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