Got out of bed around 10:15am Saturday. Showered and got ready for the ritual. I even remembered to take some of my money that I wanted to deposit later as well as an empty envelope so I could deposit the Grove's money as well. Arrived at ritual site around quarter to one. This is actually quite early for me. I normally get there an hour later and our ritual is supposed to start at two. I got everything set up and waited for people to show up with kargach and Don, the owner of the site. Finally people came including moonstone1220. I was thrilled to see her and introduced her to a lot of people. I hope we made her feel welcome so that she will come back. All part of our plot to steal her away from Cedar Light Grove. Oops... Did I say that outloud? Anyway, I showed her around our nemeton and more people showed up including Fox one of ADF's Archdruid Emeritii. We also had people from way far Northern Michigan who drove at least five hours to get there. I heard that odinkar had wanted to come, but he didn't make it. Perhaps next time.
I went through the songs that we were going to sing, except for the Manannan Song, which is a Grove mystery... (Hey, we did include the words on our order of service.) We all processed to the nemeton and I got the ritual underway. Our Midsummer ritual honors Bel and Danu, our primal Father and Mother figures represented by the Sun and the Great Waters. This is the flip side of our Yule when we honor Danu and Bel and celebrate the gifts of Winter. They tend to be rather grandparent like and are fairly easy to please. But we do our best anyway. In the past, when the Grove had done group meditative workings to find out how Bel and Danu wanted to be honored, they basically said, "Well, whatever you want to do is fine." But Bel added that throwing things in the Fire was always good. So as part of of our offering we had everyone throw cornmeal into the fire. Everything went well, except for a little hiccup during the Portal Song which was done, ironically enough when we opened the Portals. I got busy trying to make sure the Portals were opened properly that I forgot my part of the song. For those who don't know about the Portal Song it consists of a chorus that everyone sings, then it goes into a call and response kind of thing. Every sings a line for the call, either "Come we now to the well," "We will kindle a fire," or "Gather we at the tree..." Then the person leading the song sings a response line pertaining to that Portal. Then everyone sings the call line and then the lead person sings the second response line about the Portal and so on, with the chorus between Portals. Well I was worried about the Portals being opened that I didn't notice that everyone had sung, "We will kindle a fire..." and suddenly there was this very loud silence as everyone looked at me waiting for me to sing my line. Well, that was embarassing, but I recovered and did well the rest of the way. Liz showed up late as she had to go and sort books for the local AAUW book sale. AAUW is the American Association of University Women. You can join if you are a woman who has graduated from college. They raise money at the book sale for scholarships for local women. Liz helps out every year as she really loves books. She arrived soon after we started the personal praise offerings, so she missed my flub with the Portal Song.
Well, we made our offerings and also did something I like to call the Sun Litany. This is where I hold up the object that had been passed around during the personal praise offering and talk about the importance of the Sun and the Water to life on our planet. This time we had a very nice sun-wheel wreath thing. Whenever I say either "Sun," or "Water" everybody is supposed to cheer and make a lot of noise. This year we pased out little party noise makers as well. I thought it went over quite well. Then I offered the sun-wheel to Bel and Danu and placed it on the Fire. I was really amazed at that point. It took a little while to catch, but when it did, the flames were huge. I had never seen an offering go up like that. It was really impressive. After it died down, I took the omen using Runes. I pulled Berkano, Tiwaz, and Ehwaz. This is a very feminine rune, a very male rune and partnership. I took Berkano and Tiwaz to represent Danu and Bel and the partnership was that they were willing to work with us and give us blessing after accepting our offerings. So good omen, yay! We did a couple things for our return blessings. The first was to have everyone write out on little cards something that they wanted help with or something that they wanted to see come to fruition. Then, if our offerings had been accepted, we would put these in the Fire thus giving our wishes to Bel and Danu to help us with them. This went well. Then we had lemonade for everyone. I had everyone hold hands and we asked if anyone had any healing requests, as is our custom. Then we all tried to feel the energies of Bel and Danu flow into the lemonade as I said a few appropriate words. Then, because I couldn't resist, I held up the lemonade and said, "Behold, the Lemonade of Life!" and everyone echoed, "The Lemonade of Life!" Then I passed it around and we all drank to a hearty "Slainte!". Then we had announcements and the Cauldron Blessing. This might be unique to SLG. We have a nice terracotta cauldron and a smoky quartz "Cauldron Stone." We normally have the newest mother come up and hold the cauldron so that the maternal energies can pass into the water in the cauldron and so impart Health, Wealth and Wisdom. Then everyone comes up and takes a little bit of the water. This time, I had the newest mother and newest father come up to hold the cauldron as a reflection of Bel and Danu.
Then we did the closing part of the ritual and then went to eat up at the hearth fire. We ate, chatted and had our raffle. The raffle is how we entice donations out of the participants so that we can pay for the ritual site rental. moonstone1220 won something and I believe she took some soap. Then people started to drift home. I, with help, got all the ritual stuff packed away and into my car. Then we eventually left. I went to a credit union to deposit my own money and then went home. I got most of the way home before I realized that I hadn't deposited the Grove's money yet. As Pursewarden I have to say I was pleased to say we did rather well. More than enough to pay for the site. So I turned around and went back to the local Comerica Bank and got the Grove's money safely deposited. Then I went home.
I was very happy to see moonstone1220 at the ritual and had a chance to chat a bit. I hope she comes back to more SLG events. I figure we can fill the gap a bit between visits to Cedar Light. I was also happy the ritual went so well. It was nice and sunny and warm. Our Beltaine, in contrast, was quite wet and it rained througout the entire ritual and also the feast afterword. But I prayed hard to Bel for sun, and my prayers were answered. Also, last Yule, I prayed to Danu for snow and we got it. I've always wanted to have a snowball fight (as a celebration of the gifts of winter) but there was never any snow on the ground in previous years. But last Yule it snowed like hell Friday and so Saturday came with abundant snow for our snowball fight. Then the snow melted the next day. Yes, the Gods provide... Oh, and instead of the Sun Litany at Yule, we have the Mighty Danu Wave of Power. Basically we sit in a tighter circle and then do the wave around the circle. You know, standing up, throwing your hands in the air, in succession, making lots of cheering noise (Yay, Danu!"). Lot's of fun. At SLG, we are not afraid to be a bit goofy in the service of the Shining Ones and the other Esteemed Kindreds.
After the ritual, Liz and I went over to my mom's and brought back her tent/gazebo thing that I had borrowed to put up over my tent at Wellspring. Got back around 11:30pm.
Overall, it was a very good day. It was the bestest Midsummer Ritual SLG has done in 2004!