First, welcome to Three Cranes Grove, ADF! We are pleased that you are planning to join us at one of our rituals! First-time folks often have a lot of questions, but most of them boil down to some pretty common themes:
Who Can Come? What should I do when I get there?
Our rituals are free and open to anyone who wishes to come and is not disruptive to the ritual. Our events are family-friendly and suitable to children, by and large (Beltaine can occasionally get slightly racy, but even that festival is typically tame).
When you arrive, try the following things:
- Say “Hi” to a few people.
- Put your potluck item out with the rest of the food.
- Drop off your canned good.
- Locate our information table, which has fliers, raffle items, the donation plate (we don’t pass the plate in ritual).
- Sign our sign-in book. We keep a sign-in book mostly to determine how many people attended, but also to collect e-mail addresses from folks who want to be on our announcement list. You aren’t required to put a legal name in it or anything like that, but it does help us keep track of those numbers.
Hopefully, someone will come up to you and say “hello” when you walk in the door; however, there are typically many more visitors than Grove Members at our rituals, so we might not always be able to greet everyone. If you don’t get greeted and aren’t sure who to talk to, there is almost always someone bustling about around the altar before rituals. Even if they look busy, you can approach and ask them questions: if they don’t have the time to answer you, they will find someone who does.
We will have a short pre-ritual briefing, where we will explain what we’re about to do, practice some of our songs, and cover the basic purpose of our work that day. If there’s anything special we do, we will let you know during this briefing as well. Generally, we try not to surprise the folk during ritual.
We typically start on time, or very close to it. If we say, “Ritual is at Noon,” then you can expect us to be working our way through the pre-ritual briefing by that point, if not starting the procession into the space.
A note on touch & hugging – As a Grove, we work to be welcoming to everyone. Many of our members are huggers, and enjoy general, non-intimate touching, but not everyone does. If you would prefer not to be touched or hugged, you are always welcome to decline the offer. If you are a hugger, we ask that you check in with the person before you hug them. Simply asking, “Are you a hugger?” is all you need to do. In ritual, we sometimes ask the folk to hold hands, and the sharing of waters may include simple touch. You do not have to feel obligated to touch in any part of the ritual.
What Should I Bring?
You do not need to bring anything special (or even anything at all!), but we do have a few suggestions of things you might want to consider bringing:
- A canned good for donation. We give canned goods to local sources for donation: most often, this has been the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, though we have also given to the Clintonville Community Resource Center, among others. Even when we do not specify in the announcement that we are accepting canned goods, we will always ensure that goods brought to us are donated.
- A dish for potluck after High Days, and something to eat on/with. We like to eat, and there’s much fellowship in good food. Please feel free to prepare an item and bring it; you might think about writing down the ingredients on an index card for those who might be alergic or vegetarian, and bringing it in a dish and with servingware that you aren’t particularly attached to (sometimes, people forget their dishes at the rite, and while we try to match them with their owners, sometimes it doesn’t work out). We do provide plates and silverware for those who need it, but all the dishes that go home with attendees don’t need to be washed by Grove members.
- A small donation, if able. We do not require donations: if you cannot afford a donation, please don’t feel bad or like you should not come. We provide two good options at every High Day for supporting the Grove (feel free to donate through both!):
- A straight donation. As we have liked to say for many years, “Religion is free, but the space is not.” We typically rent space for our High Day rituals, and we rarely cover the cost of space rental and ritual tools. If you would like to bring a donation, we would suggest a donation of $5-$10. Sometimes, these donations are targeted not at the space, but at specific causes. We have raised money for women’s shelters, Friends of Serpent Mound, food banks, and other causes from time to time. If the donation is targeted to someone else, we will make it clear what we’re donating to before and after the rite.
- Or some money for raffle tickets. We typically raffle off a couple of things during our High Day rites: traditionally, these have been anything from bath salts to ritual items. We have given away portable altars, rune sets, books, and tarot readings in the past. Raffle tickets are typically $1 each, with discounts for larger numbers.
- A Praise Offering. Praise Offerings are small offerings, usually physical things that are non-toxic and/or biodegradable, that are given by the individual to the Kindreds. We will call for them at a particular portion of the rite, and you can read more about them in our article on Praise Offerings.
- Other items specified in the announcement. Typically, if we are going to ask people to bring something “out of the ordinary” to one of our rituals, we will mention it directly in the announcement. Examples of other things you might want to bring include toy donations around Yule or animal shelter donations around Beltaine. Simply read the announcement on our main page to see if there is anything special you need to bring.
What Should I Wear?
You can wear whatever you wish: you will find people wearing a variety of types of clothing, from t-shirts and blue jeans to flowing white robes. Some people wear dresses or slacks, others wear work clothing, and others wear expensive robes. There are no rules against wearing certain colors, fabrics, or symbols; additionally, there are no requirements to wear certain things, either. We recommend that you wear what you are comfortable wearing.
Because our rites are public and family-friendly, we do expect folks to wear something, though. Our rituals are not clothing-optional.
How Do I Get There?
While we have spoken for many years about obtaining an old church bus and picking folks up, at this time we don’t typically have a way to pick up people and bring them to rituals. That said, if you come to a couple of meetings (down at the Columbus main library, which is on the bus lines), you can always ask around and see if anyone will be able to bring you to a future ritual, if you don’t drive.
Directions to all our High Days are posted to our website, just beneath the description, on our main page as soon as it is updated with the next rite. This usually happens about a month before the High Day.
Do You Do Anything Weird?
Every religion does “weird” things, but generally, we do what every religion seeks to do: order the cosmos and provide a sense of orientation within it to those who participate in our rites. We are polytheistic, so we call on multiple beings during our rituals. We honor a sacred center with a fire that burns brightly. We do meditations and call out in prayer to the Earth Mother. We make offerings to the Kindreds.
Most people who have been to the religious rituals of other traditions will find parallels and will not find much of what we do to be terribly “weird” in general. To us, what we do in ritual is perfectly normal.
Can I Just Watch?
You can, but we would suggest that to truly get a feeling for what it is we do, you will want to participate in our ritual, even if it’s your first time or if you are a student who is there to observe for a class. Ritual, when observed rather than experienced, is rarely a fulfilling experience.
I’m A Minor: Can I Bring My Mom?
If you are a minor, please bring a parent or guardian to your first ritual with us, at least, or (if coming as a group), bring someone your parents agree can be responsible for you. We like to make sure that we aren’t overstepping your parents’ authority, and that they are aware of your interests.
If your parents don’t want to come and you are a minor, but they are okay with you attending one of our rites, ask them to contact us in advance of the rite you will be attending.
What If I Arrive Late?
This is fine: simply come into the ritual space (or the building, if we are inside) once you arrive. We only ask that you be quiet and respectful. Because our rites are open to the public, sometimes (particularly when we are outside) people will join us during the rite, anyway, and because we do not cast circles or close ourselves off from the world, there is no need to find someone to “cut a gate” or let you into the space.
We look forward to meeting you and sharing the Cup of Blessing with you at our rituals!