Stagefright and Our Priests
One topic that came up early on Sunday morning, not as the part of any session or work that we were doing, but just as part of our breakfast general discussion, is how we interact with stagefright.
I mentioned, in response to someone's comment, that I get really terrible stagefright before rituals: it's almost as if my stomach has been tied in knots and I've been kicked in it as well. I get nauseous, and I sometimes have a strong desire to "call in sick" at High Day rites.
Early on, I managed to work with it because I had to. Without me showing up, we never would have managed to get the Grove onto its feet, as at one point we were severely limited in both the number of skilled participants and the number of props we had on hand (and the props lived with me). During the time that I had to show up (lest the cosmos crumble around us), I learned something through my introspection, though: if I was able to get started on the rite, I could manage to complete the rite without too much fear washing over me (though it was always there).
As we've gotten more skilled ritualists (and as I've become less integral to our Grove's ritual life), I've found that the stagefright remains, but through some introspection, I've learned that if I can overcome it long enough to come to the fire and state the opening prayer, I'll find my center and all the panic will drift away: I'll do something familiar, fun, and freeing. This is probably why I'm not particularly skilled at the "pre-ritual huddle" piece we do: I'm still in knots at that point.
Others at the retreat mentioned their own struggles with stagefright as well, though not all of it was in ritual. Some of us feel it more strongly when we sing, or dance, or perform poetry. Some of us feel it when we call others on the phone.
So, in short, I want to tell folks that over the weekend I learned that many of our Priests experience stagefright: we've got coping mechanisms in many ways that help us get over it, but it really does tie us up in knots as much as it does anyone else. So, if you feel a bit frightened before you do rituals (or ritual parts), don't worry: you're not alone. Practice will help, so push through it, and keep going.
My Study Program Coursework Got Rejected, Oh No!
One thing that a lot of us don't realize is that nearly everyone who submits work toward our study programs in ADF is going to have an initial rejection of that work. . . and that anyone who does any study program beyond the Dedicant Path is likely to face rejection multiple times in the course of doing the work.
Since all of our work is generally "pass/fail," we're real keen on ensuring that the student's response actually meets the "pass" bar before moving them on. Sometimes, people forget to answer a part of a question. Other times, their answer is unclear. Once in a blue moon, something is actually wrong, but that's pretty rare.
But everyone, from the Archdruid on down, occasionally has something returned to them in the process. We don't to a good job of communicating that, because at the end of the process all we see is completed work that passed. It's usually not clear that every "passed" item is likely to have been through at least one revision (sometimes two or three) in order to meet the accepted standards.
So, I guess this is my way of saying, "If your coursework gets rejected, take comfort in knowing that just about everyone has had it happen to them. Let it motivate you, not frustrate you. Fix it, and move on!"
Instruments of Oddity
Given all the people who play instruments that are not guitars in ADF, I'm sometimes surprised that we don't have the "ADF Bassoon and Tuba Corps" I mentioned in my recent tweet on the same. We're full of bassists, flautists, and French horniests (that's what they call someone who plays the French horn, right?), but it's the drummers, guitar players, and other mainstream instrumentalists who end up performing. Why hasn't anyone started an ADF band. . . or at least an ADF orchestra?
I suppose it's the same reason that the Ohio State Pagan Student Association never got the "PSA All-Bass Band" organized: bassists play bass because they don't really want to stand out there in the limelight.
The Joy of Our Druidry
One of the key things we talked about over the weekend is where we find joy in Our Druidry and how we can bring that joy to others. The actual session we had on it was full of big ideas and grand theological notions, which was pretty cool, but it's not the point here (it's really for a separate blog post). Instead, the point is our post-Saturday-Night-Rite revelry, which was greater than any other Retreat's joy.
We did a working that could be best described as a "Convocation of Our Allies," but it was not a terribly complicated rite, so we didn't need to go in-depth over the ways we experienced it as we have in the past. Instead, a few of us journaled about our experience, and then we started filling up Ian and Sue's living room and we started singing. For about 4 hours straight.
We would perform alone or together, with Ian, Sue, or Crystal on guitar; Errach on squeezebox; Fox on mandolin; or with no accompaniment at all. There was country and bluegrass and modern rock mixed in with sea shanties, English folk ballads, and Sanskrit chants. There was a huge sing-along to "Ordinary Day" (a song you must know if you've been hanging out long on the ADF scene).
It struck me at some point during the evening, as I watched us just be together, that the joy we find in Our Druidry is very much the joy we find in others, and our relationships with them. Whether folks were singing, listening, or just being close to each other, we were all there, in that place, not worrying about the administrative side of ADF, differences of opinions, or politics. We were all just being Druids and friends.
Oh, and I got a new nickname over the weekend, apparently: Rev. VanillaLeather&Chains. It's got some good flow to it, so I think I'll keep it.