I think I’m about to set a new record for “latest blog entry about a ritual”, thanks to my new night class which will hopefully result in me getting a programming job again, and finally having enough money to go to festivals and have some small chance of convincing women to go out with me and all of the other fun stuff I did back in the 90’s when I made programmer money. But now that the weekend is here and I’m caught up on all of the other ADF things I was behind on, here it is!
After last year’s sudden blizzard that left us with only ten people in attendance, the warm and sunny weather predicted for the weekend had me feeling some relief. I was sad that only Gen showed up for the fire lighting (Rodney was feeling ill), but Gen did a great job making a new dress for our corn dolly, and the Bríd crosses I made from chenille sticks actually came out looking much better than my usual efforts with straw. I'[m just sorry the rest of y’all missed out on the peanut butter cookies I baked.
Preparation went smoothly the next morning, with a quick stop for copying and a faster-than-expected stop to get hot wings from Mr. Spot’s, which I promised to bring after realizing Imbolc was going to be on Super Bowl Sunday. (One down side of moving rituals to Sunday that we should have seen coming, but didn’t.) It was sunny and 40 degrees (and felt warmer to me) when I got to the Ed Center. Rodney was there soon after (and feeling better) and we were set up in plenty of time. Other than a few people wandering in looking for the Ann Arbor Food Co-Op meeting and leaving in confusion (and I later confirmed that yes, we did indeed have the whole building reserved, and those folks didn’t), everything went smoothly and we actually got started a little earlier than usual.
Sadly, the gorgeous weather outside didn’t help attract folks as I had hoped (or maybe everyone decided to play outside instead), and we had a whole eleven people this time around. My memories are definitely proving to be a problem with staying in this Grove for so long. Did you know our second highest attendance for a High Day was 65 people at an Imbolc? Do you remember when Bríd practically had her own cult within our Grove? Sadly, I do, and I’m still stressing out over dealing with the new reality. The meditation I wrote for everyone to meet Bríd before the ritual? Far as I know, only one person besides me even tried it, and her experiences were, well I can’t details share because of clergy confidentiality, but not good. And I know that several of our members have personal issues with her, to the extent that Gen walked out of the ritual as soon as we called to her. Well, feh. For now, I choose to treat this as an opportunity for the dedicated among us to share community on her holy day. But damn, I miss the big ones. Having dozens of people honoring her with song and craftwork was an amazing experience, and I hold out hope that we’ll get there again some day.
(Also, yes, we wont schedule it on Super Bowl Sunday again.)
But enough of the complaining. The ritual itself was actually pretty good, and in some ways exceeded my expectations. Since this was our first Imbolc at the Ed Center, this was the first one we’ve ever done without candles, and while I found it sad, it wasn’t as distracting as I’d feared. The song I wrote for the Portal Opening actually went pretty well (don’t worry, I’ll post the lyrics someplace public at some point) (and don’t worry, I’ll save it for special occasions, assuming anyone wants me to do it again), and the new, non-kneeling way to call Bríd into the room was good. The offerings were good, the omen was, well, eventually good (Perthro – Lagu – Hagalaz, Gebo drawn to clarify the third rune, so the gift of protection), and our concept of the three altars for Bríd (blacksmithing, writing, and herbs) went well. There is indeed something satisfying about pounding metal with a hammer!
And once the rite ended, we got to the aspect of a small ritual that I can actually get behind. There were three neat dishes in the potluck, and they weren’t all completely devoured before I had a chance to get them! More amazingly, folks stayed long enough to help us get everything cleaned up by 5. If the day was a smaller honoring of our goddess of community than I wanted, at least it was a good orthopraxic one.
The one part I still have to ponder was the pre-ritual meditation I wrote ad sent to everyone for the week before the rite. I was hoping it would be a good way for folks to prepare, especially those who might not have as much experience with our Grove’s deities, but there definitely didn’t seem to be much interest in actually doing it. Then again, I’ve already noted the issues some of our members have with Bríd. Also, I’m not the type to give up on something after one attempt. So we’ll definitely do it a few more times at least. Being the Senior Druid of this Grove has always been a perpetual balancing act between amazement at what we can accomplish and disappointment at what we don’t, why would I expect that to change now?
I hope that everyone had a good Imbolc, whatever you did to celebrate!
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF