Beetles, Bugs, and Toads

Or… a Summer Solstice celebration!

I celebrated with Black Bear Grove on Saturday and had a lovely, wonderful time. I feel very grateful to have found a grove where I feel welcome and comfortable. I am painfully shy by nature, even after years of working as a newspaper reporter, so I have a hard time feeling at home with a group of semi-strangers.

Anyway. For the celebration itself, we did an ADF-style ritual in a Norse hearth culture. The deities of the day were Mani (the moon god) and Sol (sun goddess). The Earth Mother was Nerthus, who was covered throughout the ritual and set sail on the lake after we were through. The Gatekeeper was Hermod, and the god called for bardic inspiration was Bragi.

For our group working, we danced the sun on her way with a free form dance around the fire, stopping after each repetition of a chant to represent the solstices. Here is the chant:

Sun is the shield of the clouds
Shining ray, destroyer of ice
Sun is the light of the world
Burn away the dark, burn away the dark.

The omens were  Gebo (gift), from the ancestors; Mannaz (mankind), from the nature spirit; and Ingwaz (fertility) from the deities. The seer for the day interpreted these as an excellent omen: Our sacrifices were accepted, the kindred are communicating with us, and we will see a good harvest from what we have sown in the spring.

I felt that this ritual went much more smoothly (at least for me) than the Beltane ritual did. I felt more confident and more comfortable, and it was so well-organized that it was almost seamless. Well done to the Druid in Charge.

For myself, I was almost painfully nervous. I volunteered to call Mani, and wrote and memorized what I would say ahead of time, but I have such terrible stage fright that my knees were trembling before my part came. But in spite of my nerves, all was well. I spoke my part smoothly and confidently.

I’m starting to really feel at home. A grove member gave me a wonderful compliment before we parted ways, and I’m starting to feel like a part of the gang. I feel blessed.

And as for the beetles, bugs, and toads? A massive black beetle landed on my shoulder during the ritual. I am normally terrified of creepy-crawlies (I know, I know, talk about girly, but I can’t help it), but I swallowed my girlish screams and put him on a log nearby where he was oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over by the less bug-frightened grovies. There were mosquitoes galore, as my ankles attest today, tiny ticks, which I escaped, and many tiny toads smaller than my fingernail that we all cooed over. The nature spirits were most definitely present.

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