‘Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice’ Posts

 

Liturgy Practicum 1: #4 Documenting Personal Ritual Practice

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Keep and submit for review a journal documenting the development and observance of the personal/household worship customs described above covering a period of not less than four months, including one observance of a seasonal festival, such as one of the eight ADF High Days. Entries are to be not less than weekly. The text of individual prayers and longer devotional rituals should be provided as frequently as possible. Regular practices occurring less than weekly will be considered if they are documented as revivals or reconstructions of historically-attested observances occurring less than weekly.

Household worship customs have always been intriguing for me, because it is a part of creating family traditions.  Traditions with your extended family such as saying grace before Thanksgiving meal, traditions as a loving couple, traditions with your children, and all of the familial customs that they can pass along to their children.  These can be appropriately cultural, or they can be developed to personally suite our personal dynamics.  Either way the repetitive use of them helps to create a personal dialect with the Gods and amongst your loved ones, which is what excites me the most about them.

I decided to start this at Ostara during one of our Norse Rites at CedarLight Grove.  This was a Norse cultured rite with a prayer to embrace the joys of spring by honoring Ostara.  We burned many offerings, dyed eggs, and symbeled with the folk for the Gods.  The omen for this particular rite was as follows:

Runes drawn from egg basket in order:
Art– Ingwaz- blessings of Freyr
Jenna–Tiwaz
Amy– Gebo

Note: Though the Seer and Scribe were simultaneously reading the runes in the egg dye as they appeared to confirm that which was being seen, “Tiwaz” turned into “Uruz” during revels, rather inexplicably, and was accepted to mean a sort of amplifier of strength to the message.

The Omen as recorded:
“It is pure positive. We have the blessings and the protection of the Gods. Remember our ties to the land and the kindred and the folk. As always a Gift calls for a Gift. A resounding “We’re here for you, and honoring of commitments to sacrifice, but it is a happy sacrifice for those coming out of this dark period. The way forward is giving gifts. Gifts freely given= sacrifice.

After our omen was received, I hallowed the waters and we received the gift for our gifts.

A lot of our rites done at CedarLight are done in the same exact liturgical format, customized per season and deity of the occasion.  I prefer this format, as it is what I am accustomed to.  The general layout is as follows:


General ritual format for CLG (March 22nd 2014):

1)  Herald, Assemble the folk, speak of the rite, release them to final preparations.

Briefing    ___________
Explain the prayer and purpose of rite   HOW TO BLOT   – Norse Only
Explain ritual preparation       BRING CUP    Performance OFFERINGS
Explain invitations to personal patrons

Individual Meditation & Invitation to Personal Deities/Guides
Lighting the Sacred Fire(s)    ___________
Pouring the Sacred Waters   ___________

2)   Initiating, Sound the call, process to and greet the sanctuary, affirm intention
Musical Signal: __Blowing horns  Caryn, Debbie & Cicero
The Processional: __Drums and Bells!!__________
Purification(s) of Participants:__Juniper Incense__________

Song:  Shelly leads off.  Oh Had I a Golden Thread.

The Druid Call Invitation  ___________

Opening Prayer and Welcome: ___________
We have come to well and the fire and tree to honor the Gods!

Honoring the Sacred Earth  ___________

3)   Centering,
Brief Meditation ___________
Unity Chant/Song (repeat 3X)

4)   Connect, Retell the lore, reconnect with the old ways.
Statement of Ritual Purpose: ___________
Lore of the Season: ___________

5)   Assemble,
Acknowledgement of the Outsiders _Debbie__

6)    Re-Create the Cosmos, & Open the Gates

Hallowing the Fire, Well & Tree ___________
-Invitation to the Gatekeeper ___________
-Opening the Gates Between the Worlds ___________
(Bells in time with the invocation)

7)   Welcome the Kindred and Patrons
-Honoring all the Kindred ___________

-Invitation to the Primary Patrons
(Ostara) – ___________

8)   Key Offerings, Create offering/gifts for our guests,
*Blot –Tell them how it will work
-Horn 1st followed by 2 people carrying the non-alcoholic and 1 carrying alcohol drink to be poured into cups.
-Followed by person carrying the DL
*Personal Offerings – Arranged beforehand
Final Praise Offering-  Oh Ma Ma Song  (6 times)
– Drumming and dancing with throwing of seeds

9)   Sacrifice and Omen
-Offer the Prayer of Sacrifice and Omen Question ___________
–OFFER the drama llama to the fire

-Read the Omen ___________
-Scribe the Prayer and Omen ___________

10)   Initiate the Blessing
-Hallowing of the Waters: ___________
Passing the Waters: The Children
Basket of flower petals  ____________
Sing:  The GARDEN SONG  ___________

Manifestation of Personal or Group Magic:

11) Thank & Close
(Thank all who we’ve invited in reverse order)
-Close the Gates
-Thank the Gatekeeper
-Final Offerings to Earth and Thanks to her
-Offering of the blot bowl

12)   Closing the Rite
-Declaration of Success: ___________
-Final Prayer (optional): ___________
-Statement of the end of the rite:

In my personal practice, I do more of an ADF lite ritual that does not involve creating the cosmos or opening the gates.  It is more a time of prayer and acknowledging the well, the tree, and the fire, a time for giving offerings, but not a full-fledged ritual.  I feel this allows for logical time disbursement in personal ritual and saves some of the larger and more involved portions of rituals for the high days, thus giving a clear delineation between the two. To me this makes more sense simply because of the time constraints we have in modern days with everyone working full-time jobs.  I don’t necessarily have an hour or two each and every day to perform the full core order of ritual.  So we break this down into small chunks that still accomplish the intent without wearing down our mundane lives.

I’ve also used my “ADF Lite” format in UU sermons and ADF wedding scripts, all of which I’ve done in the last year in order to develop these types of practices for foundational use in the future (by me or to share to the community for use).

Going back to personal practice in the home, there are a variety of traditions I wanted to start with this course and instill in my family core, and eventually pass on to my children.  There were many observances over the course of these 4 months that allowed me to develop these types of prayers and rituals for my personal use.  Some of the pieces I wanted to develop were:

  • Family morning devotionals
  • Meal prayers
  • Evening prayers
  • Birthday Observances
  • Meeting Prayers
  • Elevation Rituals
  • Kindred/Membership Oaths
  • Kindred/Membership Pledges
  • A Healing Ritual

March 29th 2014

After our feast-day at Ostara last week, and noticing a lack of meal prayers at the Grove while starting this course, I thought it prudent to take the time now to appreciate the importance of meals in ritual and the acknowledgment of that gift from the earth.  Especially being a farmer, I feel that I have a connection to the land, the seasons, and the cycle of food more than any others at the Grove.  It has been a part of my life since the day I was born, and I find myself very fortunate to have that relationship with the land my entire life.  I want my children to experience that as well.  I think part of creating that understanding of where food comes from and the hard work to produce it as well as the respect for the earth, comes from the acknowledgment.

A sample meal-time prayer (inspired by an old Iroquois prayer):

We give thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us
We give thanks to the rivers and streams that provide us water
We give thanks to the plants and herbs for their medicine
We give thanks to the sky for providing us light and for watching over us
We give thanks to the wind for its cooling music and freedom of spirit
We give thanks to our four legged brothers for providing food and strength
We give thanks to our ancestors for passing down the knowledge for us to learn.
And we give thanks to the Shining Ones, who give us blessings, guidance, and challenges so that we may grow.

This may be a little long for children to say, so a shorter version appropriate may be:

We give thanks to the mother earth who sustains us, to the nature spirits who live with us, the ancestors who taught us, and the shining one who guide us.


April 5th 2014

April is a busy month for me due to my birthday and the organization of the Trillium festival every year.  Due to such a busy time frame, it is easy to get caught up in the torrential scheduling and lose sight of regular devotionals.  Because of this, I wanted to come up with a good brief morning ritual that I could do to center myself for the day ahead, first thing in the morning.

Before starting a morning ritual, I would take a few minutes to stretch my body in order to wake up my senses and shake off the sleepiness from the evening.  I would then pour some water into my “well vessel”, light a candle or some incense (or likely both), and if inside I would keep a bowl of dirt on the altar to touch, or if outside I have plenty of trees to touch and acknowledge.

Because I want to start my day with a positive charge and with the influences of the deities I hold dear, I wrote this prayer to guide me in this initial affirmation:

Lady Athena, give me the wisdom to listen and the strength to do all that is needed this day
Lady Frigga, help me to maintain the dignity and determination so that my integrity endures
Ancestors, I will live today and all days in your honor
Spirits of the Land, I will neither give nor take without respect for your place on this earth
Earth Mother, I will remember my devotion to your care always

This is based lightly on the weekly blessing rite we do at CedarLight Grove (literally every Sunday except for after High Rites to give us a day of rest).  A stick of incense may be given as a brief offering, or perhaps an offering outside of seed or wine, depending on the season.  The flow goes as follows:

  • The Druid Call
  • Meditation
  • Honoring the Kindred
  • Offering Praise
  • Return

April 12th 2014 (Birthday Party)

Yay, my birthday!  My Kindred is coming over and we are going to do a blot in my honor, as is custom in our Kindred.  April is a time where we honor Eostre, so our prayers and offerings are appropriate to that sentiment, very similar to the Grove’s high rite in March. For Kindred rites, during the Symbel portion, we have established a tradition of the first round to honor the Gods, the second round to honor the Ancestors, and the third round is to honor the birthday recipient.  Everyone drinks from the horn and either gives praise to the recipient, tells a story, or offers a blessing.

Afterwards we draw an omen, the question of which is at the discretion of the recipient.  For this rite, I asked how moving into a new job position would effect my personal life.  Yesterday I had just given notice at my old job after being given an offer for a new job, so this time of transition is VERY scary for me.  My omen was as follows (drawn by Jeremy Baer):

Ing – Blessings of the gods, divine intervention

Gyfu- Gift, give and take, partnership

Ior- adaptability, building a new home

The gods will bless Crystal and allow her to establish a new home, provided she remembers the give and take of her human and divine partners.

This tradition for birthday remembrances I think is very important, especially with the spiritual connations.  I find this much more meaningful than a mundane birthday party, and would like to include a child-version at some point.


April 19th 2014 (Trillium Main Ritual)

Trillium has an opening, main, and closing ritual for each festival.  My Grove was in charge of the main ritual this year, and since the ritual falls so close the Earth day, we decided to do a ritual to honor and bless the Earth.   Below are the prayer and omen pulled during the rite.

Prayer: Blessing the Earth

Omen Question: How can we better bless you?

Omen: (taken with ogham)

Ceirt/Queirt – Apple: recovery – not a passive process – have to want to recover. speaks of the effort we have to take; recovery is a choice

Beith – Birch: new beginnings; trying harder, reaching higher; purifications. birch is interesting because the male catkins come in fall and must survive the winter before the female catkins come in the spring – must have old in new to make new beginnings

Gort – Ivy: rapid growth but sometimes a tangled mess, so must watch out or will fall on face

Overall: She speaks to us of recovery, of new beginnings, growth, paying attention. It is a good omen, but a little effort is needed to make things appear.

I have the full ritual outline (not full ritual text as there were many of us who participated), but since it is similar to our typical outline, I am omitting it from the entry.

I think we may use the Trillium main ritual as a very symbolic Earth Day ritual every year.  It’s important to acknowledge it, in my opinion.


April 26th 2014 (Ostara Kindred Blot)

So much Earth honoring!  We honored Eostre in March with the Grove, honored the Earth at Trillium, and now today we honored Eostre in an Anglo-Saxon rite.  What I liked about this rite the most was that we incorporated two younger children (pre-teenish age) into the ritual.  This inspired our question during the return to be: “What do we, especially the younger among us, need to do to gain wisdom?”.

Our omen was:

Ur: aurochs, strength.

Jear: year, harvest.

Jeremy’s reading: plant and sow carefully, share the wealth that is reaped, this will lead to strength

We are trying to figure out ways to incorporate children more in our rites.  I think writing a children devotional may be upcoming, as Donald and I plan to involve our kids in our daily routines/affirmations at some point as well.  Perhaps we can share these with the kids in our local communities and see what they think.

