I hope I’ll be able to get a photo of part of tonight’s occasion to share with you all in the coming days…
As I mentioned earlier, I went with three of my students today to do some ritual after class up at Mt. Erie. One of those students reads this blog relatively regularly, and occasionally comments, so if that student would like to identify themself in the comments below, they may do so! ;)
We briefly met and discussed what we might end up doing, and one of the students said that our intention was “to celebrate life.” Haec est unde vita venit, then? That did actually become part of our ritual later.
We went from there, and stopped to gather some candles and other things from one of the student’s houses before heading up to Fidalgo Island. On the way, we listened to some music by S. J. Tucker, as well as the two Tricky Pixie songs I posted yesterday (one sung by Alexander James Adams, the next by S. J. Tucker), during which one of the students asked, “Is this about what I think it is?” Yes, indeed…! [Later, I recalled the May 1st a few years ago that I spent with S.J. in Bellevue, eating donuts, seeking bacon, and various other enjoyable things…but nothing like that!)
We went through the guardian trees on the road up to the mountain, and then ascended it without too much difficulty (by car, of course). It was quite warm earlier, and yesterday, but it had cooled off a bit, and so I was a bit worried; but, it was very pleasant up on the top of the mountain. Two of the three students had never been there before, so I showed them around my favorite places a bit, and we looked over our various counties for a while before going to the heart of the mountain and having our ritual. We also commented on the simultaneously overtly Christian, and yet also entirely pagan memorials to dead youths up on the mountain, which conjured images of Ganymede in their eagle-wings connections and such. Very strange…
We lit several candles (seven in total…the eighth wouldn’t go!–the last time I had several candles on the top of Mt. Erie, though, at Midsummer Eve of ’95 or ’96, we couldn’t get any that did get lit to stay lit) and placed them, and then did food offerings of apple slices and crackers. We had roses and multi-colored daisies as well, and decorated the whole area of the “shrine” at the heart of the mountain, which made it into a beautiful Floralia grotto, really. We got some photos of it, and then took the lit candles down and placed them in two groups on some rocks, and then we did something that usually gets done in my practice of Parilia/Venatio Ursae, of passing between the candles for purification and protection blessings, and singing a song as we did so–rather than “Old McHadrian had a Rome,” though, we did (because one of the students is Thracian in her practice) “Old Sabazios had a villa, I-A-I-A-O!” (Sabazios syncretizes to, amongst other deities, Iao…!) The animals that went through it were a unicorn, a phoenix, a kraken (that was me!), and a dragon. I was flailing my arms so much, though, I broke my flowers! Oh well…just the stem of the rose broke into about four pieces, but anyway…
After that, after we talked about what remained to do, one student did a prayer to Diana as a lunar goddess, which was interesting considering that I very much connect the top of Mt. Erie to Artemis (though I had not mentioned that to her!). Then, I did my short sung prayers to Antinous (in Latin) and Polydeukion (in Greek), and as I did so, the wind–which had been calm and barely present before that–suddenly blew up in accompaniment. When the prayers were over, the wind died down again. While this is not unprecedented in my outdoor prayer and ritual life on my native islands, it’s been a while since I’ve done outdoor ritual on my native islands (which I must definitely fix soon!), and it elicited comment by the students later. My gods, they do like to make an entrance when called upon! ;)
After that, we sat and contemplated nature in various other ways, and partook of its bounties in further fashions as we wound down a bit. Also, one of my students is, for lack of a better term, a “rock-talker,” and brought various rocks with her–including one to leave at the site which wanted to be there in the grotto/shrine area. She gave each of us a rock to chat with for a while, and the one I had was white and very smooth and shiny, and part of it almost formed a right triangle that was then a triangular prism with a near-perfect right angled rectangular side. It also had a strangely hot and energetic feeling, even though the rock itself was as cold as any rock might have been in my hand up at that height. Very pleasant!
From there, we went to 7-11, and in honor of Venatio Apri (yesterday), we got hot dogs and other things there for our post-ritual feast. We went up to Cap Sante Point, and as the sun finished setting, we ate our food and chatted for a while longer before getting chai and heading back. And that was our first ritual outing together! We have many more planned, and hopefully the student/community group that results from this will include many other folks with whom we can share such experiences in the future!
Something that struck me about this was how informal this was…and yet, how very folk-based it was. (And by that, I mean “folksy,” not folkish, if you see the difference…!?!) Folk-type traditions tend to be pretty simple and straight-forward; there isn’t a lot of analysis, there isn’t a lot of extended ritual speech or use of words, it’s more about natural things, places, people, and feelings and experiences. It’s good to do that sort of ritual now and then; even though I love other sorts of rituals as well, this more simple and low-key one felt very good and was a nice way to connect with the group and with the land that we’ll all be working on and from for the near future.
So, from my viewpoint, an entirely successful, enjoyable, and moving event! I look forward to working with these students again on many things in the future, and with others in the eventual group; and, if all goes well, to sharing a photo of the decorated Floralia grotto with all of you soon!