Rituals for the High Days

February Feast
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove Inis Ull on February 3rd.

As we often do, we call in the earth mother Danu and the sky father Dagda. Manannan mac Mir opened the gates with us. And Brigid was the deity of the occasion.

The grove is dedicated to Brigid, so this rite was especially powerful. We had water from Kildare (which we add to the well for every rite) and we had a candle that was lit off one of the flames from Kildare, and everyone got to light their own candle from it. Many of the offerings to Brigid were poetry or songs. We also made Brigid’s crosses. We used a Celtic Tree card deck for our omen (it’s essentially ogham). And from the omen we received her approval for our work in the past and a continuing guiding presence.

Our central meditation was focused on Brigid’s healing powers. At this time, I was learning that I would need surgery, and at the rite, my symptoms were present. But I still felt a warm glow during the meditation, and I felt it in the whole room, as if Brigid was healing all of us at once and the affect changed the feeling in the room. The last time I actually got a feeling like that, my high school class (of women) were praying the Hail Mary in our school chapel. So I think this meditation was very special.

Vernal Equinox
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove, Inis Ull on March 18th.

This was a Norse-themed rite, so we welcomed in Nerthus and Odin. Heimdall was the gatekeeper. And the deity of the occasion was Idunn.

A member recounted the tale of how Idunn was captured by a first giant, and how Odin commanded Loki to get her back. We each had an apple. And out meditation was about being Loki as he flew to save Idunn and then flew with back into Asgard. After the meditation, we put our apples into a circle of candles to represent Idunn return and the coming of the Equinox and the spring.

This meditation was not so powerful as the Brigid one. It was more about putting our energy into the story so we could ‘help the spring come back.’ Since we can’t have bonfires in NYC, we must come up with other ways to welcome back the sun. I really liked this right because it was Norse and I’m much more familiar with Norse lore. I think the last time we did a Norse right was the Fall Equinox when Freyr was the deity of the occasion.

May Feast
I celebrated this High Day on April 28th in New Jersey.

I couldn’t make my grove’s May Feast rite. I was still recovering from surgery and I also had a friend visiting me. I was planning to do a ritual until my friend decided to come. At that point, I was staying in my boyfriend’s small house with him and my mom. And then my friend would be there. Plus I didn’t have any of my altar supplies – staying at my boyfriend’s for the month was a last-minute decision on my mother’s part. There was absolutely no way I could celebrate properly; there wasn’t even the space for privacy. What I did do is I meditated shortly and thought about the High Day. I thought about what it meant that it was finally summer. I thought what I might do with all of that summertime energy. And I prayed for a good summer season and a good recovery. While this was not very ritualistic, I still reflected on the season and the holiday, and I said a prayer, which I feel are the most important parts of a High Day rite. I honestly didn’t even feel like myself for most of the month. Thankfully, I began to feel normal again just in time for Wellspring.

Summer Solstice
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove, Inis Ull on June 23rd.

This rite was a bit different for us. Danu and The Dagda were still our earth mother and sky father. And our deity of occasion was Manannan mac Lir.

One of our members, had a vision that Manannan asked her to do a ritual by the sea and to give a sacrifice of silver. So we decided to make that our Solstice rite. We did this ritual at Jamaica Bay (in way south Brooklyn, not Central Park). The Bay flows to the ocean. We did as meditation about being on Manannan’s boat and he showed us something. And then our member gave a silver earring in offering and will wear the other in ritual. We also used Tarot for our omen and received a lot of pentacle cards. We decided it was a very good omen and the next cycle of the year was going to be a time of plenty.

During my meditation, Manannan didn’t talk. He also acted very quirky, even though I know most people find him dignified. Essentially, he was trying to show me that the ocean isn’t so scary; that my fear was unfounded. I love the ocean, but I am also very scared of what I can’t see. So I was really happy to have this meditation.

August Feast
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove, Inis Ull on July 28th.

At this High Day, Taltui was the earth mother and Dagda was the sky father. Manannan helped us open the gates. Ogma was our god of inspiration. And the deity of the occasion was, of course, Lugh.

One member retold the story of how Taltui sacrificed herself for her people. And the story of how she taught her son Lugh how to fight and be a warrior. During the rite, we did warrior games (with toys from the dollar store). We shot arrows, fought with foam swords, and played badminton. Our winner was in charge of the omen. It was especially fitting because she brought an Ogham set made from small pieces of the trees in the Ogham. We received Hawthorne, Willow, and Vine, which she determined meant to look toward the winter season with the blessing of Brigid and to bring the light into the winter months.

I can’t honestly remember the meditation, but I think we did a short one. At any rate, I enjoyed having a High Day rite that was more about fun. Inis Ull is much more relaxed in ritual than say, Stone Creed, but sometimes I find that a good thing. It’s important to build community along with piety. I also did a Norse ADF-style High Day rite at my own home. I managed to do it all by memory.

Autumn Equinox
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove, Inis Ull on September 22nd.

This High Day, we did a Greek rite. Every now and then we do Greek. Our sky father was Zeus, and our earth mother was Demeter. Our gatekeeper was Hermes, and the deity of the occasion was Persephone.

This rite centered around the hero’s journey to the underworld. But I first retold the story of how Hades stole away Persephone and her mother searched everywhere to fine her, bringing the first winter. Then a member also explained how many Greek heroes had to journey to the underworld to fulfill some part of their quest, and so we would take that journey in meditation, with Hermes leading us through the underworld. The guided meditation was intended to meet with Persephone specifically, so she could give the person something they needed. Our omen was a set of cards I am unfamiliar with. We decided that Apollo was challenging us to do the right thing, which might bring some reward.

In my meditation, Persephone gave me a bicycle — one I could fit into my hand. It was symbolic (I wasn’t meant to actually ride it), and it made me think about my fear of riding bikes as a child. Nowadays, I’m sad at an opportunity lost. It seems so idealistic to spend your childhood going places on a bike. So I took my meditation to mean that I shouldn’t skimp on chances for joy.

November Feast
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove, Inis Ull on October 27th.

This rite was Celtic again. We called in Danu and Dagda. Manannan opened the gates. The Morrigan was our deity of the occasion.

This rite was largely centered around meditation. We essentially let Morrigan judge us in a particularly ADF style. We did a three cauldrons meditation, where she poured water into each cauldron and then judged how that cauldron reacted and how much water it retained or why it didn’t. Our omen was about remembering the light of the summer and continuing to work with Brigid in the winter.

The cauldron in my stomach is wide and short. It held a lot of water and could have held more. The cauldron in my heart wasn’t very clear; the image wasn’t still, and the water spilled out of it. The cauldron in my head was tall with a thin neck. It almost looked like an amphora. It held the water, but only just. Morrigan wasn’t too happy about my heart cauldron, but the others were passable. It was an interesting meditation. I feel like a have a good amount of stability in my life. And I feel that, while I don’t know as much as I want to spiritually, I’m learning. However, I have been struggling creatively in my life. This meditation only proved that.

Winter Solstice
I celebrated this High Day with my local grove, Inis Ull on December 23rd.

This was a Welsh rite. I honestly can’t even spell that names of the Welsh deities for the Earth Mother, Sky Father, or Gatekeeper. Merlin was the deity/spirit of the occasion. I know we called them. I stuck to lighting the flame and calling the spirits, since I am unfamiliar with this pantheon.

On this high day, we focused on a story about Merlin and the red and white dragons. These dragons fought with each other and kept a castle crumbling down. We then did an interactive meditation where we thought about the most interesting part of the story to us, then posed our bodies in a position that represented that. One member then led us into meditation about what we were doing in that position and how it felt to us. And what in our own lives made us feel like we were feeling in that moment. Our omen was from a themed tarot set, but the meanings were ‘decision’, ‘boredom’, and ‘respect.’ And we found a meaning in choosing action over inaction to gain respect for ourselves and the spirits.

I pretended to be one of the fighting dragons, so I used my hands like claws. I thought about how my boyfriend and I had been fighting a lot lately and I got the chance to meditate on that. Then we made necklaces with sun charms to represent the sun symbolism in our Fall Equinox omen (and of course because it was the solstice).

I also did my oath before we started the ritual. We decided since my hearth culture is different from the pantheon we were working with that day, it made more sense for me to go first and do my oath.

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