My how the Protogrove has grown in the last year! I re-read what I wrote about last year’s Winter Solstice rite. At that time the Protogrove was made up of three members. Since then we have gained some and lost some. We are now up to eight active members besides myself. We now have bylaws in place, and will soon be applying for Grove status with ADF. We also now have weekly Dedicant’s path meetings, as well as once a month business and planning meetings. Having more members has been a blessing for sure, but it also makes things more complicated in ways as well. There are more personalities to deal with for one. Not that this is a difficult thing per say, but it can complicate issues at times. When planning for high day rites and festivals, there are more people to help, but also more people for me to constantly check in with to make sure things are getting done, and at the same time finding the balance so that one is not micro-managing. I am also learning to trust others to get things done. The last few years I have had to rely mostly on just me to make sure things get done. Now I am having to rely on others and I am finding that at times it’s difficult. I have had just so many experiences in my life when relying on others was a mistake. So far however the group is going strong and all is rolling along nicely.
This year we are doing our winter solstice ritual in combination with KCPC the local eclectic pagan meetup. We will be doing the ritual in ADF’s Core Order of Ritual. As part of that however we will be doing the Oak king/Holly King battle, as well as our candle lighting ceremony which is becoming a Yule tradition. In this ceremony, I light a candle from the sacred fire, then I light the candle to the person on my left saying “may my inner light spark your inner light”. Then in turn do the same to the person on their left. The lighting goes all around the circle then the last person will light a large three wick candle on the alter representing the whole of the community. Then we give people the opportunity to honor those in the community who have helped in some way.
Another new adventure ahead of us this year is the building of a public temple for worship ceremonies of all the different pagan paths in the community. I was approached by a friend who is converting an old machine shop into a dance studio/meeting hall. It comes with a fenced dirt yard that she isn’t interested in using and asked me if we would like to use it for rituals. I looked at it and it will be perfect! I am in the process of bringing the idea to the community and gaining their financial support.
On a more personal note, my personal practice continues on strong as ever. I do morning offerings each day with two powers meditation and some trance work on other days. I recently have noticed an opening and expanding of my “heart”. I am feeling far more compassionate and empathic of late. I am not sure what has brought this about. It could be that Brigid is coming more into my life and spirit. It could be a natural evolution of my inner work. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the book I am currently reading about the art of blessing. Whatever has caused it, I like it. I still feel strong, just more loving, more patient. I am also still chipping away on ADF’s clergy training program. I am getting to the end of it now, and I have learned so much. I have also begun serious thoughts on what my “ministry” will look like, but I feel that is worth a blog post in itself. For now I will leave you with this prayer of thanks I wrote as part of my clergy training in my Liturgical Writing class.
Sage of every art,
Master of the high seat,
I thank you for blessing me and mine with skill.
The eye striker,
Champion of champions,
I thank you for protecting me and mine from the powers of chaos and oppression.
I thank you for the harvest that brings bread upon this table.
As a gift calls for a gift:
My skill is your skill,
My protection is your protection,
My harvest is your harvest,
Hail Lugh of the long arm!
Summary: I drew much of the inspiration for this prayer from Cath Maige Tuired. When the god Lugh first makes his appearance at the gates of Tara he is asked his name and replies that it is Samildanach which means “equally skilled in all arts”; which he proves to be a master of. Once he enters Tara he takes the seat of the sage, and later that of the king. Here I talk about the high seat of the sage and name him master as a reflex of his mastery of all skills.
Lugh Lamhfhada is another well known name meaning “Lugh of the long arm” and relates to his skill with the spear. I came up with the kenning of “eye striker” because of the story in the Cath Maige Tuired where Lugh takes out the “evil eye” of his grandfather Balor. The Tuatha De Danan were champions, but Lugh was champion above even them evidenced by his many feats in the Cath Maige Tuired, thus the title I gave him as “champion of champions”. The title of light bringer I came up with from the possibility that the etomology of Lugh’s name comes from the Proto Indo-European *leuk -flashing light (Wikipedia). Though in Victorian times people thought him a solar deity I believe this *leuk refers not to the sun but to the strike of lightning. Add to this the epitaph of “fierce striker” and that lightning storms are said to be from Lugh and Balor fighting in folk tales; I agree with Alexi Kondratiev (1997) that the light of Lugh is the sudden blinding light of the lightning flash. “Oath Keeper” is a reference to another possible etiology of his name which means “oath” and was a god who was often invoked when contracts and business dealings were being done (Wikipedia). The title “law speaker” I give him because of his role in the story “The sons of Tuireann” where he up holds the laws and names an eric for his father’s murderers. The reference to the harvest has to do with the end of the Cath Maige Tuired where Bres gives up the secrets of planting, growing and harvesting. The ending of the prayer draws upon the idea of reciprocity. It is designed to show how the speaker and Lugh are deeply connected through this process.