Monday, May 2, 2011

ADF Beltane 2011

I was part of two beltaine rituals this year though for now I am only going to discuss the ADF style ritual I lead. The first one was one that I wrote and with the aid of several other new ADF druids (collect one more and I get a toaster) and some fellow neo-pagans, performed a public ritual in the back yard of the local occult shop. The outline for the ritual was as such:

I. Set up
a. Tree
b. Well
c. Fire
d. Table and flags
II. Opening
a. Processional Into grove
i. Sing “we approach the sacred grove”
b. Welcome speech and why we have come by Derek
c. Hallowing the fire/well/tree
i. Julie hallows the fire-smudges Circle
ii. Tiffany Hallows the well, aspirges circle
iii. Brandon hallows the world tree and smudges and asperges it.
iv. Derek claims the space as whole and holy
d. Opening the Gate
i. Derek opens the gate while people chant “let the gates be open”
ii. Jake the red invokes the kindred, Derek gives offerings
iii. Sing “gods, dead, and mighty sidhe”
III. Ritual Body
a. Bannock bread and Beer offering
i. Explanation
ii. Mark the bread and cut and turning
iii. Hand out pieces of bread
iv. Marked one is chosen; Tiff, Julie, Brandon tie on ribbons, Derek explains what is to be done.
v. Derek says “May the Blessing of the ancients, spirits, and gods go with you.” Everyone then touches the marked one and says “may the blessing of the kindred and our blessings go with you.”
vi. The marked one goes to the gate and says “To those beyond the boarder whether gods or goddesses
Whether spirits or dead
To those who were before us
And dwell in the darkness of our world’s shadow:
I come to you with offering
To buy from you a world.”
vii. Marked one leaves circle and gives offering, then returns. Derek smudges and aspergis the marked one and welcomes him back to the circle
b. Rite of Blessing
i. People bring offerings to the marked one.
ii. Marked one places offerings on fire
iii. Derek calls for the blessing of the gods
iv. Tribe sings “offering song”
v. Jake divines the nature of the blessings
vi. Derek Invokes the blessings into the Hirlas horn
vii. Derek takes the horn around the circle while Jake leads the tribe in “power of the spirits”
c. Guided meditation for Beltaine
i. With the blessings of the gods flowing through them, Derek leads the tribe through a variation of the two powers meditation.
IV. Closing the ritual
a. Thanking the kindreds-final offering
b. Closing the gate
c. Thanking the tribe
d. Sing “walk with wisdom” for recessional
e. End.

After the ritual we had conversation and h`ordurves. I received lots of compliments on the ritual and it’s working. Everything ran smoothly. I didn’t forget the drink for taking in the blessings in the fridge like I did at Imbolc. I didn’t forget any of my words or any such. Incorporating that which I learned at Pantheacon I brought the element of music and singing into ritual. I worked hard to memorize the songs and tunes and did a good job of it. I tried to get a few others to do so as well so that when we sang there would be a number of us whom the other participants could follow. This didn’t work out as well as I would have liked as the other members really didn’t make the time to truly learn the music. None of us, except my wife who didn’t learn the music, is really any good at singing anyway. Still we muddled through and no one gave me any negative feedback about the singing. There were three children who joined us for the first time in a pagan ritual. I enjoyed the energy they brought to the event. We also had two other new people who came simply to watch the event, I was told for a religious studies class. They did participate in all ways except for the drinking in the blessings. There were two teenagers and their father as well. For the teenagers it was their first pagan ritual. The young man did not use enough care when drinking from the hirlas and ended up wearing a bit of the blessed drink! He took it in good humor though.

During the part of the ritual where we gave offering to the outsiders, we choose to use the spiral labyrinth at the center of which to leave the offerings. I had every one turn their backs to the person walking the labyrinth. This took some time and at one point some on asked “what’s taking so long? Did they take her?” This made me smile, if only I had told them that it’s possible that the marked one would have been killed as part of the offering. Instead we tied red ribbons around the marked one’s neck and wrists. It added a powerful visual “punch” to the whole thing. An older pagan-witch who is going through some tough times due to poor decisions she made a while back shed some tears upon my shoulder as we sang the recessional song “walk with wisdom”. I believe the ritual touched her in ways none of us could really understand.

What would I do differently?
Next year I don’t think I’ll do the offering to the outsiders in the formal way we did this year. Not that it didn’t work. It came off great, just that to me it puts a dark cloud over a festive sabbot that I feel is about love and life and joy. I also miss the stories I used to tell in ritual about gods, spirits, and mighty dead. I would like to re-introduce that element into it.
All in all it was an excellent and smooth running ritual.

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