I think it’s well-known that things don’t always go as planned at ritual: we’ve all had mishaps in various rituals (heck, we have mishaps in every ritual). Of course, it’s the more spectacular ones that we particularly enjoy chatting about, and the ones that we all wish we’d gotten a good picture of!
Many have heard about Vice Archdruid Kirk’s spinning fiasco where he took out the world tree in the middle of opening the Gates. Well, I’m here to offer a solid “thank you” to him, because I ended up going out of control in my own Gate opening on the Summer Solstice, but at the end I could say, “You know, at least I didn’t break the f-ing tree!”
Summer Solstice is, for the Cranes, basically a picnic in the park, where we get together, all the parts are sung (or mostly sung) and drawn from pop song lyrics. As an example, we sang “What a Wonderful World” to honour the Earth Mother, and I pulled “Beachhouse On the Moon” out for the Gatekeeper. So, think about it as about the most laid-back Core Order of Ritual rite that you’ll ever see, anywhere.
Anyway, because of the laid-back nature, I left my staff at home. Most of the time, I focus hard on the staff, which helps reduce the dizziness that comes with spinning around quickly (and adds a lot of support when I ram it into the earth at the end of the spin). This could, perhaps, be best described as “working without a net” for the first time.
So I sang my invocation to the Gatekeeper, left unnamed but described as a magician, and then started the “Open the Gates” chant and started to spin.
Now, to explain the setting: the folk were in very close (the “box” of people was about 10-12 feet across, with people on three sides and the fire on the fourth). Complicating matters was a slight downhill grade that stretched from west to east, losing a few inches of height in that short space. It didn’t look like a lot of grade, but when you’re dizzy, it’s a bit more than you might think.
Most of the way through, I checked my position. Catching a glimpse of lees’ hands up and in front of her, I knew I’d drifted (probably more than a little) down the hill some, and so worked to correct myself and end with the Gates open.
Well, I planted myself pretty firmly, spread my arms, got, “Let the Gates be Open!” out. . . and then found that my feet, though planted firmly, were planted very firmly on a cosmos that was still spinning about on its axis. This led to a bit of tilting in my brain (science calls this “dizziness”), and I began to fall forward.
Realizing this, I checked my bearings again, noticed I was about to fall straight onto a lovely young lady who was attending her very first ritual with us, and realized that I’d probably crush her if I didn’t move quickly.
I somehow managed to somersault over her, actually leaving the ground and not getting caught up on her too badly (you can see she’s still sitting up in the blue shirt in the photos) and then landing gracefully on my back without hitting anyone else.
Yes, the Gates were open, and (as is fitting in a rite like this) everyone got a good laugh, and we just continued on, grins and joy in our hearts.
At least I didn’t break the f’ing world tree.
-Rev. Michael J Dangler