A Yule Rite For (All) the Ages

Rev. Dangler and Rev. Avende dance the gate open with a number of children

This year’s Yule rite was pretty awesome. Despite chasing kids around, running a lot of video cameras, and generally being exhausted at the end of the day, there were some serious highlights.

  1. The live-stream went phenomenally (see our next blog post for details). By the time we’d finished, it looks like over 500 people had viewed the stream (we’ll know more when the analytics arrive and give us a solid idea of how many people were tuned in). Since then, nearly 1,000 people have watched the event on Facebook, far more than I would have ever expected (and 2/3 the total membership of ADF, which also says something about the reach of this sort of work).
  2. The Gate Opening was weird and fun and I want to plan it with way more kids. I was attending without my wife, and with my twin three-year-olds. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do my part without them hanging out with me, so I worked them in. I’m thankful to everyone who helped spin the kids around, especially Rev. Avende.
  3. I was able to leave someone else in charge. Mike B.’s first rite went amazingly well. Cool, controlled, and with good stage presence, he ran the rite like he’d been doing it for years. Kudos to him. I couldn’t have asked for a better ritual leader for our first really successful live-stream.
  4. The working was powerful for those involved. Several folks took home bulbs from the rite to turn into something that blossoms in their lives. From start to finish, this working was perfect for the rite, both in theme and in execution. It even looked good on video.
  5. My daughter has a new “book.” This morning, as I dropped my kids off at school, my daughter refused to let go of the ritual program from last night, saying that she wanted to take her “Crane Book” in for show-and-tell. I can only imagine the conversation going on at this moment.

The Gate Opening, with kids spinning the Gates open, I think, as I reflect on it, is what makes me happiest about the entire rite: the fact that we live-streamed the event, plus got to really push the kids into the work and highlight a method of inclusion, was pretty huge for me.

It’s easy sometimes to forget that kids make up the next generation of our work, that including them in ritual is really very important (my own feelings on kids in ritual have transformed since the first time I had to deal with them in ritual back in 2003, where I immediately gave them a part). It’s chaotic, crazy, and they don’t really lend themselves to a “calm, meditative experience,” but honestly, I get enough of those sorts of experiences, anyway.

What including kids in ritual does do, and I think this is very important, is it continues the work of making our rites open, accessible, and joyful to all involved.

Watching them “twirl the Gates open” is an experience I won’t soon forget… and that I hope to get to repeat very soon, with even more kids joining the dance.

Watch the Livestream for yourself on Facebook:

Bright Blessings,
-Rev. Michael J Dangler