was the best of times;
it was the worst of times
it was ONCE UPON A TIME...
A report on GOGs DRUID IMBOLC RITUAL dedicated to Our
Beloved Goddess Brigid and to inspired Bards of all centuries, cultures
Imbolc ritual was bright and beautiful. Thats really what I remember
of it: lots of white brilliance and clear edges, the whole room white
outlined in white, and how warm I felt. After everyone left I was amused
to see I was still barefoot.
A great group of people inside a big candleflame. We had around 30 people,
including Carolyn, our guest from the West Orange Unitarian Church.
Greg chimed the ritual opening. Norma spoke the words and
Nej invoked Mother Earth, talking about all the work she does below
ground... and asking us to listen to noises around us, to listen to
the stirring under the ground under all the city noise. Norma picked
up on that, leading us into a group meditation. Then she spoke of the
season, talked about Brigids brats and lit seven candles across
the body of the Brigid dolly that Nej had made from reeds Id cut.
I pointed out the four directions, talking about our position on the
border of a land shaped by glaciers and the sea. Carol handled the well,
connecting our well with all the water in the world: underground springs,
aquifiers.... Hillary invoked the sacred fire with a Sylvia Plath poem.
Nora had our sacred tree reaching down into the well and spreading out,
and reaching for the sky and spreading out, and she talked about how
it exists in this world in its many beautiful branches.
Norma invoked Manannan Mac Lir and, with Him, we all opened the gates.
It was at this point that things started to look very clear and bright.
Erica took the outsiders and the outsiders in usoutside.
Jen Micale sang a beautiful original song invoking Brigid as our muse
and inspiration. (See last issue of this newsletter for the song, or
check out our web site!) This added to the brilliance in the room. Al
invoked the first of our kindreds, the ancestors, by quoting quite a
bit of Shakespeare from memory (!) and ending with Shakepeares
epitaph. Al said that all of us in this room must be blessed because
none of us have attempted to move Wills bones. I had a brief flash
of Al standing in a graveyard in his Druid robes. We each called to
our specific ancestors.
Sandrock invoked our nature spirits, welcoming back our animal friends
and talking about how we also hibernate in the winter. But its
time to start thinking about what were going to do in spring.
Justin invoked the Goddesses and Gods. He ditched what he was going
to say at the last minute as inspiration struck: invoking the Goddesses
and Gods for the group isnt as important as each of us honoring
our personal Gods and Goddesses through our actions and the sacrifices
we make like wearing a mince pie on ones head. We
all called the names of our deities. And, since wed forgotten,
we also called to our nature spirits: our towns, rivers, favorite meadows
and mountains and roadways and cars, computers, animals, land spirits,
houses, cities, loci genius and loci juno. This worked well, and it
felt natural to do the two together.
I invoked Brigid as our honored Patroness: a pretty list of Her traditional
attributes, ending with a few lines from a charm that She Herself wrote
to Gíle-Mhin the Beauteous, daughter of a King:
Thou Nut of my Heart
Thou Face of my Sun
Thou Harp of my Music
Thou Crown of my Sense
and telling Brigid that this was also an expression of our feeling toward
Herthat we couldnt put it any better than She did.
As we passed around Brigids doll, we each thanked Brigid for what
Shed done for us personally. (The doll was burned ritually by
Betty at a Dedicants meeting later that month.)
Erica led us in honoring the Bards, reading a list a bunch of us came
up with. Then we each called out a line or two from our favorite bards
and named them. I held up a Breton Box that Meryl had given me (weve
got André Breton in a box!) and quoted my favorite line about
convulsive beauty. Wendy quoted Robert Heinlein, always store
your beer in a dark place; Erica read the opening lines of Beowulf
in Anglo-Saxon and English. Norma countered with a quote from John Gardners
Grendel. Jack quoted Gaugin, which made Normas head tilt. She
quoted Edvard Munch. Rich quoted Dr. Seuss. Deb Sandrock quoted from
the play 1776; I quoted my favorite line from that play, lets
go adrinkin and awhorin in New Brunswick
and everyone gave a cheer for our fair city. Jen Micale quoted Dorothy
Parker (who became our most quoted bard of the evening)
Carolyn quoted Blake, little lamb who made thee?... Christina
quoted Tennyson; Marcia quoted Robert Graves. Hillary, quoting Sylvia
Plath, said she could eat men like air. My apologies to
those Bards whose quotes I havent remembered. I ended with a few
lines from Sweeneys Flight, to honor the non-human Bards in the
And then we made our praise offerings!
