Lughnasadh, Equinox, Samhain & Yule
Poems by Nora and Hillary
Ecumenical Druid Harvest Ritual
Hands of Change, a large local coven, hosts the annual New Jersey Pagan
Picnic each August. We had helped out the year before, ran a workshop, built
a labyrinth, and had a lot of fun. This year, at the planning meeting in
June, they asked if our grove could organize the main ritual as a Druid
ritual, involving local Druid groups. As a number of Wiccans in the area,
as well as Druids, have participated in our rituals we thought that we could
get a whole bunch of groups involved. Dozens of phone calls and e-mails
later, we had eight groups working together; each had their own invocations
to perform in their own style.
We are deeply indebted to the following: Red Oak Grove, ADF; Braided Stream
Coven, Blue Star; EarthCraft Pagan Community; Tyrs Hand Grove, Tuatha
de Brigid; Portal of the Porcupine Coven; White Horse Grove; and Hands of
Each group performed an invocation during the course of the ritual, and
also honored the Harvest Deity of their choice at the culmination of the
ritual. It was a matter of trust to let other groups invoke in their own
style and without rehearsal, but well worth it. The invocations were all
There were over 200 people at the picnic this year; Hands of Change told
us that there were over 160 at the ritual. We did not ask people to form
a circle, but in our Druidy way asked them to clump together
on chairs or blankets around the bilé and the ritual area. This is
one advantage of ADF Druid ritual, we dont have to have a one-person-deep
circle; clumping brought more people closer to the ritual area
and within hearing range.
We decided to bring our indoor bilé outdoors and set it up on a low
table rather than use a tree as the bilé and the river as the well.
We wanted a dramatic vertical gate opening.
We started the ritual promptly at 4pm with a few words and a chime. Norma
functioned as ringmaster throughout, cueing parts and announcing
what was coming next. In addition, before each person invoked they announced
who they were, and which group they were associated with.
Sea, a Priestess of Hands of Change Coven, started us off with a lovely
invocation of the Earth Mother, praising her bounty and asking everyone
to touch the Mother and look around and see how beautiful She is. Then Sea
led us in song.
Norma guided us in meditation, then asked Pattie of White Horse Grove to
invoke the well. Pattie started with a few lines from the Talking Heads:
Water dissolving, water removing, theres water under the ocean...,
and ended the invocation with sacred well, flow within us.
Lady Sue from Portal of the Porcupine invoked the fire and sang a beautiful
torch song, ending with sacred fire, burn within us.
The bilé was invoked by Conny Jasper of EarthCraft and she ended
with sacred tree, grow within us.
Norma invited Manannan Mac Lir to join us, explaining who He is and his
position as our Gatekeeper. We opened the gates with a rousing Let
the Gates be Open! that was probably heard in New Brunswick across
the river. The gates opened cleanly, and created a vertical vortex in the
Norma explained our concept of the outsiders, pointing out that quite a
few of those we call outsiders could be helpful insiders in other situations.
She had us recognize the outsider parts of ourselves that might be set aside
for the duration of the ritual, and I took an offering to the banks of the
river. The outsiders accepted our sacrifice.
The Hearth of Tyrs Hand performed a beautiful Brigid invocation, Griffin
and Grinning Wolf and Vigil alternating spoken parts a stunning performance
ending in a solemn song. Then, by request, Norma led us in Brigids
Jig; 160 people shouting fire us up!
Deb, one of our more courageous grove members, invoked the Ancestors. Brenda
was going to do this originally, but had to back out that morning due to
a family emergency. Deb did a fine job, invoking from the heart, the place
of the Ancestors. She asked us all to invite our beloved dead, ancestors,
teachers, heroes, and guiding lights, setting the tone for the invocations
Kybrynn of Red Oak Grove, ADF stepped up to invoke the Nature Spirits and
Spirits of Place, ending his invocation by scattering a small amount of
Nej, representing Braided Stream Coven, invoked the Goddesses and Gods,
asking us to bring our special deities, patrons and patronesses into the
The first of our special Harvest guests was Lugh, as this is traditionally
his festival, in honor of his mother Tailtu. We invoked Lugh as Samildanach,
the many-skilled, as he gained entrance to Tara before the battle of Moytura.
