Week 10 – DPWotY

Week ten is the post ritual wrap-up for the second High Day in the DP, having either performed a ritual, or as is the case here attended one and participated I am now to reflect on how the ritual went, what happened, what did I learn, what was the format, who were the patron dieties, how did it feel, how did the blessing go, etc.

So once again I set out in 41 degree celsius heat for a two hour drive to the nemeton of the closest grove to me, grooving to Damh the Bard, as only an overly enthusiastic pagan can. We took a cake, oat biscuits and banana bread with us to share at the post ritual picnic, all things we thought could survive the heat once we arrived.

We arrived with little time to spare, eight minutes before starting time, however due to problems with public transport some of the others were running late and had messaged ahead to let the Senior Druid know. We all waited patiently in the shade of the gum trees using the ritual handouts as fans for the stragglers and chatting about our lives.

As the last of the people our Senior Druid was certain was coming arrived we worked out roles for our very small gathering, my drink bottle unfortunately has leaked a little on my notes so the number of attendees I am having to put down by recollection as being only 6 people.

How did the ritual go in terms of structure?
The ritual followed the ADF core order since it was held by a ADF Grove.

What things went wrong?
Nothing went overly wrong with the ritual, there were a few fumbled lines (including one of mine) and one of the people doing offerings to the Kindred’s almost forgot to give one but nothing big, cetainly nothing the detracted from the ritual or ruined it in any way.

Who were the patrons of the ritual and who was the Gatekeeper?
The patron of the ritual was the Dagda and the Gatekeeper was Mannan mac Lir

Did you have trouble saying the words? Did everything come out smoothly?
No and no. I didn’t have trouble saying the words for the parts I spoke or sung in, I never have because I wouldn’t participate in something that I wasn’t comfortable with. Did everything come out smoothly, also no, I honestly don’t think the answer will ever be yes unless I have memorized my lines by rote, my mild dyslexia is always going to trip me up, the good thing about it though is the grove are understanding and I’m not the only one that has this issue.

If you were with a group what part did you play?
I was with a grove and I played the part of the Nature Spirits, as well as participating in the songs and parts where everyone speaks. I really like welcoming them in as part of the Kindreds, like I’m greeting friends.

What did you feel during the ritual?
So Rev Dangler does elaborate on this question more in the booklet but I like the smaller headings so I’m going to phrase the question simply and cover a few things.

As for feelings of confidence or anxiety, I would say I had mixed feelings, I had some anxiety at the pre-ritual briefing that carried into the ritual, right up to the point where I started my part of welcoming in the nature spirits, it was like I kicked over into teacher mode where there was no space for anxiety. I spoke clearly and projected my voice so all could hear me and after I started I was filled with a feeling of confidence, it was like I was among friends and there was no need to be worried, given I have crippling anxiety this was such a liberating feeling.

As I was welcoming in the nature spirits I got a wonderful warm feeling, like I was with friends, it filled me with so much joy and happiness and it felt like I was really connected to the space, I felt hyper aware of the birds in the trees and the gently movement of the trees around us, the feeling of the dirt beneath our feet and the space we were standing in. Suddenly the gentle trickle of the creek seemed so much clearer, like the gently chiming of crystals on a chandelier as they clinked softly against each other in a wafting breeze. I like to think that this was the presence of the nature spirits responding to our call to join us in ritual.

What omens were drawn?
The seer drew the Vine which she said was about celebrating the bounty of the season, of fellowship and of connectedness. It was agreed that this was a positive omen and that our offerings had been accepted.

One other thing of note was that I got to take the well offerings down to the creek near the nemeton to make the secondary offering to our local waterway, casting the water and silver into the gently trickling stream that was much lower than normal and clear as glass.

With that I have finished recap number two of the High Days.

Week 9 – DPWotY

So here I am again furiously typing and writing trying to catch up on what has been going on , I have pages from books, corners from diaries and sticky notes forming all the notes I need to convert into blog posts before they become sensless gibberish.

Week nine has us looking at the second high day for the wheel, in my case in the Southern Hemisphere that is Summer Solstice or Midsummer.

Midsummer from a Heathen perspective can look at things like the tales of Baldr, who in a lot of modern resources is linked to Midsummer, a number of groups burn a model viking long ship with offerings inside linking to the Gylfaginning saga where Baldr is killed. Likening his life cycle and role in the destruction of the world at Ragnarok and participation in making a new one afterwards to the role of the sun in other IE traditions.

Midsummer for me means that it is a hot, dry time and that we are beginning the slow march to the wet cold months, it means weeks or months without any rain and the promise of glorious summer thunder storms. It is also a time of danger, of being alert, not only due to the increased snake activity but because it is the beginning of the peak fire danger period, where any day you could find a out of control bushfire threatining your home and community.

Midsummer isn’t really a time of year I look forward to normally, as I am not great with any heat over 22 degrees celsius as a general rule. However this time, I was really excited about Midsummer, it is the second High Day I’ve celebrated with an ADF grove since I became a member, and it is a part of my continuing learning.

By the time Midsummer rolls around the days have been getting longer and hotter, the air is drier and you can taste summer in the air, a dry dusty flavour tinged with woodsmoke and ozone. We’ve often had our first big storm for the season and everything has either turned golden and brown or is well on the way as heatwaves roll in.

The grove I have been attending always sees a drop in attendance for ritual at Midsummer, apparently it has been that way since the very beginning. They seem to treat it is a much more relaxed ritual, there is a sense of festivity in the air as everyone is getting ready to spend holiday time with their families. They still follow the usual format of pre-ritual breifing and assigning of roles, ritual and then post ritual picnic near the nemeton where everyone brings something to share and we eat, chat and enjoy each others company.

So now I have supposedly written my next High Day essay, in reality this is just the beginning I think but it is nice to have taken a look at the festival before hand and to have something to draw upon for the actual essay.