|Pagan Pride Day Altar|
Our closing ritual was an ADF one, led by Prairie Shadow Protogrove, honoring the spirits of the harvest as the beings of occasion. I wrote this one awhile ago, actually sitting at the park location for some of my writing. I think it's one of the best rituals I've ever written, actually; and it's one of the most participated in rituals we've ever held. Everyone came up and gave praise offerings, all in a line - it was almost like watching communion at a church, except this was people who were giving to the gods. While reading the welcoming phrases, I felt I was truly connecting with the spirits of that lovely place; a place I'd spent a few years living near, spirits I had grown up loving and honoring. When I called to the spirits of the shoreline to aid in the opening of the Gates, I remembered being a little girl exploring the icy edges of that lake, falling through a weak spot and ending up soaked up to my knees. When I called to the spirits of the treeline, I remembered climbing high up in the branches of the pines, hands sticky with sap, waving in the wind. These spirits were my friends from long ago. It was incredibly powerful.
I've always had a close connection with the natural world, ever since my Grandmother took me out walking and talking to trees as a little girl. I know I've written about it here before. I heard someone say at Midnight Flame, an ADF festival I attended recently, that in ADF there are many people who feel drawn largely towards one of the specific Kindred, and I think that I am one of those people. I honor the Gods, I love my Ancestors, and make regular sacrifices to both - but there is something so immediate, so material about the oak in my backyard when compared to those beings. I can touch it, feel it, understand what it wants. The squirrels that run through my yard and feast on acorns chat with me, look at me, engage with me - just as I engage with them. I have always loved them, because they have always been there. The land wights are not an abstract concept that I learned about later in my life, but a presence that I grew up with, that I ran to for refuge when people felt too difficult. This is not to say that those who are deity- or ancestor-centered are wrong for connecting more with those Kindred - it's just a difference that helps make up the diverse tapestry of ADF.