Notes on Ritual Speech and Movement

What does taking a ritual part mean to you?

–       tour guide

–       ambassador

–       priest of the entity you’re calling

–       kindergarten teacher

–       either talking to the entities or talking to folk.  Trying to mesh them, but not quite there yet

–       being comfortable with silence and allowing wait time

–       need a par that you’re comfortable with already.

Memorization:

–       power words: the words you remember when everything else goes out the window.  Also serve as markers for your memorization.

–       Taking pauses and slowing down work much better (you’re probably talking twice as fast as you think you are.

–       Memorize what you’ll say, and then stick the little white note card in your back pocket for the ‘just in case’ moment.

–       If you write your own invocation it will be easier to memorize it.  It’s from the heart.  No one will know if you mess up but you.

–       Bookends are good!  It is good to know exactly how the person before you will end.  For the Kindreds the middle section is for describing/honoring them, and the bookends help standardize and make the liturgy flow.

  • Bookends are important for the folk, even if the invocation feels finished to you.

Projection:

–       you’re not getting louder, you’re putting more power behind your words.

–       Key is how you’re standing, how’re you’re prepping to speak, and how you breathe.

–       Pull shoulders back, head up – it opens up your diaphragm and your hands will come up and out.  When you get tense, you close all those pathways.

–       Think of prepping for ritual speech like a daydream: you’re in the mindset of talking to the entities, and not even seeing the folk.  Envision the entities that you’re talking to, and see them rather than the folk.

–       When you stop to breathe, that’s when you get your focus.

Movement:

–       in big groups, do as little movement as possible.  You may end up putting your back to a member of the folk, and it’s easier to hear someone when you can see their face.

–       When you’re talking, stand directly in front of the DiC.  This will maximize your range of people who can hear you.

–       Know the landscape – Are there potholes, rocks? Is there a slope?  Are you offering something flammable with the wind blowing towards you?  Will your offerings put out the fire?

–       Have your offerings with you in most circumstances (excepting Outdwellers & Seer) so you’re not making multiple trips.

  • Seer: leave the bag on the altar, have the Seer walk across the circle pick up the bag, draw the omen (at the fire if possible), and then turn around and face the folk with the altar at your back and deliver the omens.
  • The Folk must hear the omens, because if they’re accepting them and are going to be imbibing them, they need to be knowledgable and be able to accept or refuse them.

–       Practice gestures when you speak.  It will help with memorization of your part, and makes your speech more impressive.  However, don’t be distracting with your movements.

–       For large rituals movement should be limited – moving around disrupts your speech.  Limit to hand gestures and head placement.  Get to your spot, find your mark, but stay there.  Don’t move your feet.

  • No Nature Spirit fingers, No Queen’s wave!

–       Bring your offering with you in most cases to the place where you’re doing your invocation – be uniform with the rest of the people with ritual parts.

Harvesting the Garden

Today I weeded, watered, and harvested my mini-garden.  It’s getting close to time that I’m going to need to start repotting some of my plants and either taking them with me or finding them new homes.  My basil had bolted, so I had a lot of flowers to cut off of it in order to encourage more leaf growth.  Basil certainly likes to flower.  If I leave it alone for a few days it’s gets far too excitable to start reproducing :).  The mint in the far corner also started flowering like mad.  It’s strange: there were flies perched all over the flowers.  I cut the flowers off, so hopefully that will take care of that problem.  I also trimmed some of my chives and used them to make tasty pasta for dinner.  Yummy!  The final discovery for today was that my fennel had finally seeded.  I’d let my fennel flower and go to seed and today I noticed that the seeds are finally ready to take off the plant.  Yay!  So now I have seeds for cooking, gifting, and planting next year :).

Summer Solstice

How does it relate to Hellenic traditions? Some beginning research:

Philokhoria

http://neokoroi.org/artemis.html

An interesting interview with Thista Minai: http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=976

Prometheia is a modern day Greek festival that is basically celebrating summer solstice: http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/prometheia

Other thoughts:

Skira: http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/skira

Arrephoria: http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/arrephoria

Dipolieia & Bouphonia: http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/bouphomia—dipolieia


Autumn Feast

In the neo-pagan high days this feast is often designated as Lughnasadh.  August 1st is said to mark the beginning of the harvest season, the first ripening of fruits ready for the picking.  Traditions of Lughnasadh:

  • make a cornmeal bread or cakes in the shape of Lugh and then symbolically sacrifice and eat them.
  • funeral games for Lugh’s foster mother Tailtiu (games of skill and strength)
  • Tailtiu predicted as long as the games were still happening, Ireland wouldn’t be without song (cite)
  • Games were much like the Olympics

The beginning of the harvest season can be seen as birth, fruition, and renewal.  While researching in an attempt to link the autumn feast to Hellenic traditions, the closest major festival is Panathenaea.  This festival celebrates the birth of Athena Polias, the Guardian of the City.  Traditions of Panathenaea (cite):

  • Panathenaea Games (athletic & bardic arts contests)
  • Peplos sacrifice and renewal (cite)
  • honoring of craftsmanship & protection of the city
  • Great Panathenaea every four years (much like the Olympics)
  • the feast of bounty

I also could see the Autumn Feast relating to Demeter and Kore, as it is the first of the harvest festivals.

Another festival is Kronia: http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/kronia

Perseverance

Perseverance is something that I’ve been struggling with lately.  I’m going through a lot of changes in my life right now, and it’s hard sometimes to keep pushing myself and to keep moving forward, or at least not moving backward.

perseverance: noun:

steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc. especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. (Dictionary.com)

persevere: verb:

1.  to persist  in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose inspite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

2. to persist in speech, interrogation, argument, etc.; insist.

“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”

Perseverance is the flame that continues to burn inside yourself when the storm seems the worst.  Sometimes it burns bright and strong with no trouble, though this is often only when the winds are calm, and the Theoi are easily heard on the breeze.  When times become difficult, and the rain is pounding down, the flame flickers, just barely keeping alight.  The sound of the rumbling thunder seems to drown out the Gods, and the lightning blinds you from seeing them in your life.  It is then that the flame needs to be tended most, and cared for.  And just as it seems as though it may extinguish itself in the whipping wind you remember: The Gods are always present in your life, and will hold you close and keep you tending that small flickering light.  After all, even when the storm seems worst, it is still the mighty Zeus. (150 words)

The Vila

Felt a draw to the Vila.  I don’t often feel a connection to any gods out of the Hellenic pantheon.  Some quick info on her:

Samovila:

Slavic Goddess of the woods who is the fierce protector of all animals. She has the ability to shapeshift into a falcon, horse, snake, swan or a whirlwind and would not hesitate to cause harm to anyone who threatens her creatures. She lives deep in the woods and has great knowledge of plant medicine.

Eastern European Goddess who lived deep in the woods and was a great protector of animals. If anyone harmed any of her creatures, they could be lured into a magical circle and danced to death, or perhaps caught in a landslide or drowned in a river. As a shape shifter, she could be a falcon, swan, snake, horse or whirlwind. She might agree to teach a human her skills if the proper ceremony were performed in the woods on a full moon Sunday before sunrise.

[Vila+-+Shape+Shifting.jpg]

The Vila:

I dance from form to form

I shift from shape to shape

ever changing

ever expanding

ever becoming

I am flexibility

for by changing my form

I freely flow with all that comes my way

I am consciousness

for by shifting my shape

I gain an expanded awareness of what it is to BE

I waltz a whirlwind

tango a tree

salsa a swan

or just plain fox-trot

My dance is an affinity with All

for I am able to become All in order to know All

Becoming All dissolves form

Knowing All creates Oneness

The illusion is that you have a separate shape

Vila (pronounced vee’lah) is the eastern European name for the Goddess energy moving through the earth as nature. Vily (plural) are very protective of their terrain and use their arrows of death on those who trespass. They are consummate shape-shifters, able to change into animals such as snakes, swans, falcons, and horses. They love to play and dance. If contacted in the forest on a moonlit night, they might grant health, wealth, abundant crops or they might, if shown disrespect, dance the offender to death.

Greek Alphabet Oracle

I’m starting to learn about the Greek Alphabet Oracle, and as such am trying to learn the meanings associated with each letter of the Greek alphabet.  I got the information on the oracle here.  What I tried to do was take the meaning of each letter and write it in a  phrase that began with that letter or sound.  This is what each of the Greek phrases did, so “translating” it has been slightly more difficult.  I would eventually like to turn this into a song of some sort for a better mnemonic device.  I’m using the dice method right now until I can make my own set of “Greek Runes” and plan to take an omen each day.

Alpha

  • All you do is successful

Beta

  • Because you asked for help

Gamma

  • Gaia gave you the fruits of your labors

Delta

  • Deciding how to act and when strength is necessary

Epsilon

  • Eager to see the results of union

Zeta

  • Zeus causes the storm: flee before his anger

Eta

  • Every word you speak, Helios knows the truth

Theta

  • Throughout your journey, you will have the gods help.

Iota

  • If you lose all else, your hard work remains

Kappa

  • Keep on enduring the inevitable with courage.

Lambda

  • Learn that blessings come from the most unsuspecting places

Mu

  • Much good will come through labor and toil.

Nu

  • Notice when strife has come, for it is a sign.

Xi

  • Expectations should be rational

Omicron

  • Only what you plant will yield a harvest

Pi

  • Perseverance through adversity will win many battles.

Rho

  • Remain a short while and you will proceed more easily.

Sigma

  • Stay and hold your ground

Tau

  • Travelers must eventually part ways.

Upsilon

  • Understand whether you should seek a noble quest, or whether your quest is being hindered.

Phi

  • Fate is yours alone – take responsibility for it and do not blame the Gods.

Khi

  • Completion of your goals is excellent

Psi

  • Suitable judgment has been passed down by the Gods.

Omega

  • Onerous times await you.

Summer Solstice Recap

I celebrated Summer Solstice with Three Cranes Grove on June 20th, 2010.  This rite worked with the Vedic Pantheon, specifically with Savitar, the deity of Solar Light and often of Healing.  The ritual itself was particularly interesting because rather than having a Fire, Well, and Tree we instead had three fires; the hearth fire, the sacrificial fire, and the fire of Agniras (the priest for the gods).  I took the role of aspersing for this rite, cleansing the folk as the entered the sacred space. Some of the main forms of offering for this ritual were oil and ghee.  I brought summer tea and spices to offer to the Kindreds.  I don’t feel any specific connection to many Vedic deities, and so I wasn’t sure how I would feel during the ritual, but there was some connection.  It was much more like a first introduction to someone you’ve never met, rather than a meeting between old friends, and this makes sense as I’ve had little connection to Vedic gods before.

Our omens for this rite were taken via fire scrying, which our grove has not attempted before.  MJD did a wonderful and poetic job.  A flame of green accepted our offerings as “songs of praise are heard as our words transcend the boundaries.”  The Kindreds offered the grove joy and dance in return as the flames spun in circles, danced and leaped, flew apart only to touch and dance again.  The Kindreds require offerings and sacrifices of us, forever and always.  The fire is ever hungry “seeking out with nine tongues silvered and buttered with ghee.”  I like the way our grove has taken to infusing the Waters with the blessings of the Kindreds using either toning, chanting, or song.  We used the “Power of the Spirit” chant to bless the Waters.

During the working portion of the ritual, we honored the fathers, in part because the rite happened on Father’s Day.  This was especially moving for me.  Missy started out by praising an honoring the father’s of modern paganism, and of our druidry, our past and present leaders in ADF, the clergy of ADF, and then her own personal father figures.  We then went around the circle of folk and each person was given a chance to offer praise for their father figure.  Hearing of others connections and struggles was emotional and unifying.  (394 words)

Why the Dedicant Path?

I’ve been attending rites with Three Cranes Grove for about five years now, though I’ve only been in ADF for about a year.  I had continually put off joining ADF and the Grove for so long ultimately because I was scared of my intransient state.  I was a college student and shuttling between Cincinnati and Columbus, having no idea where I would ultimately end up, and not wanting to make connections with people who I was afraid I would then break away from and lose.  It is a little ironic then that I finally decided to join ADF and Three Cranes near the end of my college career, when I knew for certain that I’d be leaving the Columbus area.

I had realized that ultimately the reason I was putting off kinship with like-minds and fighting a connection with the Kindreds was due to fear, and having put a face on the obstacle, I now knew what it was I needed to overcome.  So I joined Three Cranes Grove and ADF and have since been working taking my relationship with my grove mates and the Kindreds one day at a time.  I’m trying not to worry about losing those who I’ve grown close to, and each day I can put off that worry and just continue to tend my relationship makes me feel a bit closer and more secure that I actually won’t lose that connection.

