Man Grove Summer Solstice 2001 Ritual Report:
Magical Mystery Tour Summer-Not-So-Solstice Ritual was held on July 2, 2001
due to handfastings, medical emergencies and other obligations. It turned
out to be a really beautiful ritual, with a really awesome day provided for
us by Mother Nature. We had 19 people, only 3 of whom had never attended a
Green Man ritual. We gathered at Ed & Normas in New Brunswick, and
started relatively on time.
After the pre-ritual briefing and pre-ritual peeing we gathered outside under
a grape arbor. I chimed 3 times to start the ritual, and Norma intoned, We
are here to honor the Gods... and started a fairly quick tree meditation.
It was a little crowded under the grape arbor, and relatively hot. Still,
the meditation worked. Norma explained why we were celebrating. Conny invoked
the Earth Mother with a prayerlike series of Her attributes. We moved into
a circle by the tomato garden, where Pattie invoked the well, opening a gate
in the water (which she poured into a purple bucket) and also a gate in the
water in our own veins, and a gate in the water in the sky (which was looking
threateningly overcast). Note how each of the well gates is portable. Hillary
quickly caught on and invoked the fire inside us, in the lightning, and in
the sun up above, as well as in the candle she lit and placed in a lantern
wired to a carved staff. Marcia continued with a tree invocation that dwelt
on the world tree and the norns at the foot of it, and the trees around us
and below us, and ourselves, bones and muscle, as trees. Norma cut a small
branch from the fig tree in the backyard (which needs to be trimmed...) and
handed it to Marcia.
Norma invoked Manannan Mac Lir, praising him and asking him to help all of
us open the gates. Just as she was opening the gates, the sky turned gray
and the wind began to blow furiously, causing clouds to mass across the sky.
As we shouted, Let the Gates be open! the wind built to a roar,
bending the trees, and the sky turned red. Norma added, Gently....
and the wind died down a bit.
Meanwhile, the college kids next door had come home and were standing open-mouthed
at the door of their apartment, and the old Russian guy across the way had
come out on his porch to watch us. I hope they were impressed; I certainly
Then we took the show on the road, parading out front, Hillary carrying the
fire in a lantern on a staff, Pattie the well in a purple bucket, and Marcia
the fig branch. We were carrying the gates within us as well.
While we were planning this ritual, we joked that we would be leaving a slime
trail of ritual energy behind us instead, it seemed more like a trail
of fairy dust blown in the gusts of wind, and as we made a circuit it filled
in the circle the way the hands of a clock sweep across a clock face: everything
within the circle was blessed.
We could use this kind of ritual to bless a large area in the future, if we
ever wish to do that. By walking the outside of a circle, continuously opening
the gates as we walk, the circle created its own center, as if it knew where
we were going and what the radius would be before we got there.
I kept seeing the energy we were generating as a sort of golden dust.
The wind was still blowing as we reached the gravel lot where the local cancer
hospital had knocked down four old houses to make a parking lot. Chuck acknowledged
the outsiders those who steal our parking spaces as well as the corporate
Fomorii who stomp our neighborhoods and ran to the corner postal box
with a stamped envelope marked only Outsiders, and filled with
hell money, which is traditionally used to placate demons. Chuck
took off for the mailbox with frantic haste; the rest of us followed in a
more leisurely fashion, since we were not being chased.
At the corner, we crossed the street, obeying the walk sign.
We entered the Rutgers University campus through huge iron gates and gathered
in the shade by some big white flowers, where Nej invoked Brigid to be our
muse and inspiration. She invoked Brigid as a universal deity, someone who
teaches us lessons and puts a fire under our butts as well as in our hearths;
someone who can bake cupcakes in the same fire she forges a sword. The thunder
rumbled in response.
We moved to the Freedom Trees to invoke the ancestors. These trees
are dedicated to M.I.A.s and P.O.W.s and war dead, and theyre in front
of the Geology Museum which houses a mummy and local dinosaur footprints.
(Theres also a little mini Stonehenge here, well, actually just one
monolithic arch, or, rather, a mini-lithic arch, ok, actually its just
a stone bench). Erica invoked the ancestors asking us to look around at the
old buildings, dating from the late 1600s to modern times, and think of all
those who built them, worked in them, studied in them and lived in them. Being
outdoors and walking around gave us all a nice fresh new slant on our invocations.
We discovered an old Indian Well next to the museum and added
some of our well water, and folks added bottled water that the grove had thoughtfully
provided everyone: Dannon water, for Danu, who will be invoked later.
