By Norma Hoffman

We’ve been busy Green Men since we last updated this newsletter.

In June we attended the Free Spirit Festival in Maryland and had a great time. This is our favorite festival in the area and is always distinguished by a sense of love and family among the attendees. We spent lots of time with the wonderful Will Pierson, Senior Druid of Cedar Lights Grove and not nearly enough time with the folks from Mugwort Grove, though we did attend their lovely ritual. We also met a new friend: Lion’s Dream, Senior Druid of Red Oak Grove in New Jersey.

The summer solstice found most folks from the New York/New Jersey area off somewhere else on vacation, so our Solstice ritual was attended by just Bryan, Ed and Norma and was held in the middle of a field in Liberty State park, in view of the butt of the largest public Goddess statue in America: the Statue of Liberty. It was a nice little ritual and Bryan build a tiny, perfect, bonfire about 3 inches across and maybe 4 inches high: sort of an N-Scale Starwood bonfire. It looked like little tiny people should appear and start dancing around it at any moment.

In July, we three packed up and squeezed into a VW Cabriolet with a big trailer attached and headed up toward the end of the world, alias Sherman, New York, for Starwood. It was great to be camped in the middle of ADF Druidville. We camped with our friend Connie Jasper and right next to us were two fabulous couples: Karen and Jim Dougherty and Michael and Denise. The eight of us formed a (relatively) quiet haven in the middle of Starwood chaos. When returning to the campsite after a workshop or party it really felt like coming home. If the Gods are good to us we’ll have exactly the same campsite-mates next year! Skip Ellison and his Muin Mound Grove folks were also a shining example of Druid hospitality and watched over all of Druidville to make sure everyone was happy and fed. Hopefully, we’ll see all of you at Starwood again next year!

Just as we thought our Festival Season had ended, Red Oak Grove, New Jersey, in association with Garran Aes Aisling, of Keltria, held a mini-festival to celebrate the Fall Equinox in Lebanon State Forest in New Jersey. The weekend was filled with workshops and rituals and lots of what Druids like to do best: talking. Thanks to Lion’s Dream of Red Oak and to everyone who made this festival possible.

Samhain, usually our biggest ritual turnout of the year, was held in New Brunswick and Ed and Norma’s apartment. We had about 35 people for the ritual that included some yoga-type breathing exercises to heighten the effect of the opening of the veil between the worlds. The most poignant moment of the ritual was when the ritual goers were to add the names of their own dead during the ancestors invocation. Many of those present at the ritual were grieving from the loss of loved ones during the previous year. The mood then lightened considerably while we called in each of our personal nature spirits including parking spaces, frequently travelled highways and the spirits of several cars, power tools and vacuum cleaners. The room was crowded with spirits as well as people when all called out the name of their patron Deities to join the ritual. Finally, the Morrighan and Cernunnos were invoked and the Samhain festivities were in full swing. After the ritual a divin-a-thon took place with several readers of different divination devices giving readings and consulting each other about the interpretation of the readings. This was followed by Green Man’s traditional Samhain all-night vigil and early morning visit to a local park to greet the new year.

Yule was a quiet, story-telling kind of ritual with 13 in attendance. The honored Deities were Cerridwen and Gwion Bach/Taliesin as we celebrated the strange love between parent and child there was in that relationship and tried to relate it to the strange dysfunctional sort of love that exists in many families– especially when folks go home for the holidays in December. Bryan’s interpretation of the three drops of inspiration in Cerridwen’s cauldron: inspiration of body, mind, and spirit, was used to do a magical working in the form of a blessing of household objects and Deity-representation people had brought from their own home.

Finally, we had a little Wassail ritual in the beautiful garden of our newest Green Man member, Maria Raven DeNitto. We honored a little 6-year-old apple tree and asked the Gods to bless it and her whole garden. Then we poured libations of cider and threw pieces of toast and sang old wassail songs.