Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice in ADF, Question 4, Entry 8
Week beginning 10/02/06 - Rekindling it all
Last week began with a renewed feeling of piety and commitment. The ADF Clergy Retreat was, simply put, amazing, and we came out armed with both a new training program for ADF (the Initiate Program) and some new, deep inner work.
The most interesting thing to come out of the weekend was the addition of an ADF Clergy Charm, a short, easy chant that is designed to recenter and relocate us in our inner working.
The chant now begins each daily devotion, both morning and evening, and will likely proceed each and every working I do from now on.
I use it simply, starting with the lighting of the three candles on my altar, and usually finishing as I light Epona's candle. From there, I move into the prayer for Epona, and then my prayer for Usas or Ratri. I really like how the devotional now flows, these three parts together.
I find it most interesting that, though I started with a specific format for my rituals, the more I reflect on them and consider them, the more defined they become. It shocks me, though it shouldn't, how this work at my altar, beginning from such an organized (if simple) format has grown so amazingly organically from that starting point.
If another person is within hearing range, I will hum the Charm instead of singing, since it contains the key markers through the trance journey ADF's Clergy go through.
A lot of my week was spent getting used to this new addition, and singing the Charm when I felt it necessary. On Wednesday, though, I felt my first moment of impiety regarding my devotionals.
Wednesday brought an amazing hail storm, one that dumped onto Columbus for over an hour. Because of the size of the hail and the amount of rain ( to say nothing of the poor visibility and tornado warnings), I chose to stay in my office until it let up. I watched the time move slowly toward 7:10, and wondered if I would have to do this sunset devotional in my office. I found myself physically aware of my space: my altar was not nearby, nor did I bring my portable altar to work that day.
I think the physical want I felt surprised me. There was a definite feeling of longing and separation involved that night. Being away from my altar is beginning to affect me.
The rain and hail let up around 6:50, and I made a mad dash to my car, realizing that I also had to stop and pick up cat food before I went home. I drove through the aftermath fo the storm, through deep water and scattered hail, and arrived at PetCo to hear the sirens going off again. I bought the cat food (after wasting more time with the cashier trying to find a working pen for me to sign my check with), and went out into the parking lot, dropped the food in my car, and stepped into the grass.
The rain had brought out the scent of the pine trees that lined the parking lot, and i picked up a hailstone and examined it. It was flat and cold, about the size of a quarter, and very lumpy. I held it for a moment and then pinched it tight, causing it to shoot from my fingertips.
Perhaps I should have taken caution from the hail. Hagalz is that which destroys, kills, and breeds famine.
I took a standing, open posture and sang the Charm. Something did not feel right, but I pressed on.
I spoke to Ratri from my heart, not really following my normal prayer but retaining my favourite lines: "Allow me to sleep, my head in your lap, as you sit upon the sacrificial grass." Something still didn't feel right.
I turned to the north, where the clouds hovered over my route home. I spoke a short prayer, a mantra to get me home:
October 4, 2006:
I got back into my car, and I realized what the off feeling was. My clock read 7:08 PM. It was not sunset yet.
Reading that, it seems so minor: I missed my timing by two minutes on a day when I couldn't see the sunset anyway. On top of that, I was early, not late. But I felt an immense sense of failure and internal disappointment with myself.
It was, all told, a strange feeling. I felt I needed to make oblations to make up for this perceived impiety. I decided that the weekend would afford me that opportunity, as I'd already decided to spend it with the Kindred.
Thursday morning, I woke and did my morning devotions at my altar. They went well, and I left feeling fairly good about myself.
Mid-day, however, I was brought to a crashing halt by an email that asked me what I planned to do with the evening devotion, as I was scheduled for a Grove business meeting that night, which would overlap the 7:08 sunset, not allowing me to get to my altar.
Up to that point, I had thought about this conflict, but not really thought about it. After the night before, I very desperately wanted to be at my altar every morning and night from then on. Suddenly, I was faced with the fact that I simply could not be at my altar.
For a moment, I seriously struggled with duty to Grove and duty to Gods.
