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 to your rites?
Our rituals are free and open to anyone who wishes to come and is not disruptive to the ritual. This means:
- Our events are family-friendly and suitable for children.
- All our ritual sites are accessible to persons with disabilities, and we will make accommodations to ensure you are able to fully experience our rites.
- Our ritual work is inclusive and diverse as we can make it. We’re always interested in discussions around improving this work.
- Our spaces are built on consent culture. Please ask if others are okay with hugs and touching, and feel empowered to decline anything you are uncomfortable with.
What does all this mean? Well…
Family-Friendly & Kid-Welcoming:
Our rituals are public-facing, which means we plan them so that everyone can attend. We schedule our primary rituals in the mid-afternoon so that families, even with small children, can attend. We sometimes have adult-directed kid activities, though we don’t always, and children are welcome to join us for the entire ritual.
Sometimes, having small children means that our rituals are a bit raucous. Controlling kids during a meditation or contemplative moment doesn’t always go as planned. Kids can be loud and even obnoxious. We know all this. Many of us are parents ourselves (and there have been times that children under 4 have outnumbered adults in our membership). Trust us: your kid isn’t any worse than ours are or were.
While we ask parents to, of course, keep an eye on their kids and help them keep disruptions to a minimum, we totally get kids. We’re not concerned if they can’t sit still, though we do hope you’ll help keep them from poking someone in a meditation, or asking them questions. No matter how old the kid is, you’re welcome to take them out of the ritual space if necessary at any time, whether that’s to go to the bathroom, calm a child, or have a snack. We welcome their questions, even if they shout them out in the middle of ritual.
We consider kids a blessing and a joy, rather than a problem to be solved.
Our religion occasionally deals with notions of fertility and fecundity, with the magic of creation and the images of birth and death. We aim to make sure this content is appropriate for all ages, however.
We are truly committed to public and inclusive ritual. When it comes to public ritual sites, we choose spaces that are accessible to all. Typically, these are Metroparks sites around town for the eight major high days. There are ramps and signage with braille at all sites, and accessible bathrooms.
If you have a concern about the way we’re setting up (for instance, if you see there isn’t enough clearance around the altar to move a wheelchair or walker), please let us know. We’ll be happy to address the issue.
Site-Specific Mobility Concerns:
While our rituals and business meetings (at the Metroparks and Columbus Main Library) are fully accessible, we do hold some events at sites that are not as accessible as we would like:
- The Magical Druid’s first floor is mostly accessible, but the building is old and not perfect. We will work with you to ensure that you are able to participate (for example, keeping our meeting on the first floor if you are unable to use the stairs to the basement). It is important to note that the bathroom at the shop is down a steep flight of stairs (it was not designed for public use).
- The Unitarian Universalist Congregation East has a fully accessible indoor space, but the outdoor ritual space is down a long hill that can occasionally be a bit muddy. If we have attendees unable to travel down the hill, we will hold our ritual at the top of the hill or in the accessible indoor space. Bathrooms in this building are accessible.
Our long-term goal is to have all sites accessible. Until then, we’re committed to making your experience with us work for you.
Blind or Limited Sight Concerns:
The only reading typically needed at our rituals is done from song sheets, and we teach the songs prior to the rite. Singing is not required, and you will often be able to pick up the words on your own as we go.
Additionally, at Imbolc (on or around Feb. 1 of each year) we hand out slips of paper with lines from a poem on them, and light candles at the altar. If you are unable to read but would like to speak the line from a poem in ritual, one of our members can work with you on the line for memorization, and help you light the candle on the altar.
We do occasionally turn down or off the lights in a room for effect. If you are unable to see when we do this, or require more light, we are happy to leave the lights at a normal level in the space. Just ask.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Concerns:
While we don’t offer ASL interpretation for every rite, there are some members of our Grove who are fluent in ASL. While they do not always come to every ritual, we are happy to ask if one is available for a ritual you would like to attend. You may, of course, also bring a friend or interpreter to help you deepen your experience as well. Our Priests are willing to wear assistive hearing devices such as remote hearing aids, or we can place them on the altar to catch as many voices as possible. In addition, we place an emphasis in ritual on praying with gesture and movement as well as words to ensure that even if you cannot hear, you will know what is going on.
We also are hard at work adding captions to all videos and creating transcripts for all podcasts.
Diversity and Inclusion:
No matter your ancestry, gender identity, orientation, or ethnicity, we hope you’ll join us for ritual. We consider diversity and inclusion a strength.
We welcome all respectful seekers of wisdom and connection to our rites.
N.B.: We often refer to ourselves as “family-friendly;” by this, we mean that we are welcoming of kids, parents, and anyone who wishes to come. We’ve found that sometimes this phrasing is used to imply that some are not welcome in certain religious traditions, but we want to assure you that no matter how you identify, orient, or build your family, we hope to see you at our rites.
We seek to cultivate a culture of consent:
It’s important to us that you feel informed of what we’re doing, and of what it’s going to look like when we do it. We want to make sure you aren’t surprised by a touch or a hug, or that you don’t feel pushed to do something you don’t feel prepared or comfortable doing. Our leaders are trained in consent and we have discussions about it fairly regularly within our Grove.
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 do when I arrive, and when we start?
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.
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. We like to say, “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, of course you may. We suggest a donation of $5-$10. Sometimes, these donations do not go toward the space, but toward specific causes. We have raised money for women’s shelters, Friends of Serpent Mound, food banks, and other causes from time to time. If we target a donation to another cause, we will make it clear 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 or The Magical Druid, both of which are on the bus lines), you can always ask around and see if anyone can 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. Our rites include meditations and call out in prayer to the Earth Mother. We make offerings to the Kindreds.
Most people who have attended the religious rituals of other traditions will find parallels in those experiences. By simple comparison, most 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 My First Time?
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. This is true even if it’s your first time or if you are a student observing 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 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 people passing by will join us during the rite, anyway. We do not cast circles or close ourselves off from the world; there is no need to find someone to “cut a gate” for you to enter or leave.
We look forward to meeting you and sharing the Cup of Blessing with you at our rituals!