The Dedicant Path appealed to me as soon as I learned of it, but I once again ran into similar troubles.  I didn’t have the time to devote to getting it all done at once, and so didn’t feel as though I could start it due to fear I’d never finish, or would disappoint someone.  Starting this path begins as I am, for the first time in my life, out of schooling and the scholarly world.  I now have the time to complete the Dedicant Path, but the doubts of my own ability and dedication have only seemed to grow. Surprising however, as those doubts have grown so has a realization that I will run into obstacles as I walk this path.  I have come to appreciate and am gradually accepting that those roadblocks are not necessarily obstacles to the path, but rather a part of the path itself.

I expect that this course of study is merely a step on my path as a spiritual being, but in itself I feel it is an important track for me to follow.  It provides a structure for me to learn and grow.  Just as a young sapling may need a stake to help guide and protect it in its early developmental stages, so do I find the Dedicant’s Path beneficial.  However, within the same metaphor, every moment that a sapling is staked without need limits its movement and growth, depriving the tree of vitality and life.  So while support is necessary at times, it becomes dangerous to rely on that support once it has served its purpose.  I think this will become more important for me to keep in mind the further along this path I get.  I fear I may become to dependent on meeting the requirements and following the exact structure of every suggestion to the letter, depriving myself of the organic nature of belief.

It is with this fear that I’ll lose myself in the requirements and the hope that I won’t that I am willing to admit I’m not sure what exactly I’ll learn by following this path.  Sure I could rattle off the specifics I’ll learn about the virtues and the knowledge I’ll gain from reading books about the origins of Druidry and my Hearth Culture, but that doesn’t explain or predict how I’ll grow and change as I internalize and make these understandings my own.  I would like to use the specific and fact based knowledge that I’ll gain to build an envisionment of my own personal practice.  Simply taking the requirements will not provide much real understanding, and so I hope to take what I learn and apply it in a way that is meaningful to me, and in a way that I can pass down to future generations.

I do not know what direction this path will take me, but I do know it is one I must follow, however long it takes, and whatever obstacles appear in my way.  It seems daunting right now when I look at it as a whole, but broken down into pieces it seems much more manageable.  One of the hardest things will be balancing my desire to sidetrack and delve deeper into certain aspects and areas with a need to refocus on the bigger picture of the Dedicants Path and be sure I’m completing the requirements, specifically making sure that I’m not avoiding them out of fear.

The requirements that seem to the hardest right now are the meditation journal/essay due to the period of time it covers.  I have a hard time setting and maintaining long-term goals, so it seems daunting to begin with.  The other someone difficult sounding requirement will be the book reviews, partially because I’m not sure what is expected in the writing, and partially due simply to the amount and type of reading.  The book on hearth cultures I’m not concerned with because I have specific interest to pull me along, but the other two required books will take some time to delve into, read and understand, and the process and write about.

The other requirements seem easier to me because they are of a more personal nature, relating to beliefs I have and will form, and experience or thoughts that I have.  Writing personal narrative essays and creatively has always been easier for me to process and start than researched writing has been.

The Home Shrine

I redecorated my altar a couple days ago to better match my growing knowledge of Hellenic rituals.  There have been some major additions, and some rearrangement as I made more space on my bookshelves.

Full Altar

a

The altar itself resides on the top two shelves in the picture, with the bottom two shelves for ritual items and related texts.  The whole set up in the middle of my bookshelves in my bedroom, but as they are for books, the shelves are very shallow.  Ideally, I’d like to be able to have the altar arranged on a deeper surface so I wouldn’t have to separate out my Fire and Well.a

aa

a

a

Omphalos

One of the big changes/additions I made to my altar was to add an omphalos (or navel stone) for offerings.  The omphalos is the Navel of the World, and so it’s arranged to sit at the base of my Tree.  I’m not entirely sure what kind of stone it is, but it’s a bluish gray, shot through with streaks of white.

My Tree is a copper wire representation.  I especially like how I can send the roots down into the bowl where the omphalos sits.  Most of my offerings over the omphalos have been oil, though I just recently went out an got some nice deep red wine.

a

Gods of the Wild

On the left side of my alter I have my representations of the Wild and some of the Gods who protect the Wild.  The unicorn rampant represents Artemis.  There are many myths regarding what type of animal pulls the chariot of Artemis, and one suggests that it is pulled by 8 unicorns.  In the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili there is a plate illustrating what is supposedly the chariot of Artemis (see spread #88).  The black disc at the base of the unicorn sculpture is a deer, one of the sacred animals to Artemis.  So, I use this combination of symbols to represent Artemis on my altar.

The other wild god represented on my altar is Pan.  I would like to update this representation of him to be more goat-like, and less deer-like.  I’ve also go the twigs shaved into a spiral that seems to resonant with Pan right now, so they will sit by him until it seems they no longer should.

I’m still missing a representation that really speaks to me for Dionysos.  The closest thing I have for him right now is the silver leaf sitting below Pan.  It loosely shows Dionysos’s domain of vegetation, including grapes for wine.

The ladybug is a polished red stone (I don’t know what kind) that is painted to look like a ladybug.  This has a place on my altar partly because ladybugs are sometimes said to represent piety, and it also has a place on my altar in part to represent the Ancestors.  The reasoning regarding the Ancestors comes from the following rhyme, which can be interpreted to tell the story of ancient pagan temples and people being burned and persecuted as Christianity took over.  So, in general, it serves as a reminder to follow the ways of the Ancestors.

Well

“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and your children are gone.
All but one, and her name is Ann,
And she crept under the pudding pan.’

‘Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your little house is burning.
Your little mother is crying and
Your father is on the threshold,
Fly away to heaven, away from hell.”

a
a
a
My Well is in a glass dish surrounded by stones that change as they feel charged and with the seasons.  Just to the right of the well is an incense burner that I mostly use for Artemis.  I plan on getting a separate place for smoky offerings for each deity on the altar, but for now they share.  Behind the incense is a stained glass dragonfly container.  I keep my offerings for the well in this.
a

Flames of Importance

The representation of Fire on my altar is completely separate from all the other flames on the altar.

a

Hestia's Flame

I have a candle specifically dedicated to Hestia.  It was lit from our Grove’s Flame and from the Hellenic Kin’s Flame.  This way it represents the strength of my own hearth, as well as kinship between myself, my Crane-kin, and other Hellenes.  I made this candle by carving down a votive candle and carving Hestia’s name into it.  After I’d carved her name, it wasn’t really showing up, so I then melted some wax from a blue candle and pushed it into the carvings, let it cool, and then gently shaved down the candle again so the blue wax was only visible in the carvings.  Her name is barely noticeable when then candle isn’t lit, but when it is, the glow of the yellow candle makes her appear to darken, as shown by the picture.

The white candle in the bud vase is our Grove’s flame, lit from the flame of Kildare.  The Grove flames I the one I use to keep the Kinship with Three Cranes alive.  It is also the flame we use when we’re doing house blessings. Sitting below that flame is a small folded paper crane to represent Garanos.  The Crane is a guide for transformative work, and I occasionally call him as a gatekeeper.

Some more recent additions to the new altar are a larger tree that is a tea-light candle holder.  The candles sit at the end of each branch, and there are five of them.  It sits in the middle of the new altar.  Below it is where my Greek Alphabet Oracle usually sits when I’m not using or charging it.  I kept a set of runes there for awhile, but they were in a fox fur bag, and the cats saw that as an open invitation for them to play Godzilla on the altar, so the bag of runes has moved to a drawer where the kitties are less likely to eat them.

There is also a statue of the three aspects of Brigid.  She has a candle lit form the flame of Kildare, as well as a bit of charcoal in front of her.  The charcoal is what I use for her because it the one thing that connects all three of her aspects.  Charcoal in pencils for writing (inspiration), charcoal for heating a forge (crafting), and charcoal for purifying water and cleansing toxins (healing).  She originally claimed a place on the altar for Thom, but I’ve begun working with her as well.

Some Hellenic Gods that have claimed space are Athena (and her many owls), Hera (a bit of peacock feathers here and there that I have to protect from the cats), Helios (a very shiny pillar candle), and Poseidon (a bowl full of sea salt).  I’ve been working with Athena more closely since I began teaching.  She has the pursuit of knowledge and has helped me to deal with the challenges that working with youth and encouraging them to learn bring.  Hera has begun knocking at my door with my upcoming marriage.  I suspect after the wedding my relationship with her will develop more fully and deepen.  Helios I’ve been working with strongly ever since I wrote our Grove’s Yule rite, and I decided to do Heliogenna with him as the Deity of the Occasion.  Poseidon has been calling to me for a couple of months now, and I’m not sure where my relationship with him will go, but I’m trying to keep him happy, and keep the door open.

a

a