Tuesday, December 31, 2013

High Holy Day Essay: Yule

I attended a few Yule rituals this year, but I'd like to write again about the ritual put on by Prairie Shadow Protogrove. This was one I cobbled together from a few different rituals I found on the website, and was held at my home. It was a Germanic ritual to honor the return of Sunna at the solstice. The participants came down the porch stairs into my backyard, each sprinkled with a bit of water and given a candle for purification by fire and water as they entered. We welcomed Nerthus as the Earth Mother, and offered to the Fire, Well, and Tree. We invited Heimdall as our Gatekeeper, and then the Three Kindreds. Sunna was called as the Being of the Occasion, and we performed a gradual extinguishing of all the candles, including those held by the participants, mimicking the darkness of the long night of the Solstice - this was based on a Solstice ritual by Ian Corrigan. After taking a favorable omen heralding change and transformation as the gifts of the Kindreds, we asked for blessing on the Waters of Life (a choice of mead or cider). After giving out the Waters, another poem was read and the candles were gradually re-lit, the flame passing from person to person, mimicking the return of Sunna on the Solstice morn. Then Sunna and the Kindreds were thanked, the Gates were closed and thanks given to Heimdall, and the last of the offerings given to Nerthus. The ritual was ended.

 So, about five months after attending my first public Pagan ritual, I was thrown into leading one. I was very nervous, between opening up my home to many people I'd never met, and having to actually stand in front of those people and talk to them with a script featuring many words I certainly hadn't grown up pronouncing. I tend to be hard on myself, and so I will attempt to limit my complaints. The biggest problem was the water that was sprinkled at the start of the ritual - it sloshed out of the bowl and onto my script, which I then had to peel apart whenever I needed to turn a page. My husband also commented that my natural demeanor is rather cheery, which may have interfered with the solemnity of the ritual. Personally, I find it hard to sense energy when I am concentrating on so many other things like reading in front of others, who I'm supposed to be offering to, and so on. It seemed as if the other participants enjoyed the ritual, for which I was glad. I was personally unsatisfied; but I don't think I would have been happy if it had gone anything short of absolutely perfectly, and realistically there were no major disasters and all seemed to go mostly well.

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