Reviewing Yule, Talking Liturgy

This week, the Grove spent some time going back over our Yule ritual, discussing what went right and what went wrong, and what worked and didn’t work. It’s hard sometimes to be honest, even with ourselves, over things going a bit wrong.

We had an excellent turnout at Yule, and when it came time to review the ritual, we started discussing a lot about why we do things, and (in particular) ways to do the things we have done better.

We talked at length about the Gate opening, and how we really liked it, but thought it would be better if we turned the officiant working the Gates around to make sure that they faced the congregation. This was for two reasons: 1) to show the Grove what was occurring (instead of having a person’s body in the way), and 2) to help project the voice of the officiant out into the congregation to ensure that she was heard. While in this case, we had a wall to bounce the sound back to the ears of the Folk, that’s a rarity in our rituals, so we should really make sure that we notice these things and learn to work without them as much as possible.

We also had a long discussion about piacular offerings, and why some people in the Grove do them, and others do not. I mentioned during the discussion that, “Vikings don’t grovel” is a perfectly valid theological reason so far as I’m concerned, though I admit that it does seem to lack some. . . theology. In the end, I think we’ve mostly agreed that it’s nice, but not necessarily required or needed in all cases, and sometimes doesn’t seem to fit with what we’re doing.

We also spoke of ensuring clear end-points occur in our rituals. While Yule worked great in the time frame we ran it at, and there was a clear ending, there was also a time when it was somewhat unclear (particularly to newcomers) whether we were still in ritual space or not. We discussed some options for working around this, but didn’t come up with anything more satisfactory than, “We need to make sure people know whether we’re in ritual space or not.” It’s a complicated thing to find an answer to, and I think we made good headway, but we’ll want to revisit this before incorporating a potluck into our rituals again in the future.

In all, though, it was a good, lively meeting. I hope that you have all had a wonderful Solstice, and that you get to spend the holidays with your friends and families this year.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Yule, and feasting with family

This evening, our Grove came together to celebrate Yule. This ritual was different than many others we have done, as the potluck was in the middle of the ritual, rather than after the ritual as we usually do it. As a result, this was probably our longest ritual on record, lasting a full two hours.

We tried many new things in this ritual as well: it was a sumbel format, which morphed into a blot; we utilized a pre-recorded attunement; and the aforementioned move of the potluck into the middle of the rite. Some things worked and some things need work, but that is the way of our rituals.

At one point, when passing around the horn, Seamus looked over to me and said, “Look around the room: we’ve come a long way from you and Joe in the darkness.” I had to agree, though I let him make the toast regarding that point (honour was given to Teutates, the gardener whose hand has always guided this Grove). I was somewhat more consumed with the omens we had received:

  1. Have our offerings been accepted? Ing – God from the east, yes.
  2. What do the Powers offer in return? Perþo – companionship in the hall.
  3. What further need do the Powers have of us? Raðio – travel, movement in partnership.

What I saw in these omens was a real feeling of having traveled and moved over time, forming partnerships and moving with the folk in good ways, always watching out for one another. As a result, we have grown and changed and become the people that we always wanted to be: the People of Three Cranes.

While the origin of the word “yule” is rather obscure, we know it comes from the Old Norse jól, a 12-day festival of the Pagan Norse. Beyond that, the meaning of the word itself really is anyone’s guess (even the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t hazard a guess). Still, it is a joyful time, and tonight’s ritual was also full of joy for all of us: together under one roof, sharing in joy and fellowship along our path.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

A Busy Week!

This week, the Grove had several different events: on Monday, we had World AIDS Day, where we held a small remembrance dinner for those whose lives have been affected by AIDS and HIV; on Wednesday we had a Druid Moon ritual where we went on a journey to meet with Frigga; Thursday we had our usual business meeting; and Saturday was our scheduled Trail cleanup, even though weather didn’t permit us to actually get out to do it.

While we canceled the trail clean-up due to the weather (our reasoning was primarily that it is hard to pick up trash when you can’t see it due to an inch of snow covering it, but also that the roads were not good enough to be driving), the rest of the week went very well. The omens for the Druid Moon rite were as follows:

  1. What is our path? Dagaz – The New Day
  2. On what should the Grove focus until the next moon? Fehu – wealth and reciprocity
  3. On what should each individual focus? Laguz – the self and the subconsciousness

While I was unable to attend the ritual, I found a lot within these runes anyway: the tone of introspection and understanding the gifts of the Grove itself are strong, and we have new paths to forge. I look forward to seeing how these work out. But I applied these most to the way I have personally looked at World AIDS Day here in Columbus.

The theme of World AIDS Day this year was “Leadership.” I want to thank Seamus for the idea of doing an AIDS Remembrance Dinner and thank those who showed up as well as the host and the cooks for making it possible. But I also want to ask that next year, we show this leadership: let’s look to make sure that a real event happens next year. Let’s make it multi-faith and multi-cultural. Let’s fit as many people as possible into it, and feed their souls with our spirits.

I want to do more, for the Grove and for the people. I want to show this leadership. Our Grove can do so much, if only we commit to it and build it. I think that this Grove truly can do this.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler