This ritual, the ritual completing the final requirement for ADF's Clergy Training Program, marked the end of nine years of training within ADF: a good Druidic number that you might think I had picked on purpose.
But I hadn't picked that number on purpose. It just sort of happened.
Getting this requirement done was probably the most effort: when you reach that final requirement, the one that means you enter a liminal space between "eligibility" and "ordination," it can be quite daunting. I suspect our Dedicants often find the same thing.
It was tempting to just turn in a ritual I had written for something else, to dust something off and offer that as the rite for review. I've written many rituals in my time: starting from day one with Three Cranes when I "borrowed" more than I "wrote," working through many entirely "uniquely mine" solitary rituals, and building Grove rites from the ground up with the help of others. Still, I hadn't physically sat down to write a High Day ritual, from start to finish, where I would provide all the written parts.
I took a very hard-line approach to this ritual: while I was not required to provide original language for every item on the Core Order (indeed, one really cannot provide 100% original language: we all steal and develop from each other), I wanted to ensure that this ritual was primarily created and built by me.
There were some kinks in the ritual, as there always are.
- We moved the rite inside (though in hindsight we probably didn't need to) which meant that many of the things I wanted to do simply could not be done: I had to change up offerings, reduce the amount of movement, and increase the prep time which put me starting roughly 20 minutes late.
- I had forgotten to supply an attunement, so one was added in last minute by Seamus (thankfully, I can always count on him to pick stuff up when I drop it).
- The central bonfire-lighting became a central candle-lighting (which worked out better in the end: I still hadn't worked out how to logistically move the flame from the bonfire back to the candles).
- We added a new "Waters" song by Traci (very "Lilith Fair," which is totally a compliment) which went very nicely, and I'm excited to use it more.
- We got a "no" omen to the question about offering acceptance (see below)
- I started out well with a "Priest 2" part for Seamus, but apparently managed to forget those parts belonged to him and stole them as the rite progressed.
At one point, I had an, "Oh, that's not going right," moment with the Nature Spirits invitation: I had written the invitation a couple of weeks ago, and it was still somewhat cold and we were coming off a heavy snow. The language was not quite appropriate to the season we were celebrating. I had not reviewed that section since early March, however, so I didn't think much of it. Still, it was just close enough that it probably was just fine.
At a certain point, my nerves did get the better of me, and I moved through parts that weren't actually mine, notably Seamus' "Priest 2" part. We've never used that part before, so remembering all the places where that part was assigned was complicated for me, even though I kept the full script on hand. Still, it did not impact the flow greatly.
The accomplishments of the rite were also pretty good, after a couple of "bumps". The omen is a particular "bump" I am thinking of here, where we received a "no" answer to whether the offerings had been accepted. Additional offerings resolved that (including some offerings that were less appropriate to the indoor rite, such as alcohol for the fire, and had thus been placed in storage), and even though Hagalaz was placed back in the bag for the next draw, we came up with a "yes" when we next asked the question.
Our omens were as follows:
- Have our offerings been accepted?
Hagalaz: Hail. Our offerings have not been accepted.
Jera: The fruitful year. Our offerings have been accepted.
- What do the Powers offer us in return?
Hagalaz: Challenge is what the Powers offer in return
- What further needs do the Powers have of us?
Ansuz: Wise words are what they further require from us.
The most important part, to me? Introducing Belenos to Grove members who have not yet met him. I know we accomplished that.
Going back to that initial math, it seems "right" to me that I'd have done nine years of training at this point. As I prepare to enter that liminal time between eligibility and ordination, I am struck that, like everything else I have done (and/or endured) in ADF, this is right and proper. It's the way these things should be.
Once this final course is approved (because it still needs to be approved: I'm pending evaluations of the ritual which are required before submission), I know there will be more things to work on. But my first plan? Developing discipline. More on this after May 1st.