The Dublin Irish Festival: 327!

The Dublin Irish Festival Sunday Service, 2010, ritual team on stage

It is exceedingly rare that any religious functionary can point to a ritual and say, “Yes, even from my point of view, that rite was virtually flawless.”

But today, I can point to such a rite.

Today, we honoured the lady of the land, Tailtiu, at the Dublin Irish Festival. The sheer magnitude of the rite can best be described in numbers:

  • Attendance: 327, at least
  • Donations: $200.08 (given to St. Brigid’s charities)

Other important things to note:

  • The Dublin Irish Festival is the second largest Irish Festival in the world, drawing over 100,000 attendees each year. (.pdf about this year’s festival)
  • Our service occurred concurrently with Gaelic Masses, Protestant services, and Interdenominational services. At no time did anyone suggest that we fell under the “interdenominational” category. We worked on a stage, were listed in the schedule, and were provided all the amenities provided to other faiths at the festival.
  • Many people we had never met commented about how great it was that there was finally a Pagan representative event at the festival, and that this was a “missing piece” in their religious and cultural experience at the festival.
  • Exactly zero people commented that we shouldn’t be there.

But the most important thing? The Cranes showed up.

I don’t mean that we arrived at the site, or that we came and did our usual ritual; no, our Grove reached deeply within themselves, cradled the fire of piety in their hands, and brought it forth to show the world, kindling it in the hearts of others as they did so.

The commitment that the Grove (and many friends of the Grove, official and unofficial) showed to this ritual was inspiring and moving. Those with parts attended rehearsals, wrote their parts well in advance, memorized them, and took constructive criticism without taking offense. Those without parts brought friends and family to the ritual, advertised heavily among the community, participated fully in the rite, and helped lead others when we decided to forgo our usual extended pre-ritual briefing. Then there are those who went to Dublin, unasked by us, because they felt that we were the best representatives of the Pagan community to do this thing and who supported us every step of the way.

From start to finish, the ritual flowed as easily as water flows downhill. Nervousness was overcome and joy is what was presented to the Folk. In short, the ritual was as close to flawless as we could have asked for, thanks to the work and love the Cranes put into it.

Sure, there were little things that weren’t perfect: this being our first time working with microphones, we didn’t all get right up to them when we started; the layout of the site was a bit awkward for dispersing the Waters of Life; and the goddess we honoured in the rite had her name spelled wrong in the program. But honestly, there’s nothing in the litany of “little things” that makes anything add up to anything close to “a real problem.” In hindsight, enumerating them seems more like nit-picking than anything else.

Near the end of the ritual, we called for omens, as we always do. Our omens in this rite were as follows:

What Blessing do the Ancestors have for us?
Duir, The Oak – Strength

What Blessings do the Spirits of Nature Have for us?
Oir, The Spindle Tree – The Blessings of our Home and Hearth

What Blessings do the Shining Ones have for us?
Ur, The Heather – The Blessings of the Homelands

Taken together these might suggest “The Kindreds remind us that true and lasting Strength flows from the sacred hearth of the Home, and from the sacred soil of our Homelands”

Good omens, indeed, for a ritual such as this. They were, in fact, ideal.

This rite wrapped up our eighth year of High Day rituals (we have seen 64 total High Days as a Grove). Our next rite, Autumnal Equinox, begins our progression to our ninth anniversary. The Cranes have come far from two guys reading scripts in the darkness.

This is Isaac’s Vision, come to life.

I am immensely proud of the Cranes, and I am not ashamed to admit it.
-Rev. Michael J Dangler