Last Saturday we held our Alban Eiler ritual at the Grove. The day started out bright and sunny, with a bit of a chill breeze, and I had a lovely journey into town spotting signs of Spring along the railway line. Of course as soon as I reached the city centre it was enveloped in low grey cloud and it began to drizzle.
We had a smashing turn out of 13 this time round and welcomed some more new folks, all the way from Liverpool. Of course the main themes of Alban Eiler is the balance of the Light, the rising energy of Spring and seed planting. That is of course, not only planting your actual seeds in the earth but also your inner seeds. It’s time to manifest all those dreams and plans you made while resting in the darkness over the Winter. A time to move from contemplating, to actually doing. Like raising plants, in order to make your dreams come true, you have to do an awful lot of nurturing. It’s no good sticking them in the ground and forgetting about them, you have to tend to them!
We were all asked to decorate eggs to dress the altar, I decided to try dying mine by boiling them with onion skins and a little white vinegar. You can make patterns on them, in this case I placed leaves against the egg shell and wrapped them firmly in bits cut from an old pair of tights before placing them in the pan. The tights hold the leaves firmly in place. I produced the Awen by cutting shapes out of sticky labels, which worked better than I thought. I was in a bit of a rush, if you took your time I think you could get a much better result. They came up a wonderful red colour. There was a competition for the best egg which was won by Bracken’s Fab Four!
The ritual was beautiful, but we were alternately drizzled, hailed and bathed in sunshine. On the rare occasion we did have the sun it was pretty warm _ Gary even had to take his waterproof off at one point! Badger, the Setantii Bard, inspired by the view from his house to the Pennines, chose to recite this poem by Kipling, taken from his book, Puck of Pook’s Hill :
See you the ferny ride that steals
Into the oak-woods far?
O that was whence they hewed the keels
That rolled to Trafalgar.
And mark you where the ivy clings
To Bayham’s mouldering walls?
O there we cast the stout railings
That stand around St. Paul’s.
See you the dimpled track that runs
All hollow through the wheat?
O that was where they hauled the guns
That smote King Philip’s fleet.
See you our little mill that clacks,
So busy by the brook?
She has ground her corn and paid her
Ever since Domesday Book.
See you our stilly woods of oak,
And the dread ditch beside?
O that was where the Saxons broke
On the day that Harold died.
See you the windy levels spread
About the gates of Rye?
O that was where the Northmen fled,
When Alfred’s ships came by.
See you our pastures wide and lone,
Where the red oxen browse?
O there was a City thronged and known,
Ere London boasted a house.
And see you after rain, the trace
Of mound and ditch and wall?
O that was a Legion’s camping-place,
When Caesar sailed from Gaul.
And see you marks that show and fade,
Like shadows on the Downs?
O they are the lines the Flint Men made,
To guard their wondrous towns.
Trackway and Camp and City lost,
Salt Marsh where now is corn–
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
And so was England born!
She is not any common Earth,
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye,
Where you and I will fare!
By the end of the ritual we were all perished with cold, so we huddled round the fire bowl in the centre for the traditional burning of the scripts and to warm up. When we’d recovered a little, we indulged in a round of egg rolling before packing up. Hopefully by Beltane it will be warm and dry enough to have our traditional picnic!