As Three Cranes comes off a wonderful Beltaine celebration, with 78 participants, 91 canned goods collected, and an amazing drumming circle, it’s clear that there are some lessons learned.
We weren’t expecting to break new records today with the number of participants, though we were expecting a slightly larger crowd than usual. Our last-minute change of location also complicated matters, moving us from a traditional site for our Beltaine rituals to one that none of us had ever been to before this morning.
Despite that, our Grove has always (unofficially) operated on the Boy Scout motto: “be prepared” is a statement that we have taken to heart, often leading to excesses of ritual gear that we don’t need being brought along. Today, though, it led to our Grove having not only enough Waters to go around for the blessings, but also being able to offer each person the chance to drink the Waters, instead of aspersing the blessing across the entire crowd.
Because of the way the ritual space was set up, with tables and benches located in the middle of where the Folk would generally stand, most people ended up sitting at a table, so we ended up with a large crowd of parallel lines that sat almost perpendicular to the Sacred Center. When we were distributing the Waters, it was more like pouring drinks for a party in a crowded bar than a solemn, ritual atmosphere.
This, of course, suited Beltaine just fine.
We also chose a Fool by lot to lead our procession out through the purifying fires and back into the ritual space. Our fires stayed lit throughout the rite, and the nine sacred woods we burned in each fire purified and again blessed the folk who had joyously partaken of the Waters. Our method of Fool selection was originally designed by Anna Banana, who last year had us pick M&M candies out of a jar, making the Fool the one who chose the red candy. As we drew these lots this year to the sound of drumming and clapping, our Senior Druid began to chant:
I want my M and M’s!
The immediate response was:
Jim wants his M and M’s!
And this call-and-response was repeated several times until, as the one united and sacred Grove that we were, we simply couldn’t stop laughing in the collective joy we experienced.
In all, as Beltaine celebrations go, this was a wonderful one. We had many new faces and a few old ones that we hadn’t seen in a very long time. The Grove did a wonderful job of leading the rite and maintaining the space, but the thing I took home from this ritual is that our rituals thrive on the energy of the participants far more than on the energy of the sacrificers. Each person who comes to our rites adds spice to the experience and the joy of doing public worship.
And it is this spice our guests provide that makes us grateful to each and every one of them.
-Rev. Michael J Dangler