Throughout and About: The PCV in October 2017

Throughout and About: The PCV in October 2017

Hills Pagan Weeknight Dinners

By Dean

The PCV’s Hills Pagan Monthly Coffee Meets have become so popular that it was decided a second Hills Meet was needed! To give our lovely host café a bit of space and offer those who find their weekends eclipsed by other commitments a chance to attend, a weeknight dinner event was established. In October we met for the first Hills Pagan Monthly Weeknight Dinner in the eclectic and charming ambiance of the Micawber Park Tavern in Belgrave. The tavern sits nestled among lush treeferns and surrounded by towering mountain ash forest. Beside the tavern a stream dances among the rocks, and if you are quiet and lucky, you may see a platypus before it disappears leaving only ripples behind. Inside traditional protective amulets – horse brasses lay on the cottage-like exposed beams, while an assortment of steins, tankards, lead lights lamps, old oak barrels and images of knights dot the interior landscape.

We had a fine old wooden table in an open room to ourselves. Naturally a lot of discussion began with plans and excitement for the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering. It moved in turn to swapping travel experiences about Iceland, Scandinavia, Scotland and even Antarctica. The new meet also saw initial Spring plans hatched for a Hills Pagan Writers Bootcamp. We chatted about gardening, elf stones and whether three or more Pagan events on the same day is too much. A fine tavern dinner, in a splendid setting filled with bright and bubbly Pagan banter was enjoyed by all. We’re already looking forward to the next one!

Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets

By Sarah

To say that October has been a massive month for the Hillsmeets is a little like saying the ocean is a bit damp; it’s November now, so it’s technically impossible to cram any more into October, but the last four weeks for the Hillsfolk have included:

*our regular Sunday meet at Earthly Pleasures – and the first one for the Spring that has been warm enough for us to gather outside in EP’s beautiful gardens;

*the second of our ongoing monthly weeknight dinner meets at Micawber Tavern, which was well-attended and is going to continue being a lovely, relaxed get-together in extremely pretty surroundings;

*the first of our ongoing Writers’ Workshops, hosted by published author (and witch) Helen Patrice, who offers prompts, inspiration, and guidance in writing around pagan themes;

*and last but not least, the culmination of weeks of hard work, as the Hillsmeets hosted the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering’s Beltane Ritual. The MFPG is in its 36th year, and it was an honour to be part of such a long and beautiful tradition. With an attendance of nearly a hundred people, the Beltane ritual was somewhat of a baptism of fire (if you’ll excuse the metaphor which is simultaneously very appropriate and also not at all) for the Hills group, who had not previously done any ritual or magical work together (unless you count sitting around having coffee every single month for nearly three years and still really enjoying it an act of magic), let alone any public work, and had no opportunity to get together for even one rehearsal before the big night. But we are nothing if not intrepid, and our faith in ourselves, each other, and the divine was rewarded, and the ritual went beautifully; the weather was perfect, the fire roared into blazing life, the May Queen and her King were crowned, and a very tangible sacred space was shared by everyone.

The Hillsmeets group would like to extend our most heartfelt gratitude to the MFPG organisers and all who attended, and I would like to express my love and thanks to the ritual group who were absolutely magnificent, not to mention unfailingly positive, supportive, helpful, and brave. Alex, Dean, Fran, Seumas, and Veronica (in alphabetical order because I can’t type you all in simultaneously; it would be the sort of typographical nightmare that summons demons or looks like a black metal band logo) – you are amazing, with a special mention to Ro, whose humour, support, and the fact she’d thought of absolutely everything that could possibly be needed, kept us all going. You’re all amazing.

Our beautiful little community keeps growing and getting lovelier, and long may it flower.

And may November be comparatively peaceful, and filled with cake.

 

Silver Birch Grove Druid Coffee

By Shaz

Silver Birch Grove ADF held it’s Druid Coffee on Sunday 22nd of October. We had a good crowd for a cold Sunday and we were happy that we had a table in the front room again. As always the service and food at The Peacock Inn hotel was wonderful and I enjoyed a great lunch with copious amounts of coffee.

We were able to begin organising ourselves for the upcoming Mt Franklin Pagan Festival, making sure we all had the camping equipment we would need and worked on a little bit of a meal plan. For those that know me that meant I had to work out how much bacon we would need.

There were many varied conversations over lunch. We had a chat about modern Heathenry, some interesting reading suggestions and a fascinating conversation regarding the current Marriage Equality survey with other interested attendees. We found that we had all sent our surveys in already and are hoping the outcome is a positive one.

I got to talk to one of our regulars about his upcoming trip to Las Vegas. While we will be camping, he will be jetting off to the US. He thought it was a shame he would be missing Mt Franklin this year but I’m pretty sure he was just being polite.

Druid Coffee is a great way to meet your local ADF Druids. We hold it on the 4th Sunday of each month at The Peacock Inn Hotel in Northcote. We hope you can catch us at the next one.

CBD Pagan Pub Moot

By Dean

With Spring having sprung, a small band of Pagans gathered in a cosy nook of The Last Jar Irish Pub. In that shadowy corner our dark purpose was to summon a few pints of Guiness. The previous few CBD Pub Moots had been quite gregarious. This time however, with the AWC and several other competing events on during the same weekend, we had a smaller turn out. This quieter and more relaxed atmosphere turned out to be perfect for some new people to ask some questions of some Pagans who had been practicing for a longer time and all had many experiences to share.

What’s Next for the PCV?

Dates for your diary…

Saturday, November 18th: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens in the Cafe
Sunday, November 19th: CBD Pagan Pub Moot – November
Saturday, November 25th: PCV Summer Picnic 2017
Sunday, November 26th: Bi-Monthly Frankston/Cranbourne Pagan Meet
Sunday, December 3rd: December Committee Meeting
Sunday, December 3rd: Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets – December

 

Throughout and About: The PCV in September 2017

Throughout and About: The PCV in September 2017

Spring is here! Here in Victoria we have celebrated the equinox surrounded by beautiful blooms.

PCV Ostara Ritual

By Ang

Today Silver Birch Grove Hosted Ostara/ Spring Equinox for the Pagan Collective of Victoria. Dean and Mark led a Norse Rite Honouring Freya and Frey and of course the goddess of Springtime, Eostre. The sky was looking ominous as we arrived, but the weather prevailed with no rain eventuating for the ritual. Following the core order of ritual with Heimdall as our gate keeper, we honoured the Earth Mother, the Land Wights, Gods and Goddesses of the Aesir and Vanir and the Ancestors. Many chose to make their own offerings to bring abundance into their own lives and as we gathered to celebrate in joy the signs of spring and lift our voices in song the fertility of the land around us was very apparent. Dean took the omen using the runes which were past-Berhana, birch, growth new life, the grove. Present- Dagaz, day and night in balance, future- Wunjo joy, blessings, happiness. We shared the waters of life and as we departed from our worship with inspiration in our hearts and minds to enjoy the bounty of our picnic lunch and wonderful company.
Thanks to Dean and Mark for the ritual Shaz, Ang Callum, Alex and Geoff for their parts in our wonderful rite.

 

CBD Pagan Pub Moot

By Dean

With Spring having sprung, a small band of Pagans gathered in a cosy nook of The Last Jar Irish Pub. In that shadowy corner our dark purpose was to summon a few pints of Guiness. The previous few CBD Pub Moots had been quite gregarious. This time however, with the AWC and several other competing events on during the same weekend, we had a smaller turn out. This quieter and more relaxed atmosphere turned out to be perfect for some new people to ask some questions of some Pagans who had been practicing for a longer time and all had many experiences to share.

Monthly Hills Coffee Meetups

By Sarah

We’ve been a little quiet on the Hillsmeet updates front, though the Hills gatherings have continued as they do, with their regular mix of sorcery and caffeinated shenanigans. I’m not sure if anyone has missed my waffling updates about how jolly lovely it all is, but we haven’t been idle during the radio silence. Nope, like some sort of Jim’s Witchcraft, we have franchised, and now have night-time meets during the week as well, and other exciting plans for more goings-on once the weather becomes less like the Northern third of Westeros.
The October meet on Sunday 1st saw 17 people or thereabouts, and one gangling and gorgeous wolfhound puppy and the world’s softest pug, talking about herbalism and sacred woods (the humans, not the wolfhound and pug), and Druidry, and old family traditions, and rune-reading, and everything else under the sun, and as usual, at least three people complained that their faces hurt from too much happying, and also as usual, our incredibly-patient café hosts finally asked us politely to leave half an hour after closing time so they could go home, and we stood around talking in the carpark for ages. We love our Hillsmeets; they’re community at its warmest and loveliest, from our lovely venue, to our regulars and the new visitors who become regulars.
As usual, I totally forgot to take photos, which is a pain because there was some sterling sparkly-owl action going on, two incredibly nice dogs, and a cupcake with superhuman powers, and any of those things would have made for excellent photos, so just imagine them and it’ll be like you were there. Maybe one day, you will be.

Hillsmeet Oct 2017

At the October 2017 Hills Pagan Coffee Meet (Happy Birthday, Alex!). Photo by Josephine Winter.

 

Coming Soon: Hills Pagan Weeknight Dinners

A New Choose Your Own Adventure from the folks who brought you A Lot Of Pagans In A Café.

Imagine, if you will, an old-world tavern on the edge of an ancient forest. Tall trees loom above it, the smell of dark, damp fern-fed rainforest earth and wildflowers hangs in the air, and a creek sings as it winds its way around the building lit golden from within. A lyrebird sings a short way off; a dozen different bird-calls tumbling from that plain brown throat, well-hidden amongst the trees. Inside, surrounded by images of medieval knights, and polished horse brasses gleaming on the walls, and wine barrel tables, followers of the Old Ways gather around a table by the window. It’s covered in glasses of ale and plates all but licked clean.

The followers of the Old Ways are pissing themselves laughing. One of them just quipped about slow omens foretelling stuff that had just happened, and that got riffed on and then somehow Moon Moon the wolf meme got dragged in and now a bunch of very silly pagans are giggling helplessly and nearly choking on their beer. It had all started out as a discussion about how different paths interpret and enact the Wheel of the Year, and which deities accorded with the festivals, and what auguries one might take at the various times…but what’s deep and profound spirituality without a few laughs, hey? And after composure had been regained, the discussion flowed on, like the creek just outside.This was the trial run for a new, ongoing Hills event, to be held monthly in Belgrave. The Hillsmeets at Earthly Pleasures were proving so popular and addictive that there had been some talk about doing them more frequently – but we couldn’t impose on our lovely hosts more than we already have been. They’ve been absolutely amazing about an increasingly-large bunch of assorted Paganfolk stealing all of their tables, constructing a shanty-town out of them, and digging in for five hours, but it’s a lot to ask. Then Hills-regular Veronica had the marvellous idea of trying an evening moot during the week. And here it is! The first one was a joy, and the second will be held at the Micawber Tavern on Wednesday, the 11th of October, from 6.30pm. Find the event page on the PCV calendar for more details. Turn up early and take a saunter through the forest that really is right next to the tavern. If you tread softly, the lyrebirds will sing.

 

What’s Next for the PCV?