We walked across the street, through another set of iron gates, and through
a long portal of trees until we found a nice patch of grass to sit on. Under
the tall trees, next to a patch of bare earth where someone had been burying
something (probably a pipeline), Deb gave us a rousing, right-on nature spirits
invocation. It was all about how nature comes up through the streets no matter
how hard we try to pave her over, how the ivy climbs the buildings and the
trees crack the sidewalks: how the natural world is stronger than we are and
will overpower us eventually no matter how we try to conquer her!
Then she cast some birdseed on the bare patch of ground and birds started
winging toward us. We got up and left that site to the birds. This is the
point where I noticed that the energy wasnt a trail, that we were actually
sweeping along like a radar, creating a big ritual space with the roiling
sky capping it like a dome.
It hadnt rained; in spite of all the wind as we opened the gates, it
had only gotten calmer on the ground, and when we got to the statue of Silent
Willie (William of Orange) and his devoted statuary dog, across from
the Theological Seminary, we had a patch of blue sky directly overhead. Seemed
like the perfect place to invoke the Goddesses and Gods. (Silent Willie
has had a reputation with generations of Rutgers students for moving.
We had roughly traced out the route of the ritual the night before and asked
Willie if it was ok. Norma reported that he unnerved her by nodding his head
yes.) Norma invoked the Goddesses and Gods and asked us all to
invoke our own patrons and patronesses and guest deities. Many of us did.
Tim the Enchanter yelled through the trees for Herne. I invoked Pan. Kali
was invoked, the Morrighan, Athena and others. Some folks whispered the names
of their deities under their breaths.
Now we invoked the three Goddesses we were specifically honoring. Erica invoked
Cerridwen, mentioning the University and the education and initiation that
takes place there. I felt the top of my head get warm. Norma invoked Danu
as an old Earth Mother, mother of rivers and mother of the Sidhe and matron
of our tribe. I invoked New Brunswick, the genius/juno loci of the city, calling
out her many names and delineating her borders, both geographic and temporal.
As I touched the ground I got the idea that the city wanted us to spin around
until we fell over. If we puked that would only be better. I think she missed
the college students who were on summer break. Our rather game crowd acquiesced
to this, and a whole bunch of us ranged across the lawn and spun until we
dropped. When the earth stopped moving, Brenda pointed out two squirrels who
were spinning around in a tree, seemingly inspired by us.
Some of us offered praise to each of the Goddesses, in various ways. One of
the squirrels fell out of the tree, but didnt seem to hurt itself. Pattie
and Erica led a bunch of folks in singing the Rutgers alma mater (By the Banks
of the Old Raritan) to close the praises.
Norma told us to look for an omen, and as soon as she said it, Nej asked,
Does anyone know what these runes stand for? Three short thick
sticks on the ground in front of her were interpreted to be Gebo and Sowelu.
Conny and Tim and Norma interpreted them as runes of partnership and support,
inspiration and the blessings of the sun. Later, Norma said that a clock started
ticking in her head at this point, telling her exactly how much time we had
before the rain started. We walked to an area between buildings, near the
Vietnam Memorial, where we hallowed the Waters of Life and Greg asperged us
from a plant mister.
As we walked back to the house, the sky grew darker and the wind picked up
again. When we arrived big beautiful thunderclouds filled the sky to the southwest.
Norma held us all outside as she thanked the kindreds, the three Goddesses,
and asked Manannan to help us close the gates. The ritual ended just as the
rain started to hit the street. We were treated to a spectacular storm
lightning across the whole sky, drenching rain and bone-shaking thunder. Many
Pagans stayed out on the porch to watch and shout encouragement. The air cooled
and we retired to the house to wait out the storm and feast and talk. Marcia
ran out in the rain to plant the fig branch in the yard. Pattie left the purple
well bucket out to catch rain water. Hillary opened the lantern and let the
wind from the storm blow out the fire, which had stayed lit throughout the
We determined that the weather was our third omen: spectacular, beautiful,
yet it didnt rain on us.
It was refreshing to be outside and moving around in the city while the weather
was doing amazing things. We saw a rabbit, birds (in the city, it seems there
are only three kinds of birds: pigeons, seagulls and birds), dancing
squirrels, an ant with an inchworm, and very few people. Ive described
the movement of energy the gate was with us the whole time, open and
continuously opening. I think that the storm helped us, in that it was opening
gates by itself all around us. All in all, a wonderful ritual, but without
the cooperation of the weather, totally unrepeatable.
Even without a helpful storm, though, I think that we could try to use this
format to bless a large area a whole town, a festival, a hilltop, nemeton,