Blessings from Brigando and the Kindreds this Imbolc

This evening, the Druids in Columbus, Ohio (and the surrounding area) gathered together to offer sacrifice to the Three Kindreds, and especially to Brigando.

The Three Cranes Imbolc ritual has been done unchanged for five straight years. While even our anniversary ritual has been done differently, this rite has remained the same. The ritual didn’t even go back for changes when ADF approved a new Core Order of Ritual.

There is also no more popular rite that our Grove does. While I always thought that this was because everyone likes Imbolc, and our space is nice, and we really do have a killer rite that’s well-written and enjoyable, I realized while I was discussing our purpose and precedent for this rite that it’s not about the ritual, but about the central goddess it celebrates.

As I spoke about who Brigando was, beginning with calling her “lady of fire” and continuing on with “midwife of the year, and all of us,” and describing how she is a goddess of smithcraft, fertility, and healing, I realized why so many people come out to Imbolc.

Everyone, it seems, needs Brigando for something.

Those who need fertility, whether it’s physical or creative, will come to worship her. Those who need guidance in obtaining a new job, holding their existing one, or meeting challenges in the workplace will call out to her. Those who are in need of healing, or thankful for healing provided, will bring her sacrifice and honour.

As Grove Priest, I have been listening to my Grove’s needs. They center very much around these things right now. Many people are dealing with situations at work that frighten them, or are seeking new jobs. Many people, both within the Grove and attending our rites, are in need of healing. Nearly all of us are involved in something creative and difficult that needs clarity and inspiration.

Each of us came together tonight and made offerings, if not as individuals, as a Grove. In doing so, we shared our wishes for healing, fertility, and work that would take us where we wanted to go. We blessed our tools and found inspiration and support all around us.

Our omens have been reflective of our work in this direction, too. New beginnings have been promised in two rituals now, and fertility and cleansing are given as our course. It seems that the Kindreds are offering us new chances, and opening new avenues for us on a daily basis. We are leaving behind old shells and emerging, newly formed into the world around us, a world full of potential and the chance to make it what we need it to be.

Brigando and the Kindreds have indeed blessed us this night, as they do every day of our lives. Let us take these blessings and ensure that we use them to their fullest extent, to their fullest potential, and let us never forget to thank the Kindreds for all they do for us.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Nine Virtues and a Myth in Three Parts

ADF presents a set of Nine Pagan Virtues to its Dedicants. While we expect our Dedicants to understand these Virtues, we have left it up to them to determine If these Virtues have a place in their lives, and to choose how they will live them.

These Nine Pagan Virtues are:

  • Wisdom
  • Vision
  • Piety
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • Moderation
  • Hospitality
  • Fertility

These Virtues can be seen in the central mythology of our Grove, as well. When we took our name from the central iconography of the Gaulish god Esus (seen at right), we weren’t planning on this iconography permeating so many things that we do and have done, but we keep finding it in the strangest places. This is one of those places.

While the mythology itself is lost to history, some educated guesses about what the myth of Esus was can be made. I have always seen it as a sort of sacrificial myth, where the god is engaged in an interplay with the inner-workings of the cosmos. The Vedics called these “inner-workings” rta, and the Norse called it orlog. As the Nine Virtues are themselves tied to the cosmos and how it works, it is not surprising that they can be seen in this play.

  • Esus represents wisdom, perseverance, and moderation because he is the one who prunes the tree, who ensures that it grows straight and true. His patience with the tree and the time it takes for it to grow as he nurtures it shows his perseverance, and his understanding of when to cut and how to cut just enough show his wisdom and moderation.
  • Trigaranus (the three cranes) are vision, integrity, and hospitality because they have a unique perspective, offer guidance and harbor lost souls, and are not afraid to speak the truth. Our Grove has focused strongly on these three Virtues, and as a result we find that the Three Cranes of this myth represent these things because we feel we represent these things.
  • Tarvos (the bull) is piety, courage, and fertility because the bull sacrifice is a pious act that perpetuates the cosmos, the bull is a direct aspect of the fertility of the land and the folk, and Tarvos embodies courage.

Of course, this is just one possible reading of how the Nine Pagan Virtues can be seen from a mythological standpoint. Each individual will find their own mythological representations, and I imagine that each Grove will also find ways to apply them to their own mythic iconographies. The possibilities are endless.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Come as you are

Today, as I was doing laundry and pulling my robe out to let it air dry, I began thinking about ritual dress and how our Grove appears during ritual.

We, of course, have no dress code: the Grove is a very “come as you are and we’ll love you for who you are” sort of place. I tell people who ask about ritual dress the same thing every time:

“Some people like to wear robes, but this is certainly not required. People will sometimes dress in a nice shirt, or a Sunday dress, or come in off the street in jeans and a t-shirt. All of these are acceptable. If you choose to wear robes, you can wear whatever colour you might like, as we don’t designate rank by the colour or style of robe, or by coloured belts or knots.”

The most important thing to us, as a Grove, is that people come to worship the Kindreds, and that they come however they are the most comfortable. In the words of a late grunge band from Aberdeen, “Come as you are.”

There is a joy in this, for me. I love to see people come from a variety of walks of life, places, social strata, and opinions on the nature of the Kindreds for one of our rituals. Some people like to approach the Kindreds formally, and so will wear a nice robe or dress in “business-casual.” Others like to approach them as friends, and will come in a plain white t-shirt and a pair of ripped-up jeans. Some like to see them as intimate friends, and dress as if they are meeting up for one of those nights where they’re not sure if they’re on a date, or if they’re going dutch to the movies.

No matter how we dress to meet them, though, we always find ourselves meeting them together, and that, to me, is the most beautiful thing about the rituals in our Grove. It has less to do with who we are than why we’re there.

So please, come as you are. Approach the Kindreds in the way you feel most comfortable. We are, after all, in ritual space for ourselves as well as for Them, and no one will ever stand at our Gate enforcing a dress code.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

How does a Crane walk?

This week, the Druids of Three Cranes were offered the chance to give a presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation East (UUCE), a small church in Reynoldsburg, OH, where we have done many rituals over the years. This presentation was about Druidry: what it is, what we do, and what we’re really all about.

One of the things anyone who has ever attended a UU church knows first hand is that they are some of the most hospitable, kindest people you will ever meet. It is ever a pleasure to chat with them over cake and coffee, and they are all polite and attentive listeners. This congregation is no exception to that rule.

When first asked to present for them, I had no real idea what I would talk about. When I started pulling together the handouts and going over my notes, though, I realized that what was really important in this presentation was what we do.

Originally, I was going to cover the history of the Druid movement, but it turns out that where we came from is not as important as where we’re going.

Originally, I was going to talk about the focus we have on scholarship and training, but it seems that what do with what we learn is more important than what we know.

Originally, I was going to discuss how I became involved in ADF, but it’s quite plain that the way in which our Grove is involved together is really what we need to focus on.

Most of the discussion we had was about what we do in ritual: discussing the concepts of polytheism, the center and gates, and the Earth Mother. I skimmed the history of Druidry, the scholarship, and my own involvement, and talked instead about the bread and butter of our Grove’s Own Drudiry: what, exactly, we do as a Grove. We spoke of our community service commitments and the very public nature of our rites. I mentioned the Summerland Festival and our next ritual. I spoke of our canned food drives, our toy drives, and the clothing drives that we have done.

Our Grove can be proud: we have learned to both talk the talk as well as walk the walk. Our community service is well above the minimum standards, and our commitment to public ritual has never been greater than it is today. I discussed the way we talk a few weeks ago, and after this week’s experiences, it is clear that a Crane not only talks, but also walks in Our Own Druidry.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler