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September 6th, 2005


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10:59 am - Hail to the Shining Ones: I hear!
"It's a little like religion and a lot like sex: You should never know when you're gonna get it next!"

Jimmy, of course, is singing about gumbo, that divine dish that suddenly feels a world and a half away with all the hurricane coverage. Hell, just thinking about it makes connections in my mind.

But this post isn't about gumbo or the hurricane. No, this post is about religion, one of those things that you just never know when you'll be getting it next.

This past weekend, we did the main ritual at Summerset. singingwren has already talked about it, tanrinia hasn't yet (though I imagine she might), and aroonic might get around to it if he decides to do some LJing in the near future. Basically, keep an eye on those journals for their reactions, because we all reacted to it, for sure.

Since I relocated something that was missing last Friday and re-found my space, I've come to realize several things. Most of these will be addressed over the next few weeks, I'm sure, a journal entry here, a journal entry there. Some of them, though, need to be addressed in person, or over a phone at least. Email simply will not suffice for some things I have to say.

For now, though, I really, really want to talk about this ritual. I don't know how long this entry will be running, but I can't bring myself to insert a cut. My advance apologies.

The ritual was, simply put, amazing. [Read the Liturgy] There were (as singingwren gigglingly pointed out) many misspellings and consistency errors, but, hell, that happens.

Here are the major changes made to a standard ADF Liturgy:
  • We had three fires, a Fire of Inspiration, a Fire of Fellowship, and a Fire of Blessings. This was in place of a main fire.
  • We re-worded the return flow to no longer be the "Waters of Life," but turned them into the "Fires of Life."
  • We entirely cut out praise offerings.

Some specific things I'd like to point out about this liturgy:
  • The Belenos invocation. I'm immensely proud of it. No, it doesn't flow, but I chose not to memorize, but to extemporize off the invocation. It allowed me to speak from the heart, and I covered everything in there, plus some.
  • I managed to combine "summer" and "set" in some quiet ways that were kinda fun.
  • I was amazed at how well the "Waters of Life" translated directly to the "Fires of Life". While it may have been a tad outside what ADF usually does, it worked.
  • The purpose of the ritual worked pretty well with the purpose of the entire weekend, which was something like "counting our blessings". Even though I had apparently been told what the theme was, it never, ever registered with me. I call this "dumb luck".

The Omens (seen at right) were excellent. I have a feeling that the suggestion that we remove all the "bad" runes from my runebag was only a half-joke, really, but we stuck with it and left all 24 in the bag. Our offerings were accepted, Joy was the blessing we received, and a journey was what they required of us.

Part of that journey is becoming obvious, and to me personally, it notes that there's a journey to be undertaken regarding our rituals. This ritual showed us the pinnacle of what we can achieve, just with the tools we have today. Imagine what will happen as our tools increase? But in the here and now, we need to begin that journey with what we have.

At the business meeting at Summerland, a number of concerns were raised about the last rite. It didn't do much for anyone, really, and after the ritual at Summerset, Jim and I realized what the problems centered around.

I will make a formal request at the next business meeting that the following things start occurring:
  • The Grove get together more often, and make sure that we do indeed move around the city some more for such meetings. If we can't constantly be convenient, we should be at least equally inconvenient :)
  • Rituals will become more than just written parts. I want the ritual to grow organically and from the Grove itself. Liturgy meetings cannot just be "you take this part, I'll do that again." Liturgy meetings need to involve practice and writing. No question.
  • I want to have small "supply parties" during the week before any ritual. While singingwren was homeless, she was staying with me. She showed up at my door in the middle of me cleaning and re-organizing the Grove's ritual supplies, and we partied out to loud (and sometimes really bad) country music while re-organizing the Grove stuff for our trip out to Summerset. If we do this, we won't ever be caught without sacrifices again, and it really does have a good effect on our ritual tools.
  • Parts need to get jumbled up. Every person should be doing different parts in the ritual. Jim shouldn't do the Inspiration prayer just because he does it well: In fact, that's a great reason for him not to do it. Someone else needs that experience.
  • I want to see us get actual ritual officers to some extent. This extent is yet to be determined.
  • I want dress rehearsals for all rituals, even if that rehearsal is as simple as "Do we all know what we're doing? Are there any questions? Here, let's talk about changes X and Y and make sure there's enough lighter fluid on the fire."
  • "Ritual huddles" should be implemented before any ritual. They don't have to be serious, just connecting, just grounding.
  • Ritual officers will be required to gather at least an hour early for any ritual. Yes, that includes my sorry, late ass. A number of problems with ritual are a direct result of my personal tardiness, and my Grove needs to shout at me from time to time about it. While I usually have a reason for being a bit late (last minute sacrifices and such are the general reason), there is no good reason for an SD to be late. That simply can't be tolerated any longer.
  • I want more ritual. We have quantified a bit of that, but I want an exact quantification of what the Grove wants and needs.
  • I would like to see our Grove do a rite to Belenos, one that's just for us. I would also like to possibly do this more than just once. I want to share this ritual with every member of our Grove. We may need to do a private Grove retreat in the very near future.

I won't be making any time-statements on this at the moment (we'll talk about that at the business meeting), but this Grove is, as of today, 20 members strong on ADF's books (with two members being expired at the moment). We are a large Grove, and we have been operating as a small one. We can't do that anymore. We have the manpower (personpower? druidpower?) to do more, and to do it bigger. Rather than ask, "Why aren't we?" I want to ask, "How do we?"

Finally, at Jim's suggestion, I'm going to request that Stone Creed Grove let us do this particular ritual at Wellspring. I feel a deep, stirring desire to do it again.

A number of these points will also be made to the Grove email list, so we can discuss there. But if there are *any* additions, please do include them.

I honestly feel like the Gods have given us a chance to embark on an amazing journey. We need to take it.

A very special thanks to all those who performed this rite: Lady Lilith, Jim, Jana, aroonic, singingwren, and tanrinia. Everyone did a remarkable job.
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Current Music: "Tin Cup Chalice", -JB

(23 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:gangrel_pri
Date:September 6th, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Not to be totally snarky, but it looks like th eomens are pointing to National Public Radio...
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC)
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I suppose they could be, if they weren't actually U, W, R :)

I had a devil of a time with that graphic. I kept getting it backwards and such. But, I did eventually get it right :)
[User Picture]
From:gangrel_pri
Date:September 6th, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
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True enough. Then again, the only real exposure to runes I had was Thorisaz;)
From:healing_coyote
Date:September 6th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC)
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wonderful writeup!

hopefully I will be able to attend a few rituals and see what ya'll are talking about!
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:10 pm (UTC)
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I certainly hope that we'll be able to show you :)
[User Picture]
From:singingwren
Date:September 6th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC)
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*claps hands together in delight*

Excellent update! I wanted to get into all the stuff I'd learned and what Raidho meant to me, but I was so crazy exhausted when I wrote my last update I don't even know if it made sense. I needed to stop and sleep. After I finished my long drive home, you see, I walked right into am unexpected early birthday party for my Dad, and things just kept on snowballing from there. Lol, I can't believe nobody noticed I smelled like campfire smoke and sage!

Anyway, well put. I feel inspired and energized. I seriously get all giddy and hyper when I think about my grove now. There is just so much POTENTIAL, you know?

It blows my mind that I found you guys. I think I express my excitement about it fairly often, but one of these days I need to write a genuine LJ about what I REALLY mean when I say this. Did you know I strongly doubted you guys for a long time? And that, in the spring, I came very close to dissociating myself with you guys entirely? Yassir, I very nearly took a vastly different journey that would have led me far away from all of you.

But you've got me now, like it or not. I'm stuck and so are you. Three Cranes Grove, I am determined, is going to be RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME, its sweetness proportionate only to the spectacular sweetness of our lives. Thank you so much for this ritual, this grove, and for letting me be a part of it!

You forgot to express one thing, though:

Why not Excellence?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
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Oh, the entry made sense (now that I've read it, I can say that for sure).

It's that chaos of potential that keeps me moving, you know :)

You'll have to tell me about that path you almost wandered down sometime.

Oh, but your question is easy to answer:

Because we're lazy!
[User Picture]
From:singingwren
Date:September 6th, 2005 07:52 pm (UTC)
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I'll drink to that!
From:fred_smith
Date:September 7th, 2005 12:30 am (UTC)
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"Laziness is the giant future Buddha."
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:September 6th, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC)

confused

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"We entirely cut out praise offerings."
... but...
"Our offerings were accepted, Joy was the blessing we received, and a journey was what they required of us."

If you cut out praise offerings, what offerings were accepted?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)

Re: confused

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Praise offerings aren't the only offerings made. Due to the time constraints in the ritual (one hour is not nearly enough time to do individual offerings for 50 people), we had to cut them out.

But the offerings made to the three Kindred, the Patron of the rite (Belenos), the fires themselves, the gatekeeper, the Outdwellers. . . Yeah, the offerings to everyone, actually. . . were accepted.

The praise offerings are a time for the people to give highly personalized offerings. It's a specific term for the personal offerings that people give during the rites, rather than a type of offering, really. In general, anything that falls outside of the "normal" offerings is a praise offering.

So there was still praise, but we didn't invite individuals to come up alone. Instead, we gave offerings, and used the focus of the people on those offerings to convey their praises to the Powers.

I much prefer the regular rounds of praise offerings, where anyone can give whatever they want to whomever they want, but we were planning for a high turnout (and we got a pretty decent one), and had each person taken 30 seconds to do an offering, it would have added about 30 minutes to the rite. We couldn't do that with the constraint of time, so we did our best to focus the praises of the entire group into the main sacrifice.

Given our runes, it obviously (to me) worked.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC)

Re: confused

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Ah, my deficient familiarity with ADF ritual is showing. I understood "praise offerings" to mean "any offerings", and was surprised that an ADF ritual would exclude offerings. Now I get it.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)

Re: confused

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I don't think I've ever seen a ritual that didn't include offerings in some way, with the exclusion of Christian ritual. And even that generally includes cash offerings, or songs of praise.

Now, there's a challenge: getting into a ritual state of mind without making offerings at all. . . No songs of praise, no giving of thanks. . . I wonder what kind of ritual that would create?
[User Picture]
From:wishesofastar
Date:September 6th, 2005 09:39 pm (UTC)

An objectivist ritual?

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The first thing I thought of when you said this was, "That seems like what a ritual devised by Ayn Rand/Objectivists might look like." The focus would be, of course, on gaining more personal power.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:wishesofastar
Date:September 7th, 2005 12:49 am (UTC)

Re: An objectivist ritual?

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Dunno. I suppose it depends on your perspective. If you're working under the notion that there is no higher power, yet magic exists and can be manipulated by people, I don't see why it wouldn't work.
From:fred_smith
Date:September 7th, 2005 12:35 am (UTC)

Re: confused

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Maybe basic trance divination kind of stuff with a bit of a twist?

http://www.chaosmatrix.org/library/chaos/rites/gloss.html

Or your fairly average invocation could be described as more a working with than a worship. The TOPY Sigil Rite doesn't inherently contain an offering. And I'm not sure about goetic rituals. I can imagine new techniques not dealing with God if you use different banishings and such.
[User Picture]
From:dmartin
Date:September 7th, 2005 12:46 am (UTC)

Re: confused

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One that was a demand, veiled or not?
[User Picture]
From:dansarani
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)
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I LOVED the way everything was set up!!!


Dawn
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you did! I had so much fun doing the rite and hanging out around that fire. . . Amazing, you know.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC)
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Well, we were told that the main purpose of our rite was to be the lighting of the bonfire. Now, that in particular offended me a tad (a ritual is about connecting with deity, not lighting a fire), but I got over it pretty quickly, and I started thinking about how to achieve both aims.

I figured that we'd need a fire for sacrifices (dumping things in the well for an hour just wasn't going to cut it), so I was initially thinking about holding everything back until it was lit, and then dumping it on the fire, but that would have been silly, and very anti-climactic. Then I thought about maybe having a small fire for sacrifices, and that's when it clicked with someone, either myself or a Grove member, to set up three fires around the hallows for sacrifice.

The names were rather arbitrarily picked. In fact, they weren't even settled on until just before I finished up the liturgy. In the end, they just felt right.

We lit those fires, and placed them around the fire. We poured sacrifices often into each fire (most of the invocations have three stanzas, so it worked out nicely, giving us time to walk from one to the other), and finally we lit the bonfire (called the "Fire of Unity") using torches lit from those three fires.

It was really a beautiful thing. The return flow was the fire that we set (thus "Fires of Life"), and the warmth that came off of it. Our omen reflected a fire blessing quite nicely, what with the really nice "joy" omen that came back.

We chose Belenos as our patron for the rite because he's "shiny", and fires are shiny. :)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 9th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
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During the rite, it was one person. I would, for instance, during the invocation to Belenos, walk up to one fire and say,

"Belenos, whose starry cloak is X and Y and Z and yadda and yadda! Give us inspiration!"

And I'd throw the everclear onto the fire of inspiration.

Then I'd go to the next fire and say

"Belenos, who draws the sun across the sky and X and Y and Z and yadda and yadda! Give us Fellowship!"

And I'd throw the everclear onto the fire of fellowship.

etc.

After the rite, though, we took some of what was left of the Everclear and four of us gathered around the fire and we all threw it on at once, and that was, simply put, an awesome flame that went up. If you were looking for a dramatic final offering for a shining God, I would highly suggest putting four people around a large fire with about a tablespoon of Everclear apiece and having them all throw it on at once.

Which other names do you mean?
From:tanrinia
Date:September 8th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC)
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i was not joking about 'loading the omens.' glad we didn't though :)

and i nominate myself "huddle chairperson" :)

[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 9th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
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*nods* I'll second that nomination.

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