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So Friday after work, I went straight over to the grove. We were doing a guided meditation, and while I'd tried for weeks to write it, it only came to me at the last minute (and I mean, I was sitting there on the floor at the grove writing it while everyone there chatted and wandered in and out.) It was only a few folks- Caryn, Me, Mark, and these two women, Cat and Jodi who show up randomly once in a while.

I've never written a guided meditation before, so I was kinda worried that it would end up being really cheesy...but I think it was decent, and it's been requested that I record it so that it can be used again. Two and a half pages written, and it only felt like maybe 5 minutes spoken, but it was more like 10 or 15.

After that, Mark and I went to Red Brick Station for dinner and were baffled and amused by the waitresses doing what we called "The salt and pepper ritual"- they would walk around, and go to empty tables, pick up the salt and pepper shakers, clack them together three times and hold them up and look at them. Now, we finally realized that they were checking to see how much was in them, but it seemed a little odd that they would do so repeatedly to the same ones, when no one had been seated at the table to use them in between subsequent clackings. So we decided that it was some crazy ritual that they did.

I slept at the grove on Friday night. Saturday morning was gorgeously sunny, and I went to the grocery store for a few things, and the liquor store for some wine.

Then I went back to the grove and slowly (really quite slowly) people started to show up. And the sky got cloudy. And it started to rain on and off...really only sprinkling, but I had these horrible visions of eventual downpours a la last Midsummer. Thankfully it never got worse than a sprinkle.

The ritual script vanished (and finally showed up this morning in the stupidest of places.) One member of the ritual team only showed up as we were in the middle of the pre-ritual brief. We had to go off-script (the only thing that went wrong was that I completely forgot lore of the season until Caryn reminded me while Kat was doing the invocation to Artemis...so it was slightly rearranged, and Jackie did that after my invocation to Apollo. For never having run through the ritual, and for a festival with which no one else was familiar, it went really well. (At some point, I said to someone, though I forget who it was, that this ritual really had no choice but to go well. Sure, it could have been better, it could always be. But in the end, I'm more than ok with how it went.

The offerings went nicely. Instead of confining it to the ritual patrons, I left it open to any Greek gods. Hymns were read in honor of Themis, Pan, Triton, Aphrodite, Selene and one or two others. And we definitely got the attention of the gods. It's been a while since I've felt such a real presence of the gods in ritual. I mean, I usually feel them around but this was...the only way they could have been more real was if they were to show up in physical, corporeal form.

Caryn said that she felt a much closer presence of some of the other gods, but that it was like Artemis was hiding in the trees and looking out from time to time, and that Apollo was sitting on a throne in a temple far away, but seeing it as though he was right there.

Nope, he was right there. If anything, the temple was right there too.

Towards the end of the offerings, I was really starting to get shaky. Partially for having not eaten and partially because yeah, I was nervous as all get-out.

I had intended to read a hymn and pour a libation of wine as my offering...but plans, like so many trains, can be derailed )

After that, I was semi-impatient for the ritual to be over (mostly because I was really afraid at this point that I really was going to fall over.) but I didn't want it to be either. I was happy that people actually made use of the personal magic segment of the ritual instead of asking of the gods during offerings. I was happy that people didn't seem to balk at the idea of a more serious ritual, and remain standing unless they physically needed to sit. Will did the greatest omen reading using bay leaves, some of the water from the well, coals from the fire, and soil from the base of the tree. Before he did, he told an abbreviated version of the myth of Apollo and Daphne, explaining the origin of the bay laurel tree. I think that this is my favorite method that I've seen him use for omen reading. And then Kat, Caryn, Jackie and I stood in the center and each held up a chalice of the waters of life while I asked for the blessing. I was just beside myself. By the end of the ritual, the rain had stopped altogether, the sky started to clear a bit, and the air temperature was probably ten degrees warmer than when we started. It ended well. (And then I rushed into the house to grab something to eat.)

I should have gone to bed a long time ago. Sleep now.
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Well, this is what I wrote. In the end, I was happy with it.

Phoebos Apollo, radiant and shining archer,
Pythian Apollo, Lord of Delphi and oracles,
Delian Apollo, Lord of the Island of Delos,
Delphinius,
Averter of evil, Rescuer, Protector of strangers,
Divine healer, Far-shooter. Beautiful, terrible god of truth and light,

I ask your presence. I call to you
To be here this evening and witness this rite.

Golden son of Zeus and Leto, Brother of Artemis,
Lord of the Hyperboreans most pious,
Averter of plagues, giver of foresight
I ask for your blessing of purity, your shining inspiration,
and your unparalleled song.

Apollo, brilliant one of far sight and beautiful voice,
Wine and honey I pour to you.

Ie, Paeon!
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I was woken early...very early this morning after a dream of which I can only remember the very last fragment.

I was at the grove, in the sanctuary, we were in the middle of the Thargelia ritual and suddenly, like half the people in attendance left the circle and went back into the house. I was standing in the middle of the circle, getting ready to make an offering or something. I was slightly offended that so many people just walked away but I didn't stop the ritual or make any acknowledgment.

A few seconds later, the granite altar top cracked silently into two pieces and fell from the base. Apollo appeared in the circle in front of me, perfectly tangible and visible to everyone. I nearly dropped the pitcher of water in my hands. He told me to go on, not to worry about those that had left, or anything else. I woke up immediately after that.

This is the first time that I have had a dream of an actual visual apparition of Apollo himself.

I have decided to take this as an indication that Saturday will go well.

However...I wasn't able to go back to sleep after I woke from this one. I would doze for two or three minutes and wake up again. Which kinda sucked because I woke from the dream at like, 530.

Though, I actually feel like I had a decent night's sleep, despite only really sleeping about 5 hours.
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My sister's wedding is a month and a half away. And what am I most worried about?

The tattoo thing. Well, not so worried but Trying to figure out what I'll tell people when they ask. And they will ask. Dress has a low-cut back, and my family arenot the sort of people to ignore stuff scrawled across a family member's flesh. My stepfather will comment. Loudly and frequently. He had (to take a phrase from my mom) ten French fits when he saw my first one...six months after I got it. And that's not much bigger than a silver dollar. Uncle Randy will make all kinds of comments about it being some sort of Satanic spell. Samantha will announce to the world that she wants one just like it (along with pink hair). Mumsie will demand to know what it means. And while the truth is easy, simple and makes perfect sense it will raise more questions than Ill feel like discussing that weekend. (Yeah Mom...it's a hymn to this god that i worship...)

Of course...I could always pretend I don't know what they're talking about and tell them they must be hallucinating. That could be entertaining. At least for a minute or two.

Tattoo? Tree? On my back? Isn't it a little early in the day to be hitting the bar so hard?

Oh hell, I thought of something worse. Receiving line. I have to stand in a freakin' receiving line. In a mauve dress.

I am so getting ballet flats. Chelle had better not have any grand plans to get me into dress heels. Cause...no. I will not endure physical pain. And I can't remember the last time I saw a pair of wedding-appropriate heels that I would be willing to wear. This is not a matter of aesthetics. I will only wear heeled shoes if the heels have a certain thickness. The sort of heels that I'm talking about tend not to occur on dressy shoes. (Damn. I wish I still had my red platform sandals. I wouldn't wear them for the wedding, I just really REALLY wish I still had them. Cause there's just nothing like a 6'2" Fuego.) While I have never injured myself while wearing high heels, I have a certain amount of paranoia concerning my ankles. I've sprained both of them too many times and I'd really prefer not to ever do that again. I'd rather have one run over by a car.

No, seriously. The Mustang running over my ankle hurt considerably less than any of the times I've ever sprained one.

And yesterday, I got a sketchpad and some drawing pencils (the all-graphite, no-wood, really heavy kind) and today whilst tethered to my desk, I started sketching a bit.

Methinks that butterfly wings with knives jutting out all over will be easier to draw than I previously thought. If only I could decide on the precise shape of the wings themselves. Well, I can decide...but I haven't really been able to draw them. They keep looking like crescent moons.

And last night, I found myself made the leader of the Interfaith Fairness Coalition's Gay Pride Week Interfaith Service Sub-Committee. (Yeah, you know what they say, the longer the title, the less important the job) Well, it sorta happened by default. One person has too many health problems, the other is on our little sub-committee in a specific, limited capacity.

Lucky for me, that specific, limited capacity involves him doing a large chunk of the work. And someone else has volunteered to do another large chunk of work. (It's not that I wouldn't be willing to do any of it, I just don't have the information necessary. Or free weekdays. So I get to um...think of a theme or something? I think it also involves some public speaking on my part the day of.

I've always wanted to be a figurehead. (Or not, really. I just felt like saying "figurehead".)

Looks like the weather is slowly starting to improve. All I gotta say is hell if I'm leading another ritual through gale-force winds a la Samhain or torrential downpours much like Midsummer.

I'm difficult like that.

Uhg. It's 10? I need to charge my ipod. I should go to sleep a bit earlier than I have the last 2 nights. Hopefully I'll sleep a full night.

Speaking of next week, I still have to write stuff. Invocations. Seasonal lore. Meditation. And the last couple of pieces of my blasted DP. I've got my dedicant's oath somewhat figured out. I keep forgetting that I have my book reviews mostly-written. I just have to get them off of the cd they're on.
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I had another weird dream last night. I can't decide if it's connected to the death dream from the night before or if it's just weird.

Anyway, I drove up to PA to see my family for Thanksgiving, but Lancaster looked more like the outskirts of Philadelphia. I drove up to a house with a chainlink fence and went inside, only to be told that I should have gone to my sister's place and everyone else was getting ready to leave to go there. So I hopped back in my car (It was a red Honda or Hyundai) and went up the street to my sister's house. Got there and the place was really quite, though several people were there. Someone had had a baby, but I cound;t figure out whose it was (don't know if it was boy or girl, but s/he was about 6 or 7 months old) Everyone was passing the baby around- ya know, "Oh, do you want to hold the baby?" No one seemed to be the baby's parent/s but non one seemed too worried about that either. There was more, but that's all I really remember.

I spent a lovely Easter making hot chocolate (yeah, I know..hot chocolate in April is so many different levels of wrong I don't know where to start.) planning a ritual and then going out to Kobe for Hibachi with Kelly, Courtney and Mark. We were going to go to Red Brick Station, but they closed early (And I was really wanting some banana creme brulée too.) So we went to Kobe instead. I haven't been to a Hibachi Grill since Kathy took me to Tokyo Diner in Lancaster for my 21st birthday. Our chef wasn't the most entertaining- there was no knife-throwing (Several other chefs in the restaurant were doing this, so apparently it wasn't against their rules or anything) and the waitress that brought us our drinks and stuff was really cute. She cracked us all up. Turns out she was from Lancaster and went to the same school as a couple of my cousins.

Okay. I know I'm supposed to be looking up some Thargelia-related stuff, I just can't remember what. Oh yeah....divination...I also have to write two mediations and an invocation before the end of the month. The invocation thing...normally so easy. Name me a deity and as long as I know even just a bit about them, give me five minutes and I've got something decent for ya. But damn. This one is going to kick my ass. Apollo, the god with whom I am most familiar.
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For two and a half years now I've been involved with the grove. I've attended every ritual and almost every other gathering that's taken place. There's been one aspect that I've really appreciated from the beginning, but lately I've been having mixed feelings.

That is humor and silliness. This isn't to say that I no longer appreciate them, and the fact that this religion allows such possibility for humor. I'm starting to feel somewhat of an aversion to humor in ritual. I don't know why.

I've said this before...not here, but in conversations with some people. I think I'm a bit of a ritual junkie. I like writing ritual, leading them, just being part of them in general. It's a very sad thing me when I don't feel like I can be part for whatever reason. Imbolc was one of those.

As I've said, silliness is the other thing. The farther I go along, the less interested I am in silly rituals or silliness in ritual. I start to feel like I'm missing something. Sometimes I find it distracting but more than that, I think it's just not the type of religious experience that I need.

Why has this suddenly become an issue? I don't know. Well, it's not so sudden really. It's been creeping up on my mind from time to time for some months now. But...why? Have I suddenly reached a point where I'm past a general desire or need for humor in ritual? Is it related to the nature of the god I worship? (That brings to mind another thought for another musing...) Likely some combination of things. I'm not particularly worried about the why's. I just need to figure out how I'm going to work with/around this. There is the obvious celebrating of rituals on my own, but solitary ritual does not fill the same need as group ritual for me. One thing I've been thinking of and even talking about for some time is organizing rituals for festivals other than the 8 neopagan days. It's not like there aren't plenty to pick from.

That said, adapting Thargelia to ADF format is an interesting process. I think it will be a very good ritual. I didn't get to post my notes to the grove forum today like I had planned to, but I can do that tomorrow evening in between working on the other computer (The XP machine, the one that just got working again last night, apparently is missing some file now and has decided to take a memory dump every time I attempt to turn it on. Computers hate me, it's official.)

In other news, I've found out that the client at work is talking about taking some of us up to Massachusetts to visit one of their offices and may end up using some of us as backup field techs when people are deployed to install some of the more major equipment. I've also been finding that it seems that they are going to trust a lot more to our judgement than giving us crazy regulations for every little thing we do like most other clients seem to do. I've met two people from the company so far and I really like them, especially the guy that's in this week, he's the supervisors for the level two techs up in Massachusetts. Very cool, very laid back, very "ask anything you want to know, tell me how I can help you guys learn this stuff." Actually started out this morning with "Well, I've got a ton of stuff that I can throw at you this week, but seriously, what do you want to cover?" The client hasn't given us a lot of stuff yet because they're asking for feedback on what we want and need. So far, everything we've asked for, as far as I can tell- especially when it comes to information- has been given or is in the process of being found out. Except that I still don't have my computer in the training room. However, I'm a bit hopeful...the company used to have a tradition of every training class having a meeting with the company founder/president. This meeting was a chance to ask anything (the only question that remained unanswered was his salary), express any concerns and problems, and talk a bit. Very infomal and laid back. This ended when he resigned and went to work elsewhere in the wake of Apple going south. insert boring details here. ) So Steve, the site director/VP of finance has carried on that tradition and my training class had just that meeting today. One of my coworkers, also without a computer, decided to air that particular complaint to Steve who expressed some worry about this and made a point of writing it down in his little book (Yes, I actually saw this written down, I was sitting right next to him as he did so.)

And another coworker has decided that he's going to teach me to speak Portuguese.

Time to sleep.
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[livejournal.com profile] chironcentaur:

Respecting the worship of Iris very few traces have come down to us, and we only know that the Delians offered to her on the island of Hecate cakes made of wheat and honey and dried figs


http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Iris.html
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I finally wrote a personal religion essay that I'm happy with. Of course, I left it on my desk at work (reasonably sure I did anyway, really hope I did.)

Today at the Grove, we talked about the Spring Equinox and what we're doing. We've decided to do a ritual this time for the strengthening and protection of native trees against invading species like Aleantha. Everyone is supposed to research, looking for deities that are connected to the protection of forests and/or trees. Caryn seems to be very set on the idea of a ritual asking the assistance of Artemis, to which I said that we would definitely need to include the nymphs (more specifically, hamadryads) in this venture. The hamadryads' lives depend on the lives of the trees (Though, what about hamadryads connected to the trees of the invading species...?)

And folks are also researching other possibilities. We'll see what is found. I went looking for non-Greek stuff too, but haven't found any deities or spirits so far that are as intimately connected to the trees.

In any event, I am working up an adaptation of the festival of Thargelia, for possible celebration this year instead of Beltane. (The idea seems to be going over pretty well with people. Nothing is decided yet of course, but everyone that's heard it seems to have an enthusiastic response so far.) Since I am so interested in doing that, I will certainly be happy if people decide that two Greek rituals in a row are in order, but I would not be nearly as vocal in expressing a particular opinion for this one as I might otherwise. I would, of course, help out in ny way I could...but I would do the same for any other ritual.

After the Grove, Steph, Jesse, Dominic and I went to Barnes & Noble down at the harbor. I bought a new journal tonight, for a specific purpose. None of the blank books that I currently have actually suit my desires for this use- mostly in that none seem to have enough pages. I've been feeling for a while like I should be keeping some sort of track of my regular religious activity- daily, weekly, etc. and I got some more motivation this morning when I was reading over some thigns on the ADF website and found that a log of no less than four months' time was required for just this sort of thing.

I figure this one should last me a decent part of the year. Writing about this sort of thing on a mostly daily basis should take up, in most instances, less than a side of a page at a time. Though I haven't really talked about it, I have for a while now been working on daily religious practice. I've got the weekly thing down quite well by now I think :-P

On a different topic, I decided a while back that I was interested in learning about the Iberian Celts. There's something about obscure cultures that fascinates me. I was just talking to Jon a little while ago, he's going to send me a list of source information that he's got. He's a history snob, so I think I'm safe there. The only thing that I've managed to find myself was a single issue of a single academic journal online.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going down to Caryn's place with [livejournal.com profile] jackgreen60 to talk about the ritual upcoming at Four Quarters Farm in two weeks. I'm really on the fringes of this one, and I'm ok with that. Yeah, I have the day off work tomorrow. It's Presidents Day and I work exclusively with schools so no work for me. Oh, and I had volunteered to work on MLK day. So there you are.

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