The Grove requested that we do more rituals at our last business meeting. I am, of course, happy to oblige them, and so I started doing research.
One of the specific requests was that we start doing rituals based on the cycles of the moon. Somehow, I had the brilliant idea of doing a sixth night of the new moon ritual.
Of course, this meant digging through sources, since I was suddenly of the idea that maybe I should try and have some real grounding in what happened in Gaul on said night.
So a problem arose: the original rite, according to Pliny, involves a golden sickle and sacrificing two bulls. As I can't afford a golden sickle and blood sacrifice just really isn't my cup 'o meat (especially a holocaust sacrifice, as it appears was done), I've had to find a way to take the spirit of the rite and translate it into a more modern ritual.
Fortunately for me, I'm feeling inspired recently.
I've looked at what ideas others have had for doing rituals revolving around the moon cycles in a Druidic context.
The Henge of Keltria's Mistletoe Rite was my first stop. I found myself unimpressed and remarkably underwhelmed by the whole thing: it's pretty much just an ADF rite with healing involved. "Boring," I thought after considering doing that month after month after month.
Then I thought about things Druids in white robes could do in trees, swinging sharp implements around. "Sure," I thought, "I can do that. But who else is dumb enough to go regimental in a white robe and climb a tree?" It would have been a major setback to my desire to prevent the Grove from becoming MJD-dependent.
I thought about burning a couple of loaves of bread shaped like bulls, but then I remembered what one of our members said about burning bread (it's apparently an Irish folk legend that burning bread is bad luck).
I thought about just doing a "lore night", but while that's a logical first step, it's not the ritual people want.
I thought about using Alexi Kondratiev'sCeltic Rituals (Later re-published as The Apple Branch) Celtic Moon calendar, but because he based his work off an Irish poem that I just couldn't get into, I decided against that.
So as I worked on the ritual, I decided that the purpose would be two-fold:
- It would be our welcoming ceremony for new Grove members
- It would also do more inner work (trance and potentially ecstatic work) and help create a stronger Grove identity
The rite itself will involve four key things: 1) Gaulish names for months (and variations on themes for them, such as Cantlos [song month] in September/October; this is an adaption from Kondratiev); 2) A more central role for Garanus, the Crane, in our Grove's hearth religion; 3) mistletoe, and actually giving it a strong functionality within our Grove; and 4) an actual mystery that simply can't be described (partially because I am not sure if I'm able to do it yet, though it's all worked out in my head).
I'm doing this whole "welcome to the Grove" thing without any oaths or real ritual terror; I'm not as interested as some folk (and traditions) are in hazing new members, no matter how much in fun it might be to the guy with the knife. Really, I just want us to affirm, ritually, our identity as Grove members, and to give some tangible benefit to those who join.
I'll have to find someone, at some point, to go over this liturgy with me and discuss it. I find, though, that I can't bounce ideas off people in my Grove, because if I'm going to try and work mystery and mysticism into a ritual, the element of surprise is crucial. It interests me how much I truly rely on their feedback in our usual rites, and how much I notice when I don't have it available.
At the next Liturgy Meeting (this Thursday), I'll get more verbose about my plans when I speak to the Grove. But, as a taste, I want all our current members to go through this as a "Grove welcoming", too, so that we obtain that shared experience.
Now, I just need one thing: a source for sprigs of mistletoe. Part of the issue is that I need them before August, when we will do our first of these rites: that's well before the holiday season (where you can sometimes get ahold of it).