To quote one of my all time fav childhood comic books, “I am the best there is at what I do.” I’m so good at druid-id-id-ing that oak trees spring up from the ground after every step, and people I walk past instantly find that their clothes have turned all white and flowy. Yes, yes..coughcough... Anyhoo. I know my weaknesses and understand the fact that everyone can alway benefit from additional learning and training.
One thing that is a bit of an issue with being isolated from other druids who have been trained to lead ritual, is that I am going purely from reading about what needs doing. This is fine, but it does not beat seeing first hand what ritual really should look like. This is why I drove to Michigan last fall for the Midnight Sun Grove’s festival. I wanted to see ritual done by those who have been doing it for years. ADF is about what you do, and I want to give the people of my small sapling grove the best I can. They deserve a trained ritualist who is able to led with all the tools available.
When I saw that Michael Dangler and his coconspirators were hosting a weekend workshop on ritual work I knew I couldn’t pass that up. Here was a chance to get the face to face training I need to provide the best I can for the small group of people whom have endured my leadership style. So I packed the car, and at 6:30am Friday morn I began the 13+ hour drive up to Ohio. To spare you the details of the drive, I will just say that the rock troll in drag holding the daisies tied to look like a club was not my fault, and I take no responsibility for it at all.
The lodge where the program was held was a perfect space for the gathering and I can see why Three Cranes uses it for rituals. The idea behind the Pagan Fire Seminar was to be general enough to apply to all Pagan paths, but with a Druid slant. There were a few who attended that were not druids, and even one who wasn’t even pagan, but most there were ADF. Much of what was covered was information that I have already found out in the trial by fire that is the starting of a new grove, but it felt good to hear what I have been doing somewhat well. I also know now what basics need brushing up.
The covering of the different forms of prayer, and how to pray by a good fire, started the day off perfectly. We were given a chance to write and share a prayer. I find that when I am in a new space where I do not know many of the people gathered, I tend to go into introvert observational mode. I enjoyed hearing what others offered in words so much more eloquent than I could provide. What I enjoyed more was watching the change in their body language as they shared. I saw backs straighten, and voices take on what I call the preacher’s tone. It always intrigues me how differently we speak when we do something of a religious nature. Even if we are doing public speaking, the moment you add a Deity or one of the other Kindreds as the addressee, the voice and language changes to something quite different.
Michael led us in an exercise of opening the gates of our hands, hearts, and mind. This is something I don’t think I will be doing in public ritual anytime soon. I felt my vision change into the mosaic of colors that happen in deep trance, and I am certain that if he had held the practice longer than he had, I would have been into full visions mode. This would be fine if I were alone, but it is not something I tend to do with other people present and out of the context of what should be happening.
One practice that stands out as a highlight of the day was Kirk’s leading us through the circles of being. We started out by becoming aware of our own bodies, then to feel our bodies and the presence of someone standing close to us. We then threw this awareness out into the whole room. The final exercise was to feel the whole room, plus the invited Kindreds. In that moment I felt Athena and Hades take my hands (Athena on the left, and Hades on the right). I felt them standing next to me and just letting me know they were there and pleased with what I was doing. My hands were tingling as they held the space with me. I was very sad when the time came for them to step away.
Pointers for the future, should those who presented see this post... I know that time constraints did not allow this, but in the future I would love to see more of the participants stand up and do what you are speaking about. If you are talking about addressing a crowd in the round, have people stand up and speak to a group in the round. I think that the doing of the actions being discussed with comments and helpful criticisms would be extremely helpful for people like me. Again, I understand that there wasn’t time enough in one day to do this, and cover all the topics. It might be necessary to either cover less, or make this a three day event (I don’t think two would be enough either).
After the seminar ended I was given the chance and the honor to watch Drum become an ADF initiate. It truly was an blessing to be able to witness the completion of the Initiates Path by a man whom I consider the most influential to my physical Druid path. There would not be an Ad Astra Protogrove if it hadn’t been for Drum’s gentle prodding. When I needed desperate help, he was the only one to call me and offer advise. He is a man whom I hold in very high regard and I am so very happy for him. Drum dear, if you read this, I would like to say that it is a great blessing to have you in my life, and I am very happy and proud of what you have done. May the Shining Ones continue to bless you. May the Ancestors hold you high on their shoulders, and may the Spirits of this Land and of this Place continue to walk beside you in community. So be it!
I will end this by saying, the 13+ hour drive was well worth it! I am glad I went, and would go again in a heart beat. Thank you to those who presented and helped to make this seminar happen.