Green Man Grove Summer Solstice 2001 Ritual Report:

Our 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 & Norma’s 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 was.

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 they’re in front of the Geology Museum which houses a mummy and local dinosaur footprints. (There’s also a little mini Stonehenge here, well, actually just one monolithic arch, or, rather, a mini-lithic arch, ok, actually it’s 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 wasn’t 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 hadn’t 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 didn’t 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 ritual.

We determined that the weather was our third omen: spectacular, beautiful, yet it didn’t 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. I’ve 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, etc...

—Edwin Chapman, Scribe