Ritual Leader

Posted On July 14, 2011

Filed under holidays, ritual

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Did you all have a nice Karhunpäivä? Mine took an unexpected turn in that I ended up being a ritual leader! I assumed that I would be celebrating Karhunpäivä alone, but the night before, a friend asked me if I wanted to hang out that day after she got off of work at 15:00. I told her that I was going to be doing a ritual around that time, but she was welcome to come along. And to my surprise, she did. I brought an offering of blueberries that I picked myself a couple days before. On the the way to the forest, she picked flowers to use for her offering, which became a very beautiful bouquet. I already plotted out the general area to do the ritual beforehand. There’s one area of the forest that is almost completely pine and goes up into a hill, so I chose that spot.

I pretty much followed the format of the ritual that I wrote in the last entry, except I sang a specific song from the document my friend gave me to welcome the haltija in at the beginning, and then after Karhun Synty, sang another song to welcome Ohto in. My friend was too shy to sing, but she said she would follow along silently. It was kind of amusing that me, a foreigner, was leading a Finnish ritual in front of a Finn. I was really happy that she came along though; it was nice that even though she isn’t pagan, she still came and was supportive. After singing the songs, I got a really peaceful feeling there. We sat on a rock in front of the altar and listened to the wind and trees. No other sounds were present except those. I played kantele for a little while too. I was very surprised that not one person was around, because often times I run into people there. Lucky us! No bears either, just a bear spirit! To end the ritual, we did a procession out of the forest, with me leading and playing the kantele. Then I turned around and bowed to the forest as we exited. My friend joked that I should play the kantele all the way back to our apartment complex. That would have been a funny site!

One thing that was unfortunate about the day, and this week in general, is that it was anything but warm and sunny! Well, there was some sun, but earlier in the day it was cloudy. The three weeks after Karhunpäivä are supposed to be the warmest of the year, but it’s proving to be incorrect this year it seems. There’s still two more weeks left to try to prove itself right.


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