For me, the ritual weekend actually started early on Friday afternoon, as I took the bus into Ypsilanti and stopped by Riverside Park and Frog Island Park. As I mentioned in my entry last fall, I always try to spend some time with the Huron River before any ritual I lead where Ana is the Deity of the Occasion. The park was a bit more crowded this time (not surprising, given how early in the day I got there last time), but it was still good to spend time with Grandfather Elm by the soccer field, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they’ve finally finished rebuilding the dock/pavilion after what feels like years! The river was running high and fast, surprising given how little rain we’d gotten so far that week.
After that, I went to Rod and Liz’s house in Ann Arbor for our winter-style indoor Fire Lighting ritual. We had a new person show up who found out about us from a Pagan Michigan posting on Facebook, so hey, Facebook is proving itself useful! We dyed the eggs for the ritual (and I feel like I should have brought some eggs from home so I could dye them for myself, we had so much dye made for so few eggs!) and assembled the seed packets we would give out for the return flow. Since I’d found two different kinds of large boxes of wildflower mix, one for shade and one for sun, I’d bought two kinds of fabric for the pouches, one a light yellow with flowers (for sunny), the other dark brown with owls and flowers (for shady). As always for the winter ones, the crafts portion of the ritual took an hour and a half, and the fire blessing took about 45 seconds. >8)
The next morning, I got a ride into Ann Arbor with my mom so I could bring all of my ritual accoutrements, and also stopped by Kinko’s – wait, sorry, Fed Ex Business Center or whatever they’re calling themselves now – to get the newsletters and orders of service printed up. I got to the Friends Meeting at about 11:30, which is about an hour earlier than even I want to get to the ritual site! The yoga group that I thought met from 10 to noon wasn’t there, but they’d written some things on the chalkboard, so I assume they’re just meeting earlier now. So I set up as much as I could, which took until 12:15 or so, and then just logged on to my laptop and waited for the ritual items to arrive.
Which they did a bit after 1, so Rodney and I set up the ritual circle while Liz frosted her cupcakes. We were done at 1:30, and I always feel like I can do the ritual better if things are ready to go in plenty of time! Candy, Serena and Fred arrived early, so we chatted for a while. As usual, most folks didn’t arrive until after 2, and some didn’t arrive until nearly 3. (Some day, I will start the ritual at 2 no matter how few people are there, just to keep people on their toes.)
We started a bit after three, with our usual ritual opening. Since my grandfather passed away last month, I did the Ancestors invocation myself. Since I consider someone with a recently-deceased family member to be spiritually closer to the Realm of the Ancestors, I always offer that role to anyone who I know has had that happen. Some folks take me up on it, some don’t, even I won’t obsess over that one too much, but I think it’s a good way to keep our Grove rituals meaningful to us as individuals.
Once the opening was done, we went outside for our usual egg hunt. Rodney and Jen (not Gen) had hidden the eggs, and Rodney told me he’d put most of them in obvious places because it was really cold outside and he didn’t want to be out there any longer than he had to. (The forecast early in the week had said it would be 60 and sunny, and I was worried that we’d get complaints about having to do the ritual indoors. The high ended up being 42, and it was cloudy, so no complaints were made.) We then went back inside and I told the story of Ana, and I hadn’t remembered that I didn’t do the story last year, so I felt way out of practice with it, I really wish I’d rehearsed it beforehand, but I thought it was passable. After offering the collected eggs to Ana, Rodney took the omen, and it was good (Wunjo – Uruz – Peorth), so we passed the seed packets around for everyone to take one (or two, we had plenty for the 25 people who attended) and I took the water bowl we used for purification around so folks could bless their own seeds and tools. (I blessed my laptop and flash drive – hey, did I ever say I was a gardener?)
And we closed things up and had a good potluck (which was actually meatless, even though most of us weren’t bothering to do the official Meatout Day as proclaimed by Governor Granholm), and Sean had the kids (and a few of the adults, myself included) plant a few starter seeds. For the first time in many years, I actually had the first winning raffle ticket! I went home with a small pot of two daffodils (we’ll see how long I can keep them alive, as I said, I’m no gardener) (then again my live tree from last Yule is still alive three months later, and I’ve never managed that before) and a pack of two yo-yo’s. And we got things cleaned up and left a bit after 6.
All in all, a very good ritual, and I’m once again glad that we did it indoors. Obviously I’d love to have a site where we have both an indoor and outdoor option available to us and can decide on the day of the ritual, but I like the feel of the Friends Meeting, and I’m kind of sad that we only ever do two rituals there per year. I’m also a little sad that the only new folks I saw came in after the ritual started and left just a few minutes after it ended without talking to anyone – what, are we that scary? But it’s good to spend time with so many friends, it’s good to do ritual, it’s good to honor our river mother, and it’s even better to know that spring is finally here!
Except that it snowed a little today. But that’s Michigan for you.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF