Ritual for the First Day of School

Howdy, y’all! It’s about time to school to start back up, or maybe for you it has already started (you poor souls). A lot of my writing lately has been focused on custom rituals for various things. I thought today I’d share with you a ritual for a child’s first day of school. This is written specifically for the first day of Kindergarten, but could very easily be modified for any pre-K or elementary grade kiddo. I will probably be doing something very similar to this with my daughter he in just a couple weeks. Enjoy!

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Let’s Talk Vocation: Mentoring

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that part of my Vocation, part of my Call, is mentoring. That thread of passion has woven it’s way through many aspects of my life, from coaching to college organizations to my professional life in teaching and into my role as an Initiate and a Priest. Being a mentor can be a tough job, but it is immensely rewarding work for me. It is one of the things that drives me.

I want to be helpful to others, to aid them in their growth, and to give them the tools and skills they need to do the work they want to do. In a way, I want to put myself out of job, though I know that new people, new mentees, will continue to come along. But there is great joy and a sense of accomplishment, in seeing a mentee reach a point where you can step back because they no longer need you.

As mentors, we seek to help our mentees feel welcomed, valued, and part of their own learning process. We walk alongside them, providing support and insight, and encouraging reflection, risk-taking, and confidence in their growing skills. The mentorship relationship will grow and change with time, and that is a good thing. The way that relationship between mentor and mentee develops allows for learning to flow back and forth, and for a guided, yet organic, method of growth to occur.

When I mentor someone I talk with them. I prod them when they need it. I’m a sounding board. They are the team leader and I’m their point person, their support person. When they need something I can’t do, or I don’t know, I find them that resource, or that other person that does know something more, or even different than me, and I make that connection.

When you’re a mentor, you’re in it for the long game, and certainly not for any sense of immediate glory. You start with your mentee, where ever they may be along their path, and you walk with them. Within many organizations, there is this push as a mentor to get your mentee over the threshold of whatever it is that you’re mentoring them for. Whether you’re mentoring them as a prospective leader of your organization, as a student teacher, or as an aspiring priest. The push is to get them to that new position. To get them to and through that Rite of Passage.

But that isn’t enough. It isn’t good enough for the mentor to lead that person, their mentee, up to the threshold of this new position in their life, and then shove them over it. Especially when there may or may not be someone on the other side to catch them, and reintegrate them back into their organization, or society, or church as a person with this new role. When you go through a transition, a Rite of Passage, there is a state of liminality that occurs. And after the state of liminality there is a state of communitas, of being part of the community.

Part of the role of a mentor, and especially for me with how I view my role as an Initiate, is to walk with that person up to the threshold, through the liminal space and time with them, and be there for them on the other side as well, to help them adjust to their new role.

I’ve had some great mentors, especially as I’ve entered the ADF Priesthood. They’ve encouraged me and given me the opportunity to grow and learn and take chances. They’ve been there for me when I struggle, and cheered me one when I’ve succeeded. The best have also been the ones that walked with me at the beginning of my path, and have continued to walk with me at each successive step along the way. These mentors, they’ve helped me navigate these waters and come to grips with my Vocation, my Calling. They’ve become my peers.

So, what are some dispositions and qualities that good mentors have? What does being a good mentor look like? What does a good mentor do, especially internally? Here are some ideas:

Picture on a green background with ADF "Why Not Empathy" logo in the bottom corner that reads: Mentors of New & Aspiring Clergy Should: - Consistently reflect on their practice and performance of ritual to identify areas of potential growth. - Engage in ongoing learning and continually strive to improve their own practice. - Know and use a wide repertoire of effective liturgical and pastoral strategies. - Be approachable, patient, and trustworthy. - Share skills, knowledge, and resources with their community and peers. - Exhibit a positive attitude and passion for clergy work. - Attentively and actively listen. - Be skillful at coaching that generates reflection. - Value the opinions and ideas of others and be able to accept an aspirant priest as a developing member of the clergy. - Invest their time and commit to supporting an aspirant priests spiritual and liturgical growth.

Rekindling the Fire in our New Home

So, Thom and I closed on our house this week.  First time homeowners, yeah!  It’s a been a crazy ride, and we’re so happy and excited.  To prepare of the move, I’ve had to think about how I wanted to handle some of the religious and spiritual things.  I wanted to do something to mark the “claiming of the land” or similar.  Something to say “this is our new home” in the context of my path.  What I eventually decided on, after much deliberation and feeling at a loss for words, was to douse all of my flames the night before, and then light them again at the new house.  My hearth flame would be the first thing across the threshold.

I currently am the tender for the Hellenic Kin’s flame in ADF.  So, I didn’t want to douse that one formally since it belongs to the wider community, so I gave it into the care of MJD (complete with prayer to say), who is keeping it for a few days for me until we’re settled.  The rest of my flames I lit Monday evening.  Called to Hestia as I always do, and made offerings.  I said how I’d be extinguishing the Fires here, and how I looked forward to rekindling them in our new home.  Then I doused them all in the water I had purified earlier in the ritual.

It was really weird to have a night in that liminal space, without the fires of my hearth.  Even weirder was to wake up the next morning and not have a fire as I did my morning devotional.  After we signed all the paperwork and got the keys, Thom and I drove over to our new home.

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I called out to Hestia and kindled her flame on the front porch.

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Then I walked, lantern in hand, across the threshold, and brought the Fire into our home.  It was powerful.  I walked the flame through each room of the house, inviting Hestia to warm and brighten each space for all those who live or visit there.  I called out to the Agathos Daimons, the house spirits, and made offerings to them.  I let them know that we’d be living there with them, and to be welcome around my Fire, and that I’d make good offerings to them.

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I then walked the perimeter of the property with the lantern and with barley.  I called out to the spirits of the land and made offerings as I walked.  I invited them to stay and be welcomed by my Fire, but also let them know that if they chose to leave their would be no hard feelings, and they should feel free to disperse.

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Then I went into the kitchen, to the place I had already chosen would be the household altar, and set up my simple flame, well, and tree/omphalos.  I thanked Hestia for joining me in this new home and thanked the spirits of the house and the land for listening to my words.  I let them know more offerings and prayers would be forthcoming through then coming days and months, and that I looked forward to building a relationship with them.

It was a very powerful experience.  Moving from the light of my home, to the darkness of between, and then back into the light at our new home.  We’d done a couple walk throughs during the process of buying, and so we were familiar with the layout and everything.  But it was amazing, the way the addition of my hearth goddess and her flame, and introducing myself to the spirits there really made that big empty house feel like home.