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.