Sometimes You Gotta Grin and Bear It

Sorry, no profound words of Druidical wisdom are coming to me this evening.  I considered writing about Samhain coming up, but it seems a bit early for that, when the rituals aren’t until November 8th.  Oh, but now probably is a good time to say why we’re not doing Samhain on the 1st: Because that would put Fire Watch on the 31st, and we never schedule any Grove event on Halloween, because when we schedule events, we actually want people to, y’know, show up for them.  Most of us take part in the “secular” variation of our Samhain holiday, between trick-or-treating, passing out candy to the people who go trick-or-treating, or when the 31st falls on a Friday, costume parties.  Besides, this way we can get all the people who attend other groups’ rituals but don’t want to attend two rituals in one weekend to come to ours!

So ’til next week, here’s a small article I wrote about Samhain five years ago for Shining Lakes News, to get us into a Samhainy mood!

Back in 1997, we were doing our Grove’s Samhain rite in the dark at Botsford’s Recreational Preserve. This was our first Samhain outside; before then we had been holding them in the afternoon at the Friends’ House. The luminaria lit the path down to the ritual space, we invited our Ancestors to be with us, and we all took turns sharing our memories of them. One of our members talked about her brother and sang a song that was a favorite of his, “Waltzing With Bears.” As she getting ready to sing, I heard a voice in the dark, close to where I was standing, whisper: “Oh please, not the bear song again.”

Now, this is probably not a song that will make most people’s Top Five lists, but it was certainly meaningful to her. Sure, I suppose she could have stayed at home that night and sung the song by herself, but that’s not the point of participating in a group Samhain ritual. I could stay at home and honor my Ancestors all by my lonesome too-well, actually, I do. And I hope everyone who’s reading this does something for their own Ancestors, on a regular basis and a little something special for Samhain. A plate of your teacher’s favorite food, your grandmother’s special incense, or just plain old booze-all make good offerings.

But in a group ritual, your offerings take on additional meaning because they are shared. Let’s face it, there are things you can do in a group that you just can’t do on your own. You can socialize with old friends and new folks, you can learn new things, you can have some yummy food that you’ve never tried before. If you do a ritual with others, then you’re more likely to experience something new and unexpected. And if you want to do high-energy work, well, you tell me which ritual is going to have more energy-the one with one person or the one with forty?

Yes, group ritual is never as neat and tidy as solitary ritual. Nor should it be. Is it really so bad if those new folks you meet never become your friends, or if all of that yummy food isn’t really that yummy?
Now remember, these words are being written by a computer geek who could very happily spend all of his time staying at home reading and playing computer games, but has chosen the more difficult task of creating something with the help of others. We find ourselves at the beginning of a religious movement that I believe will make the world a better place for decades, if not centuries. Sitting through the bear song seems a small price to pay for such a reward.

Yours in service to the Kindreds and the Grove,
Rev. Rob Henderson, Senior Druid

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