Rob’s Sonic Spiral Gate Opening

(An idea I’ve been toying with for a few years now, as an attempt to use sound to move the energy and the participants’ ritual focus around the circle to aid with the Opening of the Gates without requiring anyone to run around the circle waving a stick and accidentally knocking things over. Not that I’ve ever seen anyone do that.)

The Opening

(D1 D2 and D3 should be positioned evenly around the circle, with D2 to the left of D1 and D3 to the right of D1 so the motion of the sound is clockwise. Lines should be read slowly at the beginning, then with gradually increasing speed as the lines get shorter.)

D1: When the rays of the sun wander down from on high
The leaves store the light and the heat of the sky

D2: While the deep and dark waters are swirling around
And slowly seep up to the top of the ground

D3: And the root drinks the cool and the leaf draws the heat
The tree is the place where those opposites meet

D1: The Fire sends out sacred light
And smoke to touch the heavens’ height

D2: The Well moves water through the earth
To join the realms of death and birth

D3: The Tree attaches every world
With root grown down and branch unfurled

D1: The Gods are in the light

D2: The Dead may join our rite

D3: The Realms we now unite

D1: Open the Fire

D2: Open the Well

D3: Open the Tree

D1: The Fire

D2: The Well

D3: The Tree

D1: Fire

D2: Well

D3: Tree

D1, D2, D3 together: Let the Gates be open!

All: Let the Gates be open!

The Closing

(D1 D2 and D3 should shift around so the motion of the sound is now counterclockwise. Start with fairly quick speech, then slow down as it progresses. Or not, I can see a case being made for either. Experiment on your own and let me know how it goes!)

D1: Now we close the Three Portals connecting our rite
To Land, Sea, and Sky, and the dark and the light

D2: May the Kindreds accept what we offered this day
The blessings of *ghosti- will show us the way

D3: May the magic and wonder we’ve worked in this place
Resound through the Gates and across time and space

D1: The Fire joined us to the Sky
Our prayers it carried up on high

D2: The Well connected to the Sea
To help us see what we can be

D3: The Tree aligned us with the Land
And all the worlds where allies stand

D1: And now we close the Fire

D2: And now we close the Well

D3: And now we close the Tree

D1: Close the Fire

D2: Close the Well

D3: Close the Tree

D1: The Fire

D2: The Well

D3: The Tree

D1: Fire

D2: Well

D3: Tree

D1, D2, D3 together: Let the Gates be closed!

All: Let the Gates be closed!


Yule Ritual Summary

Yule Ritual
December 13th, 2015
Deities of the Occasion: Danu and Bel
Offerings: wreath, nuts
Omen: Othala – Isa – Ingwaz
Return flow: fruitcake cookies
Attendees: 15


This was our first Yule since we officially ended the pre-ritual indoor fire lighting ceremony. I’ll miss doing them, but nobody showed up to any of them last year, and I’m well past the point of pretending that something is a Grove tradition if I’m the only one doing it. At least we’d decided not to do Yule tree ornaments, the traditional activity for the Yule fire lighting, so we didn’t have to find another time to do those. And there are worse things than staying at home with a Yule tree and drinking tea.

I got to the site at 1:20, expecting to see the Friends still cleaning the basement after their event, but the place was completely empty and the light were out. I had enough time (and nobody begging me not to overexert myself) to get most of the tables. Rod brought the ritual gear fairly early but had to head back home for the raffle tickets, so I ended up directing the setup.

The ritual went smoothly enough. We passed our usual greenery wreath for the individual praise, but this time it has a bowl built into the center so we could place offerings of nuts into it. Rodney did get his group praise snowball fight despite the 50 degree temperatures outside, thanks to an artificial snowball set. The return flow was fruitcake cookies, which tasted surprisingly good!

After the potluck and the raffle, we had our usual gift exchange, then managed to get the place cleaned up well before the next group arrived. December is a busy month for just about everyone, including the Friends.

Despite the ridiculously warm temperatures, I thought it was a good ritual, And now begins the quiet time of the year, when Danu’s snow-free but still kind of dark and wet presence covers the land, and we turn our thoughts inward, to the home and to indoor activities.

