Field of Dreams Syndrome

Protogroves in ADF have three years to apply for Provisionally Chartered Grove status, or go defunct. Extensions are available — and routinely granted. Hemlock Vales will reach that three year point around the Ides of March this year.

I do not plan to askĀ  for an extension.

Why? I have many reasons, but perhaps the foremost one is realizing I’m suffering from “Field of Dreams Syndrome.”

“If you build it, they will come” — mysterious voice in “Field of Dreams”

As I submitted my Grove Organizer’s Survey, I had met at least fifty local Pagans personally, and there were more on the county Pagan e-list I ran. There was a student group on Penn State’s campus, reasonably popular with the students and some post-students but without large townie involvement. With this base, I thought I could coax a few out to be part of the Protogrove.

Indeed, I had a few supportive regulars, but their interest was more in regularly held rites than in ADF rites. Some irregular visitors were put off by the structured ADF order of ritual, preferring to be able to do things as they were moved at any point. People would post excitedly to group e-list and then not show up. Many of the local Pagans I knew had outed themselves just to me and were unwilling to join an e-list or

Going back to “If you build it, they will come,” the “they” I sought were other ADF members willing to help not just with rites, but also with all the other aspects of running a Grove. To be Provisionally Chartered, a Grove needs to have three ADF members (among other requirements). I suspect most Provisionally Chartered Groves have more when they apply. I now suspect that waiting to start a Protogrove with two others is a good idea in an area with a small Pagan community, rather than starting a Protogrove in the hopes of finding others.

In hindsight, I should have looked to find interest in ADF first. My regulars, helpful as they have been, would have been fine with open Wiccan-esque circles; they had no attachment to ADF. I had already been running open rites, and being on ADF’s site was not the advertising coup I imagined.

I will continue to hold open rites after the Protogrove is no longer; it is important to me to make these rites available to others. I lose advertising via ADF’s site, the direct support of the GOC and GCC, and the need to file reports — not the ability to hold rites.

So, then, what of this blog? I anticipate writing a bit more about other mistakes — and perhaps taking it in a new direction.


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.