Dates for your diary…


Wednesday, October 11th: Hills Pagan Weeknight Dinners – October
Sunday, October 15th: October Committee Meeting
Sunday, October 15th: CBD Pagan Pub Moot – October
Sunday, November 5th: Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets – November
Saturday, November 18th: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens in the Cafe
Sunday, November 19th: CBD Pagan Pub Moot – November
Saturday, November 25th: PCV Summer Picnic 2017
Sunday, November 26th: Bi-Monthly Frankston/Cranbourne Pagan Meet
Sunday, December 3rd: December Committee Meeting
Sunday, December 3rd: Monthly Hills Pagan Coffee Meets – December

Featured photo by Ang.

Meeting Minutes: August 2017

Pagan Collective of Victoria

 

Meeting Minutes 20/8/2017

 

Present: Josie, Ryan, Carrie, Nickole, Geoff, Elkie, Dean, Alex, Fran, Mark, Dorian, Lucas, Sarah, Seamus

 

Apologies: Shaz, Ang

 

Meeting Location: The Last Jar, Melbourne

Meeting Open: 1.05 PM

 

 

  1. President’s Report –

It’s been another great year, the meetups have really flourished and grown, the calendar is our most visited page on the website and the feedback has been really positive overall. We are now moving into our fourth year as a successful not-for-profit and it is exciting to see it continue to grow and flourish.

 

  1. Vice-Presidents Report

It has been an exciting year full of challenges. We have faced them head on, made hard decisions and come out stronger and better off for having dealt with these challenges head on. Very happy to see the PCV continuing on to new and better things.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report –

Memberships have continued to climb in a fairly even fashion over the year, we now have over 340 registered members out there and over a thousand Facebook likes. Pretty exciting, some of the members are even from other states and countries.

 

  1. Presentation of Accounts (Treasurer) –

Apart from the Spiral Dance/Kc Guy concert there was not really any financial activity, at least on the income front. We still have the usual costs of website, annual fees to consumer affairs etc. which are covered by donation from committee members (Josie and Ryan). Currently we have $142.70 in the bank.

 

  1. Meet-up Reports

It is worth noting that the PCV has done around 100 free events (just PCV and affiliates alone) in the last 12 months. In addition to this we advertise even more events on our calendar (paid and free) from non-affiliates.
We have had a lot of interest in how we do things in The Pagan Collective of Victoria from across the globe, apparently we run a model that other people think works really well.

Hills

The Hills as usual continues to grow, amaze and flourish. It has a really warm open atmosphere that encourages people of all walks to attend. It is currently a victim of it’s own success. For the colder months advertising of the event has had to stop because more attendee’s than the venue can handle are turning up. In the warmer months they will be able to expand out into the front garden and comfortably accommodate the numbers they have been getting.
The possibility of having a new Hills event that takes place mid-week has been raised and will be explored further if there is sufficient interest to attend/run it.

CBD
There are a lot of people attending every month, the venue is dealing well with the numbers (on average 14 – 20). This meet continues to follow the same model it has of general chatter, then once all anticipated attendees are there a discussion topic is presented and everyone has a chance to have their say. This continues to run for 11 months of the year.

Creswick
Continuing to have attendees that haven’t come before attend them, it seems to be growing quietly, still on a quarterly basis. It has been heartening to meet so many different pagans from around Central Victoria.

Frankston
These meets continue on with some growing interest, Dorian is happy to keep hosting these events quarterly.

6. Redbubble

Redbubble has been discussed previously as a potential place to sell merchandise for the PCV and it’s meet-ups.
Sarah has kindly offered to design merchandise and is in the process of adapting the logo etc. for use on the Redbubble account once it is set up.
For the new members – the reason the Redbubble was suggested over another form of merch was that there is little to no outlay that would have to come out of donations from the committee and people are able to just order what they want from our store.
Dorian is also offering up some of his artwork for use on items in the Redbubble.
The aim is for January next year to the time that we go live with the Redbubble store, allowing time to set everything up correctly so it runs smoothly.

7. Mount Franklin

It would be great to have a display this year at the Gathering with flyers etc. advertising the groups, probably similar to the one from Pagan Pride Day. Also to have the PAN community safety flyers.

The PCV has been asked to run the children’s May Pole this year, our intrepid committee member Alex has offered his services for this job.

A core group from the Hills are running the ritual this year and may need some assistance at some points prior to the Gathering which we will happily provide.

8. Midsummer

This event is going to be a family friendly event held at Fairy Park in Anakie, attendees will need to buy a ticket from Fairy Park to get in, however apart from that it is running as a free event.
The event is on FaceBook already with details on there for people interested.
According to the staff at Fairy Park the venue is accessible for people with mobility issues but they may need some assistance.
The event will be BYO own food and drinks (non-alchoholic only!)
The date is the 25th of November

9. Witches of Oz Movie Night

The proposed venue at present is the Tin Shed in Belgrave, however this event still needs more research which Fran has kindly offered to do. The proposed movie is Practical Magic.

10. Patreon

It has been suggested that the PCV run a Patreon as a way to cover some of the costs that it incurs annually, without having to become a organisation that charges its members fees every year.
To this end the proposal at this point is that we consider starting a Patreon that only has a $1 reward (this doesn’t stop people from donating more). It is of course completely voluntary for our members to support us or not as they chose.
Some reward needs to be offered for supporters, after all everything we do now is free anyway, to this end it is suggested that some backer content be made, proposed ideas are a free workshop for backers and some live video etc. content only available to backers.

Action – Josie will put together and present a proposed Patreon, and appropriate rewards etc. at the next committee meeting and this can be voted on then.

11. Trivia Night

This could be a really fun way to get a variety of members and non-members together for an evening of fun and games. It could be a great night.

Action – Nickole to come up with a plan, possible date, venue and other details to be presented at the next meeting.

12. Ostara

Will be held on Sunday the 24th of September under the Silver Birch Grove banner. It is going to have a Heathen tone and will be organised via FB.

13. 2018 Planning

Next meeting will be the meeting to set a great deal of the dates for next year so please bring your dates, diaries etc. so we can get the plans rolling.

14. Blog/Social Media

People are welcome to help with both of these things. Read that as please help committee!

15. Other Business

Swinburn Uni Student Pagans Group – contact has been made with Swinburn by Alex and discussion is ongoing with the possibility that they will get some club funding/space to run their gatherings etc in.

A history of Druidry project is underway, Elkie has been sending out questionnaires etc. to people and is compiling a history of Druidry in Australia with some assistance. We may be able to help in some small way as and when is needed.
Closing Remarks

Thank-you all and welcome to the new committee!

 

Meeting End: 1.45 PM

 

Throughout and About: The PCV in June 2017

Throughout and About: The PCV in June 2017

Happy Solstice from the PCV! June featured a beautiful Solstice Ritual alongside the usual meetups and mayhem.

PCV Yule Ritual

By Dean

On Sunday the 18th of June, the Druids of Silver Birch Grove ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship) hosted a public and inclusive Winter Solstice ritual in collaboration with the PCV. I thought it might be a good idea to write a little bit about the ritual for posterity…and this blog. After all, I just so happened to be the one who led that ritual.

Druidry tends to draw together those with a more Celtic inclination and emphasis on nature. ADF encourages it’s members to explore one or more of the related Indo-European hearth cultures. As a practioner of both Ásatrú and ADF Druidry it was only natural that I would write a ritual for Yule bringing together Norse traditions in the context of an ADF ritual. Yule is a favorite High Day for me and is one of the most jolly and sacred times of year: the Norse New Year.

