seamus_mcnasty and I are already doing fairly well with weddings, and we love doing them. Slowly but surely, we're getting our process down to a pretty finely-tuned operation: we've both done religious and secular services, both inside and outside the Grove. I'm starting to take bookings nearly two years in advance at this point, which shows me that we're actually moving along nicely. Look: we've even got a temporary logo!
Seamus and I have even been talking about creating a set of "Wedding Hallows" that includes white table cloths, unity candles, handfasting ribbons, a well and tree, and other decorative things. We're at a point where we've got the ritual down: now it's time to take it to another level.
Recently, we were asked to do a rite of passage for a boy about to turn 13. The fact that people feel we can provide religious support for such a rite is rather humbling: the idea that we might magically forge a man out of the raw material that is a boy is startling. We'll have more of those types of things as well down the road.
We know, too, that there is a need for Pagan funeral services out there. There are, I suspect, plenty of people out there who want to honor a loved one's wishes to be buried according to some type of Pagan belief, but I know that there are people who get blind-sided by such requests. We'd like to provide services to people who really don't know what to do when their loved one comes "out of the broom closet" from beyond the grave, to make it easier for the family and to make sure that the way is smooth for the individual.
The Grove has done 5 weddings this year: that's a lot. But it means that, in the near future, we are rather likely to have births (and their less talked about but no less important opposite, miscarriages) to deal with as well. These involve blessings, namings, and potentially some form of "Druidic baptism" (nowhere near as oxymoronic as it may sound).
Of course, all this has also led to researching fees. Looking up the fees for funeral services is somewhat depressing, and looking up fees for passage-to-adult services is both curious and strange to do. Add to this non-rite-of-passage sorts of things (house blessings, protection work, healings, and other things), and it becomes even more complicated, particularly when placed against a backdrop of 70 years of Craft "tradition" about how no one should ever take money for "teaching the Craft," a very well-known tradition in modern Paganism. The notion that paying for time and services rendered, so long as fees are not used as a barrier or extortion, will cause issues is actually rather silly, all told, but it's something to contend with, and it often makes me dread the conversation about fees, even though it's never been an actual issue.
Balancing the work we do because we're called to do it against the fees we need to collect to ensure that the work can continue for others is rough sometimes. It's a necessary thing, as are contracts for services, deposits, and payment plans. Still, it feels very strange to put a price on ushering someone to a happy afterlife or welcoming a child into the world. These are things that, by all surface views, we should do of our own heart's joy or sorrow. Still, these things take time to prepare for and time to do. They cost real money in ritual supplies and gas to get places.
Can you tell I'm a bit conflicted about the money part?
Anyway, the thrust of this post was to be this: we've reached a point where we're ready to move on into other rituals, in preparation for the day that we have to do them for our own members, which we know will not be far off in many ways. This is exciting and wonderful to me: I love the way our Cranes grow, and I love the way we come together. This has been a joyous year, and I look forward to many, many more.