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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 15th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
One thing that we simply do not do in modern Paganism (but which is/was very common in ancient/"primitive" cultures is ritual dance. Warrior dances, rain dances, fertility dances, ghost dances: these are all rituals in their own rights, but we tend to ignore them. They rarely have structure and they are rarely reported on.

I don't want to ignore them any more. I think we've done a disservice to our spiritual selves by failing to dance.
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
Heh, no Crane dances alone! :D
[User Picture]
Date:January 16th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
One thing that we simply do not do in modern Paganism (but which is/was very common in ancient/"primitive" cultures is ritual dance.

I actually have seen ritual dance done in modern Paganism. The Spiral Dance isn't that uncommon at large public rituals, although it probably depends on where you go. At the ecumenical Winter Solstice rite my mother and I attended in Columbus they did a circle dance. And at PSG before morning meetings we used to dance as a welcome to the morning, which I would also count (although it was a lot less formal.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Those are ritual dances done as a part of ritual (exception: the last one you mention, which is interesting because you'd "also" count it despite its informality, whereas I'd count it as the only one of this type because it seems so informal and doesn't appear to include any textualization. . . unless someone felt the need to work the ritual primarily through voice and then brought dance into it as an afterthought), which is different than what I'm suggesting we try and do here, which is to do rituals that are just dance. A primary example would be the Haka (in its best-known modern form, done before NZ's rugby games):

The whole ritual, there, is the 1 minute long dance. It tells a story and relates to myth, but does not depend on the same sort of explanation or even the apparent sacrifice-and-blessing format that most ritual, as we think of it, revolves around.

I'm really talking about a dance that is a ritual unto itself here.
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
Ok, I get it - not ritual dance as part of a ritual but a ritual comprised of just dance. The morning dancing at PSG was entirely unscripted, so it might count, but we would all do our own things.

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