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Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice in ADF, Question 4, Entry 5

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Week beginning 09/11/06 - Cutting through the crap

This week has been terribly busy. The students return to OSU on Sunday, there's a ritual to run, and I'm still working hard to stay and be on top of my devotionals.

It's said that prayer is the most important thing a priest can do. Personal, private, daily prayer should have a primary place in our worship. Yet prayer is also the first thing to go when our lives get busy or become hectic.

This week has mostly seen me trying desperately to maintain my personal work at a time where everything and everyone around me demands far more time than I can reasonably give it.

Daily morning devotionals have not suffered, but they have always been the easiest of the two.

I think that what makes evening devotionals so damn difficult to me is that I generally do not "get ready for bed." There is no time when I can say, "Alright, my day is officially over, there is nothing more to be done."

The solution might be as simple as purchasing a pair of glasses. Currently, I cannot do anything once I have taken out my contacts. Thus I tend to work until I fall asleep from exhaustion. This means that I do not take the time to "end my day," and thus also do not regularly make it to my altar.

It is interesting to me that so simple an action as purchasing a pair of glasses could change my entire routine, but I think that this simple step would have a dramatic effect on my practice.

Equally important is actually going to bed. This issue manifests in two ways: 1) entering my room, and 2) sleeping in my bed. Over the past three weeks, I have not slept in my bed a single night. Usually, because the door to my room is shut during the day, I am disinclined to enter my bedroom at night. Overcoming obstacles that are not actual obstacles (such as a door that is shut) is difficult for me. The elimination of the obstacle is vital to me finally entering my room.

Further causing issue with me is my desire not to sleep in my bed. This is partially because my bed is too small for me, and partially because I cannot allow my cats to roam free in the house at night. My roommate is afraid that they will eat or otherwise destroy her plants, and thus my cats are not allowed out. This causes cat hair to build up in my room, and particularly on the covers of my bed (there is nowhere else for them to go). Because of this, I am unlikely to sleep in my own bed.

The reason that getting to bed is so important is that my altar is in the bedroom. Not seeing it places it out of my mind, and that is centrally why I do not do evening devotionals.

There are a few prayers that I find myself saying regularly, though I have not mentioned them in this journal

Saint Barbara's Prayer

Please, Saint Barbara,
Save our miserable skins!

There is a charm of St. Barbara on my cell phone, one of those little saint medallions that the Catholics sell. Each time I see it, I recite that small prayer, whether my skin needs saving or not. It is a prayer from some gulf-coast shrimpers that showed up one day in a Jimmy Buffett song, where I heard it for the first time.

I like the prayer because it is so simple, humble, and straight-forward.

I mentioned that this week was terribly busy, but thinking back on it, it was rather insane, actually. I also had my ritual on Sunday: the Autumnal Equinox and the anniversary ritual for Three Cranes.

I spent my limited free time this week writing, re-writing, and re-working invocations and thinking about my Grove.

The morning of the rite, I turned into a basket-case, however. I ran far later to the ritual than I expected, had to do some quick talking to secure the space (it wasn't rented because the shelter we use can't be reserved), and I found myself struggling to get back into ritual headspace very quickly.

I was later informed that I was overreacting to stress and in "panic mode", which isn't really the case. I simply could not manage to work through a lot of issues that manifested that morning.

Before the ritual, I found myself writing and reciting the following prayer:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Teutates, the way is difficult
Strewn with obstacles:
   Fear, doubt, and worry.
Help me to see that these obstacles
Are merely shells containing great treasures:
   Courage, Faith, and Peace.

The ritual procession included a Zoroastrian inspired purification, where flowers were exchanged. As the flowers were exchanged, each participant was asked "In accepting this flower, do you release all ill will?"

The response was, "This flower as my pledge, I release all ill will."

I was informed later that it needs some work. Certain people didn't like the departure from the censing and aspersing, or else thought that the flower purification fell flat.

In ritual, I noticed just how poorly I had prepared, even after spending a whole day trying to get into ritual mode, memorize parts, and prepare myself. When the opening of the gates was completed, I was unsure they were open. They did not feel open to me. I spent some time examining the Grove hallows and the ritual space before I realised it was just me.

Every liturgist has his off days, I suppose. The day, which started off with so much promise, ended sour with this rite for me.

The invocation to Teutates that I wrote for the rite read as follows:

Teutates Invocation, Three Cranes Grove, ADF, Autumnal Equinox, 2006

Teutates, First!
Hear my words as they arise on the Fire!
Hear my voice as it resounds in the Well!
We ask that your blessings be upon us,
Ever increasing,
As we raise our voices to you!

We make offerings to the God of the Tribe
Who is our common ancestor.
You who sets our internal pole-star
Who guides us when the way is dark
We offer you welcome!

You who were first among us,
You who guides our people
Come to our fire!

Teutates, Protector and progenitor of the People
Builder and sustainer,
Loving parent and first ancestor
We offer you sacrifice!

Come to our fire
That we may do you honour
And you may guide us
Throughout our lives
And the life of our Grove.

Teutates, accept our sacrifice!

The invocation, of course, was not exactly like that. I was out of it enough to forget words here and there and I never quite manage to get it right, anyway. I'm happy with how hard I worked on this invocation, but I'm unhappy with the end result. I need to learn better ways to work through my scritps.

After ritual, though, things became brighter.

I started to work on training for the Grove, at Anna's suggestion and encouragement. I'm looking forward to where that leads.

Epona is still not sent out. Packaging her is difficult at best for me. But I know she is going where she will be loved. Until then, I recite her prayer at my altar.

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