Summer Solstice Ritual 2017

June 24, 2017

This was my second Summer Solstice Ritual with Northern Rivers ADF. It was held at the yoga center in Adams, NY in a little clearing not far from the house. There were seats for all and and a fire going in the fire pit.

We had pre-ritual where our senior druid explained what was going to happen and asked for volunteers for small ritual parts. We had a very short break and met outside where we gathered for the procession.

It is a thrilling feeling walking with your grove singing the processional song to the ritual area. You can feel the kindreds there with you, especially the ancestors. Its a nice feeling carrying on the tradition of celebrating the Wheel of the Year.

I had the honor of helping the senior druid with the purification by being in charge of the water. I really liked the feeling and felt like this was very natural and somehow I have done this before. I remember looking into a member eyes as I came to her and it was like looking into my own happy eyes. Our eyes locked and I saw such joy emitting from them; the same as I was feeling.

I also had the honor of welcoming the Earth Mother. I welcomed her in a virtual meeting and this was the second time in person. I think that it went much better and felt more natural. I actually wrote the invitation in my own words and it was inspired by an oracle card that I drew a few weeks back. It took a few rewrites and by then it was my own heartfelt invitation.

I paid close attention to how the cosmos was recreated and it made more sense and I guess I’m right on track with that in my own weekly rituals. Things are making more sense as far as understanding the ADF Core Ritual.

In the magical working a member gave her dedicational oath. It was so heartfelt and it was good to see a young person take an oath with such meaning and emotion.

Our Deity of the occasion was Manannan Mac Lir. He is usually our gatekeeper and it was interesting to hear about the sea god and he became more real to me. We decorated a wreath which symbolized the wheel that was lit on fire in times past and rolled on down to the water. The grove decorated the “wheel” with yellow flowers. Some of us crafted flowers out of yarn and paper to use as decorations. We burned the “wheel” in the “sacred fire” and it was a good offering to our sea god.

After the ritual, we had our dinner with simple picnic foods. The only thing that would have made the ritual better, is if two of my friends would have been able to come.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

 

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Beltaine Ritual 2017

The procession down the path to the stone circle was an ancient sense of déjà vu. It felt so right and I had a sense of reclaiming my heritage at long last. I felt the ancestors and God’s and Goddesses there witnessing and joining us in celebration of Summer. The nature spirits were twinkling and sparking in the fields letting us know that they were there too. The fields were full of magic.

Once there, our Senior Druid briefed us on what was going to happen. We sang our opening song and proceeded to join in a circle amidst the stones. An offering was made to the Outsiders in exchange for leaving us alone.

The ritual began and it was satisfying to be outdoors in nature with the nature spirits and the earth mother beneath our feet. I kept my shoes off for much of the ritual to connect with mother more fully.

The Two Powers meditation was fulfilling. Using the powers of the underworld and the upperworld and joining them to create a more magical, grounding, and powerful experience was effective.

I had the privilege of welcoming the Earth Mother to our ritual and I offered her cornmeal. I had the opportunity to welcome her in a virtual ritual but this was so much more. Being with my grove members in the physical plane and amidst the stones was a magical experience.

Also, I took part in adding the silver to the water during the portal song. That was unexpected as it was just decided upon right before ritual. I was not sure how and at what moment to do so and was premature in the implementation but it all worked out.

In addition, I welcomed the ancestors. I have done that a few time now and I love welcoming them and feel deeply connected to them. I offered them something different at the suggestion of a grove member and it seemed right. I offered the ancestors coffee. I heard they can get thirsty.

So to me, this was a very special occasion and was filled with emotion. Not only was this my first Beltaine celebration, but it was my first time at the stone circle. Plus, I had three roles in the ritual: welcoming the Earth Mother and ancestors, and adding the silver to the water. To me it was magical and the best ritual I have witnessed in the whole year of participating in ADF.

After, the offering to the Kindreds, the main deity was honored: An Dagda. Our senior Druid told the story of him and who he was. She is a good storyteller and makes me want to delve into the stories of the deities.

I mentioned earlier that I had three parts in the ritual. I actually had one more. During the magical working, I publicly dedicated myself to Danu. She is a mother goddess. This part probably did not mean much to the others. But, to me it meant the world. For some reason, that I cannot fully explain, it was important for me to do this publicly and in ritual. Originally, I had planned on making an offering to her and silently saying my dedication in my mind. I was not sure how or when that was going to happen. As it turned out, there was unexpected changes the morning of the ritual and the opportunity arose during the magical working. So the way opened up and I was scared to death, but forged ahead.

As always, the return flow was powerful and the toast and boast helped build connection with the other members..

After the ritual, was our “feast” I brought a jello fruit salad. I made and brought that in honor of my physical mother who always made that during my childhood.

I am grateful for my grove and the opportunity to participate and help them celebrate. I know I still have lots to learn and lots more practice needs to be done for the roles during ritual. But, I am up to the task.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

 

Beltaine Festival

The temperature is getting warmer. The grass is greener. Birds are everywhere chirping their songs and greeting us in the morning. It’s time for the flowers and vegetation to shoot up from mother earth again. The excitement of summer and the possibilities are in the air.

It’s Beltaine Time

Beltaine is a Gaelic seasonal Spring festival mainly celebrated in Ireland and Scotland around May 1st. It’s a cross quarter day meaning that it falls between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It can be spelled in a variety of different ways from Bealtine, Beltain, Beltane and is derived from a Celtic word, belo-te(p)niâ, meaning “bright fire.”

Spring  marked the beginning of summer or the light half of the year. In ancient times a pastoral life ruled the day. Therefore, this was the time to put the livestock out in the summer fields. Many traditions of new beginnings, cleansing, and fertility rites were observed. As usual stories were told from generation to generation to help remember traditions, rituals, and to remember the Gods & Goddesses of the land.

Bright Fires

As the name implies, fires were a main aspect of this festival. After being cooped up for the winter both livestock and dwellings were symbolically cleansed by the sacred fires. The Druids who led the people in their rituals and festivals would make two bonfires side by side on a hill.

It was thought that fires had protective magical powers and they would lead their livestock between the fires to be “cleansed.” Afterwards, the townspeople would pass between the fires or jump over a fire to insure good luck. Each household would light a torch which they then used to relight their hearth fires and candles.

I can’t help but think about how the Indigenous tribes used sage and tobacco for it’s cleansing properties. This cleansing with smoke is still carried out today with sage bundles, sweet grass, incense, etc.

The fires may have also symbolized the sun which was needed in plenty to help ensure the growth of the planting season.

Ashes

After the fires died down, they used the ashes to rub on themselves, the livestock and the ground for good luck for the growing season.

Fertility Rites

One popular fertility rite is the May Pole Dance. A large pole was erected in the ground symbolizing the Green Man (nature) fertilizing Mother Earth (land). As we usually do, we like to have fun at festivals and the May Dance was born. Ribbons were tied to the pole and the unmarried men and woman would alternatively dance around the pole thereby wrapping the ribbon around the pole in a woven design.

I’m sure this served to help get the men and women together and interacting for their own personal fertility rites

Feasting

Part of the festival included feasting. Feasting is something that has carried over in the celebrations of today.

Today’s Celebrations

This festival marked the beginning of the summer with fertility rites that ensured the success of the growing season. The livestock was put out in the summer fields after they were cleansed. The hearth got cleared out and fires were relit for the season. It was a time of great joy and celebration and the promise of new successful beginnings.

In modern times, we still celebrate this festival with rituals, feasting, dancing, and much joy. Although, our life has shifted from pastoral life to town life, it’s important that we keep our focus on nature and attune our lives with it to help us stay grounded and connected to the earth, ancestors, and the nature spirits. After all, we are all connected. This assures a more fulfilling satisfying life.

What are your Springtime Rituals? Please share.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maypole

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/30/beltane-2015_n_7182440.html

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell