Green Man Groves Spring Equinox Ritual at Portal of the Porcupine
It had been misty, cool and drizzly on and off all morning. I had all
the ritual stuff out by Sues fire circle (in the middle of the Jersey
suburbs) when the cold rain really started coming down about an
hour before the ritual was to start but as I was walking away it
occurred to me that perhaps the rain merely wanted to get into the well.
I turned back and made a deal with the rain: Id be happy to take
the lid off the well and let it be the first water in there but
would it please blow over for a few hours and let us do our rituals? I
told it: You can come back later, of course, and rain all you want to
and I opened the lid on the well.
By ritual time, it had not only stopped raining, but the sun was starting
It stayed clear until Sues ritual finished later that evening, and
it wasnt as cold as it had been on Friggas Day, or on the
day after the ritual.
Misty rain, very Manannanish... Al had set up the fire beforehand
hed gotten to Sues before we arrived. We helped Sue clean
up and pick up sticks... I felt that the mist and the light drizzle had
been cleaning the space for us.
Ritual started as I chimed 3 chimes. Norma asked why we were here (We
are here to honor the Gods..), and then Conny did the Earth Mother
Norma led us on a short meditation.
Celestina invoked the well, mentioning that there wasnt a lot of
water in it. I poured in the water from 9 waves. Erica lit the fire as
Misha invoked it. The fire flared quickly, loaded with the last of the
leftover greens from Yule. We chanted fire, fire, fire; kindle our
spirits higher... The smoke and flame looked good in the chilly
air. Erica tended the fire throughout the ritual, in keeping with her
place on the borders of the worlds.
Hillary invoked the sacred tree represented by Sues Mulberry
tree. Hillary talked about trees in NJ appearing in the most unlikely
places, and how cool it is to see them there... and I thought she was
talking about all of us as well...
Norma invoked Manannan as our gatekeeper, as we always do, as we always
have done. This is one of the reasons we did this ritual Manannan
is like family to us, and like family, we take him for granted. Hes
been with us since the beginning of the grove, yet wed never done
a ritual especially for him. We thought that Spring Equinox, when the
water is running high would be a special time for this. (And well
trek down to the Jersey shore on Nov. 10th, Manannans feast day,
and run in the ocean barefoot to return his blessings to him. Im
surprised how many people want to do this!) Wandering Al began to swish
the little colored beads inside an ocean drum, making sounds like waves.
Wed dressed Al in a dark blue rain cape so he could personify Manannan.
Al is a world traveler and slips back and forth between the worlds, so
although I was surprised when Norma arranged this with him, it made a
lot of sense . Wandering Al has been a member of Green Man since 1991
or 1992, on and off, when hes in the area...
Norma opened the gates, and the gates slid open. Norma said to think of
them like subway doors.
Erica made an offering to the outsiders, using the metaphor of a playground
to describe to them why we needed them outside the space. I followed her
to the edge of Sues property a liminal place where her grove
borders a gully full of trash opposite a parking lot and I jumped
up and down on a rusted coil of fencing like I was on a trampoline as
Erica made her offering. I have no idea why I did that; maybe it was the
playground metaphor. I was feeling frisky, full of energy. I didnt
know it, but Norma told me later that the whole circle was bouncing up
and down with me 35 or so people. I really felt that our outsiders
and Sues accepted our offering with joy.
Wendy invoked Brigid the perfect person to do that; Wendys
a singer, songwriter, homemaker and copywriter and mother and she
thanked Brigid for the personal help the Goddess has given her and asked
Her to inspire us. We sang Brigids Jig (Fire Us Up!).
Then we got to the Kindreds- at this point weve set up the party
and the guests are starting to arrive. Thats why we consider Manannan
(and Brigid!) family: They help us set the place up, as much as Al setting
up the fire, or me arranging stuff so its in easy reach, or others
making food or working on their invocations...
Brenda invoked our ancestors the sun was out, and I can still see
the way the light was shining on her face: she was glowing. The energy
in Sues grove was starting to buzz, and our ancestors began to gather
even before she began speaking, but then sort-of coalesced around her.
People began to call out the names of their beloved dead. We sang the
Ancestors Song. Norma made an offering of water near the fire. Shed
been pouring offerings for each invocation (except the outsiders).
Sean invoked the Nature Spirits and Spirits of Place talking about
how much hed learned from animals and plants and places. This was
very moving, and we moved right into Fur and Feather.
