Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

Gwyl Ffraid 2012

by Oak King - May 15th, 2013.
Filed under: Past Rituals.

Gwyl Ffraid Ritual 2012:

Sunday, 5th February, was a chilly grey day, but dry and free from snow, so that we could all make the journey safely to Christine and Merfyn’s in the Crafnant Valley. Eight humans and four dogs made up the gathering.

We began fairly promptly at with a general meeting and discussion in Christine’s cozy back room. Dates were discussed and decided on for the rituals for the rest of this year (see list at the end of this piece) and we took some time examining the full complexity of opening and closing ritual, as recommended by Emma Restall Orr in her book “Ritual”. We decided to try it and then discuss our thoughts and observations at the next Study Group meeting. Everyone was given a task or part to contribute and those who wished had time before lunch to quietly gather their thoughts and even write something down on paper in preparation. As I particularly like to move about the land during a ritual, or even go inside for a part of it (as we did this day), I was unsure how to cast a circle of sacred space and maintain it while also maintaining our mobility. I am indebted to Gwdihw, who suggested that we cast a circle, which remains open on the site where it is cast, but which also travels with us as we move about the land, and then is returned to for closure.  We also talked about ways in which we can change and improve our commitment and approach to our grove gatherings, encouraging everyone to take more joint responsibility; and how to integrate enquirers and newcomers so that they do not disturb the deeper work that we look forward to sharing in the future.

Ruth supplied a delicious hot soup, and fortified with this and various hot breads and flapjack, we finally sallied forth out onto the land.

First we went to Christine’s Tree and spent a few quiet moments there, communing with the spirits of the place, before moving a little further down the slope to one of the fresh water springs on Christine’s property. Here we formally opened the ritual, finding our feet, calling to the Spirits of Place with our intentions for the ritual, then Calling for Peace, before defining the sacred space we were to use and consecrating it with incense (which represents three of the four elements; earth, fire and air) and water; walking with both around the outside of the circle, then blessing all those gathered within the circle, and finally circling the very center. The Spirits of the Four Elements and Directions were then called, and finally the Ancestors of the land, Blood and Spiritual Heritage were asked to be present with us also.

The central part of the ritual focused on water and fire, having an abundance of the first at this time of the year (albeit in mostly frozen form!) and seriously needing the comfort of the other to survive the weathers exigencies! We drew water from the spring, cupping our hands and scooping up the sparkling liquid to symbolically cleanse ourselves. Then Merfyn lit the bonfire that he had so careful and thoughtfully prepared and we cast our old, worn out past upon it and watched the voracious flames consume it. We shared the warmed spiced milk, representative of the first ewes milk of spring and the nurturing of the mother, and Christine’s poppy seed cake (indicative of the seeds lying waiting beneath the surface for the warmth of spring to release them into new growth). Then we mindfully returned indoors to light our own candles, representing the new things that we are bringing forth from the dark resting time of winter. Some of us had written poems especially for this ritual to celebrate the time of year and we read them now, in the warmth and intimacy of the candle light and firelight. We also focused on the word “Hearth”, which is sacred to Ffraid/Brigit, and listed all the qualities that are “contained” within the word, using each component letter as the first letter of each quality.

Later, as the light was beginning to fade, we returned outdoors to the same spot by the spring, to formally close the ritual, grounding ourselves first, and giving thanks for a touching and unique experience.

Everyone had excelled themselves with the edible contributions for tea and we all ate and talked into the evening.

I am sad to have to report though that, only the day after the ritual, Christine’s great dane, Bascumb, suffered from a heart attack and passed away. He has been an integral part of so many of our rituals… we will all miss him. I am only glad that he was able to join us one last time in ritual so close to his going. Our thoughts and love go out to Christine who will miss him so very much.


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