December passed by in a curtain of never ending rain, taking with it two events in the cycle of the year…
The Annual Grove curry night, and the Winter Solstice ceremony.
For this year’s curry night we amassed at Cinnamon’s in Loughborough. What can I say really? Excellent food, excellent company, excellent (if occasionally disturbing) conversation (they all seemed quite keen on putting my head in some kind of pickling jar or brain cylinder – I found their glee in this somewhat disturbing). Overall a very enjoyable evening 🙂
For the Solstice ceremony we decided against meeting at the Hearth grove, fearing that it would be too wet and swamp like. Instead we headed over to castle Tatterhood.
I’d warned everyone that I’d be late (as usual) but when I got there half the company were still missing. As I shuffled into the room we were meeting in I was greeted with strange looks (nothing new there)
“Why are you carrying a Lightsabre?” Someone asked.
“It said in the email to bring your Lightsabre” I replied
“But why have you got a Lightsabre?” Someone else asked
“Because it said to bring one in the email!” I replied again,
“Yes” came the reply, “but why do you own a Lightsabre?”
Looking confused I asked “doesn’t everyone?”
Apparently the answer is no, not everyone owns a Lightsabre! Weird huh? Just me and Tatty (but she couldn’t find hers).
Shortly after the rest of the grove arrived we moved outside for the ceremony, and for a brief time it was hardly raining!
After the usual circle casting, we moved swiftly into the first half of the main part of the ceremony. Locksley (M.C. for this ritual) declared a duel between The Holly king (representing Winter) and the Oak king (representing Summer). Tatty volunteered to be the Holly king, so I gallantly lent her my Lightsabre. I was then chosen to be the Oak king, but I was now bereft of my Lightsabre! Seeing my predicament Locksley (grove sword bearer) handed me the grove sword…..
We moved away from the circle to the duelling ground, and faced each other in the dark and the drizzle. Tatterhood armed with a large plastic Lightsabre that lights up blue and emits impressive and realistic sound effects. Me armed only with a foot and a half of lethal sharp, forged iron, pre-Roman Britain leaf bladed short sword. The battle was short, viscous and violent. I left the Holly king dying on the damp ground, and returned to the circle to declare my victory and receive my accolades! Unfortunately the dying gasps and choking noises of the king of winter was disrupting my speech so I had to go and finish the job off with my knife – hay, it’s not easy being King you know!
When Tatterhood recovered enough to return to the circle, we moved onto the second (and gentler) half of the ceremony. After we had all gathered closer around the central fire, Locksley produced (we daren’t ask from where) a bag of sugar and a bag of salt. At his bidding we each took a pinch of sugar and one of salt, meditated awhile on the coming year. Then we cast the sugar into the fire whilst saying a few words, from the heart, about what good things we wanted to attract or realise in our lives in the New Year. Then we cast the salt into the flames and spoke about what things we wanted to sacrifice or give up from our lives so we could make room for the new. This was, as always heartfelt, poignant and inspiring. I sincerely hope that my brothers and sisters of the Grove actualise or achieve their wishes.
After closing the circle, and an Awen experiment that’s best left undescribed, we returned once more to the halls of castle Tatterhood for feasting, drinking and merrymaking before heading off into the night (and rain) to spend the festive season with our loved ones (and other members of our families), or in my case ankle deep in mud with the horses…..
Oh, and if anyone was concerned, my lightsabre was retuned unharmed and has been replaced in its position of honour – bottom if the wardrobe buried under old and forgotten jumpers….. There it lies, not dead but dreaming, ready for the call to arms once more…..