Ugh. My DP reviewer required me to elaborate a bit on my Yule ritual…. seven months after the fact! Oh well, here goes; I’ve added a final paragraph to the original version.
The Wheel turns, and I suddenly find myself doing my very last High Day recap!
I have to say that for a while I rather despaired about writing a Yule ritual for our local group. Originally one of our OBOD members had agreed to do the rite, but she subsequently got a new evening job that keeps her from attending most of the rituals so the job fell back to me.
I had an idea to go with a theme related to the Brú na Bóinne and wrote a liturgy which seemed pretty good, but it was definitely lacking in “oomph”. I was worried that it would be a rather lackluster rite… but then about a week before the solstice I suddenly had an idea; our ritual was scheduled for the evening of the solstice, but why not have a sunrise solitary component that came out of and linked back into the group ritual? So my idea was that during the hallowing of the blessings phase I would bless extra wine. Then, after the blessings the group would do a working, raising energy and transferring it to the extra blessed wine. This then would be portioned out and sent home with all of the participants to be used as part of individual solitary sunrise invocations, and I really think it worked very well.
So let’s talk about the ritual. There were ten participants in total, including one person who was new to our group and another person who was new to Pagan group rituals altogether. It was an exceptionally mild day for December in Ontario, reaching a high of 10 degrees, but it had been raining and threatened to continue doing so. Fortunately it pretty much stopped except for the odd drop here and there just as we got going, which allowed us to hold the ritual outdoors around a small bonfire.
After the procession from the house to the fire, and the purification, we started with me doing a guided meditation based on entering the Brú na Boinne.
Following the meditation we did the normal steps; the Earth Mother prayer, establishing and opening the gates, and invoking the Kindred. For the deities of the occasion we invoked The Dagda, Boann, and Oengus Mac Og. I then proceeded to tell the story of the birth of Oengus and the how he came to rule at Brú na Boinne, using the variation that saw him tricking Elcmar at Samhain.
After the story-telling we took the omen, called down the blessings, and then performed the energy-raising working. After thanking the beings and closing it off, we roasted some chestnuts on the bonfire and then went inside for our traditional potluck. While the folk ate, I filled small containers with a couple of ounces of the blessed wine and gave them to each participant along with the some instructions for the solitary component.
Overall the ritual seemed to have really worked. Feedback from the participants indicated that they really felt that the guided meditation drew them in and helped them to enter the sacred space and to ground themselves. The folk additionally seemed to appreciate the solitary offering aspect of it as well; it helped them make a deeply personal connection to the purposes of the ritual. As a result, it may become a tradition for us. One aspect of the ritual which really worked well was that we finally managed to use a chant really effectively in the blessing of the wine. This was due largely to me finding a Youtube recording of the chant and sending it out to people in advance so that they knew the words… definitely a good idea!