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Archive for the ‘Ritual’ Category

This week I have decided to add a little to my daily practice, and then I may stick with it for awhile.

My (almost) daily routine is as follows:

Light lamp
Light incense

Cosmos Prayer:

The waters support and surround me
The land extends about me
The sky stretches out above me
At the center burns a living flame
May all the kindreds bless me
May my worship be true
May my actions be just
May my love be pure
Blessings, and honor, and worship to the holy ones

Prayers to Earth Mother and Gatekeeper, the two beings that I am tasked with developing relationships with as part of this journey through Clergy 1:

Eorthan Modor, I am your child. Uphold me today and always, as I honor you and walk the elder ways.

Eostre, She who walks the paths of Dawn. Guide me today and always, and may your light shine upon my path as I walk the elder ways.

This week in the grove meeting we are doing a full moon ritual, which should be fun and also good practice. Everyone who wants a speaking part will be drawing randomly from a hat, and we’re going to try to get everyone used to improvising our ritual pieces.

Last weekend, I got to practice my clergy discipline routine of having a monthly “retreat day”. It was spread out over two days, because it’s hard for me to take 24 hours entirely out of my (admittedly probably overscheduled) life, at least every single month.

This is the basic text of the monthly retreat ritual that I am working on. As I change and update it, I will update here. I’m actually pretty happy with this ritual though – it’s a full core order, takes about 20 minutes to do. I typically go for more explicitly poetic ritual pieces, but for some reason this one is what I came up with. It’s a variation on another ritual that I used to use, and I’m really happy with how it turned out for solo practice.

(more…)

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I think it’s about time I repost and update my daily practice, since it’s been a few years since I’ve talked about it, and it has evolved a bit. First, though, my altar has some new items that I want to show off!

Altar - April 2016

This is just the working surface (which you can tell is used, by the amount of ash that I continually fight to keep cleaned up). I have a shelf full of deity and spirit icons/tokens above the tree, but it’s hard to get a picture of both that looks good.

The new items are the incense burner on the left, and the oil lamp in the middle.

Both are made by blacksmith David Cohen, at Dark Moon Forge in Austin. I’m lucky enough to know David in person, having met him at the Texas Imbolc Retreat the last two years, and he is a wonderful artisan. I purchased the incense burner from him last year, and then a few weeks ago he was posting on Facebook about the new oil lamps he was making to gauge interest. Typically he doesn’t do mail-order items, preferring to sell his wares in person in the Austin area, but I asked very nicely, and he mailed me my new lamp.

I had to wait a few days to get the lamp oil in (I’m using Firefly Clean Lamp Oil, since it’s odorless and smokeless), which was agonizing, but I’m SO happy with how it looks. I’ve tried various configurations of candles for the fire representation on my altar over the years, and never found anything I truly loved. I also had problems with candles getting weird and needing to be replaced because they were only lit for 5-10 minutes at a time. This lamp will burn for any amount of time, and I just love the leaf handle (which does allow me to carry it around, but since it’s an open container of lamp oil, I’ll have to be super careful with anything like that). I still love and burn lots of candles, but for my altar, I see myself using this oil lamp for a good long time.

Regardless, if you happen to be in the Austin, TX area, I can’t recommend Dark Moon Forge highly enough.

As for my daily practice, I first posted about it in June of 2014 as I was working on my first pass at the Liturgy Practicum class, before I had started on the Clergy Training Program. I typically do this practice at my mid-morning “coffee” break (I don’t drink coffee, but I like to get up around 10:30 or 11 and stretch a bit.)

Not a lot has changed, but I have added to it slightly, and I still feel like it’s not quite finished.

(Three breaths to center self)

Hail to you, Hertha, Earth Mother – may I always be supported as I walk in your ways.

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The flame lights the way! (Light lamp)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The well flows within! (Fill/touch well)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The tree spans the world! (Bless tree)

Let us pray with a good fire! (Light incense)

Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, hold fast these gates that I may speak into the worlds.

I make offering to the gods.
May their power be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the ancestors.
May their wisdom be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the nature spirits.
May their blessing be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

The waters support and surround me
The land extends about me
The sky stretches out above me
At the center burns a living flame
May all the kindreds bless me.
May my worship be true
May my actions be just
May my love be pure
Blessings and honor and worship to the holy ones.

Mighty, Noble, and Shining Ones, thank you for your blessings and your presence.
Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, thank you for keeping fast the ways.
Hertha, Earth Mother – thank you for upholding me always.

(Three breaths to center self)
(Extinguish lamp)

I always think it needs a daily rune draw, but I haven’t managed to figure out a good way to do that. If I leave my runes on my altar, I forget about them when I need them for ritual or study group meetings, and though I have a journal specifically for readings, I never seem to remember to write down what I drew. (I have a working memory like a rusty sieve these days.)

I also feel like I should make some kind of offering to the deities I’m working with by name (Ing Frea, Hela, Frige), as well as to my ancestors and house spirits, but I also don’t want to have a 15 minute practice. I’ll never remember to do the whole thing if it’s going to take more than just a few minutes. Perhaps I need to have a weekly practice to make specific offerings. Or maybe I need an evening practice to do?

I’ve talked to other ADFers, and they seem to have more “built in” practices – an offering to the ancestors with breakfast coffee, and the like. I have trouble starting anything like that due to just sheer forgetfulness, but with all the beings I’d like to be building *ghosti with, maybe I need to just send myself a bunch of reminders!

Anyway, this is obviously a work in progress – I try to balance as much oomph as I can get into a small bit of time, knowing that I’m most likely to actually do the offerings that way, and so far it works nicely.

Any thoughts you might have on polishing this into something a little more “complete” feeling would be really nice!

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So ADF ritual has two main phases – an offerings phase, where we send all our love, devotion, and offerings through the portals into the otherworld, and a blessings phase, where we accept blessings in a “return flow” from the otherworld. Those blessings are concentrated into a sacred drink, called (usually) the Waters of Life.

Originally the Waters of Life were whiskey (or sometimes water). ADF ritual has expanded to include mead and other alcoholic beverages. The alcohol represents the “life” part. As Nine Waves got started, we typically had mead for our Waters of Life, since that fit with our hearth culture and was tasty.

However, a few things happened that got me thinking about including alcohol in our rituals:

  1. We now meet in a park that does not allow alcohol
  2. We now have an underage regular ritual attendee, and in Texas it is VERY illegal for us to give him even a sip of alcohol
  3. I have circled in the past with recovering alcoholics, who would not be able to partake of our blessings
  4. I myself am on medication that is contraindicated with alcohol, so I was dancing with danger already
  5. There is nothing in ADF ritual guideline that specifies that the Waters of Life must be alcoholic
  6. There was a spirited discussion on the ADF Facebook group about the topic, where several good arguments were made

We figured we could do two things – we could have two cups/mead horns, one with actual mead, and one with water (which presents a logistical issue, even in a group of only 10 people, and would still be breaking the rules of the park where we meet), or we could just go with a non-alcoholic option.

One of the best posts on the ADF Facebook discussion came from Ceisiwr Serith, who spoke of making his own sacred drink for rituals. His recipe included barley (which I can’t consume, having celiac disease) but it got me thinking about ways to make a sacred drink that we could all enjoy, that would feel special (since that’s important), but wouldn’t exclude anyone.

So I went digging for recipes, and came across some recipes for “soft mead” – basically honey water. And I got creative, and came up with the following:

Spiced Sacred Drink

  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves

Juice the lemons and toss them – peel, juice and all – into a large, non-aluminum pot with all the other ingredients. Cover and place over very low heat (do not allow to boil) for up to 3 hours, stirring frequently. Remove the lemons, and let sit for up to another 3 hours. Strain and serve warm or at room temperature.

Nine Waves was, overall, very skeptical of my creation. They liked having mead, the alcoholic “life” was important, and it felt special to us to share mead from our mead horn together. But they humored me, and I have, I must say, converted them all. This is extremely tasty, especially warm on a cold night around a campfire, and it requires preparation and is “special” – I only make it for our rituals. And we now don’t have to worry about new people being averse to anything (other than a possible allergy to any of the sacred drink ingredients) or not being able to consume alcohol.

It’s a win for everyone. (And it really is tasty.)

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I am, by and large, an Indo-European pagan. I work with Gods from a number of cultures (Manannan, Hela, Ing Frea, Thunor, Heimdall/Hama, Hecate), but I’ve rarely (even before ADF) ventured outside this language/culture group. However, there’s a day of mourning called for today that I think I’ll be participating in.

From The Wild Hunt:

In another part of the world, ancient statues, relics and other historic sites are being pillaged and destroyed by ISIL. The destruction of these treasured artifacts has upset many Pagans, Polytheists and Heathens. One California Pagan, Jack Prewett has called for a Global Day of Mourning on April 18. Prewett calls the destruction a “tragedy for humankind” and says,“Let us mourn the loss of our history, our heritage. Cry for those that will come after us and know that once we had our history in our hands and let it slip through our fingers.” Why did Prewett choose April 18?  That is the U.N.’s World Heritage Day.
ADF Priest Michael J Dangler has also called for devotions – in this case, the making of art objects – in honor of the desecrated sites.
And Galina Krasskova has put forth a post about devotions in honor of the many Gods of the many Peoples who inhabit the lands that are currently under siege.
So if you have a little time today, remember this tragedy, and remember the Gods and Goddesses of those lands. I intend to make offerings in their names tonight, and hope that maybe my small voice can be joined with the voices of others. After all, I can’t fight this on the ground, and I certainly can’t fight it in person, but I can pray, and make offerings, and give honor to the Gods of those peoples, in hopes that They can help evict those who are committing atrocities across their lands.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious about it (and by no means should you feel confined to make offerings and devotions only today, on World Heritage Day), a library or museum would be an especially powerful place to do so. It is history and art that are being destroyed, and it is from our centers of history and art that we can reach out and (hopefully) do a little nudging of the cosmic forces in the direction of preservation and the end of this reign of destruction.

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ADF has a good sized songbook of chants and songs that are used in group rituals.

Since I haven’t ever done group ritual that I wasn’t leading myself, I am only barely familiar with a few of these chants – mostly through watching ADF rituals online. (3 Cranes Grove has three large group rituals they just posted to YouTube, if you’re interested in seeing how an ADF ritual scales up for 300 people in a large outdoor tent!)

I’m extremely self-conscious about my singing though. I have a music degree, which may actually have made me MORE self conscious – I have good pitch, but I am very very aware of the shortcomings of my (untrained) voice when compared to someone who actually knows how to sing. That said, I’m learning a few of the ADF chants, and considering adding them into our rituals as appropriate. I don’t think we need a chant for every step of the COoR, but a processional and recessional might be nice, and I’m fond of the “Blessings in the Waters” song for after the waters of life are distributed. I really like the addition of music to prayer, and I think it’s a good way to focus.

Also, I’ve found I can use some of the “catchier” ADF chants to get songs out of my head. So when I get earwormed by something obnoxious, I start singing something I’m trying to memorize, and the concentration plus a catchy tune usually helps me stop with the endless repeats of “This is the song that never ends” or whatever.

The one “chant” (That I’ll just be saying as spoken word) I know I’ll be adding to our ritual for Imbolc is this one by Ceisiwr Serith.

The waters support and surround us
The land extends about us
The sky stretches out above us:
At the center burns a living flame.
May all the Kindreds bless us.
May our worship be true
May our actions be just
May our love be pure.
Blessings, and honor, and worship to the holy ones.

I plan to use it to end the Two Powers meditation and bring us into the active part of the ritual. Hopefully it goes as nicely in practice as it does in my head. There’s something very cosmos-affirming about this chant/prayer, so I hope everyone else likes it as much as I do.  I actually intend to memorize it and use it as part of my daily devotions. My practice needs a bit of a reboot, and I think this will be a nice thing to add to get it feeling fresh again.

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