I find that the best way to get my house clean is to throw a party.
My desk may be covered with books and papers, my laundry bin filled, and my various interests — knitting and sewing being those that come with the most accessories — all sprawled out across the dining room table, but as soon as I decide to invite people over? POOF!! I’m a bearded Mary Poppins, snapping my fingers at the furniture. Before the song is over, my house looks marvelous.
All it took was a spoon full of sugar and an Evite.
This happens in extreme cases, too. When my husband and I sold our house last year and moved across town to a slightly smaller, more manageable rental, we scheduled a gathering with friends exactly one week after our move in date. It wasn’t a “help us unpack our boxes” party, or a “let’s hang art” soiree. Nnnnope. It was the end of October, and we threw a Halloween party. Boxes be damned!!
In seven days, we unpacked all of our bags, hung all of our art, filled every drawer and shelf, and made the crucial decisions about where to sit, where to eat, and where to place the plants so that they’d have the best chance of survival. It was a whirlwind of a week, but we got it done. And, were it not for us becoming impromptu party planners, the process may have dragged on for weeks — months, even.
I bring this up because The Spring Equinox (Alban Eilir/Eostre/Ostara) is exactly two weeks from today, and I have no idea what I’m going to do to celebrate. I’ll be away from home, cloistered in a hotel room in Los Angeles, far from my altar, my ritual garb, and the big, budding Maple Tree in my backyard. I imagined myself doing ritual under that tree once the snow melted, inviting a few friends to take part with me. But, that isn’t going to happen this month.
I could just prepare a personal ritual, making it a full-fledged, ADF style, bells and whistles affair, and perform it alone on the morning of the Equinox. There is an ADF grove in Southern California, Raven’s Cry Grove, and they celebrate (as many of our groups do) on the Saturday following the actual Equinox, but I’ll be traveling on that day as well.
See, part of my study requirement with ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) is to honor and celebrate each of the eight High Days throughout a single year, and to record my experiences. Ideally, I would celebrate the High Days with a group of ADF Druids, but this isn’t a strict requirement. Only four of the eight rituals need to be ADF style.
It’s just that I want to have an ADF ritual on the Equinox, and I want to share it with others. The quality of my religious experience changes greatly when I take part in ritual and fellowship with like-minded folk. I felt this most profoundly during PantheaCon when I was asked to participate in the ADF ritual alongside the Senior Clergy.
I wasn’t expecting to be involved in any way. It was a last-minute decision made by the clergy — literally, the night before the ritual. And, just like with our moving-in Halloween party, I made it work. I purchased a long, green robe in the PantheaCon vendor room, I processed into the room beside the priests like a pro, and when it was my time, I stepped into the center, lifted my voice, invoked the spirit of Inspiration, and felt a real sense of purpose and belonging.
For the rest of the ritual, I was fully present, fully engaged, and swept up in reverent worship.
And that’s the thing — I love being with people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a themed party or a sacred ritual, I love the energy of a group. When I clean house, I’m readying the space so that all those who enter will feel welcome, relaxed, and happy. My guests are my motivators, and my reward. But now, as I look toward the coming Equinox, I have no guests for which to prepare, or even a fixed space to make ready.
So, I’m reaching out to you, my friends and loyal readers. Maybe you could brainstorm with me.
If you’ve been a solitary — either by choice or by circumstance — how did you celebrate the High Days? If you have experience at leading groups, what do you do to prepare for your gatherings? If you have insights into how I might approach my situation, I would love hear them! Please post them in the comments.