started on the Equinox. There seemed a place that was very close, but again
far, far away. When we went down to Point Pleasant to collect nine waves
for our Well for the year, I could almost make it out on the horizon; the
waves stretched into a broad, stoneless road to Somewhere Else. As the ocean
rushed to greet us, it seemed to be welcoming us joyously. Manannan was
there then, laughing at the childlike devotion of those silly human-types
that he had come to know and love over many years of serving as their Cranky
Old Gatekeeper. It seemed to my small human mind that he appreciated the
simple gestures of gratitude and honor we offered.
I must have jumped in then, somehow, searching for the Road. I had been
playing with the words that I thought would create it, assembling them into
patterns that sounded pleasing to the ear and yet were structurally soundthe
beach, the boat, the road, the fire, the isle. The oceans waters followed
my steps when we left the beach, and in a way I was rather surprised that
I wasnt leaving squishy footprints behind me as I walked the familiar
paths to my home, to my office, to my favorite haunts.
The Avenue seemed even more solid when I returned to the ocean the Saturday
prior to the ritual. It was gorgeous, warm, painfully beautiful that day.
I allowed myself the apparent indulgence of feeling the waters that had
been following me for those few days to wash over me as the cold, glittering
waters of the Atlantic washed over my feet. It purified me, prepared me,
entered my veins and flowed through me. I found the visions I had been trying
to create in the days of preparation for the ritual, all those words so
carefully scripted coming to life in just the right way to make it work.
To make it workas if I, or Ed, or any of us, really, had
the power to make it work. We would go if the gods wanted us to go, and
stay if they didnt feel they could countenance the intrusion.
I was a little doubtful that wed be going anywhere when I showed up
at Norma and Eds place. Still, something inside me had faith that
things would be all right. They would, of course, no matter whatthings
work out as they do and that is generally the end of that. We loaded up
the cars and headed over to Sues, allowing the Fates to have their
way with us. We cleared the yard and set up shop, and Manannan stepped in
to offer some preliminary assistance (another thing to be grateful for,
Friend!). Ed says he owes Manannan big-time for passing his kidney stone
shortly before the ritual, allowing him to participate.
It was the perfect sort of daywarm in the sun with that touch of cold
in the air that lets you know that winter isnt entirely finished
it was very similar to the gray oceans waterswarm one minute,
frigid in the next. We brought stones and shells that we had collected during
our foray into Point Pleasant Beach, and as we set up our altar with quite
possibly the most beautifully aquamarine cloth Ive ever seen, I set
them into a spiral pattern in the front that pulled me deeper still as it
grew. We set up a candle in a lighthousesimple, but meaningful. There
was the seahorsestrong, steadfast, and shiny! We scattered stones
and shells, and the candle in the conch shell that is my own recognition
of the Gray One was lit in his honor. It felt like we had a little bit of
the ocean in Sues marvelous backyard.
As for the ritual itself, Im certain no one will be surprised to read
I dont remember very much. I wish I could say I felt solid and prepared
that morning as we cleared the yard and set up our space, but I spent more
time taming the butterflies in my stomach than anything else. From about
We are here to honor the gods
on, I cant quite
say where I was, but I wasnt at Sues and I was only peripherally
with all of you.
Ironically, I invited the participants to relax, though I myself could not
(at least not at first). This was, after all, a bit of a different sort
of ritual for the Grove, and a different sort of undertaking for me personally.
I was torn up with different fears: fear that it might not work, fear that
it might work too well, fear that the participants might not enjoy or get
anything out of it, fear that we might lose someone because they got into
it too much.
We stood on the beach, becoming familiar with a suddenly new environment,
standing near the crashing shoreline in the predawn gray fog. Norma blew
a conch shell and then invoked the Earth Mother beautifully and soundly.
We relaxed, we looked around, we put our troubles and our skepticism in
a rucksack down on the sand and dug in with our toes. The air seemed to
get more heavy and damp as we went on, and a little more foggy and cool.
It wrapped around us as Ed sent our Outsiders down to Jack & Bills
Bar and we bid them adieu, stepping down to the shoreline and finding our
very own boats to ride in for our trip to the Blessed Isle. And there was
Manannan, just before us, his warm wave of friendship bringing us off the
beach and into the serene, supporting waters of the ocean (here, we made
our first offering of whiskey to Himit was the first of several invocations).
