The First Pilgrimage

I call upon the spirits of the bards of old, Homer and Taliesin and so many others, to put silver on our tongues and fire in our heads, so that we may speak well and beautifully, and in so doing honor you and all the others we call to be with us.

I often refer to our Grove’s parent organization as “the grand experiment that is ADF”. When I call it an experiment, I’m not just referring to the general concept of running a pan-Indo-European neo-Pagan organization in the modern world, though that can be seem like a test at times. No, the grand experiment is giving a basic liturgical outline and an Indo-European focus to dozens of Groves and hundreds of members, letting them do their own research into the ways of the Ancients, letting them do their rituals and their magical workings and their social gatherings and everything else, and then comparing notes to see who’s been doing what, what’s been working well, what hasn’t been working at all, and then letting everyone get right back out there and do it again. And some folks find that either they’ve changed or the work has changed, and they leave us. That’s okay. New people come to us and share insights that we hadn’t managed to find ourselves. That’s okay too. The experiment goes on, and grows.

In the earliest days of our Grove, our founding Senior Druid was preparing for the Spring Equinox ritual, and was looking through a book of Irish mythology to find an appropriate Irish river goddess to honor at our High Day rite. He then realized how absurd it was to do a ritual to an Irish river goddess when we had a perfectly good river running right through our city, and why wouldn’t that river have a goddess who would be far more appropriate for us to honor? One late-night drive to rural Oakland County later, he and another Grove member had made the first pilgrimage to Big Lake, the source of the Huron River. Even though it was surrounded by houses (as any lake in Oakland County is, these days), they could feel a presence, something important and special, in that place. During the next few months, many more of our Grove members made the trip to Big Lake, to make offerings of stones and songs, to meditate, and to seek out contact with the goddess of the Huron River. Through dreams and trancework, she identified herself to us as Ana, and our Grove has honored her as our River Mother ever since.

And now, it’s the year 2008. Weblogs have been around for years, and yet I’ve never really participated in them. It’s not a question of not wanting to talk via a computer, far from it! I’ve been doing computer conferencing since the mid-80’s, in one form or another, and I’m as much an e-mail addict as anyone I know. But blogs were a little too much for me. Most of the ones I’d seen contained very personal, almost intimate, information, and while I love the Internet, I don’t love it in that way. But some of the other members of ADF have told me about how great blogs can be for sharing information about their Groves and their workings, and that’s always been important to me. And I figure if I’m capable of spending half an hour posing for a photographer so I can get my picture on the front page of the Detroit Free Press – a terrifying prospect for a computer nerd like me – then certainly I can risk writing a blog.

So now, just as my Grovemates once made a pilgrimage through the darkness to a place they’d never been before in the hopes of finding a river goddess, I make this virtual pilgrimage to a heavily populated online neighborhood that I’ve never visited before, in the hopes of finding a new way to share what we’ve done, and to keep the ADF experiment going and growing. I’ll be posting a new entry every Sunday, telling everyone what we’ve been doing in our rituals and at our An Bruane sessions, and fielding questions that anyone would care to lob my way. Unlike the typical pilgrim, I don’t know quite where this pilgrimage will take me, or how long it will last. But if you’re willing to join me, at least in the virtual sense, then I’m more than willing to go.

May the blessings of your own river goddess be with you!

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

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