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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

January 11th, 2011

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04:23 pm - Ritual Studies comes to the Liturgy Meetings
Last night, I finally received the draft of the Ritual Studies Journal I put together for the Grove. It looks nice, it's got plenty of space for omen-keeping, and it's got the essential writing-prompts that I want to make use of built in. Plus, it has my drawings of different ritual configurations (based on my "Theatre for Ritual" studies) so that I can explain things with a bit more visual information.

I experimented with a lower quality of paper for this book in order to keep the price low, and it seems to have worked out alright. There are some priting mishaps on the paper, but generally speaking, everything is legible and appears to work just fine. The thing I was most concerned with was the durability of the book: I want people using these for about a year, and one can put a lot of wear-and-tear on a book over the course of a year if you're dragging it to outdoor rituals and writing about your omens and experiences. So far, so good, though: I think it will hold up nicely.

Our liturgy meetings have generally been about the upcoming ritual, but I've come around to the notion that we shouldn't focus on "the next rite" so much as on "ensuring the practice."

Let me explain:

You might think of High Days, rites of passage, and other major rituals as "desserts." Yes, you could live off those alone, but imagine getting "enough to eat" from cheesecake alone, and you see the issue: "special" and "seasonal" rites must be the treats and the joy of our lives, not the staples: they are no longer as sweet if they are all we eat, after all.

What, then, provides the staple of our religious selves? That is the meditation, daily prayer, and devotional work that we do. Our morning prayers are our eggs, toast, and bacon; our afternoon mediations are our chips and sandwich; and our evening devotional rites are our steak and potatoes. These are the things that feed our souls, not the sugary treats we often enjoy.

Keeping up the daily rites, the moderate worship, and the mindful prayer ensures that the "special" rites remain special. I would be willing to argue that if the High Days have lost their lustre in your life, you likely aren't keeping up with the daily work you know you should be doing.

At our last ritual (Rivros), I asked a simple question before assigning parts: "Who has done work at their shrine in the past week?" Only 4 people raised their hands, and I gave the parts to those people. . . for they had been practicing. It didn't matter that they had not been practicing the specific part I gave them, or that they hadn't finished their DP, or that there were other people who had more experience than they did. What mattered is that they weren't depending on the experience provided by the Grove to get their work in. They weren't interested in *only* eating cheesecake. . . they also wanted rice and beans so that when they had the cheesecake, it tasted sweet.

They could, through their experience of the sweetness, pass it along to others.

And that is what a good ritualist does.

So, the liturgy meetings will begin to become more about the staples than about the desserts. Sure, we'll still talk about the upcoming High Day, but the liturgy meetings will involve practice more than talk. We will learn about the ritual process by doing it rather than by letting it settle upon us and rot our spiritual teeth.

At least, that's the aim.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: "Ballad of Spider John", -JB

(37 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
I like cheesecake. It is yummy in my tummy. You have dairy and protein in cheesecake. And even a little bit a grain without too much. The only thing that is missing is bacon.

And bacon grows on trees. Lees said so.

I think that you have the right idea taking the liturgy meetings aware from being about the assigning of parts. I suppose though that speaking as someone who doesn't do all the praying you are referring to, I am a little concerned that it sounds way too much like being xtian. Which I am NOT for.

I may talk to my deities/kindreds daily (throughout the day) or I may not. It's like talking to anyone of my Cranes. I don't always talk to you guys on a daily basis, let alone several times a day. It doesn't mean that I don't care about or love any of you less for it. It doesn't make me less of a Crane. If anything, it makes me appreciate the time I have with you all the more. Let's face it, if we saw each other multiple times a day every day we would probably begin to dread it after a while. And the joys we find in each others company might begin to diminish at that point.

I pray when I am called to. I do devotions if I feel the need for it. But not being considered to participate if I haven't done these things unless there is no one else I am not sure I appreciate. My path isn't yours and yours isn't mine. All of that might work for you. It isn't for everyone.

I am certain that the way you phrased this isn't necessarily how you meant it to come across. I do not think you would penalize someone for not doing devotionals. I just want you to remember that we don't always sit by the same fire all the time, it's that we are warmed by it at all that binds us together.
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of miffed, Anna Gail. How did any of what he wrote sound anything about "way too much like being xtian?"

[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
I might counter your argument by saying that your point makes mine: I can't judge your devotion, but I can ask you if you feel you've lived up to your own notion of piety. If you'll recall, I asked, "Who did their devotions this week?" not "Who did daily prayers." I didn't define it or call for a frequency. I just asked who was getting in their practice.

I am, though, becoming more and more convinced that one cannot abandon their shrine and still present meaningful ritual to the Folk at a High Day. We must practice for the show, after all. That's the thrust here. It's not about judging someone's personal devotional schedule, but about ensuring that those who we certify to present the Grove's devotional work have the necessary practice in to show a good face to the deities and the Folk.
Date:January 12th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Christianity is not the only religion that prays and has daily (or weekly or whatever) expectations of 'spiritual stuff to do on your own that enhances your group experience." Throwing it out there is kind of a straw man.
Date:January 14th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
speaking as someone who doesn't do all the praying you are referring to, I am a little concerned that it sounds way too much like being xtian.

Cross-culturally and historically, daily practice is the norm: please take a look at the Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Sikh, as well as Taoist, Shinto, and the African Diasporic Religions expectations of daily practice.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)


I hope maybe you'll share some ways that I would be able to keep up, as I can't make it to the meetings until March because of school. I just can't miss any of my psy class! But I want to work on this very, VERY much.
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
I wish I could make it to meetings, but unfortunately being on a work-night, it's not feasible most times. The new direction for liturgy meetings sounds wonderful. Just curious, would it be possible to set up skype (or similar) video conferencing for meetings?

Anyways, on a more positive note (and maybe slightly off-topic of your original post, but related to personal practice), I've noticed that having moved and not being able to make it to smaller Crane gatherings as often (whether social or not) has caused me to increase my personal work. I wish I could find ways to write about it more, because that in the past has been the best way for me to process and remember, but in any case, I feel like I've ben more spiritual since the move. I have my home shrine in a place where I can get to it easily and more importantly feel comfortable working at it. I think part of this is simply due to the new apartment and having more room, but it is also feeling as though I need more of that connection now, and so have adapted my practice to match that. While I miss being able to be at the Crane events, and see people more often, I do think in some ways being away has been god for my practice.

All in all, being enmeshed with the Grove was excellent for watching and learning and practicing in a group, but now being some what of a solitary (even though, or maybe because of it being not by choice) has deepened the connection I feel to the Gods, and made me more confident in my spiritual work, and allowed me to branch out and try new ways of talking with them and working with them. And while I am still sad that I don't get to spend as much time with the Grove and doing Grove work, I think I've benefited from being on my own and developing/learning the ways that worshiping work best for me and my relationship with the Gods.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC)
I don't see why we wouldn't set up Skype, but I can tell you directly that you won't be able to participate in certain things remotely, including the first exercise of every course. But you may be able to manage some of the other ones, and the discussions may, in many cases, help even without exercises and interaction (the first meeting will cover "Circles of Concentration," which you should get something from, at least).

I don't have a Skype account, though, nor a laptop that can generally broadcast via Skype. Someone else may, though.

It is easy to rely on the Grove for the totality of one's practice, so I'm glad that you've found a benefit to being further away in the form of increased Sol work. I'm especially pleased to hear that your home shrine is getting use :) Gotta keep those home fires a-burnin'!

We miss you, too. Remember that no matter how far you travel, you're always welcome at our good fire.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
I don't think this would work for our Grove, since the number of people who do regular work at their home shrines far exceeds the number who show up to the ritual planning meetings. >8)
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
See, we're trying not to do "ritual planning meetings" so much as "ritual training meetings" :) That might make a difference in terms of turnout :)
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
I think the workbooks will be very good for helping folks develop/improve their home shrine work. I know mine is in desperate need of an overhaul. I'm not pleased with the schedule or the format with which I've been working, and changes I've played with just aren't very fulfilling. I am really only happy with full Core Order rites, but I just don't have the time and the focus at the same time often enough to get them done on a regular basis. Plus, Timmy keeps taking apart my shrine.

Something needs to change, and I just don't know what it is. I'm looking forward to trying new things!

[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
My hope is that the list of exercises we do will get people out of the Core Order box and will get them thinking about ways to practice Our Drudiry without being rigid about it.

I think you'll like the Warrior Dance, myself.
Date:January 12th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
As long as parts still DO get assigned, and all the practical minutiae of running rituals gets handled...
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you and I should chat about that for Imbolc. :)

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