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

Samhain Rituals Summary

Samhain Rituals
November 7th, 2015
Deity/Kindred of the Occasion: Lugh and Ana / Manannan and the Ancestors
Offerings: bird seed / oil
Omen: Uruz – Jera -Ehwaz / Dagaz – Jera – Iaguz
Return flow: apple slices / candles
Attendees: 10 / 16


We actually had some folks at Fire Watch, unusual for this year, but I figured Samhain would be the one that people would actually attend. After lighting the fire, we had our usual officer initiation for the new year, and then I led a brief Khalkeia rite to honor Hephaistos and Athena.

Saturday afternoon, we had a good turnout for the afternoon rite, our first one that we ran as a full rite and not a stripped-down “family friendly” rite, and it went well. We celebrated the reunion of Lugh and Ana at the beginning of the dark half of the year, and made seed-on-peanut-butter-on-cardboard-roll bird feeders t decorate the nemeton.

In between rituals, Gen led a session of decorating skull cookies, then led the decorating of the nemeton for the evening rite. No luminaria or tiki torches this time, but there were plenty of candles to go around.

For the evening rite, we called to Manannan and the Ancestors, honoring our own personal Ancestors and sharing the flame of inspira6tion deep within the darkness of the woods. And burned lots of things in the fire, because it was dark and cold, though not as cold as usual for a Samhain around here.

After the main rite, we set up a plate of food for the Ancestors (and I’m very happy that people actually joined in this time), the socialized, and somehow managed to clean up the site in the dark without losing anything (that we’ve noticed yet).

And with the last of our outdoor rituals for the year concluded, we now prepare for the winter, for indoor rituals, and for the blessings of Danu as the snow and the quiet fall upon the land.

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


(Pictures can be found at: )

Fall Equinox Ritual Summary

Fall Equinox Ritual
September 20th, 2015
Deity of the Occasion: The Dagda
Offerings: pork stew, first fruits
Omen: Gamma – Tau – Lambda
Return flow: pork stew from the Dagda’s cauldron
Attendees: 6


No Fire Watch this time, because I couldn’t get a ride, my ride service doesn’t go to the nemeton, and I’m not spending $40 for a round trip to an event that nobody else seems interested in attending these days. I’m guessing that we won’t be doing any more Fire Watches except at Samhain.

So I got there a bit after 2, later than I like but early enough to get my altar items set up among the Grove’s ritual paraphernalia with Stephie’s help. Since I wasn’t leading the ritual this time, mental preparation wasn’t a huge concern for me.

As with last time, many of our members had things come up that prevented them from attending, so we had to get by with just the six of us, though maintaining ritual flow wasn’t as much as issue as last time since everyone had been to one of our rites before. Rod led the ritual, which we’d decided should honor the Dagda. We offered the first fruits of the harvest (weird looking, I mean, natural looking carrots) and pork stew that Gen had made, then, after I used my new app to take the omen at a Grove rite for the first time in many years, shared the rest of the stew as the return flow.

It was a lovely day and a good ritual, even if only a few of us were there to see it. Here’s hoping that Samhain will be just as good and maybe a little warmer than usual!

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

Lughnasadh Ritual Summary

Lughnasadh Ritual
August 2nd, 2015
Deities of the Occasion: Lugh and Ana
Offerings: bow and arrows
Omen: Hagalaz – Jera – Peorth
Return flow: ginger ale
Attendees: 5


The risky part of doing your rituals outside is that nature happens, and it may not happen in a helpful way. The owner of the site called me on Saturday to warn me that a tree had fallen and was blocking the pathway to the nemeton, and since I couldn’t get anyone out there to deal with it during the day, we had to cancel Fire Watch. Rodney managed to get there early on Sunday, and it was just that the top of one tree had fallen down, not the giant tree lying crosswise that I had feared.

So we had a lovely ritual with a different set of offerings than we usually do for Lughnasadh, but it was just me, Rod and Gen, plus two new people. Frustrating as it is to have a low turnout at ritual, even when everyone has good reasons not to be there (work or other commitments), it’s even more frustrating when we get new folks who are clearly not going to experience the best ritual we could offer. (Frankly, I’m just glad Gen was there when they arrived. I know how it must look when you walk down a forest path and it’s just a creepy-looking guy like me sitting there.)

In any case, we did the ritual, fulfilling our promise to our gods and to ADF to do so, and the omen was passable. And at least it gave us lots of time to answer questions from the new folks.

