Ana, Come Be With Us

Mmm, lovely, my desktop PC is back in action and I have nice big keys on my nice big keyboard to type with. No more feeling like Gulliver trying to blog from Lilliput! Sadly, I do have to reinstall most of my software, and on a dialup modem that will likely take me at least a week, but better than being trapped on a laptop.

Friday evening saw us at Rod and Liz’s home for the fire lighting. We had a total of seven people there including the latecomers (of which I was technically one), and we colored eggs and made seed packets for the main rite. No inclement weather or slippery roads to deal with, either. And the newsletter was finished and ready top copy as well! It was the kind of easy-going, casual, pleasant pre-ritual evening that always makes me worry that the ritual itself is going to go disastrously bad.
Weather is never an issue for our spring rites, since we schedule them indoors at the Friends Meeting and do parts of the ritual outside. The Spring Equinox rite always tricky, since we either risk annoying people by doing an indoor rite when it’s warm and sunny out, or scaring people away completely by doing it outdoors in a snowstorm. While it was sunny out, the temperature was not too much above 40, so while I probably could have done the whole thing outside comfortable in short sleeves, I suspect most people were happy to spend most of the time in the warm indoors.

Gen and I got there later than I’d have liked, but we still had enough time to get everything set up by about quarter after 2, and of course we never manage to get the rite proper started before 2:45. Given that Rodney was leading the ritual this time, I wasn’t too concerned about my own mental preparations for the rite anyway. So everything before we got started went smoothly enough. Gen’s nephew Noah and niece Abby joined us for the day, since Abby is apparently very into egg hunts lately.

So we managed to get volunteers for all of the ritual roles, we got started as on time as we ever do, and things went well. No mistakes or odd things during the invocations, and everything felt good. We went outside to do the pre-praise egg hunt, as a symbolic form of finding new life emerging from the land, and that took a little longer than usual, since our egg hiders (Mike and Corey) tried to make some of the especially challenging. I don’t know which of them put an egg on top of the crossbar above the swing set, but obviously I should have made it a little more clear to them that encouraging our younger children to climb out to grab an egg was not what we had in mind. >8) Eventually we did recover all of the eggs, so the Friends won’t have any sulfurous surprises waiting on their lawn in a few weeks’ time.

We headed back inside and reenacted to story of Ana. Rodney wanted to read the story aloud and have volunteers pantomime the parts of the story. I was a little worried that this would come across a little too much like an elementary school talent show, and that the reaction would be somewhere between boredom and giggles, but I thought it worked out okay. It wasn’t any sillier than, well, any other group praise offering that we do. Gen brought some shiny “ting” strips from the flower shop for the several people playing the part of the raging torrent of water/sap, and I really did like both the visual and the sound of having them move around the circle where we stood, and slowly coming under Ana’s control. I played Bel, a tricky role for this story since I have to be both an inspiring solar father and a comparatively weak and powerless winter sun at the same time. I noticed that Rodney didn’t mention the sun’s/Bel’s return to strength during the story, but I figured it wasn’t a big deal, it is Ana’s story after all.

Okay, well maybe it was a big deal. After the main sacrifice of the eggs, Kestrel did a rune reading and came up with “still need fire”. Hmm. Was Bel feeling left out and voiced his concern? Or was Ana putting in a good word for her father? Either way, we decided to pass a lit candle around the circle and have everyone talk about how much they loved the sun and the spring. The next reading was better (I think Thurisaz – Fehu – Lagu? I must try to write these down) and so we proceeded with the return flow. It seems worth noting that most of our “bad omens” tend not to be an issue of not giving proper honor to the deity of the occasion, but rather a need to honor another deity as well. I know some folks in ADF feel that personal offering to gods and spirits other that the DotO aren’t appropriate for a High Day rite, but I’ve always disagreed, and I’ll have to keep this in mind the next time the subject comes up.

Anyway, we went outside, blessed the seed packets and the various work tools that some of us brought along. I blessed my flash drive as a symbol for both of my computers. Then we headed back inside, closed up the ritual space, and had the usual fun potluck and raffle and talking and all of that. I ran the raffle for the first time in years, since I’m usually too busy with other things. We actually had quite a surplus of raffle items, many of which went unchosen. (Oh, if any of my five devoted readers want two free passes to the Your Spiritness psychic fair in Warren on April 25th, let me know!)

And wonder of wonders, we had an actual youth activity for the first time in years! Sean brought along some seeds and soil and small pots, and the children (and a fair number of the adults) planted them and took them home.

So all in all it was a really good rite, no big screwups, only the one small screwup that I noticed, and we apparently fixed that one anyway. My thanks to Rodney for running the rite, and to everyone who joined us!

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

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