I was going to apologize for the longer-than-usual delay in posting this ritual write-up, but then I remembered that I never posted any write-ups for the previous five ritual weekends, so any delay this time is by definition less than usual! Plus, I can’t say that anything mind-blowing happened this time around, so those of you who think that every ritual should be a life-altering experience will be in for a disappointing read, assuming that you’ve even read this far. Those who feels as I do, that High Day rites should be about strengthening our relationships with the Kindreds and with each other, will hopefully be impressed.
After spending Saturday afternoon taking part in the HJRWC Stonefly Search, I did manage to get home and have the place cleaned in time for the Fire Lighting ceremony, but only Rodney came. We made Bríd Crosses out of chenille sticks. Rodney’s being better looking than mine (as usual), we place that one in the Bríd Doll’s basket for use on the altar.
The next day, I got to the Friends meeting at 1:30, hoping that the folks using the basement would be done cleaning it by then, as they had on the day of our Yule rite. No such luck, but we helped them get the tables cleaned and put away, and we were pretty well set up by around 2:15. If Rodney hadn’t had to go home to pick up the runes he’d forgotten, we might almost have started on time. >8) It did give folks time to socialize, at least, and with three new people in attendance, that was probably a good thing.
Things went smoothly once things got started, with Rob’s three children acting as purifiers and Rob himself doing the gate opening (and did I mention how good it was to see him at a ritual again?) leading up to the Bríd invocation. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we took a different approach to how we honored her, so no carrying her into the room and making everyone kneel. We had set up an altar and placed the dolly on it, along with our triple-Bríd statue in the center of a floral arrangement, and a sheet of hand-crafted parchment for people to write and draw on. For the praise section of the rite, we passed a small basket of fruitcake around the circle, and sang “The Way to the Well”, focusing our praise on Bríd’s more bardic aspects.
After offering a piece of the fruitcake as our main sacrifice, Rodney took the omen and got Berkano – Ansuz – Raido, a beginning of divine movement, which we took as a good sign of our new approach to working with Bríd in this way.
For the return flow, after passing the fruitcake around (it was probably the best fruitcake I’ve ever had, which sadly doesn’t mean much), we each took a small candle and passed the flame around the circle from person to person, so everyone could take the flame of inspiration – well, okay, a candle that had held the flame of inspiration in ritual space – home with them.
After closing up the ritual space, we had a good potluck (lots of bread, but at least there were both sweet and savory options) and raffle. We had to pack things up fairly quickly, since a nasty winter storm was inbound, but everyone managed to get home safely. “A good omen and nobody died”, as Rodney always says!
So how did the new approach to Imbolc work? Pretty well, I thought. With a better than average turnout of nineteen, several new people who said that they enjoyed it, and a generally good feeling to the rite, I think that if we haven’t completely worked out how to properly honor Bríd at this time of year, we’re at least on the right track. I look forward to what the coming years will bring.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF