Not one, but two Beltaine rituals!
Our bylaws stipulate that Three Cranes Grove, ADF, is a Gaulish-focused Grove, but we have agreed that we'd like to do an Irish Beltaine. Paritally to get around that stipulation and partially to provide for it and honour the connections we've built in the past, we decided at the last business meeting that if we couldn't change the bylaws in time, we'd run two rituals.
The more I thought about this, and the more I talked to tanrinia and others, the more I started to like the idea.
See, some history is in order regarding our Grove's connection with Belenus. This past year, at Summerset, the Grove was asked to do a ritual. When we asked what intent the organizers wanted, we were told, "light the bonfire."
Now, "light the bonfire" just really isn't what you want to tell someone as the "intent" for a ritual. Because of this, we agonized for months (literally) over exactly what to do. Finally, we decided that we'd honour Belenus, and the final sacrifice would involve the bonfire going up in big bright flames, and we'd use shots of 190 proof Everclear as our primary offerings.
Most of us walked into this ritual thinking, "Okay, we're going to light a bonfire. We're not really doing this for us, but rather for people to dance and hang out around it."
We wanted the bonfire to be more than just about fire. We wanted it to be about more than just dancing, or drinking, or anything like that: we wanted the lighting of this bonfire to transcend all these things and get at the things behind these visible manifestations. We made this a ritual about inspiration, blessings, and fellowship. We dedicated the rite to the shining god, Belenus.
And there is no way to describe what happened at that ritual. After a time when things seemed to look dark, there was suddenly brilliant light. The ritual felt right, as if we were clicking in a way we never had before. And there was something more, something deeper, that affected every person who was there. It was, even, the first time that I had had a truly religious experience while leading a ritual.
Since then, we've wanted to open this rite to the local Grove, to give them the experience we had. We've agreed to do the full ritual here in Columbus, but for now, I just want a devotional rite, something simple and easy. I want the Grove to get to know this deity better.
And so, I'm looking to write a full devotional rite to Belenus, to be done around solar noon on April 30. Solar noon falls at about 1:30 PM EDT on that date, so we'd start around 1 PM, I suppose.
The bylaws were changed the other day, so we are not obligated to do two rituals, but I cannot escape the feeling that if we ignore Belenus on the day we celebrate Beltaine, we will be doing something very wrong. Despite that, I also cannot help but think that we ought to run this next ritual just as we have said that we will, with an Irish focus.
We've built a number of relationships with deities: Belenus, Saturn, Ianus, Esus, Cernunnos, Brigando, Teutates. Each of these relationships has grown in a different way, a deep way, a way that has provided us outlets of creativity that sometimes astound and amuse us, but always seem to empower us. I understand moving out from the cultural focus of the Grove, the movement toward encompassing the deities of those who gather in ritual with us: the majority of members don't have a Gaulish hearth cutlture like I do. I want to see that continue and grow, too.
But I think that, if this devotional rite goes well, if we find that we don't need to pick and choose one deity or culture for a High Day, then perhaps we can grow further through exploring more of these kinds of devotional rites, and it will allow us to retain working relationships with certain deities even if we do not make them the focus of a High Day rite.
I'm very excited about the possibilities inherent in this ritual. Very, very excited.