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Festival angst, on the horizon - Chronarchy

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September 5th, 2007


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09:30 am - Festival angst, on the horizon
At Summerland, Nora asked me if I'd do a workshop/ritual on my sunrise and sunset devotions for Desert Magic next year. I agreed, and also agreed to talk about Vedism in a workshop as well. I'm pretty sure that I can talk about Vedism for a while with no real issues.

The more I think about it, though, the more issues I have with the devotional aspect. The central problem, for me, is that my sunrise and sunset devotions are so amazingly simple and unimpressive that I'm almost embarrassed by how. . . "un-theatrical" they are.

Theatrics play a large role in group ritual. It's just the nature of the beast. They do not play a role in my own rituals, because there's no need to reinforce cosmology, intent, or anything else. I admit what might be described as a "deep fear" that someone standing outside my personal practice would find it weak, lacking imagination, and undeniably simplistic.

I think what I'm most afraid of is that I'll do my devotional in the morning and one of two things will happen:
  1. I'll bore folks out of their skull, or they won't have enough time to achieve a ritual mindset
  2. I'll plan a lot, but get so lost in my devotion to Usas or Ratri that I'll forget that there are other people there with me, and I'll either speak too quietly or personally to the deities for anyone to "follow along" into a ritual mindset
As an example of how fast my devotions go now, my entire sunrise devotional can be summed up like this:
  1. Strike a match
  2. Sing the Clergy Charm while lighting the candle(s)
  3. Pray a seven-line prayer to Usas.
  4. Stand "still" for a moment
  5. Put on my necklace
  6. extinguish the candle
It took me about six times as long to type that as it does to actually do the devotional, where the longest item, the prayer, clocks in at 15 seconds. (Ratri's prayer, in the evening, takes a total of 18 seconds, and is one line longer.) My average devotional lasts between 30 seconds and one minute.

Sure, some days I might add other prayers, such as my "Prayer to the Absent Epona," or a prayer to another deity, but these are actually fairly rare: most of my prayers to deities other than Usas (or Ratri at night) are done during regular ADF rites at my altar.

In the end, I am not sure how to do a sunrise or sunset devotional for a group of people who have no investment in Usas or Ratri. There are so many nuances in my own worship and adoration that even I do not understand them all.

Interestingly, as uncertain as I am about the entire concept of doing a group devotional, I'm not uncertain about the key aspect: I'll get up that morning and pour out my adoration to Usas, and I will pray fervently to Ratri that night. The twin daughters of heaven will be pleased, even if no one else is. And honestly, that's okay.

Then again, no one attends sunrise services at DMF anyway, so the point is probably moot.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
Current Music: "Hula Girl at Heart", -JB

(22 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:spottedtoad
Date:September 5th, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC)
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So incorporate advice on how the rest of us can develop our own daily ritual practices. Tales of the trials and tribulations that you went through developing yours. Etc. etc.

Looking forward to having you at DM next year. You were missed this last time.

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From:chronarchy
Date:September 5th, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC)
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I missed DMF this year as well.

Well, I admit that I missed it before I left for Greece and after I got back, but not so much during :)

Still, I wish I'd been able to do both.

I'm thinking that I'll do a pre-dawn workshop on Usas, actually, and maybe an after-dark workshop on Ratri. I think that might help.
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
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I'm partially wondering if I can't do something in the pre-dawn hour as a workshop for Usas, with dawn being the culmination of the workshop.

Calisthenics? Really? Not yoga or aerobics, but calisthenics?
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From:nantonos
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
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Your post sums up why I tend to feel uncomfortable with liturgy. in some ways it often works against rather than towards the goal of communing with deity, and easily becomes empty theatre. But thats probably just my wierdness.

"Prayer to the Absent Epona," ?? Care to post to eponacult on that?
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
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I think that it'll become empty if you're really not careful, but ritual theatre done with all audiences in mind won't empty easily: the theatre has to be for the folk, the deities, and the person(s) running the rite, too.

I can post the prayer, but I don't have time right now. The prayer is basically a prayer I say at my altar, to the empty place Epona used to hang out there (I sent her to a friend in Texas, and never replaced the icon).

Epona, Great Queen and Horse-goddess
You who protects us and guides us to victory
You have traveled far and swift
But are never gone from my heart

You are remembered here
Your place upon my altar empty
your place within my heart shrine
Forever full of love.
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From:smithing_chick
Date:September 5th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)

Re: Simple = Good

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Don't lurk! You make an excellent point-- not everything has to be a huge theatrical undertaking & in fact some things are better when kept simple.

chronarchy, I'd love to see what you come up with, although you're also well aware that I'm unlikely to be at any early-morning sort of thing anywhere unless it happens that I haven''t gone to sleep yet.
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Simple = Good

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Well, yeah, I know. I'm thinking about just writing up a long essay on writing devotionals. :)
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Simple = Good

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I was thinking about this yesterday. Or maybe today. Hell, I may have been thinking about this tomorrow at this rate: I'm befuddled on my days. That aside:

I think that the most useful thing for folk who wish to be clergy can learn is actually how to achieve religious meaning from the theatrical aspects of public ritual, and/or how to ensure that his/her religious needs are being met through other, more personal interaction with the Powers.

I remember a time when I used to get all the fulfillment I needed out of public ritual. Then I started doing public ritual regularly, and realized that I needed a lot more ritual to get anything out of my religious life. :)
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From:dragynphyre
Date:September 5th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
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Michael, not sure if you were going to go in this direction, but I would LOVE to attend a workshop on how to develop a simple morning/evening devotional.

Especially helpful would be tips on how to train oneself to get into that ritual mindset within only a few moments instead of having to take time to center and ground and whatnot. (Of note here is that I still find that I'm roadblocked by the "meditation thing", especially when it's done in group ritual, it's certain to bore me to the point where I want to be doing anything BUT ritual at that point)

I still have issues with developing my own personal practice, (after almost 10 years in ADF, mind you) because I feel downright SILLY, doing what I would feel [u]quite[/u] comfortable doing in a group ritual, when I'm home alone standing before my altar. I haven't been able to completely develop a personal ADF-style ritual that feels right yet, so I end up not doing one at all, which is truly a sad thing.

At the very least, I'd like to be able to come up with something I can do as soon as I wake up in the morning, and just before I roll into bed at night. My altar is a few steps away from the bed, so this makes perfect sense to me as the times of day that I should do my devotionals to Freya and Thor.
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From:fionnabhar
Date:September 5th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Along this line of thinking, it might be beneficial for some of the workshop time to be spent allowing folks time to write and run through, privately or publicly, such a simple devotional of their very own to their very own patrons and gods. It allows for personalization, praxis, and something else that starts with "p" that I haven't thought up yet.

That said, my own morning devotions to Oghma take a full five minutes. He will have words involved. Motormouth.
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From:qorinda
Date:September 5th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Your devotional is very similar to mine, which takes a few more than 15 seconds, but not much more.

I light a hearth candle, say a prayer, light a stick of incense as offering, and then sometimes, make a few additional offerings, usually in the form of drops of scented oil into one of those things that you light a candle underneath to heat up oil (dang, I don't even know if there is an official name).

And I offer birdseed to the birds outside.
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From:gothicdruid
Date:September 5th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
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Yeah...ditto. My daily devotional is meal-related and is 1. light candle and (usually) incense with 2. associated prayer, leading to 3. brief contemplation on what the intent/associations of the prayer are for this day. That's it.

Theatrics are important in group ritual (esp. with newcomers), in part because they enforce a kind of pace that prevents people from being "left behind" (by the sort of legitimate "shortcuts" that established small groups employ, sometimes unconsciously). But I'm a huge believer in general de-mystification of ritual practices with an eye to making them as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
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From:joyful_storm
Date:September 5th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
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If it's short, simple and sweet, people might actually DO it on a regular basis.

I was actually quite inspired by the liturgy class journal description of the short daily devotion on your web site. It had never even occurred to me that it was *allowed* to be that simple!

Not that, um, I've started doing one yet. . . but the concept of such simplicity has at least made it more likely someday!
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From:suicidekttn
Date:September 6th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
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I like the simplicity of it. I think it has a beauty of it's own. I like that some person can just be like "Pfft...that was it?" but someone else can be like "That was amazing!" Dunno, maybe I'm just weird, but I'm all for the simple ritual...less ritual, more time for wonderment since you're not reciting something elaborate.
From:bloodlikerain
Date:September 6th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)

Prayer to the Absent Epona?

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Share?
From:bloodlikerain
Date:September 6th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Prayer to the Absent Epona?

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lol, no thats not the only thing I got out of that post, i just suck at presentaitons. ;)
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From:chronarchy
Date:September 6th, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Prayer to the Absent Epona?

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You'll find it quoted above in the comments :)
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From:chirael
Date:September 8th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
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I understand what you mean. My own morning devotionals just involve pouring some water out and saying some stuff a few times.

Not terribly complicated, but I like to think that's the secret to success - it's simple, it's portable, and it gets done. In fact, it's so simple that I'd feel bad if I skipped it, it's not like there's a lot of setup or materials needed.

But by the same token, I also feel that I would maybe be embarrassed to share this devotional with other ADF-ers because it doesn't involve the all-sacred "fire" part. But like I said, that's also part of its strength and the reason I've been doing it consistently for the past 12 years.
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From:seamus_mcnasty
Date:November 3rd, 2007 12:54 am (UTC)
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sorry I'm trying to catch up but - i find that when I simplified my morning and evening devotionals it became much clearer for me. I am probably going to desert magic myself - if you would like we could do something here together...maybe show different view of devotions, how they evolved for us etc...if you want help fleshing it out to more of a workshop...
Seamus

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