September 24th, 2007

surya

Out with an old prayer, in with the new: adventures in altering liturgy

When Three Cranes Grove, ADF, started, we lifted our liturgy almost entirely from The 6th Night Grove, ADF. I am particularly not ashamed of this little fact, because (quite honestly) it's a good liturgy and it's very "ADF Traditional", if such a thing could be said to exist.

One aspect of the liturgy we lifted, though, has been bugging me for some time. I believe this was added in by Amergin, actually, and I may have modified it slightly when we brought it over. It's called the "Universal Spirit Prayer," and it's something that I've mostly retained because of its familiarity to me, personally. It's one of those key ritual elements that puts me into a ritual mindset every time I hear it or say it.

Honestly, no one has ever complained about it or asked if we could leave it out. It's always been a part of our liturgy. Here's the text:
Universal Spirit Prayer:

You who are without name
You who are without gender
You who are without form
Spirit which exists in all Creation

We, the Children of the Earth
Call out to you
And ask that you bless this work and our lives.
So be it.
I started thinking about this sometime early last year, though: this prayer really doesn't fit well with ADF's cosmology.

As I thought about this prayer, what it meant to me, what it meant to the Grove, and what it meant in ritual context, it became more and more clear to me that it was time to sort of. . . steer away from its use.

The straw that really broke the camel's back on my feelings about this particular prayer was the introduction of the ADF Core Order of Ritual, which includes a handy little section about "Items that ADF Rituals Do Not Include". There, point five is:

     "Acknowledgment of one divine being with power over all"

And, of course, that's really what the US prayer is: acknowledgment of some nameless, formless, genderless . . . entity. Its placement, before the Earth Mother, as well as its general non-direction seem to empty the ritual into some sort of pan-henotheism (if such a thing can exist). I admit, that's not the direction I want to see us going.

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