Sunday, February 6, 2011
In the belly, growing!
Hearth keeping, earth stirring,
Light rising, bread baking,
we keep the feast of Imbolc!..... My voice rang out of the group of seventeen or so people that came to witness my first public ADF style ritual. The group neo-pagans all were an eclectic bunch, mostly of the wiccan variety. Still they had all be curious. They even participated with the Earthmother offering, outdwellers, and blessing of the well and flame. The kitchen witch was kind enough to bake Bannok bread for sacrifice. I channeled the opening of the gates, and the invocation of dead, spirit and gods as well as the Imbolc invocation from Ian's book. Offerings were given, some tearfully, and blessings were invoked not into a chalice or hirlas, but into a basket full of Bridget's crosses we had spent 3 hours making before the ritual proper. The crosses were then handed out to the participants to take home and hang as they would. The ritual was closed in the usual way.
What went wrong-- I made one amateurish mistake, the raw milk that I was going to use in the ritual was left in the refrigerator and of course was not where I needed it when I needed it. I also forgot the part of the opening ritual where the Nemoton is claimed and hollowed. Despite working hard to memorize the Imbolc invocation, I missed a line toward the end and that through me off for the rest. I also was dealing with a low grade but damn persistent headache.
What went right-- Everyone who committed to doing something for the ritual came through in flying colors. It made it beautiful. There was a good number of people, and several I hadn't expected. The Nemeton looked beautiful. Just a lot of things that could have gone wrong didn't. People showed up to work together weaving Bridgit crosses. We had a good time sitting around talking and joking while we did this. When I opened the gate, I really felt it this time. I felt the energy flow, shift, and change. I would have to say the height of the ritual, and I have felt this before, was the giving of offerings to Bridgit. At least one person from each family unit gave offerings. Two people shed tears as the did so. One asking for the healing she needs, the other giving thanks for keeping her family unit together during a time of uncertainty and crisis. Some read poetry, some offered in silence. Some just spoke their hearts. One mother came to the fire with her seven year old son and together they gave offering. After each person finished we said as a group "So be it!"
As for me, well, I gave an offering of braided sweet grass, and I spoke what came to me in that moment. I had been so busy this week with school and preparing for the ritual, that I had not given any for thought to what I would say. I thanked her for bringing good Dr.'s into my wife's life and thus her healing. I asked her to look after my two children for me who are so far away that I can't do it myself. I asked her to guide me in my studies of the healing arts.
The omen-- As I am not yet totally proficient with Ogham my chosen divination system, I asked one of the woman of the group to do the divination portion. She chose to use a simplified Tarot card system. The card pulled was labeled "partnership". I thought this a fitting blessing, and seemed to fit the overall theme of the day and ritual. There seemed to be a lot of focus on "Family" in this ritual.
After the ritual we all went inside and enjoyed a wonderful potluck dinner. The room was filled with laughter, hugs, and jests. Topics ranged from Baklava to the new movie "The Black Swan". A number of attendees didn't stay long after the ritual. I can't help but wish they had. In many ways, its the after ritual feasting when friendships are forged, when community is created. "BEHOLD THE POWER OF CHEESE!" What I mean by that, is the magic of community is created over food. I hate to see people miss out on that.
What to do differently next time-- Well first off I wouldn't forget the milk, and I'll get to know the COoR better. It would have been in my best interest to read over the Imbolc invocation one last time before I recited it from Memory. I asked my wife, what she thought I could have done better. Her only feed back as that in the beginning when I was explaining the meaning of the fire, well, and tree that I kept saying "uhm". I hate it when other people do it, I really hate it when I do it. So need to work on my speaking skills.
All in all I feel the ritual came out really well. I got lots of thanks and compliments on it, what's more I feel that it fulfilled peoples spiritual needs. At the end of the day, that's what counts.