Yes, I know its late. Its been a busy couple of weeks, what with some kind of annual Winter festival been going on. Tatterhood was very kind enough to allow us her folk’s garden for our Mid winter ceremony. Because of the rain, chances were the Grove would have been as wet and muddy as a Glastonbury concert; so plan b was to invade a members home. I’d planned on a ceremony that would embrace another aspect of the winter solstice, a side not often recognised in mainstream society… chaos. I’d heard earlier in 2012 that the Grove used to have the ritual combat of the Oak and Holly kings with lightsabres. How could I resist? The Twelve days of Christmas can be traced back to the twelve days of chaos that were said to be taking place as time around the solstice was considered to be in flux, meaning supernatural events were more likely to happen (a bit like how people now consider Halloween to be a time for spirits and odd occurrences). For the winter solstice, this meant the dead would often return and in the summer solstice, the realm of fairy was open to our world; both are remnants of belief from our Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian heritage. Either way chaos was definitely out as though the night wasn’t supposed to take place: Myself, River and Lady Morgana were held up in traffic due to an accident. It was raining and we had some difficulty lighting the fire, but being persistent buggers, we managed it. Braving the fine drizzle out doors, we cast the circle, the blessings of fire and water were passed hand to hand, which I think made it more personal, as it was easier than going around everyone. The duel of the Oak and Holly kings was commenced with Tatterhood brandishing a plastic lightsabre (Holly) against Cthulhudruid wielding the Sword of Justice (Oak). I did feel for the Holly king as he was smote down by the victorious Oak king… didn’t stand a chance against that kind of ferocity. I wanted to take the New Year’s resolution to the next step, so I modified it into a rite of gain and sacrifice. We were to think of something we wanted to gain in the new year which was represented by taking a handful of sugar and cast into the flames of the fire (then goes whoosh!). We then thought of something we were to sacrifice in order to gain said thing we wanted, represented by the casting of salt into the fire (it was supposed to crackle but it never did… sad face). After missing out Cthulhudruid and Léithin Cluan- don’t worry, we got them included!- there was room for a little more chaos yet. It had been agreed by the bards that at some point we were to chant the closing Awens to the tune of the original Star Trek theme tune, this had now evolved into this being done by the ladies whilst the men chanted “Awen! Awen! Awen!” In serious dead pan warrior style. I can think we lasted three rounds until we gave up and ended up laughing. After all that, we went indoors and caught up on gossip, banter and cheap innuendo. Despite all the things that I would normally have been annoyed at (rain, lateness, smoke in my eyes) I thought it was an enjoyable ceremony especially as it was fun, something very important for getting through the dark times.