A piece I wrote for Neorðu:

“Lady Neorðu, with frith in our hearts we honor the bounty that you bestow upon us. May we walk in balance with the great valley and all that share in its bounty. Bless this kindred with your fertile touch so that we may continue to grow as seeds within the community, and with the land. Hail, Neorðu!”


May 3rd 2014 (Kinsmens Birthday Blot, ADF Style)

May was our “Flower Festival” in honor of Freo (Freyja) to celebrate the lushness of spring, though we honored Ing for this particular rite.  This was also one of our Kinsmans birthdays, so the symbel portion of the rite was dedicated to him.  This is a custom tradition we created and really fell in love with.  The third round of symbel is focused on honoring the birthday person, or to offer blessings.

Omen for rite pulled by Jeremy: Lagu, Nied, Ethel. Waters, Need and Home. Hardship and stormy waters are ahead which will effect our community. Be prepared. Get ready, and you can soften whatever blow comes.

Omen for Jeremy pulled by Nick: Lagu, Nied, Ior. Waters, Need, Adaptability. There is hardship ahead, but if you can adapt you will come ahead the better for it.

It is interesting 2 of 3 omens were the same.

Donald is a little shy, so during his invocation to Ing, we helped write something small but powerful to help coerce his comfort in rituals:

“Ing, son of Njord, father of kings, patron of married couples
Most beautiful of gods, director of man’s good fortune
Bringer of fruitful seasons
Bless this kindred with peace and bounty”


May 10th 2014

After enjoying seeing Donald get more comfortable with liturgy, we decided to incorporate Ing into my daily affirmation/devotional so that Donald could do them with me.  I think more practice at home with our personal rites will open him up to participation in our public rites.  I imagine festivals are still a ways off yet, but…baby steps.

Lady Athena, give us the wisdom to listen and the strength to do all that is needed this day
Lady Frigga, help us to maintain the dignity and determination so that our integrity endures
Lord Freyr, remind us to share our good fortune so that we may give as we receive
Ancestors, We will live today and all days in your honor
Spirits of the Land, We will neither give nor take without respect for your place on this earth
Earth Mother, We will remember our devotion to your care always

Wouldn’t you know it, Ingwaz was pulled 🙂  I like the modification, a reminder to give as we receive.


May 17th 2014 (Vanir Fest)

Vanirfest is a local festival in honor of the Vanir at the same location that Trillium is held.  Many of our close local heathen friends attend, and it is always good to be out in nature during the height of spring.  I’ve noticed, however, that the local heathen community is not much on omens during ritual.  To me, this is weird, and I don’t look favorably on it.  However, my Kindred is still very much supportive of omens, probably because most of us are ADF members.  So we decided late one evening at the main Ve to do our own faining and divination:

We asked the All-Father, given some of the ongoing issues at the kindred, and some of our discussions concerning them, what we should do.

The runes were:

Aesc. Ash/Spear. Stasis and Defense.

Ing: divine intervention, blessings of the gods

Sigel: Sun. Guidance.

We must stay true to our plans and defend our values. We have the blessings of the gods and will be guided appropriately.

So we agreed that despite particular drama’s going on right now, we will stick together.


May 24th 2014

Discussion with new prospective members has started a lot of discussion lately about oaths and pledges within the Kindred.  We’ve had too many people wanting to oath too early (one even wanted to oath to us the day she met us, wtf), and we want to discuss putting more emphasis on the importance and implications of oaths.

Our current oath is:

“I swear by Tiw that I am a tribesman/tribeswoman of the Great Valley Kindred. I swear Frith to the tribe for as long as I remain in the tribe.  Let my Wyrd add to the Luck of the tribe and never diminish it.”

One oath I wrote for CedarLight for new members is:

Before the Shining Ones,
I pledge my service to CedarLight Grove.

Before the folk and the nature spirits,
I pledge my service to CedarLight Grove.

Before my ancestors
and those that walked the land before me,
I pledge my service to CedarLight Grove.

This I declare to be for the next year before the Well, the Tree, and the Fire.

And then I modified this for a yearly “re-oath” of existing members:

Before the Gods & Goddesses,
I pledge my service to CedarLight Grove.

Before the folk and the nature spirits,
I pledge my service to CedarLight Grove.

Before my ancestors
and those that walked the land before me,
I pledge my service to CedarLight Grove.

I will continue to be pious in all activity,
I will offer hospitality to my neighbor,
I will be courageous in my actions,
I will hold fast to my integrity,
I will seek out the wisdom to know the truth,
I will nurture the fertility of life and the land,
I will foster the vision of CedarLight Grove,
I will live moderately, but always in excellence,
I will persevere in my devotion to the folk and to the kindred,

This I declare to be for the next year before the Well, the Tree, and the Fire.

HAIL CEDARLIGHT GROVE!

I think it turned out well 🙂  Now I just need to work on a rewrite for the Kindred Oath that incorporates some of the same elements.  And then a version depending on whether it is a new oath, re-oath, or a pledge to oath.

Rune pulled after this discussion affirmation with the Gods for guidance: Cen “torch”


May 31st 2014 (Meat and Metal Blot)

This faining was meant to be a birthday celebration for a prospective member, Heath, but turned out very weird.  This was not a successful liturgical day for me.

We did our usual birthday rounds during symbel, but during the course of the 5th round we decided to do a round of “stories about Heath”.  One of his friends told a story about him at a strip club that I guess his wife forgot she already knew about and she flipped out, completely ruining the energy and flow of ritual.

But I stayed and finished the rounds, offered to the Gods, and we all got the heck out of there.

No runes pulled tonight, I think none of our hearts were into it.  Perhaps I need to better learn some methods for calming ritual drama outbursts like that :/


June 7th 2014

I try to start my day on a good note, I decided today I would try an evening affirmation/devotional to end the day on the same note.

Lady Athena, thank you for your guidance for all that I accomplished today
Lady Frigga, thank you for helping me to maintain my sanity
Lord Freyr, thank you for helping me through the opportunities to help others where I can
Ancestors, I hope that my actions honor you, thank you for your wisdom
Spirits of the Land, Thank you for sharing this day with me, may we improve on tomorrow
Earth Mother, Thank you for all that you provided and continue to provide.

This seems like a well-rounded end prayer for the day to cement things so that I can start anew tomorrow.  I felt more refreshed for sleep, more grounded, and more in tune with my reciprocation by appreciating the day as it ha passed, rather than anticipating the day to come.


June 14th 2014

After seeing me perform these regular devotions (not always daily, just a few times a week right now), and then participating in some couples affirmations before work, Donald decided to write his own for the mornings where I am especially busy.  I helped guide his liturgy, but it is a simple line that works well for him.

Lord Ing, I will live today in your honor, please watch over me so that I may return home safely.  We continue to honor you at our hearth.

It works for him.  His first application of his daily rite, he pulled the rune: eah or “horse”.


June 21st 2014 (Litha Blot)

Litha is a time where we honor Baldor.  Donald and I had pre-prepared a sunwheel to burn in the fire.  All the members of the kindred tied a spoke of the sunwheel with twine so that all of us port forth effort into its creation.  Afterwards we created a sigel rune on top to represent the sun and this was burned on the fire.  We asked if the landwights would bless our harvest for the fall.

The runes drawn were:

Beorc:  Birch.  Birth and growth from unexpected places.

Wynn:  Joy.  Joy and blessings.

Fehu: wealth to be shared.

The landwights will gift us joy and blessings from unexpected places, but the wealth from these gifts must be shared with the Folk and with the gods.


June 28th 2014 (Business Meeting)

We have business meetings once a quarter in the Kindred, and after each meeting we have a brief faining ritual and symbel.  Before the meetings, I’ve wanted to instill a small prayer to help calm the energies before we discuss business matters.  This is what I came up with initially:

Lord Tiw, give us the wisdom to listen to and hear other’s opinions. Help us find the common ground so that all may be free of this dispute.

Short and simple but to the point.  Afterwards our omen was:

  • Ethel: Home or ancestral inheritance
  • Ing: blessings of the gods
  • Ur.  Strength of the aurochs

We took this as a very positive endorsement of our actions and discussions from the meeting.


July 5th 2014

One of the things I wanted to add to my regular personal rites was a time to send out healing to those in need.  This would come after the return of blessings so that I could share that energy with those that might need it more than me.

May these blessings gifted to me fulfill their needs and be shared among those who may also need them.  I gift so that I may receive and share the bounty of the Gods.

This is generally done with palms facing outwards so that this energy is sent outwards to whomever I know may need extra help or healing at the time.  The rune  received after this addition to my rites was: cen


July 12 2014 (Founders Camping)

One of the newer pieces of liturgical structure in our Kindred was to develop a way to elevate positions, ritually.  This is something I always found very important, and also started a ceremony for in CedarLight.

The process for the Kindred right now is simple.  I recite the kindred oath, they speak some words on my behalf, and the community has to vocally recognize me as the new Weofodthegn.  Afterwards we pulled the following omen:

Crystal’s Elevation to Weofodthegn:

Ing: Blessing of the Gods, divine intervention

Hagol:  Hail.  Growth through ordeal,  watering of seeds

Sigil: Sun.  Guidance, victory.

Crystal has the blessing of the gods and will find guidance, but be prepared for some growing pains as you grow into your new role.

 

And then we pulled a general omen for the rite itself.

General Omen:

We know we are on the right path because the omens from the recent business meeting were good.  But what advice do we need going into the future?

Peorth: Chance, fate, luck, play

Hagol:  Growth through ordeal,  watering of seeds

Eor:  death, sudden loss, putting to the ground

The Wyrd of recent events is coming to fruition, there will be both growth and loss. Certain things may need finally put to rest in the ground.

We believe this is most likely a comment on the Nick situation.

 

Knowing how to acknowledge accomplishments is a very important part of spiritual practice, whether personal or in a group setting.  I definitely want to polish this ceremony a little bit better though.  It needs some more “woo” as Kirk calls it 🙂


July 19th 2014

One of the things we are working towards is developing relationships with new prospective members before oathing them to our Kindred.  This is something I am highly in favor of in order to set that foundation, they have to show personal development and dedication to the lore.   So as the new spiritual leader, I came up with the following as a new tradition in our personal practice:

I pledge before Tiw that for the next year I will uphold the frith of the Kindred and make efforts to ensure that the Kindred thrives, and its worth endures. I will put forth effort into my studies of the lore and show my dedication to the vision, the tribal thew, and the positive wyrd of Great Valley Kindred. I shall live with honor in my spiritual and secular lives.

This serves as a guideline of our expectations of new folk interested in our rites and community.  It sets an example for personal practice as well so that everyone knows what we expect from each other in our mundane lives and in our spiritual.

After discussion about this pledge and then my own evening rite, I pulled the rune man-m, which seem to support our direction.


July 26th 2014

One of the things I wanted to touch on briefly was a small children’s daily prayer that was easy to remember and covered most of the bases I wanted.  I threw together this:

May the Gods Keep us, the Ancestors Guide us, and the Nature Spirits walk with us.

After my daily rite, I had a meeting with the Kindred to help out one of our brothers who is going through a sudden and nasty divorce.  We did our normal symbel and pulled an omen after our offerings to seek guidance for him:

Question:  With the precipitation of ongoing events (.e.g., Josh’s divorce), what is to come?

  • Ear: death, loss, putting to the ground
  • Lagu: waters that need crossed, guidance needed to cross successfully.
  • Ing: blessing of the gods, divine intervention.

There will be more sudden change and loss, and there will be challenges ahead that require navigation, but at the end of the day the gods will intervene for a desirable outcome.


Overall I learned a lot about what works for me in a personal setting and a group setting through this course.  I am not a solitary by any means, and I feel what I bring to the table in a group setting affects not only other peoples personal practice, but their influences affect mine as well.  That’s why we do so much ritual in the Kindred, despite all of us living far apart.  It brings us closer together spiritually, and eventually your Kindred becomes your family and are always a part of your personal practice.

 

Liturgy Practicum 1: Citations

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Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2002. Print.

Bonewits, Philip Emmons Isaac. Rites of Worship: A Neopagan Approach. Miami, FL: Earth Religions, 2003. Print.

 

Liturgy Practicum 1: #3

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What arguments does Ceisiwr Serith make in support of set prayers (as opposed to spontaneous prayers)? Discuss how these arguments apply (or do not apply) to solitary Pagan prayer. (Minimum 200 words)

Ceisiwr’s argument of set prayers coincides with my own, in that he feels it is important to have a set, familiar foundation of prayer, and then build off of that as needed (Ceisiwr, 67).  This can be spontaneous or it can be through customization for the particular rite.  The reason I feel having a set foundation to start with that you are familiar with is important, is because it helps prevent broken text and flow in ritual.  If I have to come up with something completely foreign on the fly, then my words may not even make sense, or even be embarrassing, which will disrupt the entire rhythm of the ritual.

Another benefit to having a set prayer is much like carving a piece of artwork or music.  The piece has a set intention, glorified and enhanced to personal satisfaction to express the intended desire.  This is the best of the best of what I personally feel I can create, and I am offering this up as a prayer to my deity of choice.  I have not pulled a wildflower from a field and offered it as a gift, I have cultivated, gardened, mulched, weeded, fertilized, and crafted a beautiful flower for a set purpose.  To me this is the metaphorical difference in set prayers versus spontaneous.  They all have their purpose and gestures.  Once I have perfected the process of flower-growing, I can do so on a whim (spontaneously), the same goes with prayer crafting.

(Word Count: 244)

 

Liturgy Practicum 1: #2

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What six methods of prayer does Ceisiwr Serith describe? Briefly suggest an example of how you might employ each in your personal worship practices. You may include worship with a group if applicable. (Minimum 200 words)

Ceisiwr Serith gives a good synopsis of the six methods of prayer in his book “A Book of Pagan Prayer” in order to explain why it is that we pray.  Many of these are fairly straight forward and self-explanatory.  He describes his six methods as:

  • Prayer through Words
  • Prayer through Posture
  • Prayer through Motion
  • Prayer through Dance
  • Prayer through Music
  • Prayer through Gestures

Prayer through Words

You can speak your prayer through words loudly, you may speak softly, you can semi-chant your words like a song, or you can pray silently.  His main emphasis, no matter what type of prayer through words you choose, is that you speak distinctly and deliberately.  Don’t put too much focus on your words as to take away from the emotion behind them, but always be clear.  In public ritual it is just as important to speak distinctly so that participants can hear and participate in the focus and meaning of the words.

In my private practice at home, if I am alone, the prayers are usually silent.  However, with the incorporation of my fiance over the last 2 years or so, having someone to participate in ritual with me allows me to put more focus on a “group mind”, rather than just my own.  Our words are spoken together in our ritual space and in a normal tone.

I am also grossly involved in two public groups with kin.  My ADF Grove, CedarLight, and my Anglo-Saxon Kindred, Great Valley.  In these settings, where I have to also incorporate the energies of new and old guests, and on a very regular basis, my words must be projected for all of the participants.

Prayer through Posture

Prayer through Posture is purposefully positioning your body to send a correct message (say that 5 times fast).  Ceisiwr uses the example of being called into a bosses office, and whether you would stand respectfully or slouch while speaking to them.  The same type of logical mindset is present in our rituals with the Gods that we worship.  The position of your body can send a message with your prayer, it can enhance your prayer in your own mental state, and it can show a message to anyone gathered with you in public ritual.  If you are disrespectful or perceivingly bored, it will affect the entire flow of ritual.

A popular Western posture, and even in some of the ADF rites I’ve seen, kneeling is a preferred posture of prayer.  For me, however, my knees are too ruined for me to sustain such as position and still be able to establish the flow of ritual succinctly.  My preferred method of prayer is standing straight with my arms bent forward in front of me and my palms to the sky.  The body would be straight and purposeful, not dull and lazy.  This is also the same position I would use in public ritual, as it is familiar to most participants and easy for most everyone to do, even if they are handicapped.

