As part of the requirements for my Dedicant’s Path course, I need to write essays reviewing eight observations festivals of the wheel of the year. This essay is probably too long, but I don’t intend to really edit it until I’m getting ready to turn it in. This here is a rawer, more unfiltered memory of Summer Solstice 2015. I will also post the script I’d written for myself.
The week or so leading up to the summer solstice was filled with frantic preparation. I had joined ADF at the last minute, and wanted to make this one count. To get this journey off to a good start. At the same time, I really didn’t understand the ADF’s Core Order of Ritual.
In fact, ADF Rituals were the first I’d ever encountered when I began exploring Druidry at the end of last year, finding the liturgy of the now-defunct Solitary Druid Fellowship hosted by the druid network. But then as now, I was intimidated by the numerous ‘moving parts’ of the ritual that I simply didn’t understand.
What was a well? What is it’s function? What does it mean to ask the gatekeeper to make it a gate? And who was this gatekeeper who was so frequently mentioned.
I think my memory of my summer solstice ritual will always be overshadowed by my memory of trying to understand the ritual before doing it. The ADF website and local grove leader were very helpful, and I soon had the feeling that I could perform a minimum version of the core order of ritual that I understood — at least enough to pass a test — and really get my feet wet, so to speak.
When I realized that I needed a gatekeeper by name, I panicked. The example sent to me by the local grove leader asked Brigid to serve as gatekeeper, but I don’t know anything about her. My search for other candidates was brief when I realized that there were people who asked Cernunnos to fill the role. I’d encountered him in the DruidCraft Tarot and, though a very domesticated man, felt more drawn to a spirit of the wilderness than to one of the hearth.
My ritual was prepared.
Timing was a bit of an issue for me. I had a long day on Sunday — it was made clear to me that I would not be taking time off from being a dad in the afternoon to nap if I chose to get up to welcome the sun in the morning — and I was afraid to go to the place I had chosen for my ritual, which was located in a public park, in the middle of the daytime. Compromise: I went at six thirty in the morning.
Doing the first druidic working was no preparation for the way the ritual felt. At all stages, I was careful to phrase my requests as requests to to keep respect in my heart. I was very aware that none of the kindred had any connection to me, or any reason to take any interest in me. I spoke briefly to Cernunnos about why I’d chosen him, and said I would be grateful if he would assist me in the ritual as my gatekeeper.
I felt that he did, and that was a good feeling.
I’ve since seen a dated (or low-def) video that Ian Corrigan put on YouTube as an example of a solitary ritual. When he asked the gatekeeper to open the gates, he used the phrase ‘join your magic to mine’ and he made a spiral in the air above his fire and well. I wish I had done that.
The ritual went well, though I’d like to have it better memorized and not to be constantly consulting a computer printout. Also, I’d rather do the next ritual in the privacy of the dark, and reading a computer printout probably wouldn’t be possible.
All in all, I have to say that the ritual met my expectations: I had the feeling that I was doing something more than just sitting in the grass early on a summer morning. There was room for improvement, but I have a sense of why I performed the ritual, as difficult as it would be to define. And that success has me motivated to do more rituals, better.