I ended up attending a few more functions put on by Pagans of Nebraska, and it was there that I met fellow ADF member Amber Doty, at the time the only other ADF member in Nebraska. We talked about starting up a group, and it was on the 18th of October that Prairie Shadow Protogrove was born. Our first ritual was held at Samhain. Amber wrote the ritual with a Hellenic hearth culture, and the ritual was focused mainly on the Ancestors. There was a processional between two sticks of incense into the ritual area, held in Amber's large and open backyard. After the processional was a brief meditation, followed by prayers of welcome and offerings to Gaia, the Earth Mother. Offerings were made to the Fire, Well, and Tree, Hermes was called as the Gatekeeper, and there was another brief guided meditation for opening the Gates. The Kindreds were welcomed and offered to. For the main body of the ritual, the participants were invited to talk about their Ancestors; Amber told us about a man named Dale, a friend of hers who had passed on but inspired her to found Prairie Shadow Protogrove. The final offerings were made, a favorable omen was taken, and cider was used as the Waters of Life, held up and blessed by all the Kindred. The Waters were taken around the half-circle that had formed, and poured for each person. The Kindreds were thanked, the Gates were closed with another meditation, Gaia was thanked, and the rite was closed.
This was my first group ADF rite. While it wasn't without its flaws, most of these were natural to a first-time ritual with any group. The energy was not as present as I had felt in other rituals, but no one was visibly distracted or not paying attention. The Fire had some problems staying lit when several offerings were poured on it in a row, a lesson we took to heart for the next ritual. Honestly, it was so refreshing to be doing ADF ritual, pretty obviously written for a group of people, with an actual group of people! I know there are many solitaries who happily use the Core Order of Ritual, but I could never quite make it feel right for myself - but in a group of 10-12, it seemed that just the right dynamics were present. The energy created by Amber and I's excitement at the group's first ritual was strong enough to overcome the hurdles that we discovered along the way.