I intend to write a better reflection on my solstice ritual in order to comply with the Dedicant’s Path requirements, but I wanted to write this down while the experience is still fresh in my memory.
I did a bad job timing the ritual. That has to be said. I didn’t think I would be able to be awake and at my chosen ritual site at 4:10 in the morning for the sunrise — which would have been idea — and still be a fun, enthusiastic and mentally alert dad for the rest of the day. So, figuring my options were ‘early as possible’ and ‘late as possible,’ I went with the former.
But I wasn’t early enough. Maybe I’m too self-conscious, but it was difficult for me to focus on the ritual at 6:30 in the morning when people were already up and walking their dogs past Hofgaard, my chosen ritual site. If I’d chosen to do the ritual at home, obviously, it wouldn’t be a problem. It just would have felt less. . . just less, I think.
I was not well prepared for this element of ADF ritual. The ritual requires a gatekeeper (see the Druidic Dictionary for more) annd I really haven’t invested much time in any of the ‘qualified’ spirits to know which one I’d like to work with — or which one might like to work with me. In the end, I wavered between asking any spirit who felt inclined to serve as my gatekeeper and asking Cernunnos, the god of the wild.
I went with asking Cernunnos and, judging by the way the ritual felt, I’m assuming he was willing. That said, I felt weird asking for help from a spirit (deity?) after only reading a Wikipedia page that said almost nothing definitive about him. So, along with Brigid, I have another deity to learn more about.
The last thing I really want to mention here is the idea of taking omens. I like the idea, but was afraid of it. The only system I’m really comfortable with is Tarot — and I’m not comfortable with tarot in the sense of being especially proficient — but I wanted to minimize the number of new things in this ritual if at all possible.
It seems as though the traditional question to ask during the ritual is whether my offerings were accepted. I could have flipped a coin for this, but I had no idea what I would do if the answer came back no. Someone told me she once offered praise and song in this situation, but I couldn’t see myself beginning to sing in the middle of a park at 6:30 in the morning. So, instead, I asked what the will of the ancestors, the nature spirits, and the shining ones was in the ritual and in my life.
The answers were fairly clear: more engagement from me. I’m still trying to better understand the omens, but it’s clear that I need to incorporate more scholarship and devotion in my day-to-day.
So, all in all, I’m counting the ritual as a success. It was difficult enough for me to get a ritual which covered each of the points in the Core Order of Ritual that the ADF has on its website, and I’m proud of myself for just getting it done. Even more, I’m happy that I walked away from the ritual space with the feeling that something more had happened than just me reading words and scattering sacrifices in the early morning.
And, for a first ritual in ADF format, I think that’s what counts.