We left the land and ventured out, safely and securely, onto the sea, following
our Friend and Guide. Ed brought us onto the Isle of Promise, thronging
with a fairy host. We enjoyed the marvels we found there, including the
Shining Well of Five Streams (our Sacred Well), the Three Rings of Fire
that surround the Isle (our Sacred Fire), and the Nine Purple Hazels that
shaded the well (our Sacred Tree). Ed described for us a beautiful door
of our own design, inscribed with symbols perhaps only we ourselves understoodthe
Door to the Palace of Manannan. We asked him to open the Door, which was
the combination of the Three Gates of Well, Tree and Fire, invoking Manannan
again, begging him to open the Door to which we had traveled and he had
in his kindness guided us:
We stand at your door, dear Friend and Guide, Gray One to whose beautiful
and happy home we have traveled long, here to celebrate with you, to share
our joy and friendship
. Dear Manannan, Sun-Dappled Wanderer, Wise
Trickster and Honorable One, we will do all we can where we are, if you
will but allow this well to be a gate (we knocked once on the door), this
fire to be a gate (we knocked again on the door), this tree to be a gate
(we knocked the third time on the door)
and Manannan MacLir, Keeper
of the Ways Between the Worlds
And you know the rest. He allowed us, very graciously I might add,
access to his home and sanctuary for us to bring him friendship and praise.
Brigid cameas did our Ancestors, our Nature Spirits, and Gods and
Goddessesto enjoy our celebration of Manannan. Nora brought in Brigid,
and then you couldnt hear a breath as Sue invoked our ancestors. Carol
invoked the nature spirits around us and those in the sea. Norma invoked
the Goddesses and Gods. Sue sang a really wonderful song about the coming
of Spring, I think I read Whitmans Patroling Barnegat,
and Nora sang a lovely song in French to Manannan. Others offered stories
and poems and praises. I spent the remainder of the time thinking how lovely
it was that so many folks came to the party.
We had a great time and then settled in by the Shining Well to gather our
omens. We had given our predetermined omen people each a liter-size bottle
of water labeled with one of the Five Senses. Each bottle composed one of
the Five Streams that flowed into the Well. This caused some consternation
but we got it worked out and I still couldnt get it out of my head
that all these folks were so lovely to come to the party.
Our omen for Smell was the Knight of Swords (dont overthink it). Our
omen for Taste was Strength (revel, try new tastes, be brave). The one for
Touch was the Empress (self-explanatory), and for Sight we received the
Queen of Swords (in the Golden Dawn deck, Kali: cut off your ego, preconceptions;
see whats really there). Our blessing for Hearing concerned the Queen
of Pentacles (marshmallow in the Herbal Tarot, relevant to our marshmallow
peeps; listen to the stories of the people around you). Then the Five Senses
poured their waters into a communal punch bowl to distribute the blessings.
We performed the Catechism of the Waters, and we tacked on a verbal blessing
of waters as they were blessed with the omens.
As we continued to hang out with Manannan in his living room, we brought
waters from our own well and many people poured water from their homes or
special places, making our Grove well truly a community one.
Then Manannan said, Cmon, partys over, Ill take
you home. We had a tough time bringing the revelers back to a place
where they could climb back into their boats and make the journey back to
the beach, but we managed to do that. We all picked up the things we had
left on the beach and, before you could say Spring has sprung!
everyone was burning Peeps and giggling.
I remember that at that point the most fascinating thing in the universe
was the way a vanilla crème Peeps egg tasted after it was roasted
over an open flame, and the way it stuck to your fingers.
It was sometime shortly thereafter that my shoes pretty well stopped squishing
and I got to come fully back to the mundane world. I remember thinking that
Nej was really the most wonderful person in the world for bringing me food,
and that the person who invented chicken nuggets was really quite fabulous
because you could eat those with fingers. Overall, it seems that a good
time was had by all, whether they went with us or hung out on the beach
or even in the backyard; and for that I was really quite happy and grateful.
Although it was not part of the ritual, the Peace Altar was a lovely side
addition (thanks Sandrock!). We were bringing in the Spring and partying
with Manannan as the nation was at war, and as our soldiers were putting
their lives at risk for us. It was a great reminder that, no matter how
we felt about the war, we shared a hope for peace and a sadness for the
destruction it causes.
We had 18 in attendance.
Go to HERE to see photos from the Beach Ritual to Manannan we did on the weekday
Equinox (7 in attendance);
go to HERE to see some photos of the altar for the weekend Manannan ritual;
go to HERE for the Trance Ritual Script;
go HERE for excerpts from some
of the Manannan stories we worked with.