Yeah, I just hate August in general. Autumn can’t arrive soon enough.

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

Summer Solstice Ritual Summary

Summer Solstice Ritual
June 21st, 2015
Deities of the Occasion: Bel and Danu
Offerings: oil / sun wheel
Omen: Othala – Laguz – Peorth
Return flow: lemonade
Attendees: 16


Just me and Gen at Fire Watch, and with the grass so overgrown (Lyn thought we were coming the following weekend) I didn’t even try to walk down to the fire circle, so no actual fire. I again question why we’re scheduling an event that people keep telling me is a vital Grove tradition that we must continue to do, and then nobody but me and Gen shows up for it. The next two Fire Watches are already on the calendar, so I don’t want to cancel those, but next year I will once again suggest that we need to stop having it, or more accurately, stop pretending to have it. (Except for Samhain, which is the one time people actually show up for it.)

Okay, enough complaining. Other than that continuing issue, the ritual weekend really was a great one. My sister and brother-in-law were in town for the weekend, so after breakfast with them, they dropped me off at the nemeton around 11:15. I finally got to the site as early as I used to back when I had a car! The mosquitoes were out in force, but the repellent I used mostly worked on them, and I got to spend some quality time in the quiet, muted light of the pre-ritual nemeton. After a week of predictions of scattered thunderstorms, the weather we did get was far better than I had hoped for.


The nemeton in the late morning sun of June, hours before the ritual begins.

Folks did eventually arrive (I could hear Rodney weed-whacking the grass for some time before he came down to the fire circle) and things got set up on time… -ish. Rod didn’t get the road sign out until 1:45, by which time a group of visitors from Michigan Council of Circles and Solitaries had arrived and thought they were lost. Thankfully, they did find us!

This was the first High Day ritual led by Serena. We encourage our new ritualists to begin at one of the two solstices, as Bel and Danu are always very appreciative of anything we do to honor them at those rites, and the folk are just as laid back about it. Nobody treats them with the personal intensity that some have for Samhain or Imbolc, and in this case, that’s a good thing. Rod and I have been teaching her how to do ritual, and there’s still a lot more for her to learn (Hek, there’s still a lot for me to learn), but I think it was a good first effort, and now that she’s taken a turn in the metaphorical driver’s seat, she’ll be even better at the next one.

(I’m still not sure whether we should have put accelerant on the sun wheel when she breathed fire on it, though.)


The omen was good, the gods and the folk were pleased, and we shared the Lemonade of Life, as is our custom for this holiday. It was good to meet the folks from MCCS and the other new people who attended, and I look forward to Lughnasadh in a few weeks, and hope that the weather will be as good!

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

Beltaine Ritual Summary

Beltaine Ritual
May 3rd, 2015
Deities of the Occasion: Aren
Offerings: whiskey / fire jumping
Omen: Kenaz – Laguz – Dagaz
Return flow: bubbles / sparkling fruit juice
Attendees: 21


Just four of us at Fire Watch, I’m sad to say. It was beautiful weather to be outside for the night! My thanks to Deanna and Elijah for staying the night and keeping the fire going.

Nobody came to the dawn rite (big surprise) so I think we need to come up with something at a different time of day that people might actually attend. People keep telling me that tbhis is an important tradition that they want to see continue, but then nobody actually wants to do it, and now that I have no feet I’m just not able to do it by myself, whether we’re okay with that or not.

On Sunday afternoon, Rodney has the nemeton set up early so he could keep watch over the road sign so the neighbors wouldn’t steal it again. Getting the Maypole ribbons onto the maple tree took a while, so we did start late, but once we got started, everything went well enough. Devi, the young daughter of Yanna, ended up being the May Queen, and led our procession to the nemeton, and also leapt over the fire as part of the main sacrifice, and also ended up tied to the tree during the Maypole Dance. We passed around a bottle of Crown Royal (which I’m told is whiskey, but I know nothing about liquor) for the individual praise, and poured that on the fire before she jumped. The omen was good (Kenaz – Laguz – Dagaz) and we blew bubbles, shared sparkling cider and jumped the fire. (I just sort of waved each prosthetic over it.) As always, folks stayed and socialized for a while after, and nemeton clean-up went smoothly.

Our next ritual will be the first one led by Serena, I hope everyone has a chance to attend!

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