While we usually try to schedule our rituals for the nearest Thursday to a High Day, this time the only day when we could secure a fire pit was May 1! As it turns out, this was a bit of excellent luck in terms of weather — Wednesday was clear and warm, while Thursday turned out to be wet and cold! — and we had a pretty good turn-out to boot!
While we’ve done rites in public parks before, this one was our first at Stephens Lake Park while the sun was shining, and while others were out and about. While we certainly saw some spectators pause and have a look at what we were doing, nobody seemed interested in disrupting us or being hostile.
In addition to some of our regular attendees, we also had guests from a local coven who sang us a song during the working and joined us for the potluck.
May 1, often called Beltane (after the Irish custom), but also known by many other names like Calan Mai (in Wales) and Giamonios (from the Coligny Calendar), is a celebration of the end of Winter and the beginning of Summer. While modern Pagans often associate the day with sexuality and the generative powers of physicality, it’s also a time for purification and activity.
Here are the Blessings drawn during the omen for this first part of the bright half of the year:
From the Ancestors, Idad, which speaks of age and memory. As we move into this time of year, the Ancestors bless us with their experience and the wisdom and skill that comes with it. As we go forward, we should be sure to reflect on the lessons we have learned from them, and how those lessons can help us.
From the Spirits, Coll, which speaks of wisdom. Like the Ancestors, the Spirits of Nature are lending us their wisdom. Like the hazel that drops its nut into the pool for the salmon, the Spirits are offering us their lessons easily so long as we are willing to take them in.
From the Gods, nGetal, which is both the wound and charm of the healer. nGetal is the “medicine of the knife” that cuts away or opens up. With this blessing, the Gods are helping us to cut away those things which no longer serve us, that poison us, or that do us harm. We should evaluate which things are toxic or holding us back, and begin the work of cutting them away so that the things which nurture us can thrive.
May 1 was also the deadline to vote on whether or not to adopt our new bylaws, which you can see here.
Our team gathered over 12 bags of trash in and around Nifong Park, and put in over 13 collective hours of effort. Some of the stranger things we found were a nearly-complete tailpipe, some windows, and a letter from the tooth fairy.
We’re already looking at possibilities for our summer quarter project. Watch this space for more info after May 1st!
Our friends over at Columbia FAVS — one of the best local sources for religion and spirituality coverage in our area — recently did a nice profile piece on White Hawthorn Protogrove, and our efforts to work toward chartered status within ADF, as well as state incorporation. You can check it out (both in text and audio formats) here.
Thanks again to Evan Townsend for coming to visit with us, and to the whole Columbia FAVS team for their excellent work in sharing our diverse spiritual communities!
We may not have expected Winter Storm Vergil to bring the truly wintry cold when we scheduled last night’s Spring Equinox rite, but I think we all did our best to make things just a little warmer by feeding the hearth at the Burford shelter, dressing in layers, enjoying some gifts (thanks Amber!), and embracing Crock Pot technology.
Our rite this time focused on the story of the courtship between Rhiannon and Pwyll from the first branch of the Mabinogion. The other beings we called upon — Dôn and Arawn — also figure into the Mabinogion; Dôn is the mother of Gwydion (who appears in the Fourth Branch), while Arawn is the lord of Annwn (the Otherworld) to whom Pwyll proves himself over the course of a year. While the stories in the Mabinogion were only written down during the medieval period, and contains clear Christian influences, it is also one of our best sources on the myths passed down among the Welsh from their Iron Age ancestors, many of which have cognates in stories and mythologies from Ireland and elsewhere within the Celtic world. We hope that by honoring this divine couple that the land will prosper around us, and that this spring will be a good one!
Speaking of blessings, our omens last night were:
- From the Ancient Ones, Muin. This fid (or letter) speaks to us of communication. Muin has multiple meanings, including love, trickery, and esteem. The ancestors give us the gift of communication, but remind us to use that gift wisely.
- From the Noble ones, Straif. Straif, which means sulfur, describes transformation. As the natural world around us wakes up and transforms out of its sleeping state and into a greener, lusher place, we are also given the power to remake and refine ourselves. Take the time to reflect on what you would like to transform in your life this season, and begin the work.
- From the Shining ones, Emancholl and Sail. Emancholl, the twin hazels, may mean misfortune when it is drawn alone, but most often it intensifies the feda around it. When drawing the omen, a choice was made to call for clarification, and so Sail was also drawn. Sail is the willow that grows near the stream between the worlds. It carries messages from the Otherworlds, and from the ancestors in particular. With Emancholl, it tells us that we should do our best to hear and listen to the messages given us by the Kindreds, and that we should take the time to share our thoughts with them as well. Hear and be heard.
We also announced the results of our recent election. Our interim officers are:
Ci/Christian: Interim Senior Druid (Grove Organizer)
Amber: Interim Pursewarden
Eric: Interim Scribe
These officers will see White Hawthorn through the process of completing our application for a provisional charter and state incorporation, including crafting bylaws, maintaining records, and tracking expenses. These three will hold their positions until our first election as a provisionally chartered grove. More information will be coming soon.
May you be blessed with health, prosperity, and wisdom. (And maybe a nice, warm jacket!)
Last night we celebrated our first public rite for the Spring Cross-Quarter, aka Imbolc, where we honored Brigid and asked for her blessings in the coming year. Big thank yous to everyone who attended, and to Amber for composing the rite and officiating!
This next quarter looks to be an exciting one for White Hawthorn. Things to look forward to include our quarterly service project, at least one Donuts & Druidry event, and our Spring Equinox rite. We’ll also be looking at pursuing a provisional charter, which means bylaws and expanding our officer base. We invite all of you who are interested to participate in this process! Just drop a line via the grove e-mail address or on Facebook for more info.
May you be blessed with health, prosperity, and wisdom.
Archdruid Kirk Thomas has announced the passing of Rev. Raven Mann at 49. He is survived by his wife and daughter. Archdruid Thomas writes:
“Raven Mann was an effective priest and ritual leader, and also an accomplished liturgist. He served as the ADF Preceptor during the latter half of Rev. Skip Ellison’s term as Archdruid and made many contributions to the deliberations of the ADF Clergy Council. His passing will be a great loss to ADF.”
Our thoughts go out to Rev. Mann’s family, friends, and grove. Those wishing to contribute to his memorial fund should visit the 6th Night Grove website.
Thanks again to everyone who attended, to Seileach for helping make sure the liturgy and offerings were in order, and to the Columbia Public Library for letting us use their amazing Friends Room (complete with mood lighting and surprisingly complicated light switches). And, of course, many thanks to Odin and Thor for their blessings and protection, Heimdall for keeping the gates, and Gerd for her bounty.
One thing I’d like to share/revisit is the omens drawn:
- The first blessing (from the Ancient Ones) was Tinne, the ingot. Tinne is all about mastery, and the ability to take the raw materials and skillfully give them form. For the ancients, metalworking was a significant technology that saved lives, won wars, and made beautiful things. This, then, is a reminder that we have everything we need to build the things we’re seeking to build as a Protogrove.
- The second blessing (from the Noble Ones) was Lus, the flame and herb of inspiration. While I had a good chuckle about that on account of somebody’s birthday (heh), remember that the flame here isn’t just a wee fire. It can be the blaze of passionate creativity. Likewise, herbs can be healers and life enhancers, lush and green and pungent. Both give life and pleasure, and both can be terribly dangerous. An exciting omen, and one we should all seek to use as wisely as we can.
- The third blessing (from the Shining Ones) you might remember gave me trouble. My initial draw was Muin — which is all about social interaction — but its meaning was unclear so I drew Straif — sulfur, meaning transformation — to compliment it. The intuitive combination was difficult to articulate in the moment, and amounted largely to me trying to express that all good things may come for those of us willing to do the work, but this one has become much clearer in retrospect, in large part because of the realization that Muin looks exactly like another symbol more applicable to the Northern European pantheons: Naudiz! Naudiz may initially present as a difficulty, but given the other omens, it’s a difficulty that offers positive outcomes and growth if we remember to communicate openly with one another and are willing to rise to the challenge.
So what’s next for our Protogrove? Well, we’ve certainly got some plans in the works, including a January installment of Donuts & Druidry, our first Imbolc celebration, and an early Spring service project.
Here’s wishing everyone a fantastic New Year, and many good things in 2013!
Our rite this time will be in a more Anglo-Saxon/Northern European vein, and will as always include a potluck!
Basic ritual supplies will be provided, but individuals wishing to bring a personal offering may contact Ci/Christian for more info. Some snacks will be provided, but please bring a dish or treat to share as well.
Just a note to say thank you to everyone who donated toys and funds to White Hawthorn Protogrove’s package for Columbia Parks and Recreation’s annual toy drive! Ci dropped the (very big!) box and an envelope of cash off at the Armory Tuesday evening.
If you missed your opportunity to participate, don’t worry! We’re already looking at options for a project to take place after February 1st. We’ll keep you posted here, and also over on Facebook.
For our quarterly project, we’re gathering toys and funds to contribute to Columbia Parks and Recreation’s annual Holiday Toys for Columbia’s Youth drive.
Want to participate? Contact Ci for info on how to add a toy or cash contribution to our pile by Monday, December 10th. We’ll post info on the final haul here on the website later that week.
Know a family in need who’d benefit from the program? Call Columbia Parks and Recreation at 874-7460 for more info.
Stay warm, be well, and may the Kindreds bless you and yours!