Man Grove Beltane 2001 Ritual Report:
is not good; it pisses off the Gods. Weve been bragging about our rituals,
and while weve had three excellent ones in a row (brag... brag... what
was that about hubris?), I guess we were due for a bit of a clunker. Actually,
I cant remember any really spectacular Beltane rituals weve done
as a grove, although weve had some great Beltane parties. Beltane always
seems to be a party with a ritual attached, rather than the other way around.
We make up for our weenie Beltane rituals with lots of props and fun things
to do: hobby horse, rag man, dragon, flower hair wreaths, belly dancing, drumming,
maypole, labyrinth, etc.... The ritual was just one of many events at our
Beltane May Faire, and everything else was great. Then again, the ritual was
perhaps the most important part of the festival, as far as the religion goes....
We had several problems with this ritual:
First, Beltane has never been one of our best rituals. As I said, its
always a great party, but never one of our best rituals. Most of the folks
in the grove are well-balanced in their sexual personae we dont
have a lot of manly-men and girly-girls in the grove
and we have quite a few gays, bisexuals, celibates (and others whose sexuality
can only be termed alternative). Were not big on that grunting,
groaning put the pole in the hole thing (although Wandering Al
did do a good job of grunting and etc. when we put the pole in the hole...).
Second, we picked a specific tree to be our World Tree, but when it came time
to invoke the tree as a gate, we decided to make all the trees in the forest
the gate. We also made the sun the sacred fire and all the water in the area
the well... [Note from Senior Druid we were trying to placate something
in the space that was already unhappy... we did this so that anything that
felt left out could be part of the ritual.] Good intention, bad result.
Third, when I went to invoke the outsiders, the place reminded me that we
were outsiders compared to all the trees and plants and animals and bugs that
lived there. Weve used this site (Lewis Morris Park, Morristown) twice
now for Beltane, and its a great site, but I think that if we used it
more frequently, or made an offering specifically to it before the ritual
(even days before), the site would have been happier. We can work on this.
Fourth, the way we do rituals, relying on inspiration and preparation over
memorization and scripting, we are always open to stumbling invocations. Its
a wonder this hasnt happened before!
Fifth, as Sean pointed out at the subsequent dedicants meeting, we were right
next to the labyrinth, which had its own center and its own energy thing happening.
He felt that the labyrinth space interfered with our creation of sacred space
in the ritual.
Our less-than-wonderful Beltane Ritual:
The procession Pattie and Norma leading us all in the Padstow May Morning
Song, me leading the Hobby Horse (who was Erica), the Dragon (Jack, Lorinda
and Madeleine), the Horned Rag Man (Al) and the rest of the grove down the
hill and around the site worked out fine, although we were all out of
breath. Maybe we should have just sung the chorus and walked immediately to
the site, then gathered and sang the rest when we werent walking. Id
like to try this again next year maybe process with drums and then sing
when we get there. Regardless, it was a colorful paegent and weve got
some dandy pictures of it on our web site. We had over 40 people.
Erica and I danced the Hobby Horse death-and-rebirth part of the
Padstow ritual. Then the ritual started. As soon as we sat down it seems our
attention was scattered by the trees, the sun, the stream, the birds, the
maypole ribbons swaying in the breeze....
Al started us off with a kick-ass Earth Mother invocation.
Normas meditation involved opening your hand slowly over and over again
like a flower blooming.
I pointed out the horizontal directions, asking around the circle if anyone
came from the North; if anyone came from the South; etc... and where
did you come from?.
Pattie invoked the well I poured in our ritual water and some stream
Deb invoked the tree, stressing how you can always remind yourself that your
roots are in the ground and your spirit is moving to the sky by simply looking
at a tree.
Brenda, invoked the fire nicely.
Norma invoked Manannan and opened the gates. She asked the grove if wed
like to try using all the water, all the fire (including the sun) and all
the trees as gates, and we agreed to see what happens. When the
gate opened, it was diffused far beyond the ritual space, and our attention
and focus was diffused as well. Invocations tended to be halting and spacey
and difficult to begin. The energy didnt so much flow, as evaporate.
I honored the outsiders, pointing out that we were also outsiders in this
Marcia and Maria-Elena invoked Brigid beautifully and flawlessly. Good thing,
too, because we really needed her.
Erica invoked the ancestors, asking us to hold our hands up and imagine holding
the hands of our parents, and them holding the hands of their parents... on
Brenda invoked the Nature Spirits by telling us to listen to them. This was
perfect in that spot, as they were all around us.
Sean gave us a lovely Goddesses and Gods invocation, comparing the presence
of the Deities to a
Pattie invoked Epona, describing her from old stories.
Erica invoked Belenos in the bright sunshine a great rousing invocation
that had us repeating his attributes and pounding our hands on our thighs.
This was really cool.
Id been lighting candles for each invocation, and now all were lit.
We offered praise; different people offering different things. Jenne offered
stuff to the stream, Kim offered peacock feathers, Erica read a new web-coding
poem about Arachne, I read an e. e. cummings poem, Marcia recited a poem,
Zyalia read a wonderful God/Goddess Beltane poem that is used in her coven,
Al sang his Da Deer Run Run song and Norma told us a cautionary
Beltane tale about a kelpie. We ended with group drumming and belly dancing.
We used Ericas Celtic Greenwood Tarot for the omen
a really funky thing and after much discussion and vexation and consultation
with the Senior Druid, our Diviners held forth:
Pattie: Protection (4 of coins)
Jenne: Jealousy (3 of swords)
Peggy: Endurance (5 of coins)
Kim: Death (yup!)
Norma pulled 2 cards to clarify the message:
Skill (8 of coins)
As we were told this last Spring Equinox, this will be a working Spring,
nothing changed there. On top of that, we have a number of people dealing
with major health crises either themselves, or family, or friends. Still,
this is a pretty sucky omen.
The next day, in an e-mail, Marcia told us that as she was drifting off to
sleep, she had a strange experience: she couldnt remember whether it
was aural or eidetic, but it was an alternative interpretation of Beltanes
oracle. Our method is to read the cards separately, and then try to determine
from the sum total. In her dream, she was told that the cards composed a sentence
fragment: Protection from poverty (or illness), heartbreak, and death.
Either way you interpret it, we have the Protection and Endurance cards to
We continued the ritual, catechized the waters, jumped the candles (fires
not allowed) and ended the rite.
We danced the maypole the new maypole worked fine, I think its
the first time we havent had a maypole that sways and needs help standing
up (thank you Danny!). We ate food and talked and played around.
Everybody helped clean up. All the kids were especially great Erica
nominated Lucas as MVP for the day.
Everyone seemed to have had a really good time, but I hope that our Beltane
ritual improves somewhat. Well have to think about this....
Edwin Chapman, Scribe
like to thank Zyalia from Black Dirt ProtoGrove for the Glastonbury water
that she brought us on Beltane. It was added to our well, and has also
been given to friends and grove members who have been having health problems.