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Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice in ADF, Question 4, Entry 18

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12/11/06 - A Breakdown, and Io Saturnalia!

On a cold, rainy night, I drove home from my office. Things had been building up all week: I had been receiving more work in my office, I was beginning to stress about the class I would be taking next quarter, and a lot of things were not going well personally. The thing that got to me most, though, was the knowledge that at the end of the week, I would be using my clergy credentials for the very first time.

I'd made the necessary calls, spoken with all the necessary people, and I had the plan in hand: show up on Sunday, present my credentials, and do my job.

So why was I on the verge of tears, my chest constricting and breath failing? Why was I having what could only be described as a panic attack now, when everything was set and I was going to be doing what I expected to do. More to the point, why was I panicking about something I had signed up to do?

As I thought about this more, trying to reason my way out of the situation, things got worse for me, physically.

What was bothering me, what was causing the panic was that I realized that this was trial by fire: I was going to show up at a prison, introduce myself as clergy, and be led in to see an inmate. I hadn't even had my clergy credentials long enough to have a single person approach me as their clergy, and I had to walk in and show my authority to complete strangers and someone who really needed me.

I went home and I broke down on my altar. I put my forearms on my altar and clasped my hands. My head dropped to my arms and rested there. I held onto myself for dear life while my altar supported me, held me firm.

I think I prayed, but I don't know what I said. I can only imagine what it must have been:

Me: I can't do this. I'm not cut out for clergy. I'm not a Priest. I'm not who everyone thinks I am.
Them: You can. You are. You always have been. You will always be that person.
Me: I don't think so. I'm afraid. I'm worried. What if I fuck this up worse than it already is? I can really hurt someone.
Them: We think so. We know you are. We're not. You won't. You can, but you won't.
Me: Why do you have such faith in me?
Them: Because you have so much in us.

Eventually, I pushed myself away from my altar, and I stood before it. I lit the candles, and I did an evening devotion. And I walked away feeling stronger than I had before.

What I found that night was that there are so many people that I have to be there for, and so few who can be there for me. But I also found that the Gods are always there, that they always will be there.

Saturday was the Feast of Saturnalia

Saturnalia has a way of revitalizing my worship at this point in the year. There's something about it that always gets to me, always brings me back and reminds me why I practice this religion

Maybe it's the Latin, or maybe it's the way the Roman ritual has always touched a part of me, but it always does me good to attend and help out at this rite.

So I went this year to Jenni's house and helped her set up. I spent part of my day, several hours earlier than anyone else, prepping the house and eating cookies, going over the ritual and hanging lights.

As guests began to arrive, I got to speak to other clergy about my new responsibilities, and I found an affirmation of the way I've gone through things that I have not found with non-clergy.

I love the ritual honouring Saturn. I will never, I don't think, put an actual finger on why, but I do. I think that I just love how important it is to Jenni, and how special it makes me feel to be a part of it.

The rite went off without a hitch, but the fellowship in either side was amazing. I cannot say enough to thank Jenni for the rite.

On Sunday was the Grove Yule rite. Had I not been to Saturnalia the night before, I imagine that I would have been disappointed in a Norse rite replacing the Saturnalia rite. But all went well, and I found myself happy with the turn out and the technical aspects of the rite.

Nick's Dedicant Oath went particularly well, I thought. I found myself wondering if he had forgotten a patron, but that is hindsight.

Following the rite, I found myself going off to the Northwest on my way to my first clergy assignment.

I ended my night with an evening devotion back at my altar.


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