Pattie recited her favorite Dickens lines. Nora sang a song based on
Wm. Yeats poem The Stolen Child. I read an Edward Gorey limerick
about Mary Shelley for Xuk, who had to work late. I also read Charles
Bukowskis poem, The Miracle. Dorothy Parker was quoted again.
And again. Wendy and Rich of Music for the Goddess sang their song "In
the Belly of the Mother" for us (Buy their tremendous
CD! Go to www.musicforthegoddess.com)
There was more praise that Ive forgotten. Apologies. And we all
sang Fire Us Up!
We had a lot of fun with this. And people said that it was difficult
to choose which line influenced them; or which line stuck in their heads,
or in their ears; or which thing to read, or bard to honor. When the
praises were over, I lit a few pieces of evergreen into a nice clean
flame, a symbolic burning of the old aches and pains of the winter season
and a kindling of the new fires of spring.
Our omen readers chose their weaponsrandom, or not so random,
books off the shelves, and opened them to random pages. Our Stitchomancy
Norma, flipping open Grendel (p.80): It will be winter soon.
Midway through the twelfth year of my idiotic war. Twelve is, I hope,
a holy number. Number of escapes from traps. (Note: this is
the Groves 12th year!)
Hillary, flipping open The Complete Plays of Shakespeare to Loves
Labours Lost (last lines): The words of Mercury
are harsh after the songs of Apollo.
Marcia, flipping open James Joyces Ulysses (p. 153): They
wheeled, flapping weakly. Im not going to throw any more. Penny
quite enough. Lot of thanks I get. Not even a caw. They spread foot
and mouth disease too. If you cram a turkey, say, on chestnut meal it
tastes like that. Eat pig like pig. But then why is it that saltwater
fish are not salty? How is that?
Deb, flipping open Weetzie Bat to page 73: So while I was away,
all I thought of was you. And one day I saw a sign that said Jayne
Mansfield Fan Club. The picture of Jayne Mansfield reminded me
of how you make that siren noise out of The Girl Cant Help It,
and I went to the place it said. It was a house in a run-down part of
town, real spooky and dark, and there were all these people wearing
white wigs and doing drugs and watching weird old Jayne film clips and
talking about the sick way she died.
Josh, flipping open Mrs. Beetons Book of Household Management
to page 419: The duties of a ladys maid are more numerous,
and perhaps more onerous, than those of the valet; for while the latter
is aided by the tailor, the hatter, the linen-draper, and perfumer,
the ladys-maid has to originate many parts of the mistresss
Wendy, flipping open Devi, The Great Goddess to p. 149 (see 419 just
above, you numerology practitioners....): Now, the revenue
collector serves as the first man of the state, and he, together with
the chief of police, leads the honorary escort.
Ed, flipping open Beowulf to p. 167: Then over the wide sea
Swedes and Geats / battled and feuded and fought without quarter.
We mulled this over. Very confusing omentoo many books, too many
people trying to make sense of them. The fish riddle really had us stumped.
Why do fish not taste salty? Someone asked, Do you think this
is Manannan? Salt water, fish, Mercury?
Marcia flipped open Ulysses again, to page 189, and yelped. She read:
Interesting only to the parish clerk. I mean, we have his plays.
I mean, when we read the poetry of King Lear what is it to us how the
poet lived? As for living, our servants can do that for us, Villiers
de lIsle has said. Peeping and prying into greenroom gossip of
the day, the poets drinking, the poets debts. We have King
Lear: and it is immortal. Mr. Bests face appealed to, agreed.
Flow over them with your waves and with your waters, Mananaan, Mananaan
The clarifying omen is just that: pretty clear. The bards we were honoring
are servants to inspiration, not as important as the sources of inspiration,
Our immediate interpretation: war and water; conflict; Brigids
blessings, but say thank you and work for it. Conflict of
emotions? Manannan removes obstacles.
Or, could this be seen as a conversation between Brigid and Manannan,
with Manannan starting it with the Grendel quote, Brigid following with
the Shakespeare (talking to Manannan) and then the omens alternating
between them? This would leave Brigid telling Manannan to flow
Well, we didnt ask a specific question, just asked them to talk
Anyway, were still mullling it over.
We consecrated the waters and most of us drank. We passed out Brigids
brats; cloth hung out on Imbolc night when a big wind and low-pressure
got together like Brigid coming through with a gigantic vacuum cleaner.
We had tea lights for people to light from Brigids candles and
take home. We thanked the kindreds, the deities, the bards and Brigid
and ended the rite. We feasted and talked for hours.