Our 2002 Yule Rite

The grove had 27 people at our Yule ritual, and one nature spirit. The focus of the ritual was Demeter’s sorrow in the midst of winter, and the attempts of the Olympians to cheer her up, ending with the Baubo’s baudy badinage and lewd exposure.

Greg started us off with a chime. He is threatening to buy us a new chime. Elizabeth, our guest from the Orange Unitarian Church, led us in getting down and invoking the Earth Mother. Norma had us meditate, focusing on our hands opening as flowers. Justin let us know where we stood on the horizontal plane, while reality started to slightly slip, and when we got to the far east, we waved hello to Erica and Pattie in Japan. I don’t know if they waved back. Justin continued and declared the center of all worlds to be a few inches over Norma’s head. (Justin noted that Justin did not invoke the outsiders at this ritual.)

Al invoked the well (well, well, well...) He called it a grail, a witches cauldron, a heart’s chalice.

Josh invoked the sacred fire, scaring us all by telling us how humorous fire could be, and all the jokes that fire can play on us, and all the jokes we could play with fire. Norma inquired after the location of the Grove Fire Extinquisher. Every grove should have one. We do.

Nora began the sacred world tree invocation in a stately, sober manner, but, somehow, by the end of it she had us singing the log song from Ren and Stimpy. I don’t know how that happened.

Norma invoked our ever-patient and hopefully amused Gatekeeper, Manannan Mac Lir, who helped us to open the gates. The gates opened. The Bilé was beautiful, encircled in gold, green and red ropes and pine and holly, thanks to Jenniforensic and the Morris Museum and Maria Raven and her (it must be huge!) holly tree. Maria’s fresh sprigs, clipped on her way to the ritual, were decorating the house everywhere.

To see photos of the party and the bilé click here.

Ed asked our usual outsiders outside: skepticism, tensions, doubts, anything that wouldn’t feel comfortable in this ritual space.... and I also pointed to those outsiders who may not think of themselves as outsiders: stodgey, stick-in-the-muds; self-proclaimed authorities; overly serious deities... I pointed them outside. They accepted our offering. A few of them got a poker game going.
Betty invoked Brigid with a clean, clear and lovely invocation. We sang “Fire us up!”

Sandrock invoked our ancestors. The first called out was Joe Strummer, who died earlier that week.
Nej and Jenniforensic and Cliffy Sniffypants invoked the nature spirits together. (No, that’s not a magickal name, that’s his real name.) Jen translated Cliffy’s invocation from Guinea Cavvie to English. The nature spirits wanted lettuce and carrots, and were quite pleased by our offering of same, but Cliffy wanted to know when we’d “bring on the bitches.” Our own personal nature spirits then joined Cliffy in accepting our offerings.

A resplendent Jen Micale invited the Goddesses and Gods to join our somewhat rollicking party, and we called in our personal patrons and patronesses.

Norma invoked the Baubo, starting the invocation by announcing “I have to pee” and going on to speak at length of several other miraculous bodily functions. We were set for our visit from Demeter. Lady Sue invoked Her briefly and sadly, and She took a seat in front of the bilé. (Lady Sue had been knocked down by a bad cold and was pretty miserable herself.) Demeter took up stoic residence. She sat there grim and grieving and we all tried Her with jokes and stories and limericks and songs—most of them baudy, some of them not, some of them surreal, most of them hilarious. The humor continued nonstop for quite a while. Demeter was not pleased, perhaps even a bit annoyed. For one thing, She had heard most of these jokes before, centuries ago. We were starting to get worried, even thinking of driving out to Target after the ritual for long underwear and wool socks. Norma/Baubo threatened to flash everyone and lamented that she still had to pee. Demeter asked her why she hadn’t yet gone. Demeter said, “So, go pee. What are you waiting for?” Norma responded with, “I like to suffer for my religion” and Demeter laughed. And then said, “Shit. I laughed.” We all cheered. Baubo flashed Demeter, showing off Her Curious George boxer shorts.

Our omen readers stepped up and organized themselves and decided on the Hello Kitty Tarot (The Cutest Tarot Deck You’ll Ever Own®). Nora got the Two of Golf Clubs. “Either they really liked the golf jokes or there’s a reason the puppy’s tee shirt says ‘do’.” Josh pulled Judgement. “Use good judgement when blowing your own horn.” Deb pulled The Moon. “Leap of faith, jump over the moon.” Liz got the Ace of Wands and the King of Wands, prompting her to say “I’m going to get lucky twice!” Betty pulled the Magician, “The magic of the ritual” and we noted the Magician’s John Travolta pose. Chris drew the eight of pentacles and the seven of swords. “Be careful of material possessions: someone wants them.”

Consensus for the grove: “Be lucky, magical; give your balls to a mouse; and, there’s a great big joke that we’re not getting, but we’ll know it when we get it.”

Norma consecrated the waters. We passed the waters; the pourers poured and the passers passed. Our waterbearers don’t get nearly enough credit for the job they do, stumbling over bodies, reaching with tiny cups full of dangerous liquid across people’s heads. We beheld the waters and together we drank.

We thanked the deities and kindreds and Manannan and Brigid and ended the rite.

Our third annual “Win a Cthulu for Yulu” raffle collected $48 and got Amy the new “Summer Fun Cthulu” who, when he awakens from his dark, demon-infested sleep, ready to devour the universe into his mindless maw of shrieking madness, will discover that he’s dressed in bathing trunks, sandals, sunglasses and a straw hat. Perhaps he’ll decide to take up surfing instead.

The food was fabulous and there was little left over by the end of the night.

Our “Awful Gift Exchange” went well. People were happy picking up wonderful gifts that other people thought were absolutely awful. As Nej said, it made holiday gift exhanges that much more fun to open gifts and exclaim “It’s perfect....” and then under your breath “...for the awful gift exchange.” Nora regaled us with recipes from the cookbook she got, and she plans on making us dishes out of it as soon as she can figure out what “quark” is. Or “rocket” or several other eastern European ingredients. (At least, we think it’s eastern European).

Maria Raven gave the grove a bottle of dirt from Stonehenge, not an awful gift at all. We will be mixing some into our Earth Mother bowl on the bilé and placing some on the altar.

We had fun playing with our gifts and talking and laughing until late at night.

Many thanks to Lady Sue for being the perfect Demeter. We hope you’re feeling better now. Thanks to Jenniforensic for the photography—see it on our web site at www.othergods.org. Thanks to Peg, our metaprompter. Thanks to all who came prepared with jokes and riddles and stories and songs. We made Demeter laugh, if just for a moment.

—Edwin Chapman, Scribe