Only once in our Grove’s fifteen year history (is fifteen years long enough to call it ‘history’?) have we postponed a High Day rite for rain. It was Beltaine of 1997, and it rained heavily all night, and at the Dawn Rite it rained heavily, and when we went home and checked the Weather Channel it said the rain wasn’t going to stop until after sunset. So we sent out the word via e-mail and phone, and we did the ritual on Sunday instead. We had about 15 people show up, and back when the Grove had 95 members, that was pretty sad. Heck, that would be a sad attendance now.
I’ve kept that say in mind every time the weather looks bad for one of out rituals. I don’t want anyone to get sick or hit by lightning, obviously, but I don’t want to hold a ritual with five people in attendance either. If heavy rains are predicted, I’ll postpone the ritual until the next day, but if the forecast is only for scattered showers, I always opt to go ahead with the ritual and hope for the best.
Such was the case this weekend. The forecasts I saw on Thursday night said lots of rain Friday night and Saturday morning, but only scattered showers for the afternoon. We’ve had rain at our Fire Watch and Dawn Rite before, so I wasn’t too worried about those. At least it’s relatively easy to stay warm at Fire Watch. >8) A thirty percent chance of showers meant a seventy percent chance of no rain, and an even better chance of not a lot of rain, so I made the decision: We’re goin’ for it!
So how did things turn out? I spent the night at the ritual site, then we went to the Dawn Rite at Big Lake, and then back to the ritual site, where I stayed all morning. Not a drop fell from the sky that whole time. It was clear enough to see stars through the treetops through most of the night. The sky at the lake was clouded over the whole time we were there, so our “hold the bowl of water up to the sun’s first rays” was more of a guesstimate, but we weren’t going to wait six hours for the clouds to get out of the way! And once we were back at Botsford, the clouds actually parted long enough to pure sunlight to reach us beneath the trees. I even got two phones call asking if we were postponing the ritual for rain, while I was standing in the sunlight. I guess the scattered showers were scattering themselves to other parts of the area.
So ritual time finally arrived, and still lots of sun, but also some clouds. We had thirty-nine people at the preserve, including the latecomers, so I assume not too many folks decided to skip the ritual because of the weather. We were joined by Gen’s niece and nephew, 2.5 and 5.5 years old respectively, and I was a little worried that they would get bored and fussy during the rite, but they were both fine, as were all the other children who were there. (Did we really have nine children at one ritual? Do we need a children’s program in place again?) The ritual itself went very smoothly, far moreso than the average Beltaine rite, which by its very nature seems to encourage chaotic happenings. I sang one of my songs during the individual praise, and two other people actually sang too, I can’t remember the last time that happened! And during one of Fox’s songs, yes, it started to shower a little during one refrain. And the sun came right back out during the next chorus. Later in the rite, we did the not-Celtic-but-still-a-Grove-favorite Maypole dance, and it showered again briefly , but that was it. It was sunny and bright for the rest of the rite. the omen was good (Uruz – Raido – Jeran), and we jumped over the fire and/or drank mead for the return blessing. As Rodney always says, the omen was good and nobody died, so it was a good ritual!
And my advice for those who worry about doing an outdoor ritual during a rain shower: wear a hat. >8)
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF