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Posted on Wednesday, March 26 - 2008

" Copyright The Columbus DispatchThe only thing the ritual shared with Easter was timing — and a few brightly colored eggs constituting an offering to the “shining ones.” They purified their ceremony by making a banishment offering to the “out-dwellers and tricks..."

Druids

Copyright The Columbus Dispatch

The only thing the ritual shared with Easter was timing — and a few brightly colored eggs constituting an offering to the “shining ones.” They purified their ceremony by making a banishment offering to the “out-dwellers and tricksters.” They chanted, their voices ever rising and ever faster, to “open the gates,” a sign they had formed a spiritual center around their three altars.They drank apple juice from a communal horn in accepting the blessings of the “waters of life” from kindred gods and goddesses of the Celts, Romans, Gauls and Norse. They madesacrificial offerings of bird seed to the nature spirits, tobacco and root beer to the ancestors and offered olive oil and praise gifts to individual patron gods chosen from hundreds.Today, the Druids of the Three Cranes Grove of Columbus celebrated the seasonal holy day of Ostara, which marks the spring equinox. This day, this ritual, was to honor the Norse deities of Eostre, the goddess of spring, and Nerthus, the Earth Mother, and accept their gifts of renewal and fertility. Eostre, the Druids note, was the name adapted by Christians to name their spring observance of Easter. Twenty-three people, some clad in white robes, sought to strengthen their relationships with a host of neo-pagan gods through ceremony in a shelter at Highbanks Metro Park. Michael Dangler, the priest ofthe local Grove, or congregation, and Jim Dillard, the senior Druid, led the colorful ceremony encircled by their fellow celebrants. “We are building a relationship with our gods, not unlike you do with friends,” Dangler said.

“ We give them love and respect and occasionally give them gifts. We give to them and they give back to us.” Druids embrace a nature-based philosophy in which they find spirituality in other creatures and seek to honor and protect the Earth, said Dangler, 28, a North Side resident and information-technology specialist at Ohio State University. At points during their hourlong ritual, the Druids knelt to touch, or even kiss, the ground. While Druids reject many religions' belief that there is but one God, neo-pagans share many guiding principles with Christianityand ......


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