The weather was cool but a clear day. We were fortunate to have 20 attendees, from a diversity of paths, backgrounds and walks of life. We formed a procession into the circle of stones, surrounded by the sacred grove, with the rhythm of Geoff and Mel’s drums. We gathered around the cairn of stones, with a guided meditation as the creek flowed over the rocks nearby. We followed the ADF core order of ritual, hidden in plain sight within a pocket of urban bushland. Heimdall warded the ways as the gate keeper, Bragi was implored for inspiration. By a good fire, a silvered well and a sacred tree we welcomed, honoured and gave gifts to Jord (the earth mother), the ancestors, the land wights and the Gods. Our deity of the occasion was Skadi, fierce goddess of winter, the mountains, the wild, archery and skiing. I told an ancient myth of her time with Njord by the sea. I had carefully crafted an arrow from fragrant mountain cedar wood and knapped an arrowhead from some bluestone I found on a trail in the Hills. I carried the arrow around the circle and past the altar as the drums intenaified and cast it into the fire as a sacrifice. Others than made their own offerings, inclueding Mark’s carefully made Yule goat. Sad to see such pieces invested with such time and care turn to flame and smoke, but that was part of the point after all.

The spirits were thanked and merrily the ritual drew to a close. The drums sounded once more as the procession left the circle. Afterwards there was a festive picnic feast as people enjoyed and afternoon of conversation and laughter.

Dean has written more about this rite in this week’s feature article.

Monthly Hills Coffee Meetups

By Sarah

The July Hillsmeet was quieter than June’s with only 19 people showing up for the shenanigans, and frankly, we are so happy and proud to be able to say that “only 19 people” came to our monthly gathering (and all of them are lovely, too – what are the odds?) because that’s a lot of pagans, and we’ve been talking about having to open our own cafe, because we end up building a shanty-town of tables in Earthly Pleasures and the staff are so nice about it but honestly we make their cafe look like the aftermath of The Tetris Wars. It’s great that we’re still growing, and that the EP staff have said they actually look forward to seeing us each month, despite the havoc we wreak upon their lovely venue, because we may be the weirdos mister, but it turns out that the weirdos are awfully nice.

This month, we had the added bonus of a gifted tarot reader who kindly offered free readings for those interested and shared some very useful advice with a young student (and some of us not-so-young folk who also have a lot to learn), the usual exchange of gifts, because witches like sharing books, plants, nice jars, stuff we’ve made, and interesting things we found at the op-shop (note: prospective newbies, this isn’t mandatory, it’s just a nice organic thing that’s sprung up as part of the group, and it’s just become inevitable that *someone* will show up with a bag and hand it to someone else with a “oh, I saw this and thought of you”, or “here’s some of that lemon balm I promised you last month”).

It’s always rather nice watching the conversations eddy and flow around the table; there are usually two or three going on at any given time, with vastly different topics that seem to be able to be brought together when someone up one end of the shanty-table arrangement catches a snippet of something down the other end, and you get the whole group being drawn into a conflation of Druidic medicinal plants and protection charms, and weird housemate stories, the history of wooden wheel construction, and that time someone left jam out for a ghost (you all know who you are).

We also saw two of our regulars level up in the writing department, with one now published by The Wild Hunt blog as their Australian correspondent, and another published in the ADF’s international journal, Oak Leaves. Congratulations Josie and Dean! Richly-deserved recognition for your work and your expertise. We are really lucky to have such a diverse and talented group.

Once again I forgot to take photos (I did it last month; you can’t expect me to be organised two months in a row, surely); fortunately Dean took some lovely shots of a magpie who wanted to come and hang out with the cake-eating pagans.

The next gathering is on Sunday, August 6th, from 12pm. Come along. There will be cake.

 

 

What’s Next for the PCV?

Dates for your diary…


Saturday, 15th July: Central Victorian Pagans and Heathens Social Meetup
Sunday, 16th July: CBD Pagan Pub Moot
Sunday, 30th July: Bi-Monthly Frankston/Cranbourne Pagan Meet
Saturday, 5th August: PCV Public Imbolc Ritual hosted by the Melbourne Reclaiming Community
Sunday, 20th August: PCV Annual General Meeting
Sunday, 20th August: CBD Pagan Pub Moot

 

Featured photo by Ang.

Feature Article: The June Solstice Down Under

The June Solstice Down Under

By Dean

This article by PCV committee member Dean is from the 2017 Summer edition of Oak Leaves, the quarterly international publication of ADF.

The June Solstice is the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. South of the Equator the seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. For ADF members in Australia then the short answer is to simply flip the Wheel of the Year so that we celebrate the High Days in accordance with the seasons here. Australia is a country, an island and a continent. It ranges from tropical rainforests near the Equator to vast wetlands and deserts, spinifex plains, saltbush scrub, mallee, dry open eucalypt woodlands, mountains ranges, cool ferny forested gullies and Mountain Ash forest – the largest flowering trees on Earth, all the way to the icy sub-Antarctic islands. Most parts of Australia have anywhere from 2-10 seasons reflected in Aboriginal knowledge and modern ecological understandings of the cycles at work within various ecosystems.

So what’s an ADF member to do for their personal or Grove High Day observances? We have to think about what the High Days mean to us as individuals and Groves. We have to think about the ADF Core Order of Ritual, the traditions of our Indo-European Hearth Cultures and balance that with what is going on in the local environment in which we live, work and come together for ritual. The Solstices and Equinoxes are astrological fixed points that do affect the amount of daylight, heat and behaviours of flora and fauna and the Cross-quarter days still hold traditional significance even if they have little agricultural basis in Australia. A sense of tradition, personal and/or ancestral connection to Indo-European Hearth Cultures is often a substantial factor in what draws people to Neo-Paganism and to ADF in particular here. Attunement with what is happening in nature, through ADF practices and simply spending time regularly in the local environment provides ample opportunities for observation of what is happening at different times near you, whether it is the oak shedding its leaves or the blue gum shedding its bark, or the flowering of daffodils or banksia trees.

Silver Birch Grove is my local Grove in Melbourne. It is Celtic in Hearth Culture, while my own Hearth Culture is Norse. Yule (in June) is my ritual new year, and my favourite High Day! When I lead a ritual for our Grove’s Yule celebration I try to incorporate traditions from the Norse into our High Day. There’s no snow, but morning frosts and the chance of cold rain…which always seems to stay clear while we hold our rituals. The creek is flowing higher with rain water, the damp earth of the nemeton has sprouted winter grass, while the eucalyptus and wattle surrounding our grove are lush and green. It is actually safe for us to have a ritual fire in our portable fire pit (fire is banned over most of Summer) for our Yule log. People bring holly, sprigs of pine and pinecones as well as native foliage from their gardens to add to the altar. The local blue-tongued lizards have gone into torpor. The calls of Australian magpies, little ravens and cockatoos as well as Winter visitors from the hills like currawongs and yellow robins rise through the air.

Last year at Yule we had Thor as our deity of the occasion. We usually tell a story of the deity of the occasion and last year I told the story of Thor and his goats visiting a family at Yule. The poor family had no food to offer their guest hospitality so Thor revealed himself and killed his goats to feed them and provide a feast with ample leftovers for the coldest nights. In the morning, he resurrected the goats from their bones with his hammer Mjolnir and continued on his way. We had a special imported beer with a goat on it as a perfect offering in addition to our usual offerings. When it came to the waters of life, I work in a sumbel, for Yule is traditionally a good time for one. As I bring my drinking horn filled with more mead than usual, participants are invited to make a boast, a toast or an oath. Yule being an especially auspicious time for oaths. We do three rounds for people to reflect on the past year, the present and the future. The ritual went well, Thor seemed pleased and the folk seemed jolly as we finished the ritual and had our own picnic feast.

For those of us in Australia the challenge is to find relevant meanings in our High Day celebrations that bring together aspects of traditional Hearth Cultures within very different environments. It’s still something that is unfolding and perhaps with more ADF members in time we will see a diversity of new expressions of old Hearth Cultures honouring the Kindreds Down Under.