Yule Ritual Report:

Our Yule planning began when we were planning Samhain– when Norma pulled a volume of Mother Goose out of her posterior and it fell open to a tongue-twister called “The Leith Police”. Erica suggested we use it as an Outsiders offering, and though it was inappropriate for Samhain, it seemed like a good way to lighten ourselves up for Yule. We began collecting any bits of tongue-twister or riddle or goofiness we could find.

After a discussion of Deities, we decided that this would be a good time to honor Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles. The festival of Five-Faced Ganesh occurs around the winter solstice, and is celebrated by local Hindus. The holiday is a newer Hindu holiday and encompasses a lot of old European Pagan solstice traditions.

Norma had been interviewed over the phone by a reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, a large, regional paper, and a photographer showed up the Moon’s Day before the ritual. Norma appeared in the centerfold of the Weekend Magazine on Frigga’s Day, resplendent in red hair and Druid robes. Also accompanying the article was an inset photo of our Green Man mask.

In spite of heavy rain & floods, we had 24 people. Just before the pre-ritual briefing, a huge double rainbow broke across the sky to the north! It was full and thick and bright against the dark clouds– a really good omen.

It turned out to be a happy, playful ritual. As our Senior Druid said before the ritual began, “We keep saying that the Gods have a sense of humor– trust Green Man to test it!”

Ganesh’s candle was lit first (traditional in any Hindu ritual), and then Parvati’s (Ganesh’s mom), and then a candle for Laxshmi on Ganesh’s right (because it’s traditional to light a candle for the Goddess of Luck).

Norma explained what we were doing. Al the Wandering Druid invoked the Earth Mother, known to the rest of the world as “Mother Earth”. (Why do we call her “the Earth Mother”?) and we recited a Mother Goose ryme “There was an old woman lived under a hill, and if she’s not gone, she’s living there still...” Norma led a hairy meditation (“There’s a party going on inside your body...”) and described the season and the rationale for what we were attempting. I riffed on the dubious Druid horizontal cosmological directions, making them more local and site-specific (“In the east, we have Mrs. Mason’s house. She’s in Plainsboro visiting her daughter. There’s also the Hospital parking lot, which may or may not conform to city zoning ordinances...”)

Pattie invoked the well, held up a cue card, and we all recited (or, attempted to recite) “beautiful babbling brooks bubble between blossoming banks”. Hillary invoked the sacred fire, and we attempted to sing “fire flow through me, fire flow free” really fast until it came out as “flee flow froo me flie flo fweeee”. Kat invoked the Bilé, and we tried “six slim slick saplings” six times.

Then Xuk intoned in a monotone baritone, “We control the horizontal, we control the vertical, do not attempt to adjust your metaphysical space.” We did not.

Your humble scribe invoked Manannan Mac Lir, Keeper of the Ways, Guardian of the Gates, Son of the Sea, and he appeared tap-dancing on 3 legs across the sea, opening the curtains of the clouds for us. We recited “The seething seas ceaseth, and thus the seething seas sufficeth us” six times. Then Pattie and I sang “man- na- na- nan do- do-dododo” from Sesame Street® as others joined in.

Manannan has done a lot for us over the years, and has put up with a lot, and we have 2 rituals planned especially for him this coming year.
Norma opened the gates. Erica finally got to make the outsiders offering she’d been wanting to make since before Samhain (and with a chorus!): “The Leith Police dismisseth us...” which is too involved to go into here.

Lady Sue invoked Brigit, and read through all of “Brigit bought a bit of butter....” without a flaw. It turns out that when Sue was an actress, this was one of her voice-training exercises!

Norma invoked the Ancestors (“Bring out yer dead!”) and we recited a bombastic scary Beowulf-like ryme that will remain a Green Man secret until we can use it on other groves and in other rituals.

Xuk came up with a great rhyming thing for the Nature Spirits, and after that we recited “one warm worm wears wool” which turned out to be pretty easy. Connie invoked the Goddesses and Gods as a class, and we all shouted the names of our Patrons and Patronesses as we sang “The Name Game Song”.

Norma invoked Ganesh and Parvati, telling the story of how Ganesh got his elephant head, and how he came to be worshiped first in the Hindu pantheon. We recited “Ganesh is an excellent, benevolent elephant” and “It’s pretty Parvati, Ganesh’s Mommy’s party!”

Praise followed. Sue led us all in “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” Hillary led us in reciting Jabberwocky (from memory!) Norma explained that although she was not the fig-plucker, nor the fig-plucker’s son, she would pluck our figs until the fig-plucker comes. Badger Girl, in a tribute to Marcel Duchamp (or, maybe Marcel Marceau), read her praise offering silently. I don’t know what she read, but it was fabulous. I read a poem and danced in a ring until the cords on my robe dropped around my ankles. Erica read an Ogden Nash poem about Medusa, and Marcia read a ryme that she’d created on the rainy drive down the parkway to the ritual, a limerick that rymed ‘Parvati’ with ‘harvati’.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, including the kindreds and guests of honor. There was even more praise, I think. We ended up reciting “We surely shall see the sun shine soon!” Norma performed the main sacrifice, a bit of holiday greenery treated to the Druid triple death. Our omen was received from Lewis Carroll, stitchomantically conjured by Pattie: “ ‘I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure’, the Queen said, ‘Two-pence a week and jam every other day.’ ” We concluded that the omen was way good, and we launched into a raucous puja, forever losing our chance to sing “99 waters of life on the wall”.

Each participant got a chance to stop drumming and spend some personal face-time with the elephant god, with his rat and umbrella, and ply him with coconut milk, ganges water, flowers, indian candies, peanuts and such...

As the puja wound down, we thanked all and closed the gates, reciting “A brother to his brother did utter, ‘Go my brother and shut the shutter.’ ‘The shutter’s shut,’ the brother did utter, ‘I cannot shut it any shutter.’ ”

The ritual ended, food and drink were copiously fed and drunk.

All in all, a happy, warm, bright and funny ritual that brought us all together laughing and singing as the winds blew down the street and the temperature dropped below freezing. Tho the Iceman cometh, our spirits were warmethed.

—Edwin Chapman, Grove Scribe

Brigit bought a bit of butter,
“But,” she said, “the butter’s bitter.
If I put it in my batter
it will make the batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter-
that would make my batter better.”
So Brigit bought a bit of butter
better than her bitter butter,
and she put it in her batter,
and the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Blessed Brigit
bought a bit of better butter.