Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Solstice 2011

Summer Solstice altar
Summer Solstice day dawned cloudy and potentially wet, so we initiated our rain plan and moved the rite to Jack and Chris' house. Ironically it didn't rain the whole day but I have to admit a certain amount of pleasure at having the rite in air conditioning as the day was muggy and hot.
The first thing we did was prepare the herbs for the herb bags, we have made herb bags before for our rite to Belenos, but this time we could add some grown by Jack in his and Chris' new garden! As people started showing up, we prepared the altar and made sure everyone had a drink and some nibbles.

Herb bags waiting to be
blessed and filled
We began the rite processing from the kitchen to the diningroom/ritual room, singing We Call the Tribe, with Jack leading us because we still mess up the words (headdesk) I think we are improving though, it's not that we forget the words just in what order they go in! As always we invoked the Earth Mother, and Jack did a visualization for the meditation. We called Cernunnos as our Gatekeeper (using an invocation by Michael Dangler) and Brigantia for our Bardic inspiration, in keeping with the Gaulish theme.

Wild Onion Grove
We invoked the three Kindreds but did not give offerings I now realize, well they must be quite forgiving as nothing untoward happened (no woad drinking or anything!) I must start keeping better track of the offerings! We then of course invoked Belenos and made praise offerings, Jack read his Belenos story (which I will post a link to as soon as I get it!) and Jennifer read a lovely poem she wrote (again will try to link) For the Sacrifice we offered fresh herbs from Jack and Chris' garden and some Polish honey wine Chris and I found at the store. We thought that the honey wine would be a good choice as its amber color and sweet taste seems to embody this time of year and is very appropriate for a Sun God!

Jack tells a story of Belenos
I then drew the Omen and the sacrifice had been accepted, the Grove Omen was also very positive (despite forgetting the Kindred offerings!) So Chris prepared and asked for blessings on the return blessings of mead and of course the herb bags and we all had some mead (and pomegranate juice) and filled our little bags with the herb mix. (The herbs were echinacea, fenugreek, juniper berry, blackberry leaf, eucalyptus, meadowsweet, spearmint, rosemary, and hellebore) We then concluded as the sun came out of the clouds and so we all went outside to enjoy the beautiful garden and quickly improving weather and have more nibbles and honey wine!

Enjoying the garden and
each other's company
So next up is Lughnassadh. It looks like we will be going back to Lugh this year and we will be doing the whole country fair theme again with a bake-off (Lugh picks the winner and it becomes the sacrifice), games, prizes etc and it will probably be a whole day affair. We are currently discussing the details on our new message board, as well as some of our future plans, talks, field trips etc. Anyone is welcome to participate even if you aren't in the Chicagoland area, the more the merrier I say! Besides I am hoping we can have some cracking good discussions about a lot of things. We also have an RSVP page on the site now where you can RSVP to any of the remaining High Days of the year as well as any other events that will posted as they arise. Anyway hope everyone had a lovely Solstice and is enjoying the bounties of summer!

Monday, June 20, 2011

We have a new message board!

Facebook got rid of message boards for groups so I made one for the Grove.  I am hoping it will foster creativity and communication for all of us and help us plan some of the activities we keep talking about and help us grow as a Grove :) It is open to anyone interested, Grove member or not, ADF member or not. Some of the boards are open to guest posting some require registration though (anyone can register) I've posted a few threads with questions about the Kindreds I have been wondering about for a while to get the ball rolling, as well as an into post about me (Jack and Chris have also posted) and a discussion about Lughnassadh. Anyway check it out if you are interested! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beltaine 2011

Planting petunias for the take way
We had a really lovely Beltaine this year. Spring hadn't sprung quite as much as in most years, but the weather was perfect, we had really good attendance and everything just clicked really well. The Deity of the occasion was Medb, as it has been for the past several years. Before the rite we decorated pots and planted petunias in them for our take away blessing. The altar was a little more sparse this year, and I realized we don't have Medb's crown anymore! We will have to make a new one for next year, but at least we had room for everything this time!

Beltaine Altar
The Gatekeeper was Mannanan Mac Lir as usual but the for Bardic Chris did something a little different, he did invoke Shakespeare but also Brighid and Puck; Bardic inspiration from the Gods, Ancestors and the Nature Spirits. We did a bit of the literary Beltaine again with my poetically enhanced version of the Cosmic Order. We used Jacks new Triads for the Kindred Offerings but did not use Shakespeare's Queen Mab speech as an invocation this year, but I did write one as promised. One of the things I focused on and one of the the things I like about Medb is She has aspects of each of the three Kindreds, She has been known as a Sovereignty Goddess, the mortal (if mythical) Queen of Connacht, and the later the Queen of the Faeries. Which made Chris' Bardic invovation a nice tie-in. :)

Flowers for the Sacrifice
For the Sacrifice Jack and Chris brought fresh flowers from their garden and of course we did not forget the booze and a bottle of Peche Lambic was sacrificed as well (We learned our lesson!) Janet Berres attended again and as she is Queen of Tarot, she pulled the Omen. The offering was accepted and Chris prepared the delicious orange cupcakes Jack baked and some of the Lambic and pomegranate juice for the return Blessing. We nom nomed the cupcakes and Lambic and since Chris brought a bunch of bottles of bubbles, we (okay me) became 5 years old again and blew lots of bubbles much to the amusement of our Otherwordly guests I am sure! We then ended the rite and unfortunately had to leave almost right away because I had to get to work. We missed going to see the frogs and toads at the vernal pools this year which kind of made me sad. I am hoping there may be some left when we go back to Thatcher Woods for Summer Solstice! (Which as I look at the clock is in about 9 hours from now!)

Speaking of High Days, I have added a link to the website for RSVPing to High Days and Wild Onion events. There is a drop down menu to specify what event you are planning to attend and a place to put some contact info in case we have to change venue due to weather etc. I am hoping this makes communication easier in case of last minute changes and will help towards not leaving people stranded. It also helps us know how much food/beverage and take-away blessings to bring! Thanks and hope everyone has a blessed Solstice :)