I’ve never written one of these blog entries, but I felt particularly moved to write something after our most recent Lughnasadh ritual.
For those that know, last year we were blessed with the opportunity to perform our Lughnasadh ritual at the Dublin Irish Festival, the second largest such festival in the country. For years, pagans in the Central Ohio area had dreamed of having their own ritual there, at the same time as the Catholic and Protestant services. Thanks to the tenacity of a few community members (who I won’t mention here, as I don’t know how out they want to be, but I’ll gladly sing their praises) we got our opportunity last year, and were blow away by the attendance. Not just by the pagan community, who we knew would be tremendously supportive, but by a significant number of other people. Some may have been curious about just what this druid thing was. Others, especially the late arrivals, may have heard music, saw people sitting under a tent, and figured one service was as good as another, and sat down. I expect they were fairly surprised, yet no one ran away screaming, their hands over their children’s ears. The reception was wonderful, and the folks at DIF, after some initial awkwardness, seem to have just accepted us as one of the other churches.
This year, we were a little more experienced, but still fairly excited that they had actually invited us back. While I won’t reveal details of the contract, it was clear we were on the same playing field as the other churches. Even the stage announcements they had me read, instead of saying “church” said “church/grove.” Once again we had a fair number of pagans there, but we also had many people I did not recognize. Next year (and I’m still excited to say next year) I think I’m going to find a way to ask the crowd why they are here if they aren’t pagan.
This year had additional blessings. In addition to tremendous support from the local pagan community, we also had guests from groves in our region. There were several people in attendance from both Shining Lakes Grove and Cedarsong Grove. Emerald represented Sassafras, and Ian and Sue represented Stone Creed. We were also blessed to have Ian sit in with Jeff and Missy as part of our musical section, playing drums. In addition, well wishes for the day poured in over Facebook, and in e-mails.
With all of this support, and in reading other blogs with people’s impressions and reactions to the day, I must say I am very humbled. One other ADF member said that we ‘set a high bar for others to strive for,’ which, while flattering, is inaccurate. We can only set the bar that high because we stand on the shoulders of the rest of ADF. Were it not for the work done by all ADF’s members, I don’t doubt that Dublin did their due diligence in checking out this whole “ADF” thing, and our fame and reputation as an international church is what made this possible. It is because of the good work of all groves and members of ADF that we are able to move closer into the mainstream. We take our inspiration from all of those around us.
So to those that inspire us, to those that sent well-wishes, and those who made the journey, we say THANK YOU!
Last year, when we did our first DIF rite, Isaac was comatose. I reflected that morning how we were living his vision, that we were standing on equal footing with the mainstream religions, treated no differently. We videotaped the rite and rushed it to him. I hope it was played for him, and I hope he could hear it, even as he was drifting closer to the veil. This year, I felt his presence again, as we once again lived his vision, strengthening our ties to the community around us, and serving the Kindreds publicly and proudly. Hopefully, other groves can seek out other similar festivals in their areas, and use Dublin as an example (“Hey, THEY have druids!”). We will be proud to make the trip to support them.