Posts Tagged ‘Jo’

Hollow Hills Spring Equinox Ritual 2011

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Hollow Hills Grove held their Spring Equinox ritual on Sunday 27th March in honour of Ostara.

Held outside, with warm, spring-like weather gracing our ritual, we began with offerings of oats to the Earth Mother and mead to Wodanaz, anglo-saxon god of poetry.

Outsiders were gifted ale in return for non-interference of our workings, and the sacred fire, well and tree were given incense, a crystal and cider respectively.

Our chosen gatekeeper was Heimdall, dweller at the Rainbow Bridge, who was offered mead, and next the three kindreds were welcomed in and given seeds and mead.

Ostara, our chosen deity of the occasion, was also offered mead, and during our personal offerings she was given chocolate rabbits (in lieu of finding chocolate hares!) as a token symbol of her leporid companion.

The Druid Oracle was used for our interpretive omen and the following cards were drawn:

Nature spirits: Adder – named Nathair, representing transformation, healing and life energy. Druids sometimes called the adder, Nathar, and in Ireland it was thought that the term “snakes” referred to the indigenous Pagan inhabitants, whom St Patrick converted to Christianity, thus “driving out the snakes from Ireland”. Snakes are totems of the earth goddess and sky god.

Ancestors: Salmon – named Bradan, the salmon represents knowledge, wisdom and inspiration. The salmon was regarded as very sacred and teaches us to recapitulate our lives to find wisdom with an attitude of openness and innocence, rather than with strong-headed determination.

Pantheon: Fire Dragon – named Draig-tein, the fire dragon represents transmutation, mastery and energy. The fire dragon brings us vitality, enthusiasm and courage – fuelling the inner fire to accomplish tasks.

After sharing the waters of life, our magical working was the dying of eggs. Eggs represent new life, as heralded by the coming of Spring, with the vibrant colours reflecting the new, fresh blooms becoming evident around us after a long period of dark, grey, brown stillness.

Our magical eggs.

Our Spring Equinox altar.

Imbolc 2011

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Hollow Hills Imbolc ritual dedicated to Brigit was held on Sunday 6th February 2011, with 3 full grove members and 3 guests present. As is usual for our Imbolc ritual, we held it inside, before a blazing open log fire.

Opening the ritual with an offering to the Earth Mother of flowers, we then called upon Brigid, in her Goddess of Creativity aspect, to bestow bardic assistance upon us and offered her whiskey poured upon the fire.

Whiskey was offered to honour the fire, as well as Ogma, our chosen gate-keeper, and the three kindreds. The Outsiders were given beer, taken into the garden, in the hopes of leaving us in peace during the rite, and a crystal offered to honour the sacred well, and flaked barley for the sacred tree.

The omen was drawn from the Green Man Tree Oracle deck, which was a brand new deck, never used before. The three cards drawn were as follows:

Nature spirits: Holly – symbolising passions fuelling action and heeding us to temper passion into a useful, positive action, rather than letting one’s heart rule one’s head in a negative manner, and to consider the implications of our actions.

Ancestors: Birch – birch tells us that foundations are important and if we make a good start with whatever we undertake, the outcome will be our desired result. Birch drives out negative spirits enabling us to make a fresh start – appropriate for spring as this is the time of new beginnings.

Deities: Willow – this represents harmony, flow, vitality, connectivity and inspiration. The deities are telling us to be connected to them, and each other, and the world around us, and to access inspiration and be transformed. Another very apt card as Brigid is also a goddess of inspiration.

Our formal work was the welcoming of Brigid into our homes, and to accept a piece of Brigid’s blessed mantle. We asked for healing for loved ones, and protection for those about to enter perilous situations.

The ritual complete, deities and spirits thanked, we headed towards our regular post-rite feast to enjoy the company of friends once again.

Yule 2010

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

On 18th December 2010, Hollow Hills celebrated the Winter Solstice with Slavic deities for the ritual.

Our honoured deity for the occasion was Dažbog, a Slavic solar deity, a very apt choice in welcoming the return of the sun. The ritual was held inside, in front of a blazing log fire, also very traditionally symbolic at Yule in welcoming heat and light back to the earth and into our lives.

Perun, Slavic god of thunder and lightning,  was invited to be our gatekeeper, Mokosh, goddess of fertility, shearing, spinning and weaving, was chosen to represent Mother Earth. Domoviye (singular: domovoi) were also honoured, as these are house spirits in Slavic folklore, typically represented as small masculine beings, often completely covered in hair.

Offerings of Polish vodka were given, and members made Yule pomanders from oranges and cloves as tributes to the sun-god.

The weather over the Yule period was extremely cold and harsh, with severe snowfall in many parts of the UK. However, a few days after our ritual, the snow began to melt and temperatures rose slightly. Perhaps we can take this as a sign from Dažbog that our offerings were accepted and in return he has graced us with the first tendrils of warmth dispersing the icy chills of winter?

Samhain 2010

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

23rd october 2010 saw the Hollow Hills Samhain celebration taking place. On a beautiful full moonlit evening, members and guests gathered at 7.30pm to honour The Morrigan, Phantom Queen, Goddess of battle, strife and fertility, as well as to pay homage to our ancestors – those who have gone before us, imparting wisdom and knowledge to those that follow through the ages.

We began with a prayer and offering of Indian corn to the earth, followed by whiskey for Ogma, who was our requested bardic assistant for the ritual. Ale was given to the outsiders, and Lugh was called upon to act as gatekeeper.

The kindreds, ancestors and deities were offered whiskey with offerings including cream, pumpkin seeds and butter presented to The Morrigan. Our formal working was in the form of wishes which were written onto paper and placed in a Jack Pumpkinhead wicker man, constructed by Kevin and Doreen. This wicker man was then burnt, and the wishes carried into the night to be received by the deities and hopefully borne into fruition within the coming year.

The omen was read using tarot cards and were as follows:

Nature Spirits – (first card) 3 of arrows (swords) – representing jealousy, negativity. After more offerings were made, a second card was pulled, 5 of wands, reminding us that the power of nature is a force to be respected.

Ancestors – 5 of pentacles – endurance – keep honouring the ancestors, for one day we too will become ancestors.

Pantheon – page of arrows (swords) – the woodpecker, a tenacious creature that works hard and digs deep to achieve what it needs. The deities are telling us to work hard and dig deep within ourselves to become close to them.

Some shared stories of beloved family and friends that have now passed into the realms of the otherworld, toasts were made and gifts given in their honour. All the while under the gaze of the full moon, shining bright upon our gathering during the entire time.

Although approaching winter, the weather remained dry for the evening, and not too chilly, although most of us welcomed returning inside after the ritual ended to partake of warm food, flowing mead and lots of laughter amongst the good company of friends.

Hollow Hills Samhain 2010 altar

Jack Pumpkinhead - receptacle for our wishes and goals

Autumn Equinox 2010

Monday, October 4th, 2010

On 26th September, members of Hollow Hills celebrated the Autumn Equinox with a ritual dedicated to the Greek goddess, Demeter.

Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presides over grains and fertility of the earth  and the seasons.  Demeter and her daughter Persephone are central figures in the Eleusinian Mysteries (secret initiation ceremonies held annually at Eleusis in ancient Greece and regarded as a major festival during the Hellenic era).

The celebration of the Autumn Equinox is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of deities during the winter months.

Offerings of food and drink featured heavily in this ritual, with gifts of honey, bread, fruits and wine being given, and of course the throwing of barley at the altar by all members simultaneously.  Always a fun part of Greek rituals!

We cast for two omens using “astragali” (knuckle bones) and a corresponding omen table: the first omen received gave us the message “There are no crops to be reaped that were not sewn” and the second, “You will go more easily if you wait a short time”.

The first seems to be guiding us to think about what foundations are we laying, either in our personal lives or as a grove, that will give us our desired outcomes? Are we reaping what we sow?

The second seemed to be advising us to employ a degree of patience and forethought in our actions, rather than rushing headlong into something, but also that waiting too long may produce reckless actions.

Our ritual ended with a thanking of deities and other-worldly entities that had been invited and honoured, and we then returned inside for our feast just as the heavens opened and a torrential downpour began – it seems the gods were benevolent in holding off the rain until the formal work was over. A positive omen in itself, perhaps? 🙂

Hollow Hills Autumn Equinox Ritual Altar 2010