End of Year One & Ostara

Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF was officially approved on 3/22/07, which makes this the last hour of the last day of Hemlock Vales’ first year as an official Ar nDraiocht Fein Protogrove. There have been some ups and some downs; days when I felt everything was going well, and days when I questioned why I’d bothered. As we head into year two, I’m already leaning more towards finding interest via other means. Celebrating the High Days is great, but there needs to be more there — a larger understanding of ADF’s perspective, and even more social bonding. Post-rite potlucks do help with that, but that only works for the people who are there.

Our first rite was an Ostara rite with five in attendance; this year, there were three. Though I’m not certain scheduling the rite for tomorrow would have prompted more turnout, I am certain it wouldn’t have prompted less, as only the two regulars showed. With a death possibly impeding one person’s attendance, I know this is how things can go — but it was during one of the weekends bookending Spring Break.

There were some slight speedbumps in preparing for the rite. Most notably, I accidentally cracked (but did not break) a jar of grain loading it into my car. I was at a loss for why a slight bump like it received cracked it, until I discovered the stone Well was on the other side. I will have to plan more carefully when loading ritual gear into canvas bags for transport; I’d never had this happen before and so had become complacent. Fortunately, when I arrived at the UU fellowship one of the regulars helped me remove the grain and recycle the broken jar.

The rite itself flowed fairly well, as one might expect with the regulars present; in fact, it flowed rather quickly in hindsight, taking under half an hour. I was surprised, but even the regular that often has difficulties was following along well. This is, of course, the sort of thing that tempts me to “mix things up” a bit for the next rite. Most notably, I’m thinking about adapting my usually-private Walpurgisnacht celebration for group use in lieu of Beltane being, well, Beltane.

The omens were reasonable, and I think reflected the functional nature the rite had:

Acceptance: Tiwaz, the God Tyr (involved in War and Justice, among
other things). I said it was accepted, but just so, like a balance.

Ancestors: Dagaz, Day; Nauthiz, Need; Wunjo, Joy. A day for getting
what we need to bring us joy, but also a request to remember them.

Nature Spirits: Eihwaz, Yew Tree; Fehu, Cattle; Uruz, Aurochs –
Growth, but with a need to have the proper vision to direct it (lest
it trample other things).

Gods & Goddesses: Ingwaz, the God Freyr; Ehwaz, Horse; Isa, Ice –
Fertility, to boast about before the first frost.

I won’t deny I was disappointed with the turnout, but the omens were good while pointing to things to be done, so I’m pleased overall.



Here’s a secret of mine: I dislike writing the email announcements for upcoming rites. I’m not certain why, exactly; I think part of it is that in addition to announcing on a local list and Witchvox, I also post announcements on a number of regional lists — one for Central Pennsylvania, two for Pennsylvania itself, and one for ADF’s Heartland region (PA is the eastern outpost of it; it’s actually faster for me to get to Trillium Gathering, in northern Virginia, than to get to the Ohio border).

I suspect it may be that I feel I’m reiterating the information on the additional lists without people necessarily getting anything out of it. Part of it, I know, is to make certain others across the state are aware there is a group in this area, for word-of-mouth.

Perhaps I should show off the most recent email announcement, more or less . The level of detail varies based on the region; the PA lists know what “State College” means, but the Heartland region might have more than one.

Subject: HVP Ostara 3/15 11:00am (State College, PA)

Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF will be holding an Ostara rite at
11:00am on Saturday, March 15th. It will be in Room 1 at the
Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, in State College.
There is a map with arrows at http://www.uufcc.com/smap.shtml — note
that they are off the traffic circle at the end of Waupelani Dr.

Web page: [Edit: defunct website]
Phone number: Feel free to call me at 814-321-5521 with any questions
or last minute directions help.
Email to: hemlockvalesadf@gmail.com

So, I wonder: good? bad? more info? less?

On timing

Strangely, it seems I haven’t posted about the timing of rites yet.

Earrach* of Pittsburgh has a lovely essay about accuracy of timing on the Sassafras Grove site as well as an essay about correcting calendar drift on the cross-quarters. Timing is useful; a Walpurgisnacht Rite I did as night turned to day May first was a stand-out ritual experience for me.

This year, the vernal equinox is in the early hours of the 20th. We are planning a celebration on the 15th. Why? Why give in to convenience to the point where we’re using the more distant bounding Saturday?

I’d love to give a pat answer like “just as we define our ritual space as being at the sacred center, we define the ritual time as being at the sacred time for the ritual.” (Actually, there’s something to work with there, even though I’m not certain it’s really Indo-European.)

Instead, I’ll give a different answer: it’s about the community. If I’m celebrating ritual at 1:48am on the 20th, I’m likely celebrating alone. Indeed, the convenient times on the 19th and 20th of this month are have other events at the the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship, our preferred space (Beltane will likely be outside). The 22nd, though desirable for reasons of proximity, won’t work as well, at least in part due to the schedule impact of other holidays that weekend.

So just as we stretch ourselves as a people to reach for the sacred day, the day stretches to reach the sacred community. A Protogrove weaves itself together by making that public High Day available and accessible, and sometimes that does mean bending a bit so that the community can come together. I’d love to do perfectly timed rites — but it would mean ignoring the world we live in, and the needs of those whose work isn’t 8-5 M-F with three weeks off a year. I expect a larger turnout by planning for the 15th, and look forward to seeing many of the faces from last month again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to work on completing those plans; some fool moved the equinox rite up.

*In case you ever meet Earrach, his name is pronounced Eric, not Ear-ache. Thankfully, I figured this out before he figured out I was trying to address him.