We arrived at Brushwood around 4:30pm and set up our tent with Tear of the Cloud Grove. They are wonderful people! After getting set up I cooked up some hamburgers and we just hung out. We did go to the opening ritual which was good. I love hearing Ian lead ritual. Most of Thursday was saying hello to folks
We stayed up late and hit the hot tub before going to bed.
I never actually made it to any workshops aver the weekend, but did make the annual meeting for the first time. We mostly hung out all day.
A few highlights:
I was involved in a healing rite for Flip from Grove of the Midnight Sun who is battling tonsil cancer. That was pretty neat. We did a variation of a healing rite done be Jane Sibley. This entails forming a circle, gathering energy from everyone and then channeling it towards the person needing healing. Normally the person to be healed is present, but since Flip is in Northern Michigan, we had to improvise. I was chosen as the conduit for the energy because I'm familiar with Flip and where he lives. I used Rún Valdr to both connect with Flip and to set up an energy conduit to him. I also set up energy conduits between all the participants and myself as well. I barely felt the energy, alhough I'm sure it was a significant amount. I'm thinking I did a good job on the conduits. What struck me the most was the quality of the energy. It was very smooth, silky even.
Tear of the Cloud Grove did a Memorial Day ritual to honor those who died in battle for the country. It was a very moving ritual and there were quite a few tears shed. One point of interest was that those running the ritual all wore suits and ties (well except for Gretchen, who didn't have a tie).
I helped out with the Warrior Games, mostly by grading and tallying the results of the riddle contest. I got the highest score in archery, the only thing I competed in.
The major high point for me was the main rite which was to start the ADF Initiatory Program. Fox, the previous Arch Druid made the trip up just for this ritual and then left again afterwards. It was a fantastic ritual. The Deities of Occasion were Manannan as Gatekeeper, the Earth Mother and the Elder Wise. The Elder Wise are those Ancestors who had been Priests, Magicians, Druids, etc. The ritual was led by the women of ADF, and in particular, Sue Parker, and there were several really cool things done. First, three women did each of the Kindred welcoming. That was really neat.
Secondly, when it was time to bring in the three Arch Druid Emeriti and the current Arch Druid they were led by young girls. Then before they could enter the main ritual area (which has three openings), they each were challenged by two women and asked what their oath would be. After giving the oath, the women decided amongst themselves whether it was good enough and then allowed to enter. Each of the three openings were used. I really liked the choreography of this section of the ritual.
Then the four Initiatory candidates held hands in the very center, while they were surrounded by 9 women holding hands. Each of the ritual participants were asked to hold hands. The same energy raising that was used for the healing rite was used and we sent energy towards the women who would then channel the energy into the men. I learned later that during this energy raising, they were chanting names of different goddesses.
After this, the men led the Unity part, where all the names of the Groves of ADF were read from oldest to youngest. My Grove was like number 6 or so.
Before closing things up they had announcements and the winners of the Artisan contest and Warrior Games were made known. Then the women closed the ritual.
For me it was a very powerful and well run ritual. The level of choreography needed to keep things running smoothly was immense. Afterwards, I kept saying that this is how ritual should be. However, with all the people involved, I doubt any one Grove would be able to pull it off. Only at festivals are there enough people to draw upon.
The weekend was brought to a close Monday as we packed up, said our good byes and made our way home. I'm looking forward to next year and our campsite will be done up in Auto CAD. I find that after going to all the rituals through out the weekend that I would like to incorporate some into how my Grove does things.
Overall it was a great weekend.