Reflecting on where we have been, and where we are going

This week, the light begins to return, and tomorrow night our Grove will gather to celebrate the December Druid Moon, Dumannios: the Dark Month.

Sometimes, following the moon months from the Coligny Calendar and fitting them into the solar and Julian calendars brings interesting coincidences: while our Yule ritual celebrated rebirth and the dawning of light, this ritual is about the darkness all around us, the depths of being under cover and the faded light.

As we were asked in our last ritual, however, to spend time in inward contemplation, we have an opportunity to do just that on the Sixth Night of this moon. The winter months encourage us to spend time looking within rather than without, and so the final omen of last Sunday’s Yule rite, Isa, the ice, is very apt.

With the secular new year approaching, it is time to reflect and re-think about where we have been, and to plan out where we will be going. We should do this at the beginning of all journeys, and we know that the sun will do this as it begins its journey back to strength.

To all traveling this week, travel safely and speedily to your destination, and home again with the same speed and safety.

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Yule brings a new dawn, as always!

Today was the Grove’s Yule Rite, celebrated in honour of Cerridwen and with a rebirthing theme. It was not so long ago, just last year, in fact, when Yule was our smallest rite, when it drew no more than around 30 people. It is with joy and trepidation that we found that our Grove is growing stronger and drawing in more people: this year, Yule drew around 68 people! We go forth into a new year with numbers we never expected to see!

This was also the first rite since Lughnassadh 2008 that we have received a negative omen when we asked if our offerings have been accepted. This time, as last time, the omen was Hagalaz, the hail-storm. Our seer made a graceful piacular offering, however, in response to the negative omen, which pleased the Kindreds; our omens that followed were good and right for the occasion: Berkano, Dagaz, and Isa.

Berkano tells us that our offerings have been accepted: here, the fertile and flexible birch tree, which can survive even the harshest of weather and hardship grows healthy and strong. Even hail cannot break the spirit of this tree.

Dagaz tells us that the Kindreds offer us a new day, a brigh and shining dawn. This is an amazing and ideal omen for the winter solstice, particularly one that centers around this theme of rebirth.

Isa tells us that the Kindreds require of us the inward-looking vision, the contemplative path that shows us the way toward discerning between that which is beautiful and that which is dangerous.

These are good omens, indeed.

The rite went very well, though: each person received a token to take home, we collected over 50 toys for local donation, and several canned goods as well. Functionally, the ritual flowed beautifully, and though hiccups are virtually required in public ritual, they were small in this rite. I even got the chance to try out a new Waters litany, when I was presented with three vessels instead of two: we drew the blessings from the underworld waters and the heavenly waters, then mixed and mingled them together to bring in all the blessings from all the worlds. It was an awesome experience to combine these waters, and I cannot wait to write up the litany.

One thing is clear, though: the ritual teams have put together some amazing and impressive rituals. All of them, from Samhain to Lughnassadh to tonight, have done amazing things for our Grove. I am so proud of all of them.

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Presenting at the Mosaic Program

This week, I was asked to speak to a class from the Mosaic Program here in Columbus. It is an interesting program that clearly produces (and serves) bright children in our area. I was asked to speak as a part of their world religions course, which I very much enjoyed.

One of the most important parts of being an ADF Grove is doing outreach: not proselytizing, but getting out there to inform and educate. Mostly, we have always done this through our community service role, but community service, while it gets your name out there, isn’t about advertising or education; we do service because doing service is right. Outreach, on the other hand, is about these things; outreach is about letting people know that we are there, showing them that we are serious and real, and giving people a chance to engage with us in places where they feel comfortable educating themselves.

I tend to see the community service role as “walking the walk,” while the outreach role is “talking the talk.” Both are a necessary component.

Over the 40 minutes I had each class, though, I was pleased to notice that the kids not only asked good questions, but showed a genuine interest in the discussion. What’s more, they asked informed questions many times.

It was pleasant discussing ritual, belief, history, and (on occasion) the joy of worship with them. I did learn that my general discussion pattern tends to shy away from that last point, mostly because I find (and I think that many of us find) it to be a very personal thing. Still, I hope that I described enough about why it is we do what we do to give them a working knowlege of that, as well as expose them to a new religious movement they may never have heard of before.

In all, it was a joy to spend time doing outreach with them.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler