2003 Summer Solstice Ritual Report
by Edwin Chapman
It rained on our Solstice ritual, but 23 people showed up anyway. We’d asked them to bring canned food and boxes to honor the tutelary deity of New Brunswick, and took nearly 60 boxes and cans to Elijah’s Kitchen for the homeless. They were thrilled- donations dry up in the summer- and sent us a lovely letter thanking the grove.

Our omens were: the Hermit (pulled by Daphne- alone at the top, community involvement would be a good thing), the Hierophant (Akasha Deb- feeling of high church; sitting in the rain not lesser or higher than getting together to worship, dragging our butts out here with food for the city), Knight of Swords (Betty- cut what’s in your way and get where you’re going), and Wheel of Fortune (Jenne- the scholars, the temptations, everything on the wheel is here in the city and will keep turning long after we’re all gone.) Overall: be brave, be wise, listen and you won’t get your ass kicked, remember we’re not islands.

The ritual was supposed to be a pageant through New Brunswick, with our usual Druid ritual icons, and people dressed in costumes to portray day and night in the city. People came dressed to play their parts, from businesswomen to clubgoers to students to homeless.
Norma led the ritual, opened it, led the meditation. I did a geological horizontal directions, stressing that this had been a river ford for native americans long before it was a crossroads for the colonials, and that people have been living here for millennia. Maria Raven was the perfect Earth Mother, and honored Her with a poem. Nora gave us a beautiful well invocation, talking about rain and water. Betty invoked fire very personally, and Sue invoked the world tree.

Jenne Micale invited Manannan Mac Lir into our ritual, and led us in helping Him open the gates. Akasha Deb took the outsiders outside (she was really dressed for the part in black vinyl and leather). Sandrock invited Brigid to come and inspire us, talking about the fire of the sun, the fiery summer things that we do that remind us of Her.

Our Ancestors were invoked by Jenniforensic, who had us look closely at the skull mask she was wearing, and then showed us how the dead would prefer we remember them—by ripping the skull mask off and showing her flesh-and-blood face. Carol gave us our Nature Spirits—local spirits—in a tiger mask inspired by the “tiger lady” in Jackson. Lauren, invoking for the first time for us, invited our Gods and Goddesses to join us, talking about spirit in general and the places it resides. This was beautiful.

Then Jenniforensic, in a blue-spangled cape, gave us New Brunswick at Night- a fine and accurate performance involving students, drunks, clubs, silence etc... She woke up Erica, as Day, who passed out various tools of the day to different people (rakes, snow shovels, suntan oil, umbrellas, pens and paper...) and assigned us various parts to play in an improvisation of New Brunswick in the Day. (I got involved in giving Daphne and her friend directions to the hospital- a block away- guaranteed to get them good and lost.) This was a lot of fun.

We gave our praises: There were poems, songs; people contributed various objects. Dave told about his psychic connection to a famous ragtime pianist who was born here, and how he got to play on the same piano as his hero. I told the story (with a tricorn hat and a bag of plastic cannons) of how Alexander Hamilton saved the revolution just a few blocks north of here by holding off the British with his artillery while Washington escaped south. Lots of good praise.
The main sacrifice was a peony from the rainy wet garden- but really the main offering was the pile of cans and foodstuff by the bilé.

Out of 23 people, only 3 didn’t take a part in the ritual or offer praise. We had 2 new people. The food was good and plentiful. The storm was heavy, with lightning flashing, thunder rumbling in appropriate places in the ritual, fire truck sirens and shouts as the city took part. Really, a surprisingly powerful ritual, even if we didn’t get to do our usual parade.