On Saturday the Grove celebrated Alban Eiler in the park. We had a few people drop out in the week running up to it and the weather was so bad that others couldn’t make it on the day. In the end there was just five of us for the ceremony. There was only a smattering of snow in the park as it turned out, but there was a really icy wind that made it pretty uncomfortable. There was very little on the ground, the wind had blown most of it against the trees so that it looked like the fake snow on a low budget television programme. To think that last year we were all barefoot and Craig got sunburnt!
Lynn had kindly agreed to organise the ritual this time, and as she is from a Wiccan background it had a different emphasis than our usual Alban Eiler ceremony, which we all found very inspiring. She suggested we move away from the Grove, about 50m into the woods nearby. It can be very boggy in there but we found a firm area and set about preparing for the rite. We gathered quite a bit if dry wood and whilst searching, Craig came across our altar log which had mysteriously gone missing from our hiding place about six months before! It turns out someone had used it on their bonfire, it was pretty burnt; but we all agreed, that strangely, it did look much better for it.
We used the standard OBOD opening and closing but with a central rite dedicated to the Goddess Ostara, which included this poem by Aurora:
Winter’s barrenness has subsided,
From the death of Winter
Spring’s new life.
Spring is coming to the land,
The days grow longer,
Warm breezes begin to stir.
All around us we see signs –
The growing things are beginning anew.
It’s the resurrection of the dance of life.
The dance of the stems and stalks
As they push forth from the Earth.
It is the season of creation.
Growth has turned outward,
The land has become fertile again.
The Earth is caressed by
The loving touch of the Mother,
Where her hand passes.
Atoms twine together to create growth.
Buds burst open.
Leaves and vines unfurl.
She creates a vision of the green beauty.
Beauty so breath-taking after
The dark solitude of Winter.
It is this vision that we celebrate
On her day of Ostara
The world recreating itself–
Returning from the death of Winter,
Into the new life of Spring
Through the love of the Goddess.
At Alban Eiler we usually plant actual seeds as a physical symbol of the thoughts and ideas we hope to grow during the year. This time we were encouraged to write them on slips of paper and consign them to the flames. Or as it said in the script, ‘chuck thought seeds into fire’ As Bracken remarked, where else in the country could you get that written into a ceremony!
The ritual felt very intimate, mainly due to the fact that there were only five of us and of course, because we were in the woods we had to stand much closer together, never mind the centrifugal pull of the fire bowl! When we’d finished, Craig produced his delicious vegan panettone to share. Gio came up with a gizmo to toast hers!
After we’d fed the squirrels and birds with panettone and the altar offerings (minus a few mini eggs here and there!) we restored the wood to how we found it and hid the Altar log near the Grove. Hopefully it will still be there next time. Then we headed into Town to get warm. We spent a good few hours drinking ale and sampling up market pub grub at the Commons. Many thanks to Lynn for organising the ritual, which we all enjoyed thoroughly and for guiding us through the Northern Quarter in search of beer and cakes!