It was definitely an odd week leading up to our ritual weekend. The early weather forecast said mostly sunny and no chance of rain on Friday or Saturday, which slowly turned to scattered showers and then to definite rain on Friday and part of Saturday. I started an article on orthopraxy and acceptance in ADF, which after three paragraphs I knew would come across as a series of whiney personal attacks (even more so than my usual articles) so had to ditch that on Thursday night, and then on Friday the Kellers sent me two different messages that they’d be late for Fire Watch, and then arrived before I’d gotten the fire lit. Fortunately, Fire Watch itself went smoothly enough, with the fire nice and large before the rain came 9thanks in part to Sean’s portable air mattress pump) and Matt stopped by and said that my desktop PC should be working in a few days so I won’t have to keep using this tiny toy-sized keyboard on this laptop!
After getting up early to make sure the ballots and orders or service were done, I went to Kinko’s to get them printed and copied (plus the new issue of Shining Lakes News that Gen had gotten done on Friday night) and stop by Bandemer Park (site of our Grove picnic in July) to spend time by the river, as I try to do before any ritual where we honor Ana. Having a car sure made it a lot easier than last year’s fall-body workout, though! I thought about getting in some disc golf at Bandemer, but even with the rain that morning, there was a line of people at the course. (Is there any weather they won’t play in?) So I got to Botsford in plenty of time to get things set up. Once Rod and Liz arrived, wit Barbara and her friends helping to carry and set thing up, the space was ready well before 2, which always makes me happy.
Nineteen people raved the potential rain to be there. The clouds were low in the sky, but the weatherman’s morning promise of four hours without rain held true as we started down the path to the nemeton. I forgot to have Rob (no, not me, the other one) do the Outsider offering up at the fire circle, but since he’d brought his offering down to the nemeton, that worked out for the best. The rest of the opening portion went smoothly, even the unity song Paul wrote last year and I couldn’t remember the tune and the only MIDI I had of it was on the aforementioned not-yet-working desktop PC. (Though in fairness, Paul couldn’t remember the tune either.)
The ritual outline had us passing the cornucopia full of gourds around the circle and then decorating the gourds, as we did last year, but I felt it would be better to have the decorated gourds used as the focus object for the individual praise offerings, so I switched that up. (Yes, on purpose. I do that sometimes.) The downside was that it didn’t give the Stag Dancers a graceful way to leave the nemeton quietly while Rodney got everyone chanting “Hoof and Horn”, but oh well, I don’t think we were disruptive, and it’s not like people didn’t know the dance was coming. After a quick costume change in the woods, we came down the path and oh so subtly tried to signal to everyone that they needed to be clapping. (I need to tattoo that to Rodney’s hand next year!) The dance itself went as well as usual, other than the raffia “skirt” I wear around my head not quite falling to pieces as I danced, our Producers really need to make us a replacement next year. We then took the gourds and apples out into the woods as our offering, and the omen was good (Algiz – Mannaz – Fehu), and so we had cider and donuts as our return flow.
Once we closed up the space and ended the rite, we got everything packed up quickly, just in case that four hour window of no rain ended early, but other than a sprinkle for a few minutes, we didn’t get any rain for the rest of the afternoon. We did the potluck and the raffle (sadly I didn’t get the book of the Havamal), and Sean had the children do leaf pressings in contact paper, which I can actually remember doing as a child myself. And a good time was had by all! Or at least nobody complained about it too much. Our two new attendees, David and Breezy, said they really enjoyed it, and I personally felt a real sense of connection and peace during and after the rite. Or maybe I was just coming down from all the frantic preparations I’d been doing all week, hard to say. Either way, it was worth it! Fall is here, and I can actually spend time outside without feeling like I’m going to melt! Hail Autumn!
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF
PS – For whatever odd reason which is beyond my comprehension, we got the “Journal of the Week” award from our hosting site. By the time you read this, it’ll be a new week and we won’t be listed as current winners, but here’s a button to prove that we won it, for whatever that’s worth:
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