After Deb gave us a lovely and very personal Goddesses and Gods invocation,
and we called out our Gods and Goddesses, and sang Hail all the
It was nice to hear Mishas operatic baritone in harmony with Jennes
beautiful operatic soprano. Jenne brought her mom, Madeleine, to meet
us and see the ritual.
After the song, I invoked Manannan Mac Lir, Son of the Sea actually
less invoked him than described him and praised him. I didnt have
to invite him, he was here from the beginning of the ritual. Id
spent the weeks before reading stories about Manannan, and reading up
on him in various books, and Id written a description of him. When
I described him at the ritual I had that description in my head, a little
shortened, and I recited it from memory, mostly because I liked the first
Sun-dappled Shining One,
I also liked the description of his horse, as swift as the cold,
keen wind of spring, from F. Marian MacNeills The Silver Bough.
Manannan is a pan-Celtic Deity: although his home is the Isle of Man,
he appears in Scottish, Irish, Welsh and British stories as well
perhaps hes even a ghostly presence in the Arthurian legends as
After I described him most of the terms coming from old stories
I talked about how hes helped us, blessed us with his magic, instructed
us and inspired us. He really does walk with our grove. I dont remember
exactly what I said at this point, but I ended by saying hear our
praises and accept our offerings!
And then we offered praise
Erica started with some candy shed bought at a store she used to
go to as a kid when she was hanging our at White Meadow Lake she
offered it up in the fire. Jenne read a beautiful poem about the red buds
on the trees in spring, Wendy danced around the fire and sang a springtime
song. I recited March Elegy. Misha recited a wonderful russian
poem in russian and english. Bryan Van Horn recited something in
a language that he may have made up, but translated it into Spring
Has Sprung! We ended with Walk with us Manannan, sung
to Als impromptu counterpoint of California Dreamin.
The main sacrifice: a crocus from Sues garden that closed up before
Norma touched it with the sickle and dropped it in the fire.
Celestina shuffled the Celtic Tarot and Jenne, Conny and Debra each pulled
a card and conferred on the meaning. Conny pulled Temperance, Jenne pulled
the X of Staffs and Debra the IV of Cups... the conclusion our Norns came
to: this is going to be a working spring, not a time to lay
back and take it easy. There will be a lot of growth, but weve got
to work at it to make it happen. Debra mentioned that she got the impression
we shouldnt be doing a ritual to Manannan out of guilt. She said,
Get over it, because He has! Its not a problem. It sounded
like the message came directly from Manannan.
At that point we consecrated the waters in the old RDNA way, amended that
with traditional Green Man hand gestures... Norma hit the jugs with the
sickle and our passers out (Justin, Brenda, Erica, Celestina,
Jack and Greg) distributed the waters.
Now that we were full of magic, we had the wherewithal to pour our collected
waters into the well and, with Manannans help, bless the waters
for the coming year. Norma and I brought out the big blue shiny cloth
wed found in the discount bin at the Rag Shop a week before and
Rick, Josh, Chrissy and Greg held it over the well, billowing the cloth
up and down like a wave of the sea. Each person making an offering had
to duck under the wave and then go through it.
We went deosol around the circle, folks putting water in the well from
all sorts of places Howell NJ in the southeast, Randolph, NJ in
the northwest, the Raritan, tap water from peoples homes, lakes
and rivers and creeks and ponds. One woman, whod just returned from
Iceland, tried to bring water from where a glacier met a hot spring
but was thwarted by US customs. She spoke her offering into the well,
as did a few others. Erica spoke the waters of Bath, England into the
well, because thats where Pattie was that day. When we were all
done Norma had the group focus on the well, and counted one, two
three! and we consecrated the waters. I could see a kind of shiny
glimmer inside the well over the top of the water.
Norma told folks to take a bit of the water home with them, enough to
bless their homes or altars or wells and then thanked all the kindreds,
deities and Manannan himself. A bunch of folks went inside to eat, and
Sean and Erica and I stayed out by the fire to talk.
I think this would be a nice ritual to do every year blessing the
waters and the well; consecrating the well for another year perhaps
using a bit of the previous years water for continuity and the power
Ill be looking forward to seeing that water used in rituals for
the rest of the year... then, on November 10th, Manannans feast
day, well pour most of the well water back into the Atlantic.