This was my second ADF-style High Day. Unfortunately I was out of town on a business trip for the week leading up to it so I did not have a lot of time to prepare and as a result I essentially copied the ritual that I wrote for Imbolc and changed it up a bit. In a way this maybe worked out for the better since I was already familiar with the parts.
The ritual took place in our garden and fortunately the weather cooperated which allowed me to take my time setting things up. Sadly I did not think to take a photo, but it looked quite nice. Jack Frost had paid us a visit that morning, hopefully his last til Fall because we spent the day planting some of our crops which we had started indoors; broccoli, brussel sprouts, and swiss chard. This gave the garden that bit of green that it needed for the ritual. Also, for the world tree I have begun using one of the oak saplings that I asked Brigid and Boyne to bless at Imbolc. One of them now has the beginnings of a leaf, so it was chosen to be my world tree.
As further preparation, I bottled a batch of blueberry mead for use in the ceremony.
We got started in the early evening with a short but appropriate two power meditation:
Let us close our eyes
Take three deep breaths
Feel the power flowing underneath your feet awakening with the coming of summer
Feel the growing power of the sun and the sky above you
The power of the water flows up into you from the Mother
The power of the sun flows down into you from the Father
You are a seedling, nourished by the waters of the earth and the sun in the sky
The powers of water and sun intermingle within you
You are the seedling, growing up from the earth and stretching towards the sky
You are the seedling.
After honouring the Earth Mother and Sky Father I decided to include an offering to the outsiders. This is not something that I expect to do very often but I felt it appropriate to include in a blessing of a garden where you are looking for protection against rabbits, deer, horn worms, and the like. So I circled around the garden throwing handfuls of seeds while my wife exclaimed:
We make this offering to the Outsiders,
those whose homes we have taken for our garden,
and those we wish to leave our crops alone,
we ask that you accept these offerings.
The ritual then followed much the same course as my Imbolc rite until the key offerings. Here I decided to honour Danu and Dagda. For Danu we sacrified some fresh flowers and to Dagda we gave mead. We also used some of the mead as the waters of life and after drinking of it ourselves, we mixed the remainder into a watering can full of water. We then took turns watering the beds of the garden while the other chanted:
May the seed become a shoot
May the shoot become a sprout
May the sprout blossom with the May
May the blossom bear fruit with the coming of summer
Next came the workings phase. My wife is planning to breed two of our hounds this year so she took this time to ask one of the fertility deities within her hearth culture to bless the dogs. After this we closed the ritual down as in the Imbolc ceremony and went to spend the rest of the evening around the fire pit where we burned our Yule tree and feasted on cakes and ale.
I was quite happy with how it went. On the ‘what went right’ front, the big thing for me was having the time to prepare the site and just feeling more comfortable in general with how the core order flows. As a result I was able to get more into the ritual and actually start feeling the connection with the powers, especially the Earth Mother. It was really quite moving at times.
As for what could have gone better, I would have wished for a bit more time to work on the ritual. It would have been nice to incorporate more Beltaine traditions into it. I’d also like to have the time to memorize the words; I find that the act of reading off a page robs the words of a great deal of power that they should have. Finally, ADF rituals require a lot of sacrifices. In this case; silver, corn meal, incense, ale, mead, flowers, and water. Add to this your hallows, blessing cup, firewood, tinder, kindling, and sundry other ritual items and what you end up with is a lot of stuff that needs to be brought to the ritual site and organized. It would be nice to figure out some way of making the transportation and set up more efficient. I suppose the easiest way would be to have a less diverse set of sacrifices but that would take something away from the drama of the ritual. If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them!