Blessings of the Community

Last week, there was a discussion about “bad omens,” which had an end result of being a wake-up call. This weekend, our Grove spent our time from Friday at 8:30 AM until Sunday at 10 PM staffing a booth and doing ritual for the public at ComFest. In that time span, Three Cranes Grove, ADF, ran (or, in one case, participated in) fourteen rituals, including the intertraditional service for the Pride march and a Summer Solstice ritual.

During all this, we made many new friends and saw many old ones. We answered questions about Our Druidry and talked long into the night with people who were interested in ADF or the local Grove. We passed out pamphlets and free coffee. We listened to jazz and death metal.

At one point during a discussion with our Senior Druid, Seamus, he pointed out that no one gets to rest on their laurels, particularly when it comes to ritual. There is often a feeling of complacency that comes from doing good ritual, getting good omens for long periods of time, and having strong support. That feeling cannot be allowed to win over a Grove.

So this weekend, we fought back.

The first and most important job was to be prepared for the Pride service. It has always been important to us as a Grove that we support Pride, but marching has proven difficult since the march coincides with times we need to staff our ComFest booth. The opportunity to participate in the Pride service was an excellent alternative for most of us, and it was my job to close out the service with a blessing in the Earth Mother. While this was not a difficult part, it was a vital part, primarily because it was the part that would have the most lasting effect on the crowd (coming at the end) and the part that would reflect how “seriously” Druidry should be taken by the interfaith community. To put it simply, we represented ourselves well.

Also this year, our Solstice ritual at ComFest was different. Rather than offer invocations and praise offerings (praise offerings are too difficult when roughly half the group you started your ritual with are exchanged for another half who wandered in part-way through the rite and have never heard a pre-ritual briefing before), we honoured the gods of sun and thunder with a mythic story about the strength of the sun to overcome the thunderstorms.

For anyone who was there this weekend, they will seize on the impetus for the story’s theme. We made offerings to the Kindreds and then offered this story of praise to the god of thunder and the goddess of the sun. The story was an excellent addition to the ritual, and seemed to set a new bar for the Grove rites.

All told, we have listened to our omens. If the omens from this weekend are any indication, we are following the example they have asked us to.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Omens are not always positive, even for us

For the first time in a year and a half, our omens today showed us that our offerings were not accepted.

This isn’t a cause for worry, but a call for our Grove to take a good, hard look at what we are doing, both as individuals and as a community, and to ensure that we are moving along the right path.

For a couple of weeks, we have been watching our omens as they have changed from highly positive to slightly less so. While today we found that our offerings had not been accepted the first time through, after our second round, they were strongly accepted. It seems to me that we are being asked to take a good, close look at our omens and seek to find the roots of the issue.

This coming weekend, the Grove is going to be highly involved in ComFest: we have a booth, a main ritual on Sunday morning, and we’re participating in the Pride ritual before the Pride Parade. Not long ago, we started looking at the omens and wondering if perhaps we were doing too much, if maybe we should take a break and a breather. This is one idea to discuss in depth when we talk about our omens.

We have also been fortunate to hear from other members of our community: we might want to think about the ways we present ourselves to the community, as well as think about how we act.

As we look to the personal side of these omens, we need to remember to distribute them more widely as a Grove, so that our members can take these omens more to heart and determine what needs should be met.

Omens are only truly bad if you ignore them: they always appear for a reason, and watching for them is key to understanding them and interacting with the Kindreds on many levels. So watch them we shall, and we will pay a deeper attention to them in the very near future.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Piety on the Path

This past week, Three Cranes held our first Dedicant Path Study Group in several years. While the turnout was small, the conversation was very lively, and we spent the hours working through the first three Virtues (Wisdom, Piety, and Vision), as well as discussing the Shining Ones, Summer Solstice, and our first book. In all, it was a discussion packed evening.

We returned time and again to the idea of piety: right action. What did it mean to us as a Grove and as individuals? Piety, of course, is simply action, done in a context that is agreeable with the cosmos and which maintains the order that is the Ghosti relationship, or the relationship of reciprocity between guest and host.

By making offerings and offering praise (two things that are inextricably linked together), we delve ever deeper into a world where each of us has a personal link with the Kindreds. Each action of praise tells them how much we care for them, and each act of offering shows them this. With these two actions, we show that we care.

In the end, it is not only right to exchange gifts and praise, but it is the only way that the cosmos can continue to move in an ordered fashion. As we continue to seek to build cosmos from chaos, we must remember that the first step in doing so is the building of relationships where previously there was none.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Developing a presence

Three Cranes does not own land, but we have been given the opportunity to help be good stewards on some land, and to use the land often for ritual. The UU church in Reynoldsburg has offered us some space to work our rituals (so long as they don’t conflict with theirs, of course) in exchange for aid keeping their land in good order.

Of course, if you’re going to keep your land in good order, calling the Druids does seem to be the logical thing.

Today, the Grove gathered together in the hot, humid weather to clear brush, improve the fire pit, and improve a trail to the circle. As we pulled back the border of the tall grass and weeds, we found ourselves working together and enjoying our time as a single Grove, working in a Grove of our own.

This land holds the site of our first permanent altar, which has been mostly erased in the five years since we first made sacrifice at it. Now, though, that location is beautifully placed within the sacred precinct of the fire circle, and we are thinking of (and finding) ways to make use of the impression left by that altar. When we stand in this circle, we have an ancestral connection to the land: sacrifice has been made here before us, and it will be made here again.

At the end of the day, we also sank two stone posts into the earth, marking the ceremonial entrance to our space. Two symbols of the triplicity of the realms and those who reside in it were placed there, and prayers were said over them as silver and herbs were offered to them.

While this is not land that we can call our own, it’s clear that we have established a link with the land: this land can call us its own.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Wellspring, and upcoming events

As last Sunday, Three Cranes Grove, ADF, was at the ADF Annual Meeting, no update occurred. This week, we’re back to let everyone know how it went!

Wellspring, the festival at which the ADF Annual Meeting has been held for the past several years, is at Brushwood, a large, Pagan-owned and operated camp that plays host to many of the major Pagan festivals throughout the year, including Starwood and Sirius Rising.

The weekend most often involves organizational meetings, but it is also a very social weekend as well. Gathering at Wellspring means seeing old faces and acquainting yourself with new ones every year.

Especially of note, our own Shawneen brought home the Warrior’s torc, being crowned Champion of the Warrior Games at this Wellspring. Shawneen is the first Crane to win this award, and we are amazingly proud of him.

This Wellspring saw the addition of a new ADF Dedicant Priest, as well: Rev. Cheryl Angst joined the ranks of our Clergy as our first Canadian Priest. With her consecration also comes the first real steps in the formation of ADF Canada, and a new chapter in ADF’s international work.

We also spent an evening gathered among friends, praying for one who has passed recently.

In matters of what’s upcoming with the Grove, we are planning two rituals for Summer Solstice (it’s beginning to become a tradition), and we will have a booth at ComFest. We will also be participating in the Interfaith Service supporting the Columbus Pride Parade.

We have also put together a new calendar, so please check that out, too!
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler