Oh geez, guess we really need to monitor this..

Sorry for the outage – I changed the theme to one that is supported and working. We’ll need to review what we have here and bring us back to speed. As always, feel free to contact anyone in the Grove for info, and check out our always-active FaceBook page. It’s where all the Kewl Kidz hang out.

Be safe!

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A Perfect Autumn Day :: Autumn Equinox 2013

It was a busy weekend for a lot of us, culminating in a perfect autumn day for our high day celebration. Chris and I attended the wedding of Grove friends Drew & Karen in Elgin where Jennifer was also one of Karen’s attendants. I got a nasty sting from a wasp just before the wedding, but it was more annoyance than anything else. I’ve been stung more times by bees, wasps and yellowjackets in my life to do more than just grouse about it for a few minutes. Besides, if that were the worst thing to happen on Drew & Karen’s wedding day, I’d take one for the team.

Our Autumn Equinox this year honored The Dagda, a deity our Grove has never worked with before. Jennifer wrote a beautiful liturgy (which I will post this week to the archives), and we celebrated with fruits of the harvest including pears and apples from Wisconsin’s Brightonwoods Orchard & Distillery, and cookies made from an ancestral recipe by Jennifer herself. After pouring copious amounts of libations and tasty treats for The Dagda, we received a very good omen that He was pleased with our offering, and an even more positive Grove omen from our guest Seer, Kat. I’ve posted a few recipes from today’s rite [Pear Torte, Baked Squash], and will get the rest posted as soon as possible.

We’re gearing up for a busy Fall, with a visit to an orchard in October, and an Autumn Social in Des Plaines following our Grove planning meeting. We’ll post more details as they become available.

In the interim, the Grove wishes all of you bright days, crisp nights, and a good fire to pray by!

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A possible new Wild Onion charity project?

loom knitting

First go with the knitting loom

So working in a craft store I always keep my eyes peeled for potential Grove craft projects, usually for Altar giveaways or ways to make ritual gear. However for some time now I have been interested in making squares for the Knit a Square charity, which collects 8 inch knit/crochet/felted squares and turns them into blankets for AIDS orphans in Africa.  I haven’t knitted properly in years but I sort of know how to crochet but I’m not very good at making squares, I can’t ever keep the edges straight. But one day I looked at the knitting looms and thought that might be the way to go. They work the same way a spool knitter does, and even little kids can spool knit so I though I’d get one of the smaller cheaper ones and see what I could do with it. I also happened to be browsing the yarn and found some very nice wool yarn on clearance! Squares made with natural fibers can go to kids who live in situations with open fires, as acrylic yarn turns into hot molten plastic should it get set on fire accidentally. They do accept acrylic yarn squares but they only go to places with electricity so I thought natural fibers would be more useful. I got the alpine wool (I think it’s roving) and it’s going to make some very warm squares!

IMG_4960When I got the loom home I realized I didn’t want to practice using the good stuff so I grabbed some cotton yarn from my stash and proceeded to cast on to the loom (I assume its casting on, like knitting.) I opted for the double knit as I figure I can handle the single knit and I think the double knit will be better for the squares anyway. So I followed the directions and started knitting and boy was I right about it being easy, it’s exactly like spool knitting and it goes really fast, I reckon I could do a square and hour easily. Even Chris could knit a square this way (yes you could Chris.) Which of course got me thinking about making this a Grove project. We could make so many squares over the winter, by the time our spring rolls around it will be fall in South Africa and the perfect time to send them over. The looms are cheap (and you can use a coupon plus my discount) and we can keep an eye out for yarn sales and again use coupons and my discount.  Another thing we could do is actually use some squares to make blankets for Project Linus as well since we haven’t made blankets for them in several years (I still have some fleece for that too but that’s another post!)

loom knitting

This is after about half an hour, that’s almost a complete square

So I figure this is something we can discuss over on Facebook and at the next Grove meeting or High Day. I’ll keep on knitting so I can work out the kinks, I found a few things out already they don’t put in the instructions so it will make things smoother for others who wish to join me making knit squares, and maybe hats and socks someday too? I have my eye on the sock loom and there is even an afghan loom that is curled in an S shape that you use to knit 60 inch blankets in one go. But I think I will see how the 8 inch squares work out first!

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Summer Solstice 2013

Summers in the Upper Midwest can be tricky times. In Chicago and areas farther north often experience unsettling swings in temperature and weather generally – sometimes it’s Spring, sometimes Summer, but it’s always a day-to-day mystery.

When planning our Summer Solstice, Wild Onion wanted to honor a deity Who made Her presence known to us a few years ago at our annual gathering in New York state. Since that time, we’ve honored Her twice before, and it’s turned out to be one of the Grove’s favorite rituals.

At the end of our annual gathering, Wellspring, held at Brushwood Campground in Herman, New York, Wild Onions were tearing down our camp, and readying ourselves for the eight-hour trip back to Chicago. Our last act before hitting the road usually takes us to Brushwood’s nemeton to pour libations, make offerings, and just quietly visit with the Kindred.

As we finished our offerings, I was about to step backward off the mound when Caroline stopped me with a shout. Directly under my right heel was a tiny object no one had seen before, buried in the dirt. We dug it up, and found out that it was a small, white owl carving. Almost in unison, we all said, “Athena!” We placed the tiny owl, Athena’s companion, back near the offering shaft of the nemeton, and made our way home.

On the trip home, we discussed Athena, and wondered what possible message we were getting. Some of us were raised on the Greek mythos, but we realized we needed to do some research when we got home.

We found out that the ancient Athenians used to honor their Patroness each year with a celebration called the Panathenaia, or Panathenic Games. Every year the city of Athens celebrated with games, food, arts and public rituals in Athena’s honor. Everyone in the Grove loved the idea of reviving the festival – our only problem was that the traditional festival was also at the same time as Lughnassadh, another Grove favorite.

The Grove finally decided to alternate Panathenaia with Lughnassadh for the first two years, then move our rite to Athena at a rather non-traditional time, Summer Solstice. That way the Grove could honor two deities we hold very dear in the same year.

We have had very good luck the past few years with the weather. This year was hot and muggy, but everyone still had a great time. The sunscreen and extra water definitely came in handy.

Preparation

For our main offerings, the Grove decided to make Athena a new peplos, a traditional Greek garment that the Athenians and presented to Her every year during the festival. We constructed it with strips of muslin sewn onto a rectangle of heavier muslin, then hand-dyed using turmeric and salt as a fixative.The final garment turned out a deep orange-yellow, and was decorated with a beautiful shoulder pin hand-made by Caroline, and tied with a hand-woven purple belt made from wool.

athena's shield

Athena’s Shield Giveaways

As our Grove giveaway, we decided to make small wooden tokens to represent Athena’s shield, Gorgon head and all.Using small wooden discs, gold and silver metallic paint and decoupage, the mini-shields turned out shiny mementos to be blessed and given to our attendees.

In honor of Summer, I made two honey cakes – one to offer to Athena, and one to be shared among the folk. The only regrettable outcome was that the sugar/honey glaze melted and puddled in the heat, but otherwise they turned out light and delicious. Chris bought some ice wine to go with them, along with some clear spring water for those who don’t imbibe.

Caroline also woodburned the Greek Alphabet Oracle into wood to take our readings for the ritual. With her steady hand and artist’s eye, the oracle turned out to be just the thing to get readings from the Kindred.

Readings & Songs

For our first Panathenaia, our Chief Liturgist Chris started researching how She was celebrated both in antiquity and today. One thing that caught his eye was the Athenian tradition at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Chris decided to investigate further to see if any of their modern-day traditions could inform ours.

The students at Bryn Mawr have been leaving offerings and lighting votives at the statue of Athena, the college’s Matron, for decades. As She is a symbol of strength, wisdom and knowledge, the students ask Her aid when finals roll around.

Athena also plays a role in Bryn Mawr’s annual Lantern Ceremony, where the Sophomores present the new students with a lantern of knowledge each year to symbolize the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. There is even a stone owl — one of Athena’s companion animals — which sits over one of the college’s entrances, and said to protect students, faculty and staff.

Chris discovered that during the Lantern Ceremony, the students sing a song in Greek to Athena, and added that to our liturgy as a way of bridging the old with the new. We integrated their song into our liturgy as part of our invocation. The lyrics to the song are included in the liturgy portion of this booklet (both Greek and an English translation). The song is beautiful and mysterious.

Pallas Athena

Pallas Athena thea,

Mathe mastos kai stenous

Se par he me is iman

Hie rus sou sai soi deine (x2)

Hie rus sou sai soi deine (x4)

Akoue. Akoue.

Makar i ze ai toumen

He min sophian didou

He min syngignou aei

Makarthe a akoue(x2)

Makarthe a akoue(x4) Akoue. Akoue.

Hie rize nyntous lydnous

Aei phanos phanoien

Lamprynontes ten hodan

Melan phanon poiuntes(x2)

Melan phanon poiuntes(x4)

Akoue. Akoue.

Pallas Athena, goddess of learning and strength,

We come to you to worship you, dread goddess.

Bless us we pray; give us wisdom.

Be with us always, Blessed goddess, hear!

Sanctify our lanterns now, to shine forever clearly,

Lighting the way, making bright the dark.

This blending of old and new is one of the hallmarks of Wild Onion Grove. While some groves and druid groups seek to recreate the way our Ancestors worshipped, we place a very heavy emphasis on the phrase, “…in a modern context…” from ADF’s founding documents. The knowledge of the past is definitely important, but, equally important is for us to acknowledge that we aren’t our Ancestors. We don’t live in their world, and we have different traditions informed by modern technology, modern ideas and the modern society we inhabit.

Blending ancient and modern traditions helps us find meaning in each.

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Excuse our dust!

We are in the process of updating and renovating our website. The event calendar and contact page should be functional and over the next week or so we should have all our content moved over. Thanks for your patience!

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