Northern Rivers Grove has never cancelled a ritual. I’m proud to say that has not changed despite the threat of poor weather. After much discussion, the members of Northern Rivers Grove decided not to meet in person to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Instead, we agreed to experiment with having a virtual ritual via Google Hangouts. Even though it would mean putting our annual gift exchange on hold, and no delicious potluck, we would still enjoy fellowship. With all the technology at our fingertips, there simply wasn’t an excuse to completely cancel.
Grey Catsidhe and Weretoad worked to set up the altar, the Hangout, and the cameras. (Their daughter helped, adding stuffed animals, pine cones, her skull rattle, and a paper tree she made.) At the agreed upon time, and after working through some technical difficulties, seven other people were able to join us – including two people from out of state who wanted to experience a group ritual. One of those individuals is actually one of our distance members. It was so nice to have her with us again, albeit virtually.
Streaming our first ritual came with some challenges for sure. We needed to make sure everyone with a ritual part was setup with audio and a mic at least before beginning. Grey and Weretoad did their best to broadcast using both her webcam and his phone respectively. This allowed for multiple angles – sometimes with humorous results. Cats occasionally made appearances, but they’re used to rituals and did not disturb the altar. We decided not to chant much because we knew it probably wouldn’t translate well over our microphones. That part felt strange as we are usually such a musical group! The biggest challenge was creating the ritual at the last minute. It was a complete change from our original plan, but Grey demonstrated her understanding of ADF’s liturgy by weaving all the parts together from memory. We kept things Pan-Indo-European to simplify, although Grey called to her patroness, Brighid, for inspiration and as gatekeeper. Others called to the spirits from their own homes while Grey poured offerings at the main altar. Everyone named deities associated with winter or the sun when it came time to call to the Gods and Goddesses. Grey invited everyone to give their own individual offerings at their altars during or after ritual.
The Two Powers meditation was a bit clumsy due to the off-the-cuff nature, but everyone expressed happiness with our first online ritual. There’s a pride that comes with keeping our founder’s vision of public ritual alive and well despite winter’s challenges. We learned a lot and are already brainstorming ways to stream future rituals now that the Yoga Center has wifi access. We know the ability to participate meant a lot to those who was able to join us from other states.
Grey Catsidhe acted as seer. She used the Druid Animal Oracle to obtain insight into the next few months for our group. The Nature Spirits gave us the doe, reminding us to heed their call with grace despite what they may throw at us (perhaps relating to the winter weather). The Ancestors gave us the eagle which reminds us to have courage and to take mind of the bigger picture. This also seemed to relate to our Winter Solstice ritual in many ways; rather than getting hung up on the obstacles, we looked at the bigger picture of our Druidism and offered a public ritual as is part of our collective vision. The Gods and Goddesses gave us the dog, a symbol of friendship and working together. They blessed us with those abilities and reminded us that we have a partnership with our deity allies. Overall, the omens were very positive.
One of Grey Catsidhe’s favorite parts of the rite was the toast and boast. Everyone had their own beverage. We toasted each other over the miles, and it truly felt like we were together in our hearts. If you were able to participate, what were your favorite moments? Let us know what worked and what you’d like to see in future online rites.