The sun shone strong and bright – finally! – after a long and cold spring. The temperature was just right. We gathered at the genii loci (spirits of place) statue to begin our briefing. New and newer friends were gathered with the Grove. As always, any who are with us during a ritual are considered The Grove. We scattered throughout the woods to prepare individually for ritual and were called back together by Dave the Bard’s Hal An Tow.
Before we processed the short distance through the woods to the ritual area, we were each anointed with oil. The music accompanied us as we approached the small pond that would be our Sacred Well. We let it be known to the Outsiders or Outdwellers (any being or entity with intentions other than ours) that we are inclusive and inviting to those who “wish to share the mysteries of the universe with us.”
After honoring the Earth Mother and our guiding spirit, the Black Bear, we were blessed with a visit from the Green Man. He came to each of us, looked into our souls, and declared, “I see words. Let them out!” With this directive we were given the bardic inspiration we needed to make proper honor to the Gods.
Our Druid in Charge (DIC) told us the reason for this rite, of fertility and new life, while we watched thousands of tadpoles in the pond. The Celts celebrated this time as the beginning of summer, a time of birth, opposite Samhain, the time of death.
We made our connection to the Kindred (Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities) by making a fire, a well, and a tree portals to the other worlds. The pond of tadpoles would become our Sacred Well and our small fire in a firepit our Sacred Fire. This time we chose all the trees in the grove as our Sacred Tree, acknowledging their interconnectedness. First we made these sacred by singing the Portal Song, then we asked Mannanan mac Lir to be our Gatekeeper. He was our guide between the worlds as together we opened the gates, circling the pond teeming with new life.
With the way open to the Other Worlds, we asked the Kindred to join us. We then invited the Patrons of the rite, Danu and Cernunnos.
Offering were given to many Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities, individually and as a group. When we were through, we asked for a message in return. The cards were read, the omen was good, and we took the blessings in through the Waters of Life. Mead and water were passed in the sacred chalices, as the story was told of their making by a Black Bear Grove founder and a local artist.
We put ribbons on the Clootie tree. A clootie is a strip of cloth or rag, and putting one on a tree near a well after dipping it in the well is a Celtic traditional ritual for healing. We dipped our cloths, walked around the pond three times, then tied the cloth on the tree, letting the wind take away any pain and illness.
We ended the ritual by thanking all the entities who had been invited. Then it was on to the Maypole! With good instructions and great music we wrapped the pole with the colored ribbons. Keeping the pattern neat is not as easy as it looks. Then we had good food, including a seasonally appropriate cake.
Photos of this event can be found on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/blackbeargrove/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155140630721268