Down By The Riverside (Not!)

This past week was quite stressful. Lots of late days at work, which meant late nights preparing ritual items and orders of service, which in turn meant little sleep for me before a ritual I was going to lead. Then throw in over seven inches of snowfall meant no Fire Lighting Ceremony, as even Gen and I weren’t willing to drive the 1.5 miles to Rodney’s house through those conditions. (Apparently one new person did so, though – hello Mike, and I think you’re mad for driving through that snow! >8)

The worst part of this hectic week, though, is that I didn’t get a chance to stop by the Huron River and spend some time communing with Ana. Every previous spring ritual I’ve done, I’d managed to spend at least a few minutes somewhere along the riverside, meditation and getting in touch with her presence. Well, her more immediate presence, I should say, since as the goddess of the rivershed she’s always present there in a way.

So, there I was at the ritual site, getting there a whopping thirty minutes before the official starting time instead of my usual ninety, and no river visit. What to do? Well, I figured I had two chance to get at least some contact with Ana, and I availed myself of both. The first was easy: I drank some tap water. Yep, one of the good things about being in a river-worshiping Grove is knowing exactly where your local tap water comes from, and since the building where we held the ritual was in the city of Ann Arbor, I knew that it came straight from the Huron (after a little treatment, of course) So I drank some water and thought about Ana and my many visits to the Huron River throughout my life: the Lower Huron MetroPark when I was a child; the Nichols Arboretum as a college student; and Big Lake as an adult.

The other thing I did was to go outside and rub some of that newly fallen snow on my forehead. Sure, we in SLG associate the snow with the goddess Danu – but after that show melts, it will enter the ground and descend to the water table, which is Ana’s domain. Not the optimal method, but better than nothing.

So how did the ritual itself go? Well, I forgot a few songs (blame that on the lack of sleep, and I really should have kept a closer on my liturgical worksheet) but Rodney gave me the metaphorical prods, so we covered that. The egg hunt outside was as enthusiastic as ever, even with the fallen snow to contend with, and my telling of Ana’s story felt powerful to me, hopefully it did to others as well. The omen was good (Ansuz – Dagaz – Lagu, and we love seeing Lagu come up in any ritual to Ana!) and, as Rodney always says, nobody died. And seeing thirty people brave the snow – well, the snow had stopped falling and the roads were well cleared by noon, but still, seeing thirty people show up was heartwarming. So, a successful ritual as far as I’m concerned!

Happy Spring to all of you! (Except those reading this from the southern hemisphere, in which case, Happy Autumn!)

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

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