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Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

Frequently Asked Questions about the Shining Lakes Grove Dawn Beltaine Rite

Compiled by Rob Henderson. This version is current as of April 3rd, 2004.

So what's this I hear about a special dawn rite at Beltaine?

Yep, you heard correctly! Every year since 1996, we've gone out on the morning of our Beltaine ritual to collect and bless our supply of sacred water for the coming year. The ritual takes place at Big Lake in Oakland County, the source of the Huron River.

Does "special" mean only members of your Grove can go?

Not at all - as with most of our events, the public is welcome to take part. (You think I'd spend so much time writing this FAQ and putting it on the Web if I didn't want you to be there?)

Wait a minute - you don't really mean "dawn", do you? You mean, like, 8 AM, right?

Sorry, no, I mean "dawn". As in, "By the dawn's early light." The first rays of sunlight are visible from the site at around 6:15 AM, give our take a few minutes. To make sure we get there on time and have the water properly collected before sunrise, we leave Ann Arbor no later than 4:45.

How do you get up that early?

Simple - I don't go to sleep. >8) Seriously, as with all of our summer rituals, we do a Fire Watch the night before, and people stay with the fire all night. Folks are welcome to join us at the site right before we leave, of course.

People really stay there all night?

Sure! It's an outdoor site, so there's plenty of room for people to nap, and there's a tepee available for those who don't want to sleep too outside. Or you can be bold and stay up the whole time.

So what do you do once you get to the lake?

We travel to the headwaters of the Huron River, to make offerings to Ana, our local river goddess. If she accepts them, we then collect water from the middle of the lake. As the sun rises, we hold the bowl of water up to collect the first rays of morning light. This light-blessed water becomes our supply of sacred water for the coming year.

Where'd you come up with this idea?

Our An Bruane group developed it way back when. It's based loosely on a horse-blessing rite from ancient Gaul, which involved holding a vessel of water up to meet the sun's first rays.

Can I just meet you at the lake?

If it's closer for you to meet us there, then you're welcome to do so. We usually get there between 5:30 and 5:45. Be warned that the boat launch at Big Lake isn't easy to find, even in broad daylight, never mind at 5:30 in the morning! If you haven't been to the site before, we *strongly* recommend meeting us in Ann Arbor and traveling with us, even if it's a longer drive. (Remember, you can come out on Friday evening and spend the night with the fire!)

What should I bring with me?

Bring yourself, offerings if you like (biodegradable food or non-toxic mineral items are best), and a small container for water if you'd like to take some home with you.

What do we do after we're done there?

After the water is blessed, we usually visit the "official" source of the Huron, where the river is about five feet wide. Then we head back to Ann Arbor to get ready for our Beltaine ritual. (This usually involves some amount of sleep.)

You don't really mean "dawn", do you?

Yes, I really mean "dawn"!

I have a question about the Dawn Rite, and it's not on this list!

Send mail to Rob Henderson at robh@cyberspace.org, and he'll answer your question, and include both question and answer on future versions of this list. How's that for service?