I thought about what my obligation to my Grove was, at its very essence, and I found myself seeing that my Grove was my central devotion to the Gods. By providing that open and public worship, by pouring my soul into this Grove, I was making a greater offering to the Kindred than any evening devotional at my altar might provide. So it was that I began to plan out ways to make both the business meeting happen as well as my evening ritual.
I still wanted an altar, but I hadn't brought my portable altar with me. I thought about the meeting location, and remembered that there was a Catholic church very close. "Ah," I thought. "They will have an altar! And probably candles I can light!" So that was plan A.
I sat in on the business meeting, covering everything we needed to cover as quickly as possible. Then, with 10 minutes to spare, I made a run over to the church.
There is a definite irony in a church that has a sign out front saying "All are welcome in this house of worship" that also has its doors locked.
For a moment, there was panic in the gray room, but I knew that there was a greenspace just next to the church, and so I walked over to it, still with a couple of minutes to spare. I took a cautious look around at the living quarters and the windows of the church, some of which were still illuminated, and felt a moment of guilt and wondered if I might get "caught," but I thought about the fact that no one would bother a person obviously in prayer, nor would anyone think twice about someone on their knees in front of whatever the statue in the center represented. So, it was to my knees I went, and I said my prayers.
I wasn't overly happy with the devotional: no altar, poor planning, and a foreign religion. . . the gods deserve better. But it was, unfortunately, all I could do.
Then it was back to the finished business meeting, and then home.
Friday morning's devotion was normal, but on Friday evening, I received a call from Jenni, who wanted to run a full moon devotional. We talked briefly about meeting for the moonrise, but that couldn't be arranged (Maggie and I hadn't eaten yet, and moonrise was soon). Instead, we decided to have separate devotionals around the same time.
Maggie and I made a run to the store for dinner and some decorations, and then it was out to the backyard to set up and watch the moon rise over the treeline. I set up the altar (at right) between us and the moon, which rose through the branches of the curly willow in the back yard, and we each said some prayers to the moon. I thought about becoming more elaborate, starting a full-blown ritual invoking the Kindred and opening gates, but it didn't feel right. Rather than running a full ritual, we simply watched the moon, bathed ourselves in her light, and said prayers. Maggie spoke one in Spanish. I don't have record of what I said, but mostly they praised the light of the moon and the dark of the night.
It was a good ritual, even for how small and unplanned it was.
Saturday, I woke, and did my devotion early, intending to get right onto devotions for the day, but I found myself sidetracked and tired, so I went back to bed. I then had to run out once I finally woke, and didn't make it home until just after noon. I was disappointed in my ability to do what needed to be done that day, I admit.
The rest of my Saturday was spent cleaning the area around my altar. When there is an altar in your bedroom, cleaning your room takes on a new meaning. The act of sweeping was devotional. The act of cleaning litter boxes was devotional. The act of mopping the floor was devotional. I spent my whole day cleaning the room around my altar, and my mind was constantly on the rightness of this action.
I did my evening devotional between moppings, and I could feel the appreciation from the Kindred as I lit my candles.
Sunday, I worked the trance journey from the previous weekend's ADF Clergy Retreat. Going back to the place where I had felt such community was quite good for me, and the process of cleaning the house and searching for some options for my altar and for my altar items was amazing. Again, the previous day's cleaning of my altarspace left me with a clean, purified feeling that I had been missing, but didn't know I should miss.
I may need to make this cleaning a weekly event.
One thing in particular that I thought of during this weekend was the fact that I need to redefine myself. I cannot continue to be who I have been. I desperately need to be who I am.
To that end, I decided to make some simple changes in my life.
I no longer will define myself as "working Customer Services for OSU's IT department." That is not me.
"I am a Priest" is what I will say, should someone ask what I do.
Because that is what I do. My job is just a day job. It should never follow me home, it should never define me.
After that weekend, I am a Priest. It's what I do. It's who I am. It is who I will always be.
Most importantly, it's who I want to be.
I expect to make some further changes, but this is the first step in making those changes.