[personal profile] asthefiretree
Despite their unique differences, each ritual so far has had two important things in common: first, an outdoor setting in the Grove sanctuary and second, calling on a completely different and separate deity for each part in the ritual. This year’s Imbolc ritual departed from both of these customs- one by design and one by necessity.

Imbolc was held inside the Grove- it was not by choice, but by extreme necessity given the weather that day...that is to say, we were in a state of torrential downpour. It started in the morning and just kept going. The Sanctuary was under at least an inch, probably more of water. We were forced inside. I wasn't sure how this would happen, but I was not surprised to walk into the Grove and find most of the chairs arranged in rows in the front section of the room with the sofa under the front window and the central area cleared except for a few chairs around the perimeter wall. People arrived; chairs were shifted, cushions thrown down. More came and we packed them in. To say it was cozy would be to put it lightly.

When we were all settled in and seated, we began. The second major difference for this High Day was that we were calling solely on aspects of Brigid, instead of different deities for the ritual patrons, Earth Mother, Gatekeeper etc. The triple aspects of Brigid of the Cauldron, Forge and of Inspiration were our primary deities; the Gaulish-Celtic Brigantia was our Earth Mother, Brigid the Bard our Gatekeeper. We were praying for growth through Brigid's Fire and Water. Water was truly present in abundance, and someone remarked that it was like a birth and the water had broken, No one argued that.

The ritual proceeded and I was a bit distracted- I had planned to spin fire during the offering time. I hadn't spun for ritual since Midsummer, and I hadn’t spun at all since New Year's Eve. Not the proper mental focus during ritual, but there I was, at least to begin with. But during the gate opening, I was to make offerings to the fire, the well and the tree as Caryn, Crystal and Stephanie sang the Portal Song.

Since I couldn't spin, during offerings, I lit a candle and put it on the altar to the Shining Ones, and the mood was lightened a bit by someone suggesting that I twirl around with it...this would have put out the flame, and the room was in no state to have someone spinning around with a candle, but I did wave my hand holding the candle around a bit- slowly so it would stay lit.

Later, Caryn, Jackie and I would read the oracle...again, this was different from other rituals. Usually one person reads from one oracle: a tarot deck, runes, whatever they prefer. Caryn, Jackie and I each chose a different oracle...Jackie the Rider-Waite tarot, Caryn the Celtic Animal Oracle and I...well, I had intended to use my Haindl tarot which is the deck that I know best, I have been using it for several years. It was a fortunate thing that I had recently turned more attention to my runes because I discovered too late that I had left the deck at home. There is a copy of the Haindl deck at the Grove, but my runes were in my backpack, so I elected to use them instead. I don't remember what Caryn and Jackie pulled, but I do remember puling the rune mannaz, a rune signifying humankind, community, support...all of the things that we would hope for in a period of great change which our Grove has been experiencing...two members expecting babies, three of us (including me) working for the same company and losing our jobs, teenagers moving out of a house, an engagement, at least seven of us working on the Dedicant's program...

Before the ritual ended, a bannock bread was passed around. Instead of throwing the last bite over our shoulders as is traditional, a bowl was passed around and everyone put the last bite into that bowl to scatter outside in offering later.

During the ritual, the air warmed and the rain became a thunderstorm. I spent some time out on the front porch talking to another Grove member and taking a breather from the crowd inside as the night wound down. (Community building is a good thing, but sometimes a break is in order!)
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