Upon approaching Yule, I was told of an ADF Proto-Grove within my area that had been opened. Due to my excitement, I was invited to attend. I contacted the creator of the group and immediately began interacting with him. As Yule creeped closer I began wondering if they would need help int he ritual. Two days later the call for assistance went out. I volunteered to help in any way I could. I was asked if I could do the invocation for the Norse-inspired ritual, which I agreed to. I was unsure of how the ritual would go, since this would be my first ADF ritual. The outline went out and I figured all would come together as it should.
In my preparation, which was short on time due to my graduate school finals, I decided to take the direction of the Proto-Grove Leader and combine it with the opening invocation of my prior Druidic clan (The Caledonii Grande Tradition). I knew that in order for me to be effective in the invocation, I needed something familiar and old to pull the energies and spirits. I truly believe the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods get to know us by how we introduce ourselves in our invocations. They become familiar with the tones in our voices and the lilt of our words. By this they hear their dedicated followers saying, “I know that voice, that priestess. She is one of mine.” Therefore, I included both together, playing it safe to not overwrite the work of a current ADF druid.
The day of the Yule festivities had me sitting on my porch with my husband, braiding the spun yarn from projects of the past. We had a serious conversation over our ways of communicating, determining how things should change in the way we communicate with each other. I believe it has been a difficult year for us. We’ve gone through marriage therapy to learn how to open the lines of communication. Things are much better than last year and I believe we are happier. To add to our struggles, we spent a year dealing with our son’s psychiatric diagnosis, knowing we had reached the breaking point in his therapy. We made the decision to hospitalize him to get him different help, which changed his diagnosis from bipolar disorder to autism. While people around us kept telling us how sorry they felt for us, I felt blessed to know there was hope in the autism diagnosis. It felt as if we were all coming out of a dark cave and into the light. I believe this whole year has been the path of Yule for us. So, we sat braiding my wool and then I bound some mint as a gift for the Fey (Freya and Frey) in the evening’s ritual.
~~~~~ Yule 2015 – ADF High Day ~~~~~
I arrived on time (thinking I was late because it was 2 minutes past 4:00pm), to discover I was the first one to arrive. When I brought my drum in (I brought her since the ritual said drumming), I was asked if I could call the ritual with her. I was happy to do so, since that had been a familiar role at gatherings for her in the past. Once all arrived, introductions were shared, and the fire was roaring, the ritual began. Drumming the ritual to order was interesting since I knew a rhythm was needed, but the rites of Yule are solemn and quiet. The calling of the gods was interesting and I could feel their arrival as each were called. As usual, I felt a closer affinity to Thor and Odin and felt a pull from Freya and Frey. Hearing the Druid’s Call and the Portal Song for the first time felt like the embrace of what I’d known for ages. They took me to a place of trance as I drummed and lost myself in the world of the seer I became years ago.
The fire began making a sucking, whistling noise which let me know the gods had arrived, even before I invited the Kindred. I knew things were about to change energetically in the ritual. When my role came to invoke, or invite the Kindred, I began with what I knew I was to say but felt so much more spilling from my heart. A few quick add-ons were thrown in (Norse deities, of course) because it was necessary to add them to the mix as they spoke to me wanting their say. During the inviting I poured handfuls of mead to the gods in libation, feeling the sticky honey embracing my hand. Once I finished, the calling of the dwarves began, which pulled on the other side of my being as an English Literature teacher who studied medieval literature and has a love of all things Tolkien. While the call is not originally Tolkien, it was how I knew them.
During the call I looked up and sensed the Callieach watching from the edge of the sacred space. She claimed me at my first initiation and each Samhain and Yule I acknowledge her. (I had to go home and light a candle for her and prepare pastries to bake to appease her.) Our binding and sacrifices went well, and in my gifts I found that my braid was truly meant for the dwarves, but my bound herbs were supposed to be a gift of thanks to Frey and Freya for their blessings, rather than an oath to Tyr. I felt Freya’s pull the whole evening. After the gifts were given to the flames and our sacrifices and bindings were submitted, I found that my hand was no longer sticky but instead dry and clean. It was a moment of realization that something had cleaned the mead from my hand. My last act was to toast to Thor, as was my obligation to him years ago.
The divining by runes proved to be about sacrifice and paring down or the year, but the whole ritual purpose was one of sacrifice. This prophesy seemed to relate to the ritual, and specifically related to my sacrifice, but I intend to meditate further on the pulling of Nauðiz, Perthro, and Mannaz since I believe there is always a personal connection and meaning to the runes that are yet to be revealed in the coming year.