Crossing thresholds

In discussing last week’s ritual of Anagantios, a common theme came up several times: this ritual made us feel somewhat more mature than most of our rituals have in the past. There was something about the idea of the Grove Priest traveling from house to house, receiving hospitality from each of our members and then offering a blessing in return that deepened our connection to each other, even though we were apart, each in our own homes.

As the Priest that did the traveling, I really feel that this sentiment went the other way, too. The process of going from house to house, from Grove member to Grove member, was a deeply moving experience. It was intimate, quiet, and natural. In this ritual, I felt professional, which is a feeling I have really gotten only when doing prison ministry before.

The act of crossing so many thresholds may have something to do with this: at each house I was warmly welcomed, and every step I took through the door was a step that brought ritual space into the house with me. The house became the center of the cosmos, and each room was a center that aligned with the rest of the house.

Some mentioned that their house feels more relaxed, and that those within the house experience less anxiety since the blessing. Nearly everyone mentioned that, as a Grove, we are becoming ever closer as a result of the monthly rites, and this one seems to have been particularly good for us as a group.

This is the sort of thing that our Priests can and should do for the Folk. We should be bringing the Old Ways into the houses and hearts of those who seek to follow them, and blessing their daily work and lives when they need it most. As we grow in this religion, we will cross many more thresholds, but none are so important as the thresholds of our homes.

Fortunately, it’s what we appear to be doing here in Three Cranes. And that is just as it should be.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

The Fire from across the Ninth Wave is here

The Fire from the waters is here.
The Fire from the land is here.
The Fire from the heavens is here.
Born in the Waters, Kindled on the Earth,
and with a pillar of smoke that supports the Heavens,
this light is the Grove’s own Fire of Sacrifice.

February, on the Coligny Calendar, is Anagantios, which (loosely translated) means “stay-at-home-month.” That is just what our members did for a ritual that lasted all day.

As the weather in February is noticeably worse than it is at other times throughout the year, it made sense that with a chance of ice, snow, and all manner of other nasty weather, a bunch of people getting on the road to converge in a single ritual space was not a good idea. Instead, we decided to have our Grove Priest (myself) travel to each Grove Member’s house and bring a blessed flame to warm the dwellings of our members.

And wouldn’t you know it, the weather cooperated wonderfully by making the roads amazingly unsafe and icy just in time for me to drive from one end of Columbus to the other, and back again.

At the Imbolc ritual, our Grove took the flame brought across the ocean from Kildare with the intent of making use of the flame in this Druid Moon Rite. As I went from house to house with this light, we lit the house with the fires from Kildare, speaking a blessing over each room in the dwelling and over the house as a whole. I did entire houses, one room apartments, and dorm rooms. Roommates I had never met joined in the blessing. I received excellent hospitality from the Grove on this cold day.

And with each of them, I left a candle that held the Grove’s flame.

The rite was a wonderful experience, and being welcomed into so many homes and hearts was the best part of the trip for me. I must extend a hearty thanks to the members of Three Cranes Grove, ADF, for their welcome and the warmth of their ghosti.

A copy of the ritual will be posted to the ADF-Liturgists list, and will appear in our forthcoming devotional book.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Doing what we intend

It’s often said that the most important part of ritual is intent. When someone mentions this, most everyone in the room will nod sagely and say, “Yes, that’s truly the measure of a good ritual: how it fulfills its intent!”

The thing is, no one ever discusses how you should discover your intent or how you should phrase it ritually.

When I begin planning a ritual, I start with by thinking about what the Cosmos looks like at this time of year. For Imbolc, we were seeing the first glimmer of light flickering in the darkness of the winter night. Also, many of us were seeking things such as healing, growth in our work or seeds for new work, and creativity.

I sometimes like to phrase the ritual in terms of a verbal phrase, too: “We bring forth the light!” is a good phrase for Imbolc, because we are actively doing something, and (since this is a time of growth) the whole phrase speaks to increase and growth.

I also like the place we do this ritual, because the lighting set-up allows us to begin our ritual with the altar dimly illuminated, with candles all around. As the rite progresses, the lights on the altar increase, and the room lightens. This rite is heavy on ritual action that mirrors the verbal phrasing of our intent above.

I think that this is part of why our Imbolc rite is so powerful to so many people within the Grove and the community.

Something I would very much like us to do in our liturgy meetings is look at our next ritual and say, “Okay, what is it that we’re trying to do? How do we want to do it? Is there a central symbol we can use for this?” I think that these three questions can really enhance the Grove’s rituals, if we learn to answer them properly.

Our intent should be central to everything we do, from how we lay out the altar to how we light it; from how we deal with the Outdwellers to how we invoke the Kindreds.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Finding the Light

Since our Imbolc ritual, our Grove has kept a fire burning. This fire was lit at Kildare, Ireland, from the eternal flame that is kept there, brought across the ocean, and kept here in Columbus by one of our members. At the Imbolc rite, we lit our candles from it, and one of these candles has carried the Grove’s fire since then.

This fire will be used in the coming weeks to light our houses as we bless them on the next Druid Moon rite our Grove does.

While most of our rites involve the Grove coming together at a single place to worship, this ritual will involve the Grove coming to each person, bringing the light of our shared fellowship into the houses and hearts of our Grove members. According to the Coligny Calendar, the moon in February marked the month to stay at home. It is a cold time and a dark time, but now there is a glimmer of light, a ray that peeks over the horizon.

As the light travels from house to house this month, we will welcome that light in, allowing it to bless our homes, our work, and our lives. The winter is ever dark and cold, but we can light and warm the season through our fellowship and the joy we find in each other.

As the year begins to grow and brighten, so too may we: as individuals, as a Grove, and as a community!
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler