[personal profile] asthefiretree
Midsummer started out just after Beltane with Deirdre and a few others gathering to write a Fool’s Rite. Last year, we performed the Chocolate Ritual. This year they were going to write the Cheese Ritual, honoring Roman deities. (Somehow it was concluded that pagans have a particular fondness for cheese.) This plan went on for a few weeks until one lore meeting where Will questioned the arrangement, citing sources that indicate that cheese was considered to be a welfare food during Roman times, and was that really an appropriate way to honor their deities? Alternatives were suggested- for instance changing the pantheon to Greek. After two lore meetings of discussing this, everything was up in the air, and the Cheese Ritual was abandoned.

During the discussions, the Greek pantheon came up most often as to whom we should honor, and particularly Dionysus. Other names were tossed around, but an idea started to form in my head and by the end, I had an idea. Went home and started writing, and within a few hours, I had a pretty well defined ritual. I let the Grove know that I was writing something, that I was by no means insisting that it be used, and whether it was or not, I was writing it. Somewhere in the discussions, the idea of Lunacy had come up and the goddess Selene had popped into my head (I have a small altar to Her, and have honored Her previously in Full Moon rites). As I mentioned before, Dionysus had come up in discussions and something about the pairing just…clicked. Being Hellenic, the obvious Gatekeeper would have been Hermes or Hecate, but for the purposes discussed I thought a less conventional choice would be more appropriate: Thaleia, the Muse of Comedy. I had thought of asking all nine muses to join us, but that would be a bit cluttered and it wouldn’t be appropriate to invoke, for instance Melpomene. Later the idea did evolve a bit further to ask a trio of muses, Thaleia, Terpsichore and Euterpe, muses of comedy, dance and lyrical song. At one point, resurfacing the cheese idea, Will suggested incorporating Aristaios, the son of Apollo who introduced the art of making cheese to the Greeks, but the idea died out, especially after the exact purpose of our ritual was defined…

After some more writing and planning, Caryn asked me if I planned to lead the ritual as well as write it. This surprised me a bit, but I guess it shouldn’t have since I was writing. The thought was a little daunting…I’ve led ritual before, but only much smaller full moon rituals, but I decided to go ahead with it. Talk of a “Grove reunion” floated around- the Grove was founded 17 years ago, with the first ritual at Midsummer.

Also in this time, I was reading the Homeric Hymns, and remembered reading suggestions in various places to try using original sources of prayer, literature etc in ritual. The next time we gathered, I informed everyone that for the lore of the season, I’d like to read some of the (shorter) Homeric Hymns to the deities present. This idea was well received. During this particular gathering, Caryn and Will were not around, it was up to me to run our actual ritual planning meeting- the one where everything is nailed down, we usually do it a week or two before the ritual. I learned that it’s easier to herd cats than to keep a bunch of headstrong Druids focused on a plan. Every few minutes, someone had some new silly idea (myself included) and we were laughing at this or that…but I did a decent job of keeping us from straying TOO far off topic- and the moments of humor helped to keep things from getting monotonous.

We decided on a prayer/purpose, the celebration of community and something of a birthday party for the Grove, which was a very popular idea and with that, the appropriate Lore of the Season became the Lore of CedarLight.Grove. I still wanted to incorporate the Homeric Hymns, but how?

Over the next few days, ideas continued to drift around and rearrange themselves in my head, and when reading over the Hymns yet again I realized that the Hymns were perfect invocations, with farewells written in! The lore of the Season would then start with Caryn telling of the beginnings of CedarLight up to the naming, and then we would ask a few people to share a short story or memory of the Grove, and bookend it with Will’s account of how CedarLight Center came to be. Because of the existing Hymns available, the pantheon would be rearranged a bit…we would call Hermes as the gatekeeper after all, and instead of Persephone as the Earth Mother (She was the mother of Dionysus in one of the myths), we would simply address “Earth, the Mother Of All”. Caryn suggested that we keep the Muses in the mix by invoking them as a Trine of Magic…part of the ADF ritual structure that I am not very familiar with, as we generally do not use it at CedarLight.. I learned quickly- at this point, the ritual was a week away.

It was cloudy Saturday with occasional moments of sun. And then Caryn decided to try making offerings and singing to the spirits of air to see if they might not be implored to hold off for a few hours. And more sun came out...and then it got cloudy again, and cloudier with occasional thunder...and the spirits did indeed hold off for a few hours- about half an hour before we were to begin was when it started raining, you know those big, huge raindrops that only mean one thing...so we did the pre-ritual briefing and decided that when we were to begin, we'd see how the weather was and make a decision to move forward or wait a bit longer...and it was pouring. So we waited a bit (weather maps showed a very narrow, fast-moving strip of storms...figured it would be over quickly. About half an hour later, it stopped. So we started...and about two minutes later, the rain started again. Hard. And got harder. It didn't stop.

I'm happy to say, CedarLight Grove (quite enthusiastically) stuck through torrents of rain for our Midsummer ritual. There were some umbrellas set up, but they didn't do much good, and some people carried umbrellas...which didn't do much good, it was raining that hard. I finally said "screw it" and ditched the umbrella I was holding (which also meant ditching my book with the ritual written down...I had someone put it in the pavillion so it wouldnt get wet as I stood there with nothing over me. But I didn't do badly without it.)

And I got thoroughly soaked. I found out how heavy the skirt that I was wearing (which is normally fairly light) gets when it's soaked. Within minutes, I felt liked I just took another shower...and was still standing under the faucet. So much water got in my eyes that they were burning and I couldn't see clearly. Thankfully someone had a double-layered blanket that was dry inside and I could wipe my eyes.

But I managed not to mess anything up too badly (I forgot about the shining ones til Caryn reminded me), And about the lore of the season (til Caryn reminded me). We ran a bit shorter than we normally would...about an hour. No one complained when people continued to step in to make offerings (most of them thought up on the spot in lieu of anything that could be put into the fire). For the lore of the season, since it was a celebration of the birthday of the Grove, I asked Caryn to tell of the naming of Cedarlight, and a few people shared some memories and stories of the Grove, bookended by Will telling of how CedarLight Center came about. Half of what was said couldn't be heard because of the loudness of the rain. The reading of the omen was a bit complicated, considering that they were runes drawn on cupcakes with icing but it was done. And the waters of life got a bit, eh, watered down. And as soon as we were finished, everyone ran inside to dry off/change clothing/whatever they could do

Word on the street is that I did a good job, and Caryn says that after getting through a high rite in that, nothing can be intimidating anymore. I slept at the Grove that night...I was ready to fall over shortly after the ritual ended. But I stayed awake til everyone left. And slept...rather soundly.

Word on the street also says that the Gods were VERY amused. The virtue of moderation was thrown to the wind in our celebration. Some say that Dionysus wanted to see how far we would take it, others said that this was what we got for calling on a trickster god like Hermes. The idea of rebirth was brought up again as it had been at Imbolc. Either way we all got more than a little wet and everyone had a grand time celebrating our community.
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asthefiretree

March 2010

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