Yesterday was the February Gathering. While the farm was muddy and not much more green than the stray clump of reaching grass poked through the earth, it felt like spring. It was nearly 50 degrees and a pair of just-born lambs were romping around the pasture. The sun was out, the stream was gurgling free of ice, and our Kindred was out painting our new beehive. All of these, signs of the coming season.
Our monthly Gatherings have found their stride. We begin with a feast (potluck style) and over the months they have gone from a 12-pack of beer and donuts to a literal feast. Yesterday I offered some of this farm’s own pork, slow roasted in barbecue sauce, beer, and spices. There was rice to side with it as well. Other members brought green salad, homemade desserts, a tray of cheesy potatoes, and enough beer to drown a small donkey. It was lovely. We eat and chat, catch up with each other, we Heathen.
After we eat we discuss the Homework assignment. Yesterday it was the Lay of Thrym. People get out their books and notes, share ideas and insights. It’s a book club vibe, but every now and then an argument or deeper discussion pops up and watching the words fly and stories being relived through modern practitioners is a quiet thrill. When the topic is exhausted and everyone has enjoyed seconds (or thirds, because cheesy potatoes) we head outside for group work and ritual.
In the past our group work was carving the God Poles, and now those poles are ready to be placed into the ground. So instead we painted the hive for the bees coming in May. We raised funds back at the January Thing to buy a Wintered-Over Nuc of bees from a local apiary. They will be set in the forest behind the barn to create a colony for the Tribe’s mead futures. Getting a nuc of bees instead of a package means we get a jump-start on honey production and there is a chance of a small harvest this fall. Exciting!
Ritual was a blessing of the plough and passing the horn. The wheel hoe I use for the farm’s kailyard was set outside and everyone’s hands placed on it as words of blessing and hope were said. We made our offering of mead at the feet of our God Poles, under the ancient and crooked apple tree. I can not wait until the tree is green and full of blossoms and those poles are set into the earth. Come Summer Thing, the forest will return to being a place of fireflies and vines, a taste of wilderness in our own inneryard.