A Weekend of Service

Each ADF Grove is required to commit themselves to a level of community service. The requirement is not difficult: it is simply one community service activity per quarter. That means that once every three months, we need to do something to maintain our Charter.

As one of seven Fully Chartered Groves of ADF, and as the Grove with the fourth largest membership in our church, Three Cranes has always felt it was important that we should take a lead in providing community service within ADF. Our full community service activity can be found on our Service page, but today, I wanted to mention what the Grove did most recently.

This weekend, we set our feet along a new trail in our community service work: The Lower Scioto Multi-Use Trail. This trail runs from the confluence of the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers, past the central business district of Columbus, Ohio, and down to State Route 104. It is one of the most visible trails in Columbus, and it incorporates much of Columbus’ history and community.

The trail is just under 5 miles long, and a small contingent from the Grove said a short prayer to the Spirits of Nature, then set out at about 11 AM on a cold December 1st morning, and picked up as much trash as we could.

As our trashbags became heavier and the day grew brighter, we found ourselves laughing and enjoying the time together. We felt the Grove growing closer, as it always has and will during our service. We are a Grove that walks in service.

Halfway through the cleanup, we saw a blue heron standing in the waters of the Scioto River. We stopped for a moment to watch him, and then continued on our way, feeling more blessed and more certain that we had made the right choice in this stretch of trail.

While there were areas that we simply did not have the ability to clean thoroughly, we made a promise to return with more help in order to clean some of these areas in particular. Each of us removed about 45 lbs. of trash from the trail and the banks of the Scioto.

Later that night, the Grove participated in an interfaith service for World AIDS Day, with our Senior Druid, Seamus, and our Grove Scribe, Shawneen, reading names at a candlelight vigil in the Topiary Gardens downtown, and I participated in the service itself, issuing a call to community and awareness to people of all faiths.

ADF Groves have never been only available for public worship. It may be our primary focus, as offering public sacrifice to the Kindreds will always come first; but it is vital that our Groves remain part of the community, and that we be there when the Folk need us most. Our service and our outreach are the fruits that each Grove must produce in order to survive. When we are out in the community, tasting of these fruits, it is then that we know just how sweet they are.

And when we embraced each other as a Grove and as friends, those fruits tasted sweet indeed.

May we grow in our service, and may we serve the Kindreds when we serve each other.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

“No one makes sacrifice alone.”

Sacrifice is not an act one can ever do alone. From the highest, most structured and public ADF rite we could devise; to the most humble solitary ADF member doing his first ritual alone, having never met another Pagan in the flesh, all of us, when we make sacrifice, are part of a larger community.

Sacrifice is, at its root, about community. No matter why we make sacrifice, whether it is for a sick friend, to offer thanks, or even to gain wealth for ourselves, we are doing so in a way that builds community.

In ancient times, a sacrifice was done primarily as a shared meal with the gods: an animal might be sacrificed, the inedible parts burned for the sustenance of the gods, and the edible parts distributed to the folk. In this way, sacrifice brought the community together, and every member of the community benefited.

The sacrifice would also maintain the order of the cosmos, strengthening it and revitalizing it by following the same procedures used to create the cosmos initially. Every human benefits strongly from an ordered, maintained cosmos.

By offering a sacrifice, we feed the Gods. We remind the Ancestors that we remember them. We show respect and love for the Spirits of Nature. As a result, the Kindreds are able to better provide for all of us, our entire community. Even if the sacrifice is done alone by a solitary person, they have provided a stronger, more vibrant cosmos for each other person to partake of.

Through the simple act of participation in a sacrificial process, whether it is done by you or by another person on your behalf, you have entered a community-building process with your fellow humans. When we re-create and revitalize the cosmos, we do so not only for ourselves, but for all beings within it. When we offer food to the gods that they might remain strong, we do so not only in return for the blessings they give to us, but so that they may continue to give blessings to all of humankind. Even the act of paying a priest to sacrifice on your behalf is an act of community: by supporting the priest in his or her role in society, we are perpetuating the order of the cosmos and ensuring that the priest you have paid will be available for the next member of society who may need one.

All persons, no matter how alone they may feel where they are, are important in the cosmos. All persons, no matter how connected they are in the profane world, are a vital part of the community in the realm of the sacred. All persons, no matter how unimportant they feel, how insignificant they imagine themselves to be, or how unpracticed and unpolished they may perceive themselves, play a starring role in the creation of something amazing that benefits us all.

“No one makes sacrifice alone.”

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

The Waters Support and Surround Us

At each ritual, the Grove adds the waters of all the previous Wells to our current Well. We do this in order to symbolically link the Well on our altar to all the other Wells we have had in ritual. We call these waters the “Grove Waters.”

The Grove has added many different waters to our Well over the years. What started as simple store-bought spring water soon had waters from Ireland, from sacred wells and main rivers there. We received waters from other Groves in ADF, including the Protogrove we mentor, Black Bear Protogrove, ADF. We filled a flask with the waters at Wellspring in 2003, bringing the waters of so many other Groves in ADF into our own. We held one of the first ADF Unity Rites at our 2004 Autumnal Equinox ritual, adding those waters to our Grove Waters. In 2005, we added the waters of the Danube river to the mix, and in 2007 we added waters from Mount Olympus’ Enipas River. At Summerland 2006, a few members of the Grove collected waters from the same sounce our own “Mother Grove,” The 6th Night Grove, ADF, uses: Yellow Springs, Ohio.

In 2007, though, the Grove went en masse to a sacred spring at Summerland. There, we spent an hour bathing in the waters welling up from the earth, feeling its coolness and its naturalness, and collecting it for the Grove. It was not supposed to be a deep spiritual experience, nor was it really thought of as such at the time. But as I look back on that day, back on the People of Three Cranes gathered around this small spring in the side of a hill, I cannot help but think that it was yet another step in how our Grove has found its feet, how it has learned to walk on its own, and how it can choose its own directions.

These are the Grove Waters, the Waters within each Well the Grove uses in ritual. These are Waters that connect us as a Grove, connect us as an organization, and connect us as humans in a long line of sacred waters and water sources. They are the Waters of Memory, the Waters of our Ancestors, the Waters of Inspiration within us, and the Waters of Life we hold before us. They are the Waters of our first ritual, and the Waters of our last ritual. They are the Waters at the edge of the world that Garanus wades in, and the Waters which he flies beyond.

These are the Grove Waters.

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Revisiting the Past

The Grove has been recording our rituals, omens, and reactions for a full year now in a new book, called the Book of Three Cranes. This book details many things, and with Samhian and our fifth year anniversary, it seemed appropriate for me to go back over the book and review the past year. So, I sat down to transcribe it to place it on the Three Cranes Website. Here is what I wrote about that experience:


Every so often, you make a mistake. You think, at first, that you are just transcribing a year worth of rituals. You think that you are merely copying what people wrote down a month ago, six months ago, or a year ago. You think that there are no surprises in the past, that there wasn’t anything that you missed.

And then you realize that you’re not just copying something down. You aren’t just rehashing the past, or repeating someone’s words.

No, you’re reliving the past. There is the first ritual Nick led. Here is where Bonnie first came to a Three Cranes rite. These three ritual omens spoke the same words to us from the Kindreds at three different times. There is a joy described, a sorrow felt, and a smile of pleasure at a ritual well-run or a mistake that’s a thousand times more amusing an hour later.

In this year of rituals, we celebrated our fifth anniversary. We began to talk about how we pray with a good fire. We shared laughter and pain, and expressed deep faith in each other. We filled 58 pages with good omens, changes in ritual style, criticisms and compliments. We showed pride in the canned goods and toys we collected, and we wrote blessings to the Grove and the community.

The voices of the People of Three Cranes came through, loud and clear.

And the future will have those voices to guide them, a strong vision to follow, and a standard of fellowship to live up to.

As I wrote on our fifth anniversary:

Guided by Garanus,
We make sacrifice to the Kindreds,
We pray with a good fire.
Blessings on the People of Three Cranes.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler


Greetings, and welcome to the “Leaves of the Willow” blog, a new blog feature on the Three Cranes Grove, ADF, website!

This blog earns its name from the central mythology that surrounds the Grove’s name, the myth of Esus. This Gaulish god is shown on two inscriptions pruning a willow tree, and maintaining it (and, potentially, the world) with the sacrifice of a bull. This myth teaches us a lesson about maintaining our relationships, and balancing the mundane work of life with the sacred duty of piety.

In this blog, we hope to talk about what the Grove is doing, where it is going, and how we can help maintain it throughout its life. As of this writing, Three Cranes (or 3CG for short) is five years old and the fourth largest Grove in ADF. We expect to be around for some time to come, and with the beginning of this new year starting with our Samhain ritual, we hope to start many new projects and further serve the Central Ohio community, along with the greater Pagan community (and, of course, ADF as a whole).

So, sit back and enjoy the ride! I know we will!

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler