|Our Winter Solstice Altar. Each time we set up, it gets a little better. My goal for the next ritual is to add more seasonal embellishments! Photo by Weretoad, 2012.|
On Saturday, the North Country Druidic Study group gathered to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It was our third ever public ritual and, although it was the lowest attended, it went really well! Some last minute changes threw us off a little bit, but we bounced back and made the most of it! For the last time until spring, we gathered at the beloved stone circle at the Kripalu Yoga Center*.
|A bit of snow around the stone circle. The Winter Hag was there! Photo by Weretoad, 2012.|
The sun was shining and there was only a sprinkling of snow on the ground. Despite a warm start to the day, it grew cold as the sun set. Determined to celebrate among the elements, we toughed it out! By the end of the rite, our fingers felt clumsy and our tootsies were chilled! Really makes me appreciate the warmth!
|A chilly night presided over by the waxing moon. Photo by Weretoad, 2012.|
We honored An Cailleach and An Dagda – the Winter Hag and the God of abundance (among other things), respectively. We also paid tribute to the sun and did a working to send peace and healing to the victims of the tragedies the week prior. These moments were very moving, and yet we also managed to fit in a festive spirit here and there. We chuckled with An Dagda a lot and sang “Deck the Halls” as we ended the rite. We acknowledged the finite nature of the sun, but that there is hope attached to it – hope that it will rise another day. We equated that hope with our wish that the world will become a more loving place.
|The blessing garland the group put together. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.|
We transferred those wishes into the garlands we made and a white candle Daughter RavynStar brought to charge. The garlands were to be hung on the Yoga Center’s blessing (clootie) tree, and the candle was burnt during and after our feast to send healing to those in need.
|A Winter Solstice feast! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.|
Although the group was small, there was an abundance of food (Thanks An Dagda!) – including a birthday cake one of our members made for me! I feel truly lucky that our little study group is turning into a real spiritual family. We care about each other, support one another, and have become real friends! Just as important, everyone is willing to lend a hand. Without asking, people were setting up, vacuuming at the end, putting things away, washing dishes – how spectacular is that?! I so often read about organizers feeling as if they have to do everything. I feel very sorry for those groups. When ours becomes a grove, it will truly belong to everyone involved!
|Winter Solstice gifts! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.|
Gifts were exchanged as is the spirit of the season. I came up with a tag system so that those participating selected an ogham from a metal tree. A small part of the tag was put into a basket which we drew from to find our gift as well as the ogham which carried a message for us the coming season! There are some kinks to be worked out, but I hope to utilize it again next year!
Though it was small, our Winter Solstice ritual was wonderful. I’m looking forward to the new year and the growth of our study group!
|The Yoga Center’s altar, including the healing candle charged by the group. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.|