So here I am, getting ready for my five (thank the gods it wasn’t thirty) minute speechy thing at the WIHAN event tonight, and trying to look nice for it (today is the first time in over ten years that I’ve used an iron), and then I remember that I have a blog entry to write as well? This is what comes from working six days a week and then trying to get everything else done on Sundays.
Yule! Our Grove’s next High Day is less than two weeks away now. This is the one High Day of the year that we hold at the ICC Ed Center, a lovely space that has hosted many pagan and similar events throughout the years. The first public pagan rituals I attended were held there, sponsored by the (now long defunct) Ann Arbor CUUPS chapter. It’s also been the site for a weekly shamanic journeys group, which is apparently still running there after nearly twenty years! It’s a free site for us to use, which does have an appeal, but there’s no on-site parking, which lowers the opinions of just about everyone in SLG except for the Treasurer. The fact that we can’t use candles is also a concern, fortunately we have several LED and other electric candles which look good. But still, I don’t think this will ever be our first choice for a ritual site. The reason we use it for Yule is that the Friends Meeting (site of our other indoor rites) just doesn’t have a free Saturday in December for us to rent it out. Oddly enough, they actually have their own December holiday events that they like to use their space for. >8) (We actually could rent the Friends’ basement on most Sundays in December, but every time I bring up the possibility of having the Yule ritual on a Sunday, my Grovemates stare confusedly at me as though I’d grown a third head. So Saturday at the Ed Center it is!)
The ritual itself is fairly light. We honor Danu as our primal water mother, and honor her presence in the land as snow, which we almost always have for Yule. Be warned, Rodney has been known to throw snowballs at people as a form of votive worship! We also mention Bel, our primal sun father, as we honor him for his presence (weakened as it is this time of year) in the form of sunlight, and celebrate the knowledge that his strength and light will grow in the coming months.
Since much of our mainstream culture’s Christmas celebration uses symbols that were originally pagan, we take advantage of this and use these symbols in our rite. We bring in a small live tree and decorate it with ornaments, we sing “Deck the Halls” and “Here We Come a’ Wassailing”, and of course there’s our own special Yule custom, “Danu’s Wave of Power”, which is a closely guarded secret and only those who attend our ritual get to find out what it is. Heh heh.
The one kinda sad thing about our Yule rites is that they’re far and away our least attended rites of the year. The winter solstice wasn’t a huge holiday for the Celts, and with the busyness and distraction of the season that we all have to deal with (holiday parties and family gatherings and long hours at work for those of us in retail), a lot of our regulars can’t always be there. The bright side of this is, it’s the perfect time for Grove members who want to lead a ritual for the first time, since both the complexity of the ritual and the intensity of the energy flow are minimal. It’s too late for me to take a volunteer to run the rite this year, but if you’re interested in such things, keep it in mind for next year!
And that’s Yule in a nutshell. Next week, I’ll write about, er, something else.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF