Somewhere, over Lughanasadh (Way up High….)

It’s funny how your mind takes an inappropriate moment now and then to just step back and consider where you are in your life.

So as I was standing in the middle of a redwood grove, in the middle of 80 cheering celebrants, wearing a bright green corduroy jacket with gold lamé trim, tights, a cutlass and a top hat – right as I was about to kiss my High Priestess, who was wearing a red Renaissance era ball gown, and who was a man named Skot, my mind decided that was the moment to consider the question: What in the HELL was I doing?

How did this Lughanasadh Ritual reach this particularly peculiar point? My top-hatted brain raced back, searching for answers….

The Road to Oz

Lughanasadh 2012 began in April of 2011, with a late night conversation in the darkness between me and my wife, Admiral Karen. She was telling me about a fun ritual that she had done for her coven back in the 90′s based on the Wizard of Oz.

And as she reeled off the crew members (Scarecrow in the East, Cowardly Lion in the South) and described the working (a “yellow brick road” built out of face-down tarot cards) my feverish mind was already figuring out how I could ‘super-size’ this pageant and present it as a public Community Seed Lughanasadh ritual.

2005: Group watermelon seed spitting. The ‘target’ is by
elemental colors AND chakras colors; the better to do a
divination reading afterwards based on the seed ‘pattern’.

Why Lughanasadh? What does L. Frank Baum have to do with Lammas? Well, nothing, to be honest. But my group only does the four cross-quarter sabbats each year as big, public events and Oz just didn’t seem ‘right’ for Samhain, Imbolc or Beltane. Lughanasadh often gets saddled with the oddball rituals and the wacky ideas that were cool, but not appropriate for the other three major rites.

Nothing against Lugh, but the mandate for his festival is a bit more open than the other three. And he seems like a good sport, so we’ve hosted August harvest rituals that featured cardboard tube fencing, a free-for-all bardic, a life-sized ‘man’ made out of bread, an actual Wheel of the Year that we all turned, group watermelon seed spitting divination and other wild and oddball notions.

Got a ritual where we arbitrarily divide the celebrants into 8 teams, tell each team their role (Cense and Asperege, Quarter Calls, Working, etc.), give them 13 minutes to make up their part on the spot, and then just Go For It? Sounds like a Lughanasadh to me!

So when I presented my idea for a Wizard of Oz rite – my very first foray into leading a ritual – the Community Seed Board of Directors just about fell off their chairs laughing. And then when they realized I was serious they all clambered for choice roles in the crew.

Glenda? This PowerPoint slide
was made by Jesus Gonzalez: slideshare.net
/jegonzal/the-rich-symbolism-of-the-wizard-of-oz

Karen’s memory provided the basic outline and setting, but I would have to change the Working, which was fine for a 5 person coven but wouldn’t work for a big, public setting in a forest. And as I meditated on the Journey of Dorothy Gale and her four companions, I came to see them all as Seekers. The Quest for Guidance. Old as the hills. But who is the best teacher for us all?

This could get heavy – or this could get silly. And my triple airsignness immediately brought up one of Admiral Karen’s favorite sayings: Why Choose?

So as the writing progressed I found that I was drifting to extremes, one part of the script would be Benny Hill, and the next would be profound and moving. One after another – back and forth. But it all seemed to hang together pretty good, and I think I concocted a surprising – and surprisingly deep Working for the latter stages. So I just let the muse roam where it would.

Selecting the Crew was pretty straight forward. Even though this was going to be my first time as ‘producer/director’ I have lots of experience with large, public rituals and their peculiar needs. I also have lots of lots insane friends and 19 of them didn’t think twice about giving up seven Saturdays of their summer to wear fake ears in front of strangers.

The bland Flyer. Note how the text is
in a rough ‘tornado’ shape.

The marketing and online advertising was comprehensive, but opaque. No details about the ritual were given. The background picture on the flyer was a faint, blurry close-up of some yellow brickwork. Oz was never mentioned, and the crew was on strict orders not to blab about what we were doing. I like surprises….

August 4th, 2012….

Here’s what the celebrants experienced:

The Greeting table is in the upper, picnic area of the isolated corner of this forest park that we rent each year for Beltane and Lughanasadh. Picnic tables, bbq pit, basic restrooms. Here the celebrants are greeted by the Greeter (Anuluna) and Money Taker (John) and are given a token to keep.

The tokens were clay that had been formed into circles and inscribed with brickwork patterns and then painted yellow. They were strung with ribbon and worn as pendants. The Greeters and Kitchen Witch (Annika, there to coordinate the after-ritual potluck feast), did not say what the pendant represented.

Alisa made the lovely tokens.

Key to this part of the ritual was Rox, who gave herself the bland title of ‘Announcer’. But really she was in charge of this gathering hour and prepping the celebrants for what awaited them later on. (Behind the scenes she was also in charge of Logistics – that is, all of the hundreds of props, decorations, tools and whatnot that is needed for a ritual of this scope.)

The actual rite would take place in the shady Redwood Grove that is about 100 yards away. Halfway there is the bathrooms. And just beyond that we stationed our Outer Guardian, Marjorie, who had two jobs. 1) Was keeping the celebrants out of the grove before the ritual (we’re in OZ, remember? Another world). 2) Once the ritual began the Outer Guardian stays on the outside of the circle and intercepts any joggers, tourists, latecomers, Park Rangers or whoever else happens to wander down the trail.

The ritual setting. We camouflaged the dumpster with tapestries.
Prayer flags encircled the clearing. The Eastern Quarter flag is
visible on the right. I’m standing in front of the low, round stage.

At the ritual hour Rox did the announcements (last chance to pee, cell phones off, etc.), and then herded the large crowd of confused celebrants down the path. Just beyond Marjorie the Outer Guardian, the crowd met up with our Cense and Asperge duo.

And what else would you have to dispense the incense smoke and blessing water? Why, a TORNADO, of course! We had oscillating electric fans going on both sides of the trail and Marjorie and Ari, dressed in long, flowing ‘cloud’ dresses vigorously spritzed the celebrants with spray bottles. And it worked better than I ever hoped for. Cleansed? Certainly. Dripping, even. Charged? You bet’cha! Now the 80 strangers had a bonding experience to unite them, and they felt like they were in a different place. Because they were……

Tornado alley. All these photos are from rehearsals on the
day of the rite. No recording of actual rituals is ever allowed.

The shady Redwood Grove was mostly a bare area. colorful prayer flags encircled the ‘munchkin village’. Elemental flags at the cardinal points were the only signs of Quarters. In the center was a low, round stage (just 18″ high and 7′ in diameter), covered in a Green Man in Autumn tapestry (our nod to Lugh).

The Lord Mayor of Munchkinland.

No altars. No statuary. No cakes and wine. And no crew. Just a trio of violin (Michelle), guitar (Alisa) and flutes (Steve) off to one side, playing a soft rendition of “Over the Rainbow”.

And me. I am the Lord Mayor of Munchkinland, and I am cracking up. Because I know that there 8 people hidden in various parts of this forest.

Grounding and Centering and Casting and Calling

Once I have everybody in the space and in a circle (“Some tornado, eh?”) it is time for the Grounding, Centering and the Opening Meditation. Now this is a pet peeve of mine. I usually think these parts of public rituals go on way too long and bore people more than they bring them. The Opening Meditation in particular is often so elaborate that it becomes a mini-Working all by itself.

But not in my ritual! I spoke the instructions to the celebrants (“And now the Grounding, Centering and the Opening Meditation.” And then I jumped on the stage, making a big booming noise.

“Ground!” I yelled.

The fabulous ritual band; Michelle, Alisa, Steve

Then I rolled up my spine and balanced on my feet. The crowd mimicked me.

“Center!” I yelled.

And then I mimed a big, deep breath. The celebrants followed.

“And Welcome!”

And that was that. Got a big laugh, which grounded and centered the crowd even more.

For the Casting though, I wanted something deeper. This is an underappreciated part of the Basic Pagan Ritual Layout in my opinion, and so I wanted something more serious here.

(Note: Why yes, I AM a Gemini – how did you guess? Two sides, always competing for my attention.)

With dramatically raised cutlass I stomped around the interior of the circle, proclaiming the following:

Invoking the Scarecrow from the East.

And once I had let that moment sink in (and there was a reason why I called the dimensions of the circle so specifically), it was time to call the quarters……and blow the celebrants minds.

I faced the Eastern flag, and the crowd, well-trained pagans all, followed suit. The music crew began a jaunty rendition of “If I Only Had a Brain” and I simply said: “We call forth…….The Scarecrow!”

And Amanda stepped out from behind the tree behind the flag, dressed like a scarecrow, and I could feel comprehension overtake the circle. The yellow brick tokens, the tornado, the music – it was as if all 80 people ‘got it’ at the same time. OMG, its a flippin’ WIZARD OF OZ RITUAL!!

Just about the cutest scarecrow ever.

And there were many ‘bigger’ moments and other planned surprises that happened later on in that ritual, but none was more personally satisfying for me than that little group shimmer of electricity. We had all kept the secret and now we had delighted all of these lovely people. That was my fist pump moment.

Amanda entered the circle. I asked her, as a good Lord Mayor would: “What do you need?” She then did a lap, straw falling out from her sleeves and pant legs, and said this:

“What do I need? I come from the East, the realm of Air, a place full of Inspiration, Imagination and THOUGHT.  (Aside) I need thoughts.  I need someone from the East who can guide me back to my land. Someone, who will give me a BRAIN. (Facing East Flag) Guides from the East, be with us today and send a guide for me, the Scarecrow. Hail and Welcome! (“Hail and Welcome!”)

The Lion in the South.

Three things happen in this quarter call: 1) A need for a Guide is established 2) The longing to Return is introduced, and 3) The Spirit of the Element is invoked.

I moved to the South and invoked “The Lion”. I could feel the crowd smile around me. We were all in on the joke now. Jason appeared from behind his tree, furry ears atop his golden curls, and tiptoed to the circle. We bowed to each other and then I turned away to move to the West and make room for him in the circle.

As soon as I turned aside The Lion spun around and hurried back to his tree. I stopped where I was, still facing away, and said “Mr. Lion – please return to the circle. We have need of your talents.” And he slunk back to us.

Not the last time that day I wished we could have videotaped this rite.

The Western Tin Woodsman.

After the Scarecrow (surprise!) and the Lion (silliness), I wanted the Tin Man to be a little different. A bit more serious – even a little threatening. I mean, his real name is the Tin Woodsman, and he is carrying a big ax. And he’s……heartless.

Matthew captured the idea perfectly. His Tin Woodsman was a creature apart, a made-up man that was longing to be included. Part Pinocchio, part Frankenstein’s monster. I loaned Matthew my ax (that I had spray painted silver, natch). He came up with the mask on his own.

Finally to the North. This was straight out of Karen’s coven ritual and I loved the symbology. The Celebrants know the story of course, so they know who is coming next, right? Wrong.

Toto the untamed.

“From the North……Toto!” A gasp from the crowd, and then a huge laugh as Willow appears, all fake fur and hyper energy.

I ask her what she needs and she replies in barks and howls. So I jump on the stage, get the crowds attention, and have them invoke their best ‘wiggly-finger-magic’ to bestow upon this lovely creature the temporary power of human speech!

Most of Willows lines came in the rehearsals as she improv-ed lines around the circle. My favorite, that we used in the ritual, was when she stopped next

Not your normal quarter callers!

to a random celebrant, sniffed him earnestly and said “You had bacon for lunch.”

So, The Scarecrow in the East is looking for a guide to give her some Brains.

The Lion in the South need a coach for his Courage.

The Tin Woodsman in the West needs a mentor for Love.

And Toto in the North? Toto is looking for a trainer to show her Loyalty.

The Quarters judge our stunt Dorothy.

Time to switch back to Deep and Serious. My calls to the God and Goddess were heartfelt and humble. I did them literally hat-in-hand, facing the Grove of Redwoods for the Forest God, and then, after walking silently all the way across the circle, facing the creekside for the Dark Lady. Hail, and welcome.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Then I bring all four quarters to the stage, reiterating the need for us all to find Coaches and Guides for our Journey Home. I ask the quarters: “Who is missing?” They all point to each other and count on their fingers and do other weird gestures until someone from the crowd calls out: “Dorothy”.

At that I leap from the stage, rush to the person and say: “Yes! Are you Dorothy? Come with us!” And I lead them to the stage and hand them a small, woven basket. We all admire this ‘Dorothy’ for a moment (Who was a really good sport) before deciding that no, this isn’t quite right.

A collage of Mykey’s signs
along the ‘Yellow Brick Road’

I select another ‘volunteer’ from the audience (A man this time), put him on the stage, hand him another basket, and ask for opinions. No, it’s decided. That’s not Dorothy. Then I dispatch all four quarters to go find more Dorothy’s. While this is happening I put the baskets away and escort our two volunteers to the side of the stage.

Within a minute we have EVERYONE in the circle around the stage and I declare, in my capacity as Lord Mayor, that we ALL are Dorothy!

Strangely I had no nagging conscience while I was writing this part of the ritual. What could go wrong? Who wouldn’t want to be Dorothy? I was much more worried about other parts of the Working that, in the end, went completely smoothly. But all four quarters reported that they faced some resistance in getting everyone to comply. Turns out Macho-type guys were pretty damned reluctant to become Dorothy Gale, even for half an hour. But in the end the quarters managed to get everyone to the stage, where it was time for the next surprise.

Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the Dumpster.

Lord Mayor:

And, Dorothy, you know the next part.

(A woman in the circle has the improv of the day: “We get new shoes?”)

Lord Mayor:

            The Road awaits and your journey begins now. Off with you now! Ahead you will   find the guides and teachers that you need.

(Musicians kick into “We’re off to see the Wizard”)

And out from behind the camouflaged dumpster steps Nancy, as the Wicked Witch! But I’m not going to call her that, not at a Wiccan ritual, so my next line became: “Well there is a guide now. Hello Elphaba!”

To which she memorably replied: “Buzz off, Mayor!” before leading all of the celebrants out

Makai’s Flying Monkey

of the circle and down our ‘yellow brick road’, all the while berating them that they should be following HER, a true leader.

We had used this 50 yard trail before, in a Beltane Rite, where we had the men (Or whoever was feeling ‘masculine’ that day) go away to ‘find’ the Maypole while the ‘feminine’ inclined celebrants prepared the hole (and ended up waiting for an absurdly long time for the men to stop playing with their euphemism).

But this was a much more elaborate situation. I wanted 80 people to walk along this tiny trail and down two embankments to a small beach created by a wide turn in the creek. I scheduled a ‘site prep’ day for the week before the gig, and a half-dozen of us created a rough staircase down to the water, as well as widening the trail, and creating the hiding spots for all of the quarter callers and our four other ‘glamours’.

Down the new staircase, to Oz.

At the ritual I helped the celebrants out of the circle but had to stay behind – the Lord Mayor of Munchkinland does not accompany Dorothy and her friends to Oz. And again I wished that we could have recorded this rite so I could see what actually happened out there. I mean, I saw the two rehearsals on the day of the ritual, but not the Real Deal. And much of what happened down there was going to be improvised – and I know what hams my friends are!

Anyhoo, Elphaba the Wicked Witch leads the celebrants down the ‘road’, chastising them for not following her as a life coach, ’cause she could show them some REAL order and discipline.

Along the way the party is pelted with ordnance thrown by a flying monkey – actually Makai, the Community Seed President, dressed up as a stylized chimp with rather adorable wings, hiding in a stand of trees and launching seed bombs at our guests. She also verbally assaulted them, claiming that Elphaba had it all wrong and everyone should be following HER, because only by striking back at society could humans find real freedom.

Oz, the Great and Powerful, but wait – who’s that swinging in?

Down the rough staircase more oddities appeared. Our ‘Emerald City’ was a simple folding screen on the beach, and hidden behind it was Oz, the Great and Powerful. But he wasn’t really hiding. He was setting off smoke bombs, making strange noises and smells, and announcing (through a megaphone) that “The Wizard wasn’t in!” and that everyone should “Come back tomorrow!”

Makai and I at the top of the stairs, delighted
by the collective insanity of our friends.

Finally Mykey appears from behind the screen and launches into a speech (which he wrote) about how Oz the Great and Powerful is the…

“…….. Holiest of all whose feet have touched the earth.  Humbler of the proud, righter of wrongs, teller of truths.  Light shines from me as it shines from the stars. When I speak it is with the voice of the gods……”

He doesn’t get much farther than that before the Wicked Witch, up at the top of stairs starts heckling him. They argue. The Quarter creatures chime in with their own opinions. The Flying Monkey pitches in, with her own arguments (and a few left over seed bombs).

It’s bedlam at the Lughanasadh Ritual! The celebrants are caught in a cross-fire of

Collage of Skot swinging in.

opinions on who they should follow. Me, I was back at the circle, changing clothes and cracking up with the musicians – and we could only hear half of the chaos that is ensuing down there.

Enter the Glinda

At this point we needed some order and reason. So here, finally, is where my High Priestess enters the ritual. My original outline had Glinda just emerging from a hiding place behind the celebrants on the beach.

Just who Glinda would BE changed a few times, however. My first idea was to cast Admiral Karen in the role, but she demurred, preferring to be a silent producer to this production. My second choice was going to be out of the country on Lughanasadh.

I voiced my frustrations at a Board meeting, and Makai had a vision. Recently her partner Skot had had a dream that he was

The Priestess and Priest for Lugh 2011.

running along a beach, wearing a pink taffeta ball gown. He told her this dream upon waking and she said that she would make him the dress if he had some reason to wear it. Voila! We have an opening for a character in a big dress!

So that’s how Skot became Glinda, my High Priestess. A crappy YouTube video of the Glinda Schwing can be seen HERE

Priestess and Priest.

(Note: And there was some precedence. At Beltane just a few weeks earlier Amanda had been the High Priest to Makai’s High Priestess. Two women leading a ritual followed by two men? Symmetry, baby!)

And this Glinda was NOT going to appear from behind a bush. Oh no. When we scouted the creekside location – after that Beltane Rite – Skot had the grand idea to make his debut by swinging into the ritual from a rope – across the creek!

The stunt worked great, except that the celebrants were so mesmerized by the argument between Oz and the Wicked Witch that most of them missed Glinda dropping in on them from on high.

Glinda smoothed down his dress, unclipped the 5 ft. copper wand from the special holder on his back, and got to business. He silenced the two main combatants, got the Monkey to stop throwing things, and apologized to the celebrants.

He informed them that “This Quest didn’t work out at all. That which was behind you is now the way forward.” And he had the Monkey lead them all back to the circle, while he brought up the rear.

The Lord Mayor’s TED talk

Back in the circle I had doffed my gaudy green jacket and was wearing all black now. The band was playing a spritely version of “The Merry Old Land of Oz”. We returned with several more players than when we had set out with, so in the script I paired everybody off.

The Almost-Kiss.
Note Glinda’s Impressive 5 ft. star wand

The Scarecrow with Oz in the East

The Lion with the Monkey in the South

The Tin Woodsman with the Wicked Witch in the West (duh)

And in the North, Toto and Glinda.

I had Glinda come in last, on purpose. Before that I was busy getting the celebrants back into the circle and settled down again. But I wanted everybody’s attention when the HP and the HPS met for the first time, because I had some backstory between these two.

So into a quiet circle steps the man in the ball gown and the Lord Mayor is suddenly all bashful and teenagery.

Mayor:

Turns and sees Glinda for the first time.

(Tongue-tied) Glinda!

Glinda:

(Coy) Mr. Mayor….

They bow (Mayor) and curtsy (Glinda) to one another.

The Monkey’s lovely wings. Ironically He made some of her outfit and she made his!

Mayor:

Advances across the circle.

It’s been too long, Glinda.

Glinda:

(Blushing.) Yes, it has.

They embrace, almost kiss, and then notice everyone watching them. The Mayor then ceremoniously takes Glinda’s arm and they advance around the circle, arm in arm, deosil.

Mayor:

Did they see the Great and Powerful Oz?

Glinda:

Yes.

Mayor:

How’d it go?

Glinda:

He’s kind of a dork.

Mayor:

Margie and Ari, the mysterious
Tornado Twins

Glinda:

Has some issues.

Mayor:

Flying Monkey?

Glinda:

Not dealing with her anger well.

Mayor:

Ah, well. (pause) Do you think our guests have learned anything?

Glinda:

Besides “Be wary of Community Seed Lughanasadh rituals?”

Mayor:

Yes. Besides that.

Glinda:

No, I don’t think they’ve really got the idea down yet.

The almost-kiss was great fun, but now it was time to get serious again. We moved apart from each other a bit, Glinda taking off her gloves as I rolled up my sleeves.  I wanted a non-verbal transition to the Deep Part.

Another batch of Alisa’s tokens is ready
for the oven.

I began by reiterating that this whole ritual has been about Dorothy’s journey for a Mentor, a leader, a guide, a teacher. The quest……

To find the One person who knows what’s best for you, and who can furnish you    with the things that will make you whole.

Scarecrow:

A brain.

Lion:

Some Courage.

Tin Woodsman:

A heart.

Toto:

Loyalty.

Mayor:

And what have you found? Nothing. You’ve found some so-called Leaders who are just as egotistical and confused as you are.

Then Glinda jumps in.

Not all of them came out, however.

“But here’s the thing: The Yellow Brick Road runs both ways – it’s not a one way   street. It flows both ways. In fact it is a circle, and the ancient quest that you set         out upon HAS no beginning, and has no end. It is eternal.”

With this Glinda holds up the token that everyone is wearing: The Yellow Brick Road as an eternal circle.

The Lord Mayor and Glinda then start trading off little speeches, moving around the circle, up and over the stage, speaking about the best teacher for any of us – is ourselves.

Glinda:

Who knows you best? Who has spent the most time with you? Who has been privy to all of your secrets, sins and triumphs? Who would make the best Leader for you?  Who knows you better than you?

Mayor:

You are a lottery winner by virtue of your birth, you are the highest form of evolution, we are the most incredible species that has ever existed. You are unique by design to have a unique point of view to do unique things for the betterment of yourself and all Humanity and every living creature on this wondrous planet.

Glinda, making the case.

We built up the rally intensity ’til we were stomping around the dust, bellowing like Tony Robbins at a Tent Revival.

Mayor:

You have to find your own way. You have to define your needs as you see them. You alone must do the work that will allow you to heal and change and grow. Others can help, but in the end, the Yellow Brick Road is nothing but a treadmill, and you decide when your workout is complete.

Glinda:

What Human beings have always searched for, what every quest ultimately leads to is this: Home. We all just want to come home. And home is where the heart is. Finding yourself is the ultimate homecoming.

Finally Glinda and the Mayor meet and arm-in-arm they deliver the coup-de-grace:

Mayor:

Dorothy. Dear Dorothy, if the lesson of today is anything it is simply this:

Mayor and Glinda together:

You have had the power to go home all along!

At an earlier rehearsal The Monkey and The Lion
compare fur bracelets and have a fistbump moment.

I was so worked up that I threw my script book down onto the stage before this last line:

Mayor:

There is no “over the rainbow”, Dorothy. YOU ARE THE RAINBOW. 

We got a good cheer and some nice applause. I think the celebrants got the message.

Put it in the basket and tie a bow on it

The 4 quarters (along with the 3 ‘glamours’) now approached the stage. They retrieved the goodies and goblets of juice that had been hidden under the stage the whole time. Glinda went with Toto, and each pair went to the quarter to the left of their home flag, and they worked the line, snacking and sipping the crowd as they went. “May you never Hunger…..”

When they were done the quarters were back at their home bases. Oz, the Monkey, the Wicked Witch and Glinda returned the platters and goblets to the stage, and then they sat down on it, facing outward. (except for Glinda, who now moved to the stream side of the circle.

Glinda thanks the Lady for her presence.

Glinda and the Mayor devoke the Scarecrow.

The Mayor then thanks the Forest God from the Redwood side of the circle. “We thank you for your indulgence!” These devokings were simple but heartfelt.

We then meet in the North and address Toto, asking her what she has learned.

Toto:

I have learned that Loyalty to the Pack starts with trusting in myself.

Then she devokes the quarter (finishing with a long howl), and goes to sit on the stage.

Glinda and the Mayor move to the West.

Tin Woodsman:

I have learned that Finding Love with others begins with Loving myself.

On to the South flag.

Lion:

I have learned that Courage is not conquering Fear. Courage is acknowledging the Fear – and then stepping up and doing it anyway.

My special token. The Yellow Brick Road resides
within us all, and it has no beginning and no end.

Finally back to the East.

Scarecrow:

I have learned not to compare my intelligence with anyone. Sometimes the simplest approach is often a direct path to being Happy.

From there the Mayor and Glinda separate a bit (remember, this is theater-in-the-round, gotta let everybody see) and I dramatically draw my cutlass.

Glinda (breathless):

Oh, I love it when you do that.

Everybody on stage for the big finale!

We exchange props and I take her star wand to the center. Glinda takes the cutlass to the edge of the crowd and we uncast the circle together, with me speaking the words (and acknowledging Lugh one last time).

Glinda then enters the stage as the Scarecrow, Oz, the Lion, the Flying Monkey, the Tin Woodsman, the Wicked Witch and Toto all rise, stand on the stage and join hands, facing out. This obscures me and Skot inside.

We end with the traditional verse used to wrap up most Community Seed rituals:

“Robin Hood, Robin Good / son of the Art, heart of the Art / All from air, into air    / let the misty curtains part / all is ended, all is done / what has been, must now be       gone / what is done, by ancient Art / merry meet, and merry part / and merry meet again!”

Smack-a-rino!

As the verse is spoken the 7 glamours raise their arms slowly. At the end of the verse the crowd applauds and the glamours slowly bow, revealing the Mayor and Glinda in the middle, engaged in long, deep kiss.

Applause turns to cheers!

Conclusions

This was an experimental rite in many ways.

Although there was plenty of movement and things for the celebrants to do, it was really more Ritual Theater than Participatory Ritual. I think the crowd had a good time and went away thinking about a few things, but we weren’t really letting the people experience the revelation at their own speed. We kinda slapped ‘em across the face with it.

Great music from talented folks

We used more of the forest than any other ritual, but I purposefully had the Casting include all of the spaces that we would be visiting, so people wouldn’t feel like they were ‘leaving the circle’ at any point.

Introducing the HPS 3/4 of the way through the ritual is a bit of a stretch, but I put in a lot of interaction between the Priestess and Priest to establish the two of them as a partnership (and one with some history). The fact that my Priestess turned out to have a hairy chest just made it all the more fun (and lordy is he a good kisser!)

The crowd seemed to have no problem using a ‘modern mythos’ as the basis for a Sabbath.

The juxtapositions between the low comedy bits and the dramatic callings worked like a charm. I’m not making any comparisons, but if it worked for Shakespeare, I’m sure it would work for a little ritual in a forest.

The bestest Toto, ever. Hooowwwllll!!!!!

Although I’ve spent almost 6,000 words describing all of this to you, the whole ritual took exactly one hour to perform, from the tornado to the kiss. It was a jam-packed hour though, and juicy as hell. Rituals don’t have to be EPIC to be awesome – and brevity is the soul of wit.

What I remember about that day is:

Not seen: hip flask of Yukon Jack –  a nod to the “Existensial Blues”.

The music. Text cannot adequately describe the joy of hearing all of those great songs from the Wizard of Oz movie sneaking into the various parts of the ritual. Having been in the drum pit for many tens of rituals, I know just how powerful and moving it is to have just the right cue, at the just the right moment, at just the right volume. Well done, Michelle, Alisa and Steve!

Behind the scenes, watching Rox smoothly organize all of us, Nancy help with our costumes and Jennifer, Rox and Mykey take pictures of it all for posterity – and overly indulgent blog posts.

The signs. Mykey took the lead here and so we had several ‘warnings’ on the way to the tornado, and a whole Burma Shave set on the ‘Yellow Brick Road’.

Everybody spending the day ‘in character’. This was subtle, but it was there. Jason was uncharacteristically shy, Matthew was stoic,

Makai was brattier than normal – everyone had done their homework and was halfway to their roles when they stepped out of their cars. (Which I guess makes me a raging, egomaniac.)

The Costumes! Everybody hit a home run with this. Amanda’s straw, Jason’s tail, Matthew’s leather long coat, Willow’s black nose, The slinky ‘cloud-wear’ of our Tornado Twins, Marjorie’s Steampunk Guard ensemble, Nancy’s Wicked Witch Hat, Makai’s monkey ear scarf – and I finally got to wear that ridiculous corduroy coat that was a leftover from the Pirate Handfasting.

Above and Beyond costumes though go to:

Karen congratulating me after the ritual. I look tired!

Makai’s ball gown for Skot. The pink taffeta morphed into a wine satin with Elizabethan shoulders and bodice, but the effect was perfect. It moved Skooter from a comical ‘man-in-drag’ up to a lovely High Priestess. Also, it fit him perfectly and it was built tough enough to survive swinging in on a rope over a creek.

Mykey’s ever-escalating get-up for Oz, the Great and Powerful. For every one of the six rehearsal Saturdays we watched this man slowly OWN this role, adding in the orange sherbet tuxedo, the Pat Boone shoes, the gold lamé shirt, etc. Even the two run-throughs on the day of the ritual, he was still accessorizing: The studded gold

turban that he customized, the rings, the little hippie granny glasses, and then the final touch – the green moustache and soul patch. Add in the megaphone, the smoke bombs and other stinky effects and it was no wonder that few people took notice of the man in the ball gown that was swinging in on a rope.

But what I remember most is how much damned FUN it was to finally perform this ritual, after planning it with Admiral Karen and the crew for over a year.

I love all of these people!

We all made it a very Happy Lughanasadh!

Angus McMahan

angusmcmahan@gmail.com

@AngusMcMahan

P.S. Later on in 2012 Jason published a book of Sabbats and rituals entitled: “The Wheel of the Year: Rituals and Reflection”, and I was honored to have him include my wacky “Somewhere, over Lughanasadh” ritual in it. So if you would like to see the whole script (yeah, there was lots more that I didn’t put in this blog post) with cues and suggestions – and 17 other wonderful (and less silly) rituals, simply look up this ISBN number:

9781304155108

Or head on over HERE. And soon you can do this ritual yourself!

My all-time favorite WoOz cartoon. This lived on my fridge for a decade and made me laugh every single day.
Artist: Paul Gilligan. Clipped from a Mad Magazine.

About Angus McMahan

Me? I'm just the drummer. Oh, I guess I write funny stuff now and then. When I am not scratching my head at the oddball questions that show up here I am penning witticisms over at www.angus-land.com

  • Annika Mongan

    I was the most confused person at that ritual, having grown up without the Wizard of Oz. Why is there a cat throwing cat litter? Oh, seeds? Oh, it’s a monkey? Huh?

    But the priest and priestess – SWOON!


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