Prayer through Motion

Motion in prayer is like a signal showing that something has changed or is meant to move into a new direction.  Serith also explains that the motion can also convey that the change matters enough to justify making an extra effort.  Some examples of motions I’ve seen in our public rites are the procession as a prayer of motion acknowledging the gathering of the people.  We often use sickles to represent the three gates and will motion them as being pulled a part as a representation of the gates being opened.  During many of our invocations, Caryn and I will walk around the sacred space to not only make sure everyone in the circle can hear us, but also as a ritual motion depending on what our invocation dictates.

In my personal practice at home, motion is less of a part of ritual unless it is to smudge, drink from the horn, raise the horn, or a relative act that signifies an important part of ritual.  The motions seem more necessary in public rites for public participants.

Prayer through Dance

Dancing is a very energetic and appropriate method of prayer, but is not included in my personal practice at home at all.  However, we use it often at CedarLight in public ritual.  We are limited in our motions in public ritual when including the entire group, due to group dynamics and size, but it is still very effective.  This shows that even subtle movements are very powerful, indicating this as a very important type of prayer.  I’ve seen dance uses as an offering, such as a special dance for a particular deity.  The idea of dance as a prayer is like a sacrifice of energy as part of the prayer, which can only enhance it’s potency.

Prayer through Music

Music, for me is probably one of the most sacred forms of prayer. Music is very mathematical, and there is no getting around having proper calculations in order to create music.  These types of calculations include rhythms and harmonies of notes, which require forethought and mental acuity.  It is my very passionate opinion that rhythm is the #1 method for establish a group mind, usually through drumming.  It is also the #1 method of keeping the group mind established through the entire course of the ritual.  The heartbeat of the earth is what can link all of our heartbeats together.  It can raise energy and it can ground energy, either way it will direct the energy in any way you wish it to go.  The creation of custom songs for offering, the participation of ritual attendees in raising energy through song, and the enjoyment of the ritual goers and the Gods at the entertainment, all make up the powerful aspects of Prayer through Music.

Prayer through Gestures

Prayer through Motions and Prayer through Gestures are pretty much the same thing, except perhaps more subtle and more for ritual dramatics than anything.  My gestures are fairly similar to what I spoke about earlier.  They may change depending on the point of ritual I am in at the time.  My palms are usually faced upwards if I am sending energy upwards, and they are facing down if I am directing energy downwards, such as when honoring the Ancestors.  I may direct them in front of me when creating the cosmos with the fire, well, and tree, but they are always purposeful and not overpowering to the ritual flow.

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Liturgy Practicum 1: #1

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What three factors (“subcategories”) does Bonewits identify as determining the impact of “familiarity” on the success of a ritual? Briefly discuss the ways in which personal or family-only ritual is aided or hindered by these factors when compared to public group ritual. (Minimum 100 words)

Isaac Bonewits describes the intra-group familiarity as how familiar the participants are with each other and how crucial this factor is on the successful creation of a group mind (Bonewits, 104).  He breaks the impact of familiarity levels down into three subcategories: knowledge, affection, and group identity.  An intimate group of people that are very familiar with each other or even love each other, are greatly enhanced in their ability to do ritual together because they already know how each other operates.  They are familiar with who can drum and who can’t, who has the weaker voice or the stronger voice, and they can situate themselves in a flow that is comfortable to the group.  The uncomfortable physical barriers are gone, which eases the ability to create a cohesive group mind as opposed to a group of complete strangers.

With a group of strangers, there is a commonality that usually brings them together to help focus the group mind as well.  Bonewits uses the example of Wiccans coming together who are all “Gardnerians”, or in my particular instance, getting together with those who all share an Angl0-Saxon hearth culture.  It creates even the slightest spiritual link with everyone in the ritual if they have a common thread between them.  It is encouraged to find these particular links prior to ritual in order to strengthen the group bond for a successful rite.  Without some sort of shared goal or link, there is nothing for ritual participants to hold onto together to create the successful ritual outcome.

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