Well, it’s been quite a day! Rodney and I traveled out to Trenton to lead the fall ritual for FOCAS, which went pretty well. There were a few problems early on, both of which were entirely my fault: I sang the wrong song for the processional, and started off with the wrong words for the Unity Chant. Lesson to be learned: Since most of the people thee had never heard those chants before, if I hadn’t printed up song sheets, nobody would have noticed that I did anything wrong. After that, the ritual went very well, with Rodney and me handling all of the speaking parts. The light rain that started mid-ritual wasn’t as annoying as the rain that drenched our Summer Solstice rite, indeed I actually liked the cool feeling it brought to the circle. We managed to keep a fire going in the brazier for the entire ritual, using a starter log that Rod picked up, and offered a wheat bouquet (filled out with some of our Grove wheat heads) to Lugh Samildanach, and asked him to bless us with his many talents and skills in our lives. Lots of the FOCAS members told us how much they loved the ritual, which made me fell a lot better, I always worry how folks not familiar with our ritual format will feel about a rite with no quarters called, no energy work, and so on.
After the ritual, the rain increased, and Rodney’s car decided not to start up. The battery was fine, so I’m betting that some part of the electrical system got too much moisture in it. I got a ride home while Rod waited for the tow truck. (A recent e-mail tells me that Rod got home but his car didn’t. Prayers for Rod’s car are encouraged.) Not that my day was without electrical issues, though – shortly after I got home, a power wire snapped loose in front of the house next to mine. No, I didn’t go anywhere hear it (how stupid do you think I… no, don’t answer that) but the bright orange sparks gave quite a show for the whole neighborhood. Our power was back on within minutes but the cable TV is still out, and six hours later there are still DTE trucks outside with people working on it. So yes, quite the odd day since the ritual ended, and I’m still not sure what to make of that, if anything.
I did realize on our way to the ritual site today that I really haven’t said much in this blog about our own Fall Equinox rite, now only a few weeks away now. This was never a big holiday for the ancient Irish, and it’s not one that members of our Grove have ever felt strongly about. Indeed, other than Yule (when people tend to have a lot of other events to go to), it’s probably our least attended High Day. Logically I suppose one of the High Days has to be the least attended, but it’s always surprised me a little that the autumn rite has taken that mantle. Interest in Grove activities always goes up noticeably in early September, at least in terms of how many phone calls and e-mails I get from our members and from interested new folks. And fall is the time of year when it’s finally cool enough for me to be comfortable spending a lot of time outdoors, ,away from the protection of fans or air conditioning. But I guess the temperature issue is more my personal issue. >8)
In past years, we’ve used our Grove’s fall rite to honor the Stag God, who we considered to be the untamed spirit of nature. You may be wondering how or why we can honor an untamed spirit who is by its very nature (ha ha) detached from human society, and, well, in the last few years we’ve wondered that as well. Very few of us ever felt a connection to the Stag God, and so at an An Bruane session a few years ago, we decided to devote the holiday to our river goddess Ana instead. Since we consider her the one who brings life to the animals and plants of the local rivershed, it made sense to honor her at the time of the fruit harvest. Last year’s ritual to her went very well, so we’ll be continuing that new tradition this year.
One holdover from the Stag God days, though, is the Stag Dance. Based loosely on the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance, the ritual leader and three other people willing to mimic animals do an elaborate – well, elaborate by our standards – dance around the ritual circle, kind of like a Morris Dance but by people who can’t really dance. Still, it’s fun, and the Gods seem to like it, so we’re continuing to do it.
This year’s Fall Equinox Ritual is on the 27th, 2 PM (yes it’s a football Saturday so try to get there early if at all possible) at Botsford Preserve (3015 Miller Rd. in Ann Arbor), and anyone reading this is welcome to join us! (Anyone not reading this is also welcome to join us, but somebody had better tell them about it.) And shameless plug time, anyone can sign up for our event announcement list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/slg-announce/
Next week, a report on the amazing new incredible stuff we’ll have discussed at this week’s An Bruane.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF
The Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance: http://www.soulcakers.com/AB2001/ABBOTTS_BROMLEY.HTM