Yep, it’s a “rerun” of sorts, since I’m way too tired to write anything coherent right now. This was originally printed in the most recent issue of Shining Lakes News. It goes into more detail about the installation ritual than my Wellspring blog entry did, and since it was actually edited by someone else, it’s probably easier to understand. New article nest week, I promise!
For the first time in nine years, ADF has a new ArchDruid! Rev. Kirk Thomas took office at Wellspring this spring, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year and take part in his installation ritual. It was actually my first one, since Fox’s installation was done just before I joined ADF, and Skip’s was done in 2001, the only year I didn’t go to Wellspring between 1997 and 2002. So I had very little notion of what to expect.
Which was also true of Kirk, since he didn’t even join ADF until after Skip’s ritual. When I arrived at Brushwood, Skip mentioned that Kirk was off doing secret pre-ritual stuff. But when I went to the main building to change into my white chiton and red himation, who should I find standing by the men’s room door but Kirk! He’d been told to wait there for further instructions on his prep, and thought I might be the one bringing the instructions, which I totally wasn’t. As I was changing, I heard him being told that he needed to do a ritual purification shower (no big secrets being revealed there, I’m sure; ritual bathing or washing is pretty standard Indo-European stuff.)
We gathered shortly before dusk, to ensure the ritual would take place during that liminal time of day, the perfect time for any ritual involving a change from one thing to another. Carrion Mann gave a simple pre-ritual briefing, since just about everyone there was experienced in ADF-style ritual. We then processed to the nemeton, where we saw Kirk sitting in a chair to the side of the circle, giving off a radiant glow—wait, no, that was an electric light shining from the other side of the circle, so the videographer from California could get footage for his documentary. Well, he still looked impressive!
We began the formal ritual, with the ADF Clergy Council members doing the various ritual roles. Since I’d been listening to Sir Ian McKellen’s reading of the Fagles translation of The Odyssey on the drive to New York, I jumped at the chance to do the Invocation to inspiration (the Bardic Invocation), given here as best as I can remember it (and without the flub of call him “soundless,” which I did correct): “Sing, Muses, of Homer, sightless storyteller of the Ancient Greeks, whose words survive to this day, and tell us much of the ancient ways: how they saw their gods; how they honored their gods; and in turn how they honored each other through hospitality. And in turn, inspire us to speak well in this rite, to help us honor the gods and each other, and to make the tales of this ritual great enough to be told and retold for many years to come. Inspire us, oh Muses! Esto!” (Hey, I’m the only Hellenic on the Clergy Council as far as I know; I have to represent my hearth culture as best I can when I’m doing CC things!)
The other invocations and offerings were all well done. If you haven’t seen an ADF ritual being performed by people who are really well-practiced at it, it’s an amazing sight, and worth a trip to any festival to see. It’s kind of like watching a professional sports league’s all-star game, only the players actually care about it.
And then Kirk was brought forward to make his own offerings to his own Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Deities. There was much burning of food and smashing of shiny things. Anyone who knows Kirk knows that he’ll never skimp on his offerings! He finally offered a large bottle of whiskey to ADF itself, for everyone to drink after the rite.
Then, he placed his foot on a stone which was newly added to the nemeton, with a footprint etched into it. This stone will be used for ArchDruid installations from now on, and we consider the one standing on it to be standing in a line with those who were AD before. Those familiar with the Lia Fáil of Irish lore know it was the stone that would roar with joy if the rightful High King put his foot on it, or scream with rage if anyone else did, depending on which version of the story you’ve read. I can’t say I heard a roar or a scream while Kirk was standing on it and taking his oath of office, but he sure did look impressive!
After Kirk aspurged us with the waters of life, we closed up ritual space and waited in line to hug Kirk and get whiskey. Well, Rodney and I didn’t get whiskey, but you know what wacky teetotalers we are. Later that night I stopped by Kirk’s tent where he was entertaining visitors. Skip had mentioned a special treat sent by Kozen, Kirk’s partner: light and dark blue M&Ms with Kirk’s face and various ADF terms on them. Wow. Who knew that eating “Nature Spirits” could be so sweet?
And so begins the tenure of Kirk Thomas as the ArchDruid of ADF. Given his commitment to serious research (he’s currently earning an MA in Celtic Studies) and spirituality, I expect many great things from him in the coming years—hopefully including some visits to ConVocation so the rest of you can meet him too!
Yours in service to the Kindreds and the Grove,
Rev. Rob Henderson, Senior Druid