Erica, our many-skilled Dogsbody and Cupbearer, Rush Mistress and Etc. was
the obvious choice for Lugh. She rapped on a drum outside the Nemeton and
asked to be let in. Norma asked what skill she brought us. As Lugh announced
each skill, Norma looked around the circle and found someone with that skill.
Warrior? Weve got a few. Healer? That was a laugh. Smith? Yes, several.
Sailor? Some hands went up. Sorceror? A lot of those! This was great fun
in a large circle of people.
After Lugh got through with the traditional skills, he announced he was
a webmaster and computer programmer. Must have had a dozen or more sitting
around the circle. Rocket scientist? asked Lugh, getting a little testy.
Yep, we even had two rocket scientists in our Pagan circle! Well,
Im a damn fine auto mechanic! said Lugh. There were a few of
those, too. Then Lugh announced that he could do all these things, and also
bring in the harvest. Norma welcomed him to the circle. Lugh somersaulted
in, did a few acrobatics, and was handed his glittering spear. The Harvest
followed, personified as Carmen Miranda (Ed) in a hat full of fruit and
veggies and Lady Apples, and with a basket of Jersey corn, beans, tomatoes
and cucumbers, and a banana in his pocket.
Grinning Wolf of Tyrs Hand invoked Njord, and also invoked Sif, Thors
wife of Golden Hair. He did this in a beautiful, formal way, calling to
Nej of Braided Stream called out to Dumuzi, telling his story, how he tried
to run from his destiny, how he had to face his fate. She spoke of how sacrifices
are made for the Harvest.
Charlestrie of Red Oak Grove drew down Rhiannon, calling out her praises
and nearly galloping away on wings!
Conny of Earthcraft powerfully invoked Osiris and his life-force and sheaves
Crow, a Priestess of Hands of Change, invoked Demeter, the mother of the
harvest in a personal and compelling way.
Lady Sue of Portal of the Porcupine invoked Asherah as the keeper of the
rains and the bounty they bring forth.
And Pattie of White Horse Grove invoked Kali, with the help of Hillary,
praising and describing Her while her hands circled around with all of Kalis
Each person invoking made an offering of water to the hard, dry earth. We
had been two weeks without rain.
After the invocations, the sky darkened a bit, initially a good thing, as
the day had been quite hot. Marcia led us in drumming and singing and vocalizing
as a group praise offering until we had raised a bit of energy. Norma performed
a final sacrifice, stabbing a loaf of wheat bread with a sickle and breaking
the bread over her knee.
Conny shuffled a tarot deck and let three random people from the circle
pick a card each.
The cards were:
Page of Swords: Heres an urgent message.
Eight of Swords: Youre sitting at a ritual and you think youre
stuck there, but you really ought to hurry up, because...
Blasted Tower: Theres a thunderstorm coming your way in about fifteen
As soon as Conny announced the Blasted Tower, people looked up at the sky
and merchants got up and ran to pack up their blankets. Talk about immediate
omens, all that much-needed rain was on its way.
Conny, however, shouted for us all to just wait a minute, that this omen
felt much stronger than just an immediate storm and, in response to a question
from the folk, said the omen was in force until the Autumn Equinox.
(She was proved doubly right, to our shock and horror, on September 11th.
Second sight is always better in hindsight; who could have imagined that
the Blasted Tower might prove to be a real tower? In addition, there had
been Jersey Devil sightings all summer: reports of large animals in the
pine barrens, disappearing footprints in Chatsworth- and when there are
Jersey Devil sightings it means that something catastrophic is coming.-
ed, writing 10/01)
We had an army of people passing out cups and pouring the Waters. We ended
the ritual quickly, thanking those who attended, and shouted Let the
Gates be closed! although the weather was holding them open. I was
told later that Asherah, in particular, was holding her knees together until
we finished the ritual.
We had a lot of frantic help taking down the bilé and clearing the
areawe cant thank everyone enough. We all started to clear out
the picnic grove, vendors packing wares, folks packing food, loading carsand
then the rain began in earnest; pouring, thundering, drenching rain accompanied
by blazing lightningan amazing show!
It was a shame to miss the post-ritual drumming and dancing and socializing,
but it just makes us look forward to next years picnic all the more,
when we wont be leading a ritual and well able to sit and talk
and relax with folks.
We were surprised a week or so later when Hands of Change sent us a copy
of an article in the Piscataway Review: a report on the picnic and a big
photo of Norma in her Druid robes standing by the bilé!
Air thick with water.
Fire tinges leaves of autumn
Earth. The storm will come.
Autumn Equinox Ritual
Our Autumn Equinox ritual was a difficult one, as I imagine was true everywhere.
We had decided that this wasnt going to be a pity-party
or whine-fest or jingo-jerk. We decided that what
people needed by the 22nd of September was strength, courage and balance.
We had been planning a moment of meditation when the sun actually crossed
the equator (or the Earth tilted away from the sun, depending on your point
of view) and we still intended to keep that much of our original plans.
We had 23 people. We started the ritual at 6pm. Deb Sandrock invoked the
Earth Mother. (Deb claims that shes now invoked everything in the
ritual at least once. This doesnt get you off the hook, Deb. Now you
that you have experience we need you more.) Norma led us in a tricky meditation,
and then I pointed out the geographical features in the four directions,
unable to overlook the great smoking hole in the East. I timed them so the
South came last and talked about how the Earth tilts (She wobbles but She
dont fall down....) and tried to drag it into a segue to the actual
equinox moment, but I couldnt ramble quite long enough.
Daphne invoked the well very nicelybut stopped and asked what the
lumps in the water were. Norma explained that we had placed nine hazelnuts
in the well so that if the Salmon of Wisdom ever showed up hed have
something to eat, and wouldnt we piss our pants if he actually
did show up!
We were momentarily entertained with the vision of a great silver-green
salmon leaping out of the well into the living room.
We gave Xuk three minutes to invoke fire before the moment of the suns
passing the equator, and then proceeded to heckle himthe Druid version
of Survivor. It seemed that we all needed to breathe and laugh
again, and the ritual was working the tensions out of us. It had been a
rough two weeks for all of us.
(Xuk wanted to know why we invoke the elemental force of fire rather than
any other elemental forcesay, for example, sacred gravity. Better
to drop a candle than to curse the darkness?)
And then the bell went off and we all sat and got dizzy as the northern
hemisphere tilted suddenly and abruptly away from the sun. At least it seemed
that way. We all got a little thrown off balance, which was contrary to
the purposes of the ritual.
Marcia performed a gentle, philosophic tree invocation that put us back
on our feet. Norma invoked Manannan Mac Lir, and we all opened the Gate
with a whoosh and a bit of wind through the windows.
Erica honored the outsiders and took the offering outside. There were a
lot of outsiders, she reported, and they wanted her to stay out there and
have fun. We threatened Erica until she came back in to suffer with the
rest of us.
I invoked Brigid and we sang Lady Brigid of the Bards rather nicely. Nobody
wanted to hear fire us up!
Hillary had one of the most difficult invocationsthe Ancestorsand
she handled it well. She offered momentary sanctuary and relief to any souls
whod like to come to the ritual and perhaps smile a moment with us
before going wherever they should go. So many dead, and many came to be
entertained. We were going to be a USO show for wandering souls, which was
OK by us. And the people called their own dead in. We sang the ADF Ancestors
Pattie and I invoked the Nature Spirits by performing a cut-rate but heartfelt
version of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, which is traditionally performed
the first Monday after the first Sunday after the fourth of September, which
fell a few weeks before. Norma accompanied us on spooky electric piano.
People invoked their own Spirits and Places and we sang Fur and Feather
Erica invoked the Goddesses and Gods. Since we had all been in touch with
people we hadnt talked to in a while after the terrorism tragedy,
Erica encouraged us to get in touch with deities we havent talked
to in a while. Then we sang Hail all the Gods.
I invoked Lughfirst as Hero, to lend strength and courage to our rescue
workers, firefighters, cops and Red Cross people; then as Samildanach, to
sharpen our skills; then as Lugh Lamfada, to reach his long arm across the
seas and help us defend our freedoms; then as Lugh the Eagle, to sharpen
our vision so we could see what to do in the long term and short term and
in the present moment; and then as Lugh the Negotiator, to sharpen our wits.
Norma called on The Morrighan, the furious bloody enraged battle Goddess,
and asked her to back the fuck off. Weve had enough rage
and bloodlust. Help speed the souls of the dead to their rest, but back
off a bit on the rage. This was the first time in this ritual that tears
came to my eyes.
(Eds. note- The Morrighan let us know that she could not back off. She does
what she does.)
We praised the Kindreds, Lugh and the Morrighan.
Jenne went first, singing a beautiful lament, her voice high and sweet and
clear and perfect. This is the second time tears came to my eyes. Jenne
works as a reporter and had spent the last two weeks interviewing the families
of the missing.
Norma read a poem about Lughs spear. People offered things to the
well. Peggy offered up a lottery ticket. People spoke and recited and talked.
Josh stood up and said that when we had mentioned the Salmon of Wisdom he
felt in his pocket for the bear totem that he always carries, thinking,
Now I know why hes got a salmon in his paw. The bear released
the salmon into Joshs hand, to Joshs great surprise, so he stepped
forward and manifested a salmon in our well! We didnt quite piss our
pants, but came pretty close. A small, soapstone salmon, but a rare and
unexpected and magical salmon, nonetheless, given to us by a bear. I guess
hazelnuts are the right bait to catch a wise salmon....
We ended the praises with a drum jam that built nicely.
Our omens were read by Jenne, Peggy, Deb, Hillary and Marcia.
Marcia drew the 9 of Coins, which she interpreted as riches and abundance,
everyday prosperity, but also loneliness.
Deb drew the 9 of Cups; the need to open up and share the wealth.
Jenne drew the Star, hope, renewal, the door to youth, the card that
follows the Tower.
Hillary got the Emperor, Justice, not vengence, the ruling body exercises
balanced judgment, and, she added, its not Bush.
Peggy drew the Moon, more balance, indicates desire and need, think
about the heart, the need to reach to others, not be so alone....
Better omens than Lughnassadh. Jenne reiterated the message of community,
sharing our bounty and wealth, the need to open doors and open up, and the
need for balanced judgment.
We were satisfied with these omens.
We consecrated the Waters of Life, the pourers poured and the passers-out
passed out. Several people saw the water in the Morrighans jug turned
a pale reddish color as the sickle touched it.
We beheld the Waters of Life, and drank anyway.
The ritual wound down and we all seemed a lot happier after it than we were
before it. We seemed to have gained some strength and shaken off a bit of
dust. The lottery ticket won us one dollar, a symbolic omen of wealth that
coincided somewhat with the other omens.
Norma said that this was the most difficult ritual shes ever done,
and was still saying that after Samhain, which brought its own difficulties.
This Samhain ritual was probably the most planned ritual the grove has done
in eleven years, and also the most deliberate act of magic weve done.
Our rituals, especially Samhain, had gotten larger and larger, and we had
intimations that wed be expecting sixty people or more for Samhain
this year. The ritual is held in a moderately small indoor area, and we
knew from previous years that we would definitely have a space problem.
For the comfort and safety of those in the ritual space, we decided to limit
the attendance to forty. To keep with our policy of open public rituals,
we thought that the only fair way to limit attendance would be to put people
on a list on a strictly first-come basis. This would favor those who really
wanted to attend and planned in advance to attend. When we reached forty
(plus Norma and I), we would start a waiting list in case people cancelled
at the last minute.
It took less than two weeks for the list to top 40 peoplethat was
the second week of October. By November third, we had eleven people on a
waiting list, some of whom were hoping to come to the vigil.
All this added tension to an already tense time. The events of September
eleventh had Norma doing real clergy work in tough circumstances. Many of
us were still having trouble sleeping and eating, and some of us were doing
magickal work of our own.
All of these emotions were in play when we started the ritual. It was a
long ritual, almost three hours. We had five willow priestesses (Erica,
Al, Nej, Peg and Conny) either guarding the boundaries or ready with tissues
for people. Nej mentioned afterwards that she had to keep returning to the
back door to ward stuff away.
At our planning meeting on the 27th we had nine attendees; by then most
ritual parts had been assigned via e-mail. Everyone who attended knew we
were working along the lines of Deb Lipps suggestion that we
push back the disruptive forces that came through the gates on the eleventh
via that massive blood sacrifice and martyrdom and close that gate.
At the planning meeting we counted grains of rice: one grain for each person
missing on the eleventh. This was placed on the Ancestors altar, to
be buried after the Samhain vigil. Counting the rice really brought the
magnitude of the disaster home.
She holds it
more, now that age is taking her;
Her fingers stroke the hollows where dried
Flowers have since fallen from the band.
Some nights, she only sits and hums, eyes
Closed with lips around a wordless tune...
The straw lies rough and rumpled on her hands,
Covers callouses on fingers that its snapped and
Splintered edges could never quite sand smooth.
Those nights, she rocks and remembers children
Not the babes she bore, long flown afield now,
But children as she dreamed them in her youth
When walking to town on Joseph's arm...
How she settled her prize, with its glory of
Ribbon and rosebuds, held fast with her finest
Pin, and thought how proud her someday sons
Would be to claim a ma decked out so fine.
One cracked and crooked crease along the rim
Still whimpers where she crushed it on the day
He left to fight. That day remains; she loses
Others: what day the pale straw lost the scent of
Hay and sunlit lanes, in those years when the
Farm, in city sleet and soldier's pride, was
Never mentioned, and the ghosts of back-closet
Mothballs settled in to haunt her relic.
She holds it more, now that age is taking her:
Smooths rough straw with rougher fingers,
Strokes the stains and creases, thinks of home.
Some nights, when she sits alone by the lamp;
When the scent of burning leaves hangs like a
Shroud outside her window; when her fingers
Trace the weave through time in silence,
She can almost hear the horses and the scythe.
Copyright 2001 by Nora T.
We didnt imagine
we could actually shut the gatelike most Pagans, were better
at opening the gates than shutting thembut we did intend to try to
calm the forces of anger and hatred and fanaticism and bloodlust and tell
them it was time to go home. And then back it up with power and anger of
our own. The battle Gods were on a sugar high; we couldnt invoke the
Morrighan, our usual Samhain patroness, because its just not in her
nature to do what we needed done. We had too many connections to the Trade
Center and to those missing or dead, too many people who needed to work
out anger and grief, and the grove intended to put that energy to good use.
All 40 people who made it on the list attended the ritual. It was powerful
and terribly beautiful; a difficult ritual to explain, and a serious magickal
act. A difficult ritual to do: the grove has always been close to the outsiders,
but these forces were not the usual crowd. They were invaders, enticed and
excited by all the fire and blood. I might as well stop explaining and get
right to the ritual.
Gregory rang the chimes that began the rite. Norma said our usual opening
words and then Hillary invoked the Earth Mother. Norma talked about the
season and the purpose of the ritual. She led us in a calming meditation.
Deb pointed out the horizontal directions, stressing that if you go east
far enough you wind up in the west and stressing how the world is interconnected.
Maria Elena invoked the well, beautifully, as a salty well of tears. We
do, indeed, have salt in our well from Manannans ocean water. Justin
invoked the fire. Conny invoked the tree within us, and Norma connected
well, fire and tree. Erica invoked Manannan Mac Lir and asked him to open
the Gates, and the Gates flew open, even more open than theyd already
been. And these were our particular Gates.
Nej honored the Outsiders with an apple cobbler just out of the oven and
a cinnamon candle that she brought into the back yard as an offering.
Lady Sue invoked Brigid, thanking her for what she does, the inspiration
we rely on, and for the gift She gives us that makes us more like the Gods.
I was really moved by this and found myself nodding my head, yes.
Perhaps the most difficult invocation was Jennes. She invoked the
Ancestors singing an original song about death and the sea. She had been
interviewing the families of the missing for our local paper. We called
our dead in, and those wandering or confused who needed to rest. Many of
us began to weep. Al invoked the Nature Spirits and Spirits of Place, very
gently, and we called our spirits and totem animals. Marcia invoked the
Goddesses and Gods, and we brought them into the ritual.
Im missing a lot of this, because I was in a very strange headspace.
Id been in the position of Shivas pupil for several weeks, and
absorbed in my invocation. I stepped into the marked-off Puja area before
the bilé and dipped my hands in ashes dedicated to Shiva and poured
coconut milk on the clay lingam Id made the night before. I danced
thrice, turning, and calling on Shivas secondless, supreme and attributeless
bliss that regenerates the world, listing his attributesor the complete
lack of attributesand asking him to calm the forces of anger and hatred
and fanaticism and bloodlust and send them back through the gates; overwhelm
them with his secondless, supreme and attributeless bliss, and tell them
its time to go home: mamas calling, and shes not happy,
mamas calling, yes, you, back through the gates, thats right,
go on back through....
And I knelt down, my face down, as was everyone elses, when Meryl
stepped into the circle to invoke Kali Ma, listing her appropriate traditional
attributes and then talking to herwith heranswering herselfmaking
demandsthreatening the forces out thereeventually slicing a
pomegranateIm not sure what else she diduntil at some
point she must have stopped and Norma dedicated the puja and passed the
puja plate around as we sang softly and inhaled the fire. (Meryl was a few
blocks from the Trade Center when the first plane flew over her head and
crashed. Just when she got her friend Sharon calmed down, the second plane
crashed. They took two women to the hospital before they managed to find
a way home. All of our anger and rage and sorrow combined with her own and
were directed through her towards the gate.)
The praises began shortly after Meryl finished. Wendy had a beautiful song;
Josh a story; Amy a poem; Norma had a story; Conny sang us a song; Jenne
recited a Christina Rossetti poem; Maria Raven recited a poem; Hillary spoke;
Nora read an original poem; Sumona talked about destiny; Joannesurviving
tongue cancertalked about hope. Brenda talked about a guy pulling
up to her car at a stop light on the day after the bombing, crying, and
saying they couldnt have done this to us if we were all working together.
Sue talked about Brenda racing over to her house to sit with her until she
knew her son had made it out of WTC 1. And there was morestories,
ancedotes, sorrow and song45 minutes of praise, Ive been told.
I barely returned from my invocation, barely got my mind back in my body
to read an elegy... and then we ended with a keening that grew into a wail
that sounded like an army of furies. Erica, at the front door, told us that
we had stopped traffic in the street.
We took the omen to a rousing revival omen chant that appeared out of nowhere,
praise to Brigid.
Marcia drew the first card, the recent past, and said, I knew wed
get that one: the Blasted Tower. Its the situation.
Josh drew the Queen of Swords, Kali Ma.
Deb pulled the Sun, The deities are with us, the clouds are breaking,
cant be in pain forever. Also represents Shivas bliss.
Nora had the two of Swords, Weapons held in balance, held in peace,
presence of deities, containment of chaos, swords not used in a mundane
And Peg got the Magician, We have the magic to do what we need to
do, we are in control of the situation, and were doing it.
Then Conny pulled the seven of Wands, Defensive action, standing and
The first card is the situation, the next two represent the deities invoked,
and the last three cards are all drawing down cards: the two
of Swords, the Magician, and the seven of Wands. The Magician (magic) is
in the same postion as the seven of Wands (sweat). The two of Swords stills
the mind and calms our own demons. This is all brain and magic and body.
We got what we needed from the omens, and we got what we needed from the
ritual. We consecrated the waters and drank. The Kindreds and Deities were
thanked and we ended the rite, leaving the gates open until dawn. People
placed objects and notes on the Ancestors altar. Norma had her Welcome
Back to the World Trade Center cup from after the 1993 bombing filled
with flowers. People added rice to the bowl. There were always a few people
at the Ancestors altar sitting, or standing and holding each other.
Week In October
over the lush, beyond-emerald grass.
It's the last barefoot day of the year,
lukewarm soil embraces probing toes.
Evening sets in, chill reclaiming the air,
balmy naked-friendly nights long past.
Pale waning leaves set off the full chewy grass,
foreshadowing the brown, the orange colors of
Happy reNewal Year.
the ice molecules
in my frozen ears
knock against each other
like cubes in a martini glass
between the threads
of my sweatshirt and jeans
my teeth ache
like ice-9 is trying
to sneak into my body
through my gums
the sun brightly serrates
but yields no warmth
happy renewal year...
Fruit blessed in the
ritual was offered to the people who attended or who came to the vigil.
Sumona was disappointed, saying that in her community you could go out on
the street after a puja and offer the fruit to anyone on the street and
theyd know it was blessed at a puja. Youre supposed to distribute
it to strangers. We had to tell her that you couldnt really do that
in New Brunswick, but perhaps we could bless food for a soup kitchen next
time. Sumona served as our puja expert. She was dedicated to
Kali as a young woman in India. Badger Girl and Norma and Nej have been
working with Kali for many years.
We raffled off a small skull Norma had sculpted and painted and raised $138!
Thanks to all who donated! Thanks to Brenda for running the raffle! Xuk
took folks upstairs to watch Rocky Horror around 1 am.
Eleven of us stayed all night, Maria Raven and Sam falling asleep, Amy,
Hillary, Jassen, Nora, Chuck, Norma, me, Jack, and Celestina staying up
until dawn. An interesting group of people, and very easy people to spend
the night with. Conversations ranged from the Sidhe to how you would reform
the funeral industry.
At dawn, we had a ceremony in the garden and buried the grains of rice we
had counted out, as well as rice people had added. We spoke to the dead,
saying that if there was nothing to bury, they could be buried here, now,
in a grain of rice, and rest if they wanted to. Offerings were burned or
spilled on the ground as the sun rose. It felt like there was still a large
group of outsiders camped around the apple cobbler and the cinnamon candle.
When we shut the gates, we were surprised to find that they actually shut.
Maria Raven helped us clean up in the morning (thanks Maria!).
Did our ritual do anything to stem the forces of anger and hatred and bloodlust
and fanaticism? I really dont know. I do believe that it helped each
Our Yule was marvelousthe ritual revolving around a brilliant mummers
play written and produced by our own Marcia Blaustein, who celebrated ten
years with the grove this last fall equinox. Eight of us went through the
play at a planning meeting the week before and assigned parts, somewhat.
Costumes were created Wodens Day by Pattie and Erica and Ed and Norma.
(Much appreciation to Marcia and Maria Elena and Justin for the financial
Marcia revised the script, and by Yule we were ready. Rehearsals? Who needs
Twenty-nine people attended the ritual, which was preceded by a giveaway
where we traded last years worst holiday gifts for other peoples.
Everyone seemed happy with what they picked up, and also with what they
got rid of, proving that theres no such thing as junk.
Greg started us off by chiming three times. The Fool, Norma, announced that
we were here to do the usual, honor the Gods. Lady Sue honored the Earth
Mother, assuring Her that we wouldnt make too much noise if She wanted
to sleep late. Normas meditation turned us into unique and individual
trees, part of a grove.
Buxom Betty, Ed, shrieked out the horizontal directions.
(I didnt realize how much of a drawing down this would
become!) Betty pointed to the North Pole, where Santa lives, bringing joy
and cheer; the East Pole, where Buddha lives, another fat guy bringing joy
and cheer; the South Pole, where fat penguins live, bringing joy and etc..;
and in the West, Poland, where the Poles live, bringing us joy and cheer....
The Poles in the circle applauded. Betty then decided that this was the
center of all worlds, the center of the universe. The center kept scurrying
around until somebody stepped on it.
Al, who has been with the grove since 1991, asked us to see ourselves in
the well, looking back at ourselves, maybe making faces. The salmon, the
water and the nuts went into the well. The nuts stared back at us. The salmon
drifted to the bottom and stayed there, perhaps an omen.
Josh invoked the sacred fire, mentioning the warmth and light of this holiday.
Amy invoked the sacred tree, Yule trees and all trees.
Norma invoked Manannan Mac Lir and we all helped to open the gates. The
St. George, Erica, honored the outsiders and took her offering outside,
followed by several people who shall remain nameless. St. George forced
Meryl, Pattie and Maria-Elena back in the house.
Betty then invoked Brigid, our muse and inspiration, in her triple aspects
of beautiful maiden, magickal mother and irritable charwoman. She asked
Brigid to help us with our... tomfoolery? chicanery? frivolity? silliness?
The grove ran out of words, so we asked Brigid to provide us with more words.
Father Xmas, Xuk, looking like something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas,
asked us to imagine our ancestors not as the old folks we remember, but
as playful little children. The Fool despaired of a housefull of disembodied
Hillary got our Nature Spirits into the room with one of her favorite stories:
So, once upon a time there was this big bang.... When she got
to life forming on the molecular level, we hurried her along through the
proterozoic, the mesozoic and into the present zoic.
Slime Green, Nej Entropie, welcomed the Goddesses and Gods of humor, chaos,
warmth, light and happy homes, and invited us to welcome in any deity who
would like to be there. We argued over whether Mae West was a Goddess or
an Ancestor or a Nature Spirit.
Once the chaos subsided a bit, the Fool formally entered. Enter, the
Fool! Applause! Enter, the Fool! Applause! Enter,
the Fool! Applause! Oddly, the Fool got tired of this before the grove
did. She said a few things, something about a Dragon entering later; an
ancient tradition assuming the position; the heartbreak of being nobodys
fool; the foolishness of the grove members being nobodyand then she
claimed she was the miracle man and that if we all followed her and jumped
off a cliff shed fly us to a fools paradise! Or not.
The Hero, St. George, entered next. She let people feel up her muscular
arm, and told us that the Hero always gets the girl. She also told us shed
die for us and be reborn, so the old year might die and the new one be born.
This deftly led us into Marcias mummers play! (See Mummers
Play script!) The mummers play was timeless and current, typical,
traditional and personal; everything a mummers play should be,
according to one review.
Praise followed the playLady Sue sang"I'll be Strange for
Christmas”; Josh sang the Log Song, aided by most of the grove; Amy
had us wish Beethoven and her mom a happy birthday; Meryl did some magic
tricks and got us all shouting out the names of our favorite fools;
Jenne (now Dr. Jenne! Congratulations on receiving your doctorate!)
sang sweet and eerie from the porch.... Others sang and told stories....
Our happy energy increased, so Nora, Mary Jo, and Deb read our omens
from the famous Hello Kitty Tarot (thanks Greg!): Mary Jo interpreted
the Seven of Swords (Badtz Maru sticking out his tongue and getting
away with a bunch of swords) to mean that we were overburdened by the
holidays, we should slow down a bit, and, also, that we thought we were
getting away with something! Nora interpreted the Eight of Pentacles
(Kitty drawing pentacles with a crayon....) as being about joy in our
work, pride in our work. Deb conjured the Magician (an egg-headed bird
guy-sorry kids, I'm not up on this - in the traditional Rider-Waite
pose) and said that he's there to remind us that we're workers of the
will; that we can work magick and we shouldn't forget that when we're
in the mall and dealing with all the hassles of the holidays.
The waters were blessed and the pourers poured and the passers-out passed
out. We all toasted and drank. The Kindreds and our Patrons were thanked,
Marcia won our applause for the play, and we closed the gates and ended
the rite. It was a lot of fun. Nej said later that, for the first time
this year, "it made my mascara run in a good way". We feasted
on lots of food: candy and cakes and pasta and chips and dips and bagels
and soups and bread and soda and beer and wine... and Nora blew our
minds and brought a big smoked salmon! Pattie presided over all of this
as our Kitchen Goddess.
Many folks helped with the clean-up - thanks to all of you!
We held our second annual Win a Cthulhu for Yulhu raffle and wound up
with $66.00 for our grove publication and web site expenses. Many thanks
to all who donated. Chris won the cute stuffed loathsome demon who dwells
in the vast cold empty reaches of time and waits with infinite patience,
its stinking breath the very putrescence of all that horrifies mere
mankind. Chris was very happy with her prize.
We set up a board and throughout the afternoon and evening people scrawled
their top suggestions for our new grove name. This was added to names
we've received via e-mail. The names ranged from cold and bitter to
warm and fuzzy. (See the list of names that didn't make it.)
I think we all had a fun time, and we all felt like good solid responsible
Pagan citizens doing our part to ensure that the sun comes back for
another year. As you know, it did.
PHOTOS - CLICK HERE!
Snows, then melts, rivulets flow
Warm globe 'neath the sun.