Announcements from Shining Lakes News - Yule 1999

Letter from the Senior Druid - Samhain 1999

A few days ago, I was standing backstage with 150 people waiting for me, holding my ancient Athenian coin in my hand. So it's come to this, I thought. I kinda figured I'd be speaking in front of a large audience at some point, I just didn't think it would be this soon. I looked into the eyes of the image of Athena pressed into the silver. "You know, you're the one who pushed me into this," I told it. "You'd better help me get through it."

As the MC announced my name and new title, I stepped up to the microphone and found myself nearly blinded by the overhead stage light. I could just barely make out the forms of the folks sitting on the edges of the audience. The only faces I recognized were my grovemates, sitting to my far right and applauding more wildly than the rest.

The presentation went well, without my usual stumbling in front of a crowd (and even more impressive given the size of this crowd), and lots of people came up to talk to me about our group. Somehow I had survived. And now that I look back, I think I know how. It wasn't just my patroness helping me (though she certainly did), nor the expert speech-making advice my mother had given me on the phone that afternoon. No, it was the presence of my grovemates there, giving me the support I needed when I needed it.

I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen during the next two years. (As I keep pointing out, I'm not a Seer!) But I do know that if we support each other, give each other our talents and energy when we need it, that we can accomplish amazing things. I look forward to working with you all.

Yours in service to the Kindreds and the SLuGs,

Rob Henderson
Senior Druid

Let's Keep It Burning, Let's Keep The Light Of Hope Alive

Those of you who have attended one of our High Day rites know that we always have a sacred flame burning in the ritual space, whether it's a big blazing fire for an outdoor rite or candles nestled in a brazier for an indoor rite. If you've been to one of our pre-ritual Fire Watch sessions at Botsford Recreational Preserve, you know that the Senior Druid brings a lit candle, and those present kindle a fire at dusk of the night before the ritual, and tend that fire through the night. And that's the flame that is used in the ritual space. But did you ever wonder about the flame that kindled that fire?

As Fox wrote in the Spring Equinox 1996 issue of Ripples: "(Our ancestors had a) tradition of extinguishing all of the fires in the village twice per year, on the eves of Beltaine and Samhain. At dusk on these days the druids of the village would kindle a new fire, creating the first spark using a bow drill as we do today. That tiny flame, kindled by skill in the light of the setting sun and coaxed into a roaring blaze, marked the beginning of the new season. Sacred woods were offered to consecrate the fire and it was tended through the night. The fire accepted offerings from the villagers in rites the next day and maintain the contacts between the folk and the surrounding spirits. When the celebrations came to an end each house-holder carried an ember from this sacred fire home where it was protected and sustained as a continuous spiritual presence in the hearths of the home."

In the spirit of that ancient tradition, the Grove has its own sacred flame. This past Samhain, as the new Senior Druid, I began keeping the Grove's flame in my home, where it has been burning ever since. I use seven-day candles to keep it going. I've also taken a "backup" flame to Fox's house, which he used to light the pilot of his furnace. (Since I live in an apartment and my stove doesn't use a pilot light, I didn't have that option myself!)

At my inauguration ritual last month, I took various oaths to the Three Kindreds. My oath to Bríd was to work toward building community within our Grove. Bríd is our Grove's hearth goddess, and like most hearth goddesses, she is a goddess of home and community. One evening, as I was staring at the candle flame in my kitchen, I pondered what I could do that would make good on my oath, and I realized that the answer was staring me in the face. (Literally!)

So I invite all Grove members to take the flame home with them. You can bring a candle to any Grove event at my home and light it before you leave. Remember that you'll need to drive home with this lit candle sitting in your car! We recommend using a candle in a glass container, either a votive holder or a seven-day candle. If you can have someone ride with you and hold the seven-day candle, that would be good, just make sure they hold it below the level of the flame or it will be too hot to handle.

Once you have it at your own home, you'll want to use large candles (like seven-day candles) to keep it going. Make sure you put the candle on a heat-resistant surface of some sort. You'll probably want to keep the flame either on your altar, or in your kitchen, the traditional location of the hearth fire.

And don't forget the traditions of our Ancestors - if you do take the flame home, you'll need to put it out at Beltaine and Samhain, and get the newly-kindled flame to replace it. As the seasons change, our community will change as well, and we'll need fresh energy, bright ideas, and warm hearts to keep it going.

Rob Henderson
Senior Druid