Archive for the Circle Category

Mead Experamentation

Posted in Circle, Experience, Mead with tags , on November 25, 2012 by theredlass

At our first Samhain as a group, everyone chipped in to help make a large 5 gallon batch of simple honey mead.

As the secondary fermentation nears, we all made the decision to split the mead into 5: 1 gallon jugs. Each member who pays for a jug will get to experiment with a gallon of mead, playing with ingredients, taste, and such. This has a double intention actually, as a 5 gallon batch is expensive to make, but a 1 gallon batch much less so. This way, when our first mead is done, not only will everyone know how to make mead, but we can all continue through out the year on our own at very little personal cost. I’m think about next Yule (2013) hosting a mead contest to see who made the best batch by vote.

As it stands, I will be making a mix I am dubbing Snapdragon Mead, with a mixture of peaches, almond extract, and ginger. I know one of the members is going to be fiddling with pomegranates, another is doing blackberry/raspberry, someone is doing apple/cinnamon and another isn’t sure yet but she’s thinking on pears. Since everyone put money/time/ingredients into the original batch and we have 9 members, the hope is that everyone will get at least 3 bottles of mead to rack and drink later. Plus we will be keeping 8 bottles aside for the Sabbats to drink as part of the “cakes & ale” portion of the ritual. Plus, with Yule coming up, the secondary fermentation should be ready to bottle at Yule!! *sequels of delight*

Aside from that, I have to express about a 50/50 level of disappointment and enjoyment with how the groups lessons are progressing thus far. For our first meeting after Samhain, only 4 members showed up, with the rest either making no notification or (in two cases) having perfectly legit reasons not to be there. However, I am happy to say that everyone seems to be keeping up with their book lessons as well as reading the material I’m providing online so not bad really.

I set up this first year as a group with only minimal expectations. I am 27 where as most of the members are in their early 20’s, so I am taking a lot of the responsibility on myself in order to create lessons, provide resources, host events and as such. I am not the high priestess (mainly because I disagree with the entire hierarchy), but as the more practiced member I am more or less providing a map to where people need to go. We decided as a group not to call ourselves a coven/grove/etc. for at least the first year because a lot of us are either entirely inexperienced or haven’t practiced in a while. So it felt unfair to try and place labels on ourselves. That being said, the curriculum I set up amounts to a first degree study program for eclectic paganism and I am expecting it to be treated as such.

Next Samhain (2013), we had discussed holding a large, overnight festival as well as “initiation” of ourselves as a formal coven/circle/whatever. However, I had made the proviso (which in hindsight was a little short sighted or me) that anyone who could not attend at least 14/18 of the years meetings would not be up for initiation into the group.

My intention was to see who was really sincere about studying along these lines. Be honest, we’ve all gone through phases and interests which petered out later on and while I would generally welcome anyone who wanted to learn or felt they wanted the experience into a group, we all agreed we were looking for something a little more formal and frankly that takes work, time and effort. But what I didn’t put into consideration was that 6 of our members are still in college, three of them hold full time jobs, and one lives about a half an hour drive from our meeting places.

In other words, I have to make allowances.

After conversing with another group member (as well as my girlfriend) the decision was made that 14/18 would be ideal and something that should be striven for, but if someone can not make all of those meetings, that is okay. I will post all the info, discussions and resources on fb and ask people to keep up with this in their field grimoire. At the next meeting (whichever they can attend) when we all take the opportunity to comment on what we’ve learned, they can show that they have been keeping up with the group even if they can’t be physically present. Anyone who is sincere in their interest is more likely to “show their work”.

 

Samhain 2012

Posted in Circle, Ritual, Samhain with tags , , , on November 1, 2012 by theredlass

We did pretty good despite rain, cold, wind, smoke and a little confusion! The ritual took place at midnight in our new altar space with a huge fire roaring and providing a nice warmth for everyone. We had a freeze warning out for this area so we were kinda moving through the ritual fast as we could.

We setup up 4 altars, one for the Chthonic Deities, one for the Glorious Dead, one for the Ancestors, and one for Pets & Familiars. After the wordy part of the ritual everyone was given the chance to pray and make offerings at each altar, as well as look into a scyring mirror and attempt to see anything. No pressure, just to try.

Right after we did our offerings, just as we set up for meditation, a series of high, excited yips went through the year. We realized that there were coyotes in the field closest to us, scavenging about for their Samhain meal. It was a moment of sincere excitement and you could feel the group energy rising rapidly. Coyotes seemed an apt sign, as their nature makes them conveyors of death in the form of scavengers.

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-coyote.html

Once we came inside and got everything from the ritual all cleaned up, we set about the task of mead making. We came to a decision a while ago. We made a big, 5 gallon tub of plain honey mead last night, taking turns stirring it and adding honey and water. But for the secondary fermentation, we will split up the mead into 5, 1 gallon jugs, and everyone will get the chance to experiment with flavors and spice mixtures. We will also, most likely, start another batch of mead. *grins* I think I’ve started a trend.

So far the flavor concepts we have are:
-Peach, Almond and Candied Ginger
-Apple, Cinnamon
-Pear and Clove
-Pomegranante
-Raspberry, Strawberry, Blackberry

We talked about what exactly it is we want to do in our newly formed circle, why are we making this decision, and how. We each choseĀ  book to read for the next two months, and went over what the curriculum will look like. All in all a very satisfying night. I think we finished around 3 am.

Ritual Space

Posted in Circle, Ritual, Samhain with tags , , on October 10, 2012 by theredlass

As Samhain draws closer, my group has begun setting up our ritual space in my back yard. Being that we are going to be starting out lessons after this Samhain, we decided on having two ritual spots. Since I have the bigger back yard, more out in the country, I offered to host the Sabbats. They are kind of bigger ceremonies and celebrations, and I have the room to make it more of a fete. Moon Ceremonies (not just full moon) are being hosted by a fellow member who’s yard is smaller but more intimate.

Would anyone be interested in seeing pictures once everything is up and running?

On that note, I am setting things up for the classes so that they happen every two weeks. I wanted to do them every full moon and Sabbat, but the full moons are falling very close to the Sabbats in 2013, sometimes within the same week, so that would make thing a little overly hectic and problematic for everyone. So whenever we get together, we will celebrate whatever phase the moon is in (because hey the full moon isn’t the only important one) and have our lessons.