At last year’s Lughnasadh, after a decently large turnout on Friday night, we had horrible downpours on Saturday morning, and even though the rain died off in the afternoon. Only twelve people were at the main rite, which we ended up holding at the Fire Circle because we didn’t even want to walk down the muddy paths to the nemeton, never mind setting up there. This year’s forecast was for clear skies and relatively cool temperatures for the whole festival. Combine that with the greater-than-usual number of phone calls (I think the Observer actually listed the right phone number this time!) and e-mails, and I was expecting a much greater turnout this time around.
Friday night was pleasant, though since we didn’t have any volunteers to run a ritual that night, I felt sorry for the newcomers who couldn’t be there on Saturday. (And before you ask, I try to avoid doing the Friday ritual myself because I’ve generally spent all day running errands to prepare for the festival weekend and am not in a good headspace to lead ritual.) Still, there are worse things than sitting around a fire and chatting. Some people stopped by but said they’d return the next day when things were actually happening.
So Saturday came, I got to the site at 11:30 (after having to deal with a flat tire on the way there, and being *very* glad I’d gotten all of the prep work done the day before), to find the Kellers still there. Nobody arrived for my Greek Oracle disk making workshop, so I helped Rodney, Sean and Dylan get the nemeton set up. We did have a few children there for the finger-painting workshop, at least.
And then, ritual time rolled around, and we had… all of eleven people there, and none of them new. Wait, what? Where did everyone go? What happened to all those folks who called and stopped by on Friday? Feh. I know August is a bad time to get anyone to show up to Grove events, but this felt like a new nadir, like I’d spent weeks organizing the victory party for the candidate who was leading in the polls and then got three percent of the vote.
Well, part of being committed to open public ritual is running the ritual whether the public shows up or not, so we went ahead with it. The one change I made was having people write out their obstacles and wishes on the stickers down at the nemeton, since there were so few of us I didn’t think it would disrupt the flow of the rite too badly. We went with the same group praise and main sacrifice as last year, since so few people had seen it last year. (By which logic, we may as well do it again next year!)
The Balor balloon-head that Gen made looked very nice, though I had to hold it from the shoulders because it was just too heavy to stay up any other way. We put the obstacle stickers on the balloon and the wish stickers on my ritual dagger, and Rodney stabbed the balloon with it, sending a cascade of rose petals to the ground. (Damon then spent much of the ritual playing in the rose petals, which I’m not sure how to interpret liturgically.) After offering the remains of Balor to the fire, Rodney took the omen, which was good (Fehu – Gebo – Kenaz), and we toasted Lugh and Ana as the return flow, using the mead we got from our hosts at Wellspring. (And water, for those of us who don’t drink.)
After the ritual, we did our usual potluck and raffle, where I won the blanket that Jude had made as our “big ticket” item. Kestrel arrived during the rite, giving us an attendance of twelve again, and Gen got there after she was done with her wedding. The “knitting ritual” sort of happened with Liz and Gen doing some craft work, but with no new people there, Jude didn’t do the meditation workshop she’d offered to lead, and Gen and I decided to postpone the Demeter ritual to Samhain in the hopes that people might actually show up. (I did offer some seeds and olive oil to the fire for her, though, I won’t say I’m going to honor a god in a group rite and then give her nothing!)
So, there we have it. A great plan and having everything ready and great weather can’t guarantee attendance (something about horses and water), and frustrating as it is, that’s something we have to cope with from time to time as an ADF Grove. At least we had a good rite.
Oh, and the punch line to all of this? Even with the tiny attendance, we got $54 in raffle proceeds, not enough to cover the site rental cost, but way more than we’d gotten at the previous two High Days. Go figure.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF