This past weekend I went to a Druidic Ritual for Beltaine. I have been a solitary for some time, and I was a bit nervous when I came into the park. I had already taken a twenty minute tour of Westerville to get there, and my nerves were on edge. I am not the type of person to open myself to others in religious circles. I am definitely not the type of person who goes to functions alone, either. But, here I was. The park was clean. No one was in all black, and no one had thier Wiccan-Whacker out (long story).
I was not approached by anyone right away. This is new for me, as I have previously been to gatherings for groups that were heavily recruiting. I was given direction as far as my food items were concerned, and then left to my own devices. I met a few grove members, but none of the Wiccans. Hmm.
The ritual itself has been slightly life-altering. I feel different somehow, but I am still internalizing everything at this point. There were several key points that I am slowly digesting for every bit and piece of knowledge I can glean from them.
Instead of casting a circle, they open the gates. Not the same thing!! When those gates were opened, it was like the flood waters poured over me in a tidal wave. Very intense, but then it equalized. I had a moment of vertigo, but then the peacefulness returned....but altered. It was as though we really did open a gate and let them join us. I know I am not doing this justice, but I've never felt anything like it. It is hard to explain. All of a sudden, we were no longer alone. We were in the presence of greatness.
On the meditation: I had no trouble picturing the beautiful trees and the stone altar, though it was smaller than I would have thought previously. The book was old and appeared to be well used. The first picture was fiery and barren. The rains fell in a sheet and everything went grey and dismal...even more dismal than before. The next picture was shaped the same, but the greens and reds and blues were vivid and breath-taking.
I was quite disturbed from this point on, for my meditation went south. The picture of myself was of a very young, teenage me, all alone. As the pictures progressed, they were all still me at various stages in my life, in all of which I was alone. It was here that my eyes began to water, and I felt that familiar heaviness in my chest. When we got to the last picture, the one of all of us, standing in that moment, I was so grateful that I was not alone in that picture, but my mind was trying desperately to turn the page to see if the next one was back to just me...
On the omens--I asked for more information about the reading we got from the Oghams, and I was told to go look it up. I cannot tell you how shocked, surprised and GRATEFUL I am for this. I am trying to break a bad habit of believing everything that I am told, as well as breaking the habit of hanging out with people who just tell me more and more, whether or not it is true, for as long as I am willing to listen. Thank you, for the wonderful lesson in this. Needless to say, I copied down the Oghams and have meditated on their meaning for me.
Three questions asked of the Oghams.
Has our offering been accepted? Witch Hazel A resounding yes! Witch Hazel is the tree of Druidic Wisdom. It is used for healing purposes and to give strength of will. Inspiration and protection were also common uses. It is not associated with a specific deity, but it does posses masculine energy.
Offering for us in return? The spiral path. Honeysuckle was used to provide privacy because of its winding, vine-like growth. It was used to help people stop living in the past. It has a tendency to suffocate the tree that it grows on, like the past can suffocate your hope of moving forward. In magical purposes, it is used to increase psychic awareness. It is associated with the Goddesses Cerridwen and Gaia.
Further needs the gods have of us? Look to the winds. Aspen was used to overcome fear of unknown things. It has healing properties associated with reducing fever and pains. It contains salicin, which is similar to aspirin. It is used for courage, communication and endurance. It is also associated with the Goddesses Morrigan, Hecate and Persephone and the Gods Zeus, Hercules and Apollo. White poplar, specifically, is used for inner guidance, determination, rebirth, omens and signs, overcoming fear and doubt and finding creative solutions. At this point in the ritual, I was buzzed by a bumblebee.
On Bumble Bees: If your energy is scattered, the bumblebee can show you how to regain focus. When a bumblebee buzzes you, it is asking you to follow its lead. If you do so, you will arrive at the destination most appropriate for your new life awakening. Bumblebees represent strong past-life ties connected to the ancient secrets of longevity, as well as the power of service. Their movement from plant to plant reminds us of the interconnectedness of all living things. In closing, the bumblebee holds the secrets of life and service. (The Cycle of Cower Animal Totem Book)
On my way home....
As I was leaving the park, with my notes and my homework, I quietly began my drive down the main road of the park. As I was reaching the bottom of a hill and cresting onto the next, a crane flew in front of my car. Apparently, the water was nicer for him on the other side of the road. He floated to about three feet from the road, and then just stood in the water. I was so startled that I almost stopped in my tracks. I have never had any association with birds. I believe my spirit guide is a wolf. Wolves eat cranes. I am trying not to read to superficially into this, but I think it is significant enough to note.
The Crane: In Oriental cultures, the crane is the symbol of good fortune and longevity. When it appears in our life, it means good fortune is at hand such as physical health, emotional stability, mental clarity or spiritual awakening. A running crane can take three steps per second and may use its wings for balance and speed. They typically run into the wind to achieve the lift necessary for flight, but if alarmed, they can spring directly into flight. Cranes are aggressive when fighting and use a complex system of threat behaviors including physical postures and vocalizations. They remind us of the importance of proper timing and physical flexibility. They help us to connect with our primal origins and teach us how to utilize the power of sound appropriately. They hold the medicine of self-expression and show us how to vocalize our truth through singing, speaking or chanting. Cranes challenge us to stay focused and centered.
The crane is a soaring bird, and like that of the human spirit, it knows no limits. They fly with their neck and head outstretched as if they were seeing into the future. Their legs extend out behind them, holding them to the past. When the past and the future meet, wisdom awakens. Cranes help us to discover our personal grace and agility. They teach us to express ourselves with integrity and conviction. Most importantly, the crane restores our faith in ourselves and in spirit.
In closing, I think they will be seeing me again. I have realized from this one experience that I am in need of great change. I have been a terrible Wiccan. I said as much to my husband, and do you know what he said? He told me he never thought I had much in common with them anyway. (Six years later, he tells me this! Bless his heart for his patience with my path.) There has been something missing for a long time, but I finally feel as though I have taken a new step off the spiral and into the right direction. Now, I am watching for all the signs on the wind that I can find. Praise be the Gods and Goddesses that have given me these gifts of knowledge.
I had nothing to offer when I came but myself. My offering was accepted, and in return, they have agreed to show the way out of the spiral. What I do next depends on the signs they give me. May they also grant me the eyes to see and the heart to fulfill their request.