sacred woods provided by Rhiannon, said the blessing prayer, and settled in.

Given how well I usually do in the heat of August, it actually wasn’t too bad sitting outside all afternoon. I was also surprised at how easily I could move my wheelchair around on the grassy surfaces. I only needed a few breaks, and Jason from Cedarsong helped out with that, as well as Rose and Rob from Oriental Rose, and Kestrel stopped by late in the afternoon. Other than a few restroom visits, the only break I took was for the raffle, where I managed to win a Terry Pratchett book.

And people came with offerings. I had brought olive oil in case people didn’t have anything to offer (two people used it), and I also brought a bowl in case people wanted to offer things that weren’t safe to burn (nobody did). Some people wrote things on paper and burned those, others brought offerings from home, and a few apparently offered things they had just bought from the vendors. My estimate is that we had around twenty people make offerings throughout the day. As I’d hoped, it was a good way to share the *ghosti- experience with non-ADF members without actually having to prepare a workshop or anything.

At around 6:30 I let the fire die down, and we managed to put it out with water from the coolers the kitchen staff had been using. Rose kindly offered to pour the wet ashes into one of the grills in the park, which was as safe and sacred a place to put the ashes as I could think of. And Drum and I packed up and he drove me home.

All in all, it was a great experience, even if I didn’t get to participate in any rituals or workshops, and I would definitely do it again next year, possibly with a presentation on sacred fire in Indo-European traditions. That would mean more advance work for me to do, of course, but compared to organizing an Ann Arbor Pagan Pride event, it should be very easy. Speaking of which, I’m one of the organizers for Ann Arbor Pagan Pride, and we hope to have our first event in September of 2015, but I’ll go into more detail about that later, when we have any kind of detail to go into.

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

Lughnasadh Ritual Summary

Lughnasadh Ritual
August 3rd, 2014
Deities of the Occasion: Lugh and Ana
Offerings: raffia (strengths for the spear)
Omen: Othala – Dagaz – Fehu
Return flow: sparkling fruit juice
15 attendees


Lovely weather, no clouds but plenty of shade and not at all hot by August standards.

The ritual started late because the ritual props arrived late, but everyone was in a socializing mood so it wasn’t too bad.

I won the boasting contest for “still being alive”, which I guess makes sense but I hate to be running the ritual *and* get selected like that. (Also see: last Beltaine.) I did manage to stand and pop the Balor balloon.

After the ritual, Gen did a short rite to Hermes where five of us made small herms out of terra cotta. As with most of my craft project attempts, mine is fairly rough and unadorned.

Summer Solstice Ritual Summary

Summer Solstice Ritual
June 22nd, 2014
Deities of the Occasion: Bel and Danu
Offerings: sun wheel, oil (also grains for the local land spirits during the processional)
Omen: Othala – Ansuz – Dagaz
Return flow: “the lemonade of life”
10 attendees


Summer rituals in the wooded area are a lot more pleasant than the ones out in the field were.

Not much to comment on for this one. As with most of our rituals to Bel and Danu, it was pleasant and they seemed approving.

Wellspring Thoughts

(I posted this on FB and G+ earlier, then thought, wait, why am I not posting this on the Grove blog?  So here it is.)

A few random thoughts on Wellspring:

* My thanks to Rob Steiner for getting me to and from Brushwood. With no car I can drive for the time being, my festival (and anything else) attendance will be limited to those I can convince people to drive me to. It would have been very very sad to sit at home all weekend with all the money and time off from work I needed, but still not be there.

* Getting myself around was easier than I’d expected. I was willing to beg people to push me to the events I wanted to attend, but that turned out not to be needed. The down side is that my right prosthetic started bending out of shape on Saturday night, almost certainly from overuse during the previous three days, but these things weren’t supposed to last me past the end of June anyway. My orthoticist appointment is tomorrow, so I’ll know then when I’ll be able to get new ones. In the meantime, I’ll have to do as little walking as possible. (Which, in a wheelchair in a handicapped-accessible apartment, means very little walking.)

* I did manage to get to every workshop and ritual I wanted to attend (though closing ritual was a close call thanks to the bent leg), but I couldn’t socialize as much as I’d have liked (and how often do I say that?) because I couldn’t just wander the site as most folks do. I never did make it to the roundhouse or to anyone’s camp site. Which also meant I barely got any face time with people I knew perfectly well were there. Something to aim to improve upon next year.

* Speaking of next year, my reg fee and someone else’s are already paid for! I won a two-person pass for next year at the raffle, along with a book by Skip, and a flying lantern, and a framed photograph. Definitely worth the $20 I paid for tickets!

* A Roman rite that uses the utterly Irish phrase “not hard” to begin an answer? Really?

* The White Owls definitely need to have a ritual to install a Hellenic altar of some sort in the nemeton next year.

* I’ll probably be saying this for every Wellspring I ever attend in the future, so here it is for this year: Damn there were a lot more people there than there were when I first started attending in 1997.

* No wifi signal in the cabin where I stayed, but the games I downloaded from my Steam account kept me amused anough during downtime.

* The Order of the Dead is doing some amazing work, and I’m seriously considering joining.

* I went to four rituals and had no ritual roles. I feel like such a slacker.

* It was good to meet my current DP mentee Tom in person. (Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure he’s the first DP student I’ve been assigned that I’ve ever met in person.)

* Also awesome was going into Findlay Lake and eating hot wings with Michael. I can’t remember the last time I had alone time with an ADF member who wasn’t in my Grove. I miss that.

* Sitting by the pond listening to the peepers was as wonderful as ever.

* Everyone was amazingly helpful in terms of getting me places, and the Stone Creed folks made sure I had everything I needed throughout the weekend. The people in cars who thanked me for moving out of their way was a little silly, though. What, you think I want to get run over?

* Anything else? Oh, right, I got an award at the annual meeting for exemplifying the virtue of perseverance. The photo will be shared as soon as I have access to it. No, I had no idea it was coming. Really, though, sometimes perseverance is just being too stupid to know when to quit. >8)


* I’m glad I got to see as many folks as I did see!

 * Additional thought I forgot earlier: Based on conversations I had there, I really do need to be more in-your-face about promoting local river mother workings as an alternative to working with a planetary Earth Mother. There’s definite interest out there, I just don’t get to see it online. Time to make attempt number three at finishing my “why I hate the EM” article?

Beltaine Ritual Summary

Beltaine Ritual

May 4th, 2014

Deity of the Occasion: Aren

Offerings: oil

Omen: Tiwaz – Hagalaz – Ingwaz

Return flow: tulips, fire jumping

20 attendees



Sadly, I couldn’t attend either the nemeton clean-up day or Fire Watch, I’m told that other people did and that they were successful and enjoyed.

No Dawn Rite this year, for the first time since 1994, since I couldn’t get transportation to Big Lake and couldn’t find anyone else willing to do it that early in the morning. Hopefully we can resume next year.

Using my walker on the trail went well, not only did I not fall while going up and down the sloped part, it didn’t even require that much exertion. Hopefully with exercise I’ll continue to improve at its use.

After eighteen Beltaine ritual with SLG, I guess the odds favored me actually drawing the lot to be the May king . I was worried that the energy flow of running the ritual and being the May King would be awkward, but it seemed to go well enough. Jumping the fire was obviously out of the question, but Drum did a fine job in my place.

The many decorations really added a lot to the festive atmosphere, my thanks to Candy and Gen for organizing that!

It’s a shame nobody brought any May wine, but the tulips that Gen brought made a decent improvised substitute. (I wonder how Grove who don’t have florists as members do thing?)

Very happy to see so many new folks there!

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF