Ritual Writeups for GOG’s River and Stream Watershed Ritual of May 23, 2015
This ADF ritual was performed by 11 Druids in 6 different local watersheds. Click here for the ritual outline!
NOTE (as far as ritual omens go....):
EPA press release May 27, 2015: Washington – “In an historic step for the protection of clean water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule today to clearly protect from pollution and degradation the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources.”
The New York Times, May 27th, 2015: WASHINGTON — “President Obama on Wednesday announced a sweeping new clean water regulation meant to restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.”
From Kerry (& Dave):
A few weeks before this ritual, I had a dream. I was in a forest clearing, but instead of a meadow I was standing on a marble floor. At the far edge of the floor was the bend of a river. There were other people there, but I didn't see their faces. I walked over and watched the river for awhile. I wanted to sit down and put my feet in, but couldn't. There was a lot of debris flowing around the bend-- broken trees and sharp branches-- and it looked downright dangerous. I started to wonder where I was, and one of the shadow people said, "This is the Ganges." I sat on the edge of the marble floor and just watched it for awhile, until finally the debris cleared, and the river was calm again. Then I put my feet in, and relaxed there until I woke up.
Here's our report:
David and I had intended upon standing on the stone barrier south of Bull's Island, the thinnest stretch of land between the Delaware and the Canal. When we got there we found the river far, far lower than it had been at our last visit, and some of the stones and river mud were exposed below the barrier we were on. We chose to climb down there for the ritual. The water was warm, and flowing lazily. Back in March the rocks, the mud, and the barrier 5 ft above had been under water from the snow melt. I guess the Delaware relaxes in the summer.
We opened with David's altar bell and kicked off our shoes so we could feel the rocks and the mud for the Earth Mother invocation and song. When we meditated on the sounds of the river, a boat went by, and its wake made some sounds for us to listen to, and a bird joined us unseen from the maple tree we later asked to be a gate. Our spot was VERY quiet. We invoked Mount Jefferson, NY, and the east and west branches (they join to form the Delaware) as our muses.
Our horizontal directions were as follows:
From the East- Pohatcong Creek, Musconetcong River, the Merrill Creek Reservoir, the D&R Canal, and all tributaries flowing from the east
From the South- More of the canal, Rancocas Creek, and the Delaware Bay
From the West- Lehigh River, Schuylkill River, Tohickon Creek, the Pennsylvania Canal, and all tributaties flowing from the west
From the North- The river's source, The beginning of the D&R Canal, Pequest River, Bushkill Creek, and all tributaries flowing from the north.
And in the Center, on Bull's Island, how the energies combine and change from season to season.
The land out here is very alive, there is more a problem of invasive species on the canal trail and Bull's Island than pollution. So they were our outsiders, along with the long-fought and hated Penn East Pipeline project.
Our gates were the sun, the maple tree on the Island directly above us, and the Delaware itself.
At that point, a group of nosy people from the island came too close for comfort, we stopped for a bit, the energy broke, and we had to start again. We repeated the ritual up the the Gatekeeper, who was a Canal Lock Keeper.
I got more than a bit of a rush from this, every time I visit the Delaware I feel the need to sit and put my feet in, or touch the water in some way. So I was sort of standing in the well when the Gates opened.
We brought individual offerings for the Kindred as well as the river, and we sang. For the ancestors-- the Paleo-Indians, the Lenni-Lenape, the Delaware, and so on, I brought a flat, polished, undyed agate that made a great skipping stone. We gave the local nature spirits, the shad, our unseen bird friend, and the tiny snails we found near our feet, herbs and flowers from our garden. I brought essential oil and we anointed one river rock with it for each of the river deities we invoked.
We honored and thanked the Delaware, and offered it a song Nadine taught me and a round wooden plaque with a triskele burned on one side and "Delaware please accept our offering, GOG" on the other side. It floated on the surface and the river carried it away. It went right out to the center, I didn't see it wash up anywhere.
We took our omen for this ritual in Ogham, this is the short explanation:
Dair- Oak- Strength & Wisdom
Fern- Alder- Guidance
After taking an omen, we blessed the Delaware, Canal, and watershed. Then we meditated on the sounds of the river and civilization. Another boat came by and gave us something to listen to. I think the Delaware was pleased with this, it sent us things we needed on cue.
I THINK we got the gates closed, as much as we were able, but those were some big gates to close.
I do not pay much attention to the North Branch of the Metedoconk, though it is only a ten minute walk from my home in rural Howell, at the northern edge of the Pine Barrens. Even in the fall, when I harass hunters who trespass on our land bounded at the bottom by the river, it does not invite. Our bit of the Metedeconk is only ten to fifteen feet across, probably not even navigational by canoe, and the sound of busy Rt 9 traffic as it crosses over the bridge into densely populated Lakewood is ever present. It is not the source of drinking water locally, we all have wells. So I was surprised to read that further east, it joins the South Branch at Forge Pond, where Lenapes held summer rituals, and supplies huge and expanding Brick Township with water before finding its way to the Atlantic Ocean at Barnegat Bay.
Our bit of Metedeconk is small and quiet, with a bit of trash, and sometimes sunning turtles.
Much like my ritual. I DO think your energy worked, as I see the EPA just announced intent to clean up rivers and waterways.
For my omen, I drew from my Froud Faerie Oracle cards Geeeeooo the Slooow, "the Gnome of Slow Processes", appreciating that natural processes work well at their own (sometimes eons slow) pace, "Are you metaphorically trying to push the river?", be patient, but DO keep things going. Ah, summer! When heat slows us down to"the livin' is easy", and so much leisure is water-centered. My brother over the weekend was rhapsodizing about the Lazy River at Great Adventure, and it sounded good to me as a summer mental and physical destination.
Thanks GOG folk, for this ritual, for another opprtunity to be thoughtful, to appreciate the turning of the natural Wheel, as opposed to the mad wheel/whirl(pool) of personal lives-- more outdoors, less outsiders!
Good evening! I wanted to report back to you about my ritual experience.
I went to my nearby beach park and sat down on a rock that makes up part of the bulkhead on the Barnegat Bay. I was facing east, looking at Island Beach State Park to the north and Long Beach Island to the south, with the south branch of the Forked River to my left. The weather was sunny but windy.
I used a sleigh bell for opening and spring water that had been on Brigid's altar for several years as my offering. Barnegat Bay served as my well, the sun as my fire, and a patch of reeds as my tree...hopefully not the one that a little kid picked and ran off with during the rit! :) The Barnegat Bay lighthouse, Ol' Barney, was my gatekeeper, and I think he was pleased to be involved. My grandmother loved that lighthouse so there's also a strong personal ancestor energy to it for me.
For offering I returned a piece of driftwood I had taken from the same spot several months ago, now with carvings, and also sang a song that always makes me think of that spot. I didn't have anything particularly dramatic happen during the rit.
I drew three runes for the omen: Kenaz, Wunjo, and Sowilo. I think that together it means a hidden source of strength and power for the happiness of our community.
I thanked everyone in groups, meditated once more, and closed the ritual with the bell. I felt great peace and power from doing this ritual and I am very thankful to have been a part of it.
Thanks for organizing this and please let me know if you have any questions or comments!
The river I chose to honor was Cedar Creek in Ocean County. This waterway and its surrounding lands have had a very long and interesting history. Dating back to before the American Revolution, in fact, long before European occupation. The areas around Cedar Creek were once teeming with very large cedar trees. There was a time when cedars bigger than 2 men could put their arms around were bountiful. But as the new world took shape, much of that shape was made with the abundant lumber supplies. To fasten that lumber, large deposits of bog iron were being dug and smelt. Very quickly lumber mills and forges popped up along the waterways, including Cedar Creek. Place names like Dover Forge, Webbs Mill, Factory Branch, and Double Trouble are still in use in one way or another even in the 21st century. And it’s this last place, Double Trouble, where I chose to do my ritual. Since I was a child my family has canoed, gone cranberry and blueberry picking, and swam in this historied state park. It is also where many of my early Pagan roots spring from. At one time I had a ritual spot hidden deep in the cedars, surrounded by fallen branches and smaller trees with the ground covered in river stones I carried from the creek. But it is the spillway between the Mill Pond and the lower creek that has stayed a constant, if I dare say, sacred space for me. In my personal parlance it is simply known as “My spot.” It’s where I often go when I need a respite from society and/or need my nature reserves recharged. It is a very Magickal place; between the roar of the water spilling over the gates which deadens the sounds of local highway noise, the swirling of the water and froth, the mist created by the cascading water that adds a subtle smell of tannic acid to the air. So it is in this space that I decided to do my ritual.
As with most rituals that I’ve done there, there was very little said. I instead chose to rely on the sights and sounds around me to “take parts” during the rite. So due to the nature of the ritual I don’t have much about the invocations to describe. I had my handy-dandy metaprompter with me, however the parts more or less flowed together (every pun intended). My opening were 3 stones I gathered and tossed into the water. The Earth Mother was very much a thanking for the spirit of the space I was in and that urban sprawl had not completely destroyed all the natural spaces. Which sort of led into Outsiders. The fire, tree and well were the sun, the larger trees near me and the creek. When opening the gates I was tempted to physically open one of the gates in the spillway a little bit more, but I didn’t. Though I did pull a few branches out that were caught in them. The Ancestors were the Lenape Indians, Nature Spirits were the many critters that scurry around, on my way to and from My Spot I saw a snake, lots of squirrels and birds, and while I was at My Spot I was visited by a large member of a certain flying species which I am not going to name because if Fish, Game and Wildlife catch wind of it, they’ll be cordoning off the area. Anyway… Gods and Goddesses were actually a bit difficult, I know ADF is Indo-European, but I felt it would be a slap in the face to the Ancestors, so I invoked the spirit of the creek and trees as honored deities. The main invocation turned into a back and forth communion between myself and the space. I thanked it profusely for being a large and lasting part of my life and for having given me so much. For my offering I ran my fingers through my beard and let the loose hairs fall into the water. And on the way back to the truck I picked up trash and used one of the bags they have in a container for dog poop to carry it out in.
The omen… it was difficult due to the fact that I have received so much dialog from the space over the years and I am reminded of much of it every time I’m there. But I will share this, there are times in life when life is very still and almost stagnant, at some point chaos will stir up what you will probably look back upon as simpler times, but with that chaos life tends to open up options to either continue as life pulls you, or you can push to make changes with that momentum. But no matter what, eventually we all wind up in the big water.
I did one big thank you, tossed 3 more stones as a closing and headed home.
From Erica (on the Whippany River, in the Passaic watershed):
This is the "rapids" section, a little closer to the road, it's a gentle, stately thing, with some surprisingly big fish.
Pattie and I make offerings to the river every time we walk, so it's like an old friend. My impressions were that it was putting on a really nice show for us, special, for ritual day. ^_^
From Ed (and Norma and Bob and Patty):
GOG Watershed Ritual, May 23, 2015: Raritan Watershed and Lower D&R Canal bit of the Ritual
Bob, Patty, Norma, and I met in Johnson Park along the lower Raritan River near Landing Lane Bridge. We decided to make this a walking ritual and flow with the water downstream. We also decided to look for natural omens throughout the ritual. For the ritual opening we used a small copper bell, perhaps something like the bell that would be on a mule pulling a canal boat. We did a full ADF rite, starting with Earth Mother and a meditation listening to the river, watching the play of sunlight on the water, and smelling the river.
Bob read a list of major tributaries to the Raritan, and those were our muse. Our horizontal directions were the directions those tributaries came from and how the water and energy flowed through the watershed.
To honor our outsiders, Patty read a list of major polluters from the Sierra Club’s “Raritan River Contamination Fact Sheet” and also added her own culprits from growing up along the river. We thanked them for their economic contributions, but asked them to help clean up the mess they made.
Fire: the bright sun; Tree: a big oak that hangs over the river; Well, the river itself and the canal.
Gatekeeper: the archetypal lock keeper and bridge keeper. Our first omen: turtles on a rock in the river, and lots of turtles on a log. (Relax and enjoy the ritual.) By that time we had walked to the bridge, and so we opened the gates from the middle of the bridge, over the river. (That was ungrounding! It had seemed appropriate.) Our second omen: odd grafitti, looked like a piece of art, possibly of a snail, at first from across the river, but when we got up close it looked sort of like an alien blob. (Sometimes things look different when you take closer look.)
We crossed the bridge and by the canal I read a list of ancestors-- most of the ethnic groups that have settled in the watershed from the ice age to the present. Our third omen: a cairn of three stones in the river (Recognition that we’re in a sacred spot, that we’re doing a ritual.)
We crossed Landing Lane and entered a no-man’s-land: the quarter mile of the canal that’s not part of the state park, but not part of the city, either. It’s a lot wilder than the rest of the canal / river trail. Bob read a list of nature spirits native to the area. As we walked along, we saw a dead leathery groundhog on the narrow trail. It had a full body and skull (that Norma coveted) and artistically arranged jawbones separate from the body. We took this as an omen also. Norma took it as jewelry and wants to go back and get the bones. (Nature isn’t always pretty, but that depends on how you look at it...?) We talked about Deities later, and the river itself as a “strong brown deity.”
We walked to the end of the canal, where it empties into the Raritan. When we got to the outlet, there were two mallards sitting on the spillway halfway between the canal and the river. One of them, the male, was clearly ill. His head was down and he wasn't moving; at first, we thought he was dead. His mate was right there watching over him. We took that as an omen that the watershed was still not well and we all needed to keep watch over it until it was well again. As we were talking about it, the sick duck lifted up his head and then got to his feet. So, we took that as a neither a good omen nor a bad omen, but a communication, a statement from the watershed. We offered praise at this point. Norma offered small round stones. I read “Ode to the River Raritan” (John Davis, European Magazine, May 1806).
We stopped at the canal again on the way back and offered a piece of bark with rough woodburned glyphs of turtles, fish, birds, and a map of the canal’s path from the Delaware to the Raritan. It also had “GOG” and the date on it. We blessed the canal here and thanked it for its life-giving water. Then we crossed the bridge back to the river and offered a piece of bark with glyphs of herons and eagles and turtles and fish and a map of the river and its major tributaries. We saw a young blue heron fishing in the river (omen number six, the river recognizes our ritual?). We blessed and thanked the river. We ate ice cream from the Blue Bunny truck (another omen?). We ended the rite.
Overall feeling: peace, flow, power. A kind of giddy energy from opening the gates up on the bridge. A feeling of being embraced by the watershed and more a natural part of it. All in all, I’m very happy with this.