A ritual closing

On March 22nd, 2007, Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF came into existence.

Previously, Rev. Michael J Dangler suggested a ritual closing. In some behind the scenes discussion (due in part to WordPress.com being extremely slow at the time), he pointed out some possibilities and suggested it could be done as part of Spring Equinox.

That’s not what I did. Part of it was that the bandaid was already ripped off, so to speak. I didn’t want to drag my regulars — who were willing to join ADF solely if it would make me happy — through a funeral when I was the only one grieving. Another was timing. It struck me as auspicious to do it exactly three years later.

So, tonight I performed the rite, a full COoR rite. It generally followed Hemlock Vales’ ritual methodology, and so was fairly off the cuff; the invocations are firm in my mind.

However, here a few bits about what I did, should anyone else find themselves in the same situation or wish to critique.

I actually opened a double set of gates; one with my Home Shrine, and one with Hemlock Vales’ standard indoor ritual gear. The latter was closed during the Workings Section — along with a few words and the removal of Hemlock Vales’ website — no longer a “closed” page, but a “410 Gone” status code.

Statement of Purpose

I walk the path, but I walk it alone.

I  am in the hall, but the hall is empty.

I am here to formally close Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF and give thanks to the Kindreds for their support of it.

Prayer of Sacrifice

Shining, Noble, and Mighty Ones, I give to you these gifts. Hemlock Vales has been blessed by you, and so it is time for one final gift, as a Protogrove. Holy ones, accept these gifts, I pray. (repeat last line 3x)

Workings Section Preface

Now it is time to end the public face of Hemlock Vales Protogrove. This Protogrove may and can return, but it is time for it to fade from view — though the actions it has taken, learning it has done, and upholding of *ghosti- will never fade.

So, what was the Omen? I asked what message the Kindreds had for me, and received Gebo, gifts; Jera, year; Isa, ice. I saw this as about the cycle of gifts over a long period of time yet the recognition of stagnation that had occurred.

Lest anyone ask — I am okay. I saw this coming, and have accepted it.

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The Hipster PDA and the Dedicant Path

Lupa expressed an interest in more detail about personal practice, so I figured I’d give some overviews of ways I have approached things. This might not be what she had in mind, yet perhaps more generally applicable.

In ADF, the Dedicant Path (DP) is the general term for a standard set of practices outlined in a manual member receive; when the practices are documented to certain standards, submitted, and approved, one has been said to have passed the DP, though it is a lifelong journey.

Part of the documentation requirements is five months of journaled mental discipline work. When I did that portion, I knew I needed a way to document it consistently. What I did was use a Hipster PDA. I found it a productive approach because it fit my work-flow.

I knew my method of recording must be easy to transcribe onto the computer (a tatty notebook is not a preferred submission format). Using the Hipster PDA, once a card was full I could easily put it next to my computer keyboard, unlike a spiral notebook. Then, when I had time, I could transcribe the entries; most of the time, I was able to fit four to a card.

I knew it had to easy to bring with me. At the time, I was doing more business travel than now. Also, if any insights occurred away from devotional practice, I wanted to be able to take them down at the time. It proved to be additionally helpful for taking down omens and other notes on group ritual. Simultaneously, if I lost it, I was only likely to be “out” a few days’ worth of devotional work. Cost-wise, losting it would probably be less than a dollar in materials (I never did buy a Fisher Space Pen).

I knew it had to be easy to use. Unlike an electronic PDA, it was easy to put a mixture of text and any sketches onto. Unlike my old Palm’s “graffiti” entry method, writing didn’t require much additional thought out of me, and it was easy to draw runes instead of writing out the names.

Finally, I knew it had to be multi-purpose. I’m not big on jamming my pockets full of stuff to go anywhere — the Hipster would double as a recording device for other things.

These days, I carry a Moleskine for many of the reasons I originally gravitated to using the Hipster PDA. The biggest objection I developed to the Hipster was the tendency to hurt my cuticles on the sharp edges of the excelsior clip I had; switching the clip for a paperclip or a hairband did not hold the cards together asa well for me. These days, my devotional work tends to be “at home” enough that I can use a single bound dairy-style book for it, and leave it in front of my Home Shrine, though I do need to get back into the mode of transcribing it — tremendous insights can be found in the process of transcribing notes that are a week or two old.

To bring it back to the main theme of this blog: don’t be afraid to take notes. Part of ADF’s Core Order of Ritual for High Days involves the taking of an omen after offerings are made (the exact nature of the divination is up to those designing and performing the rite). When I first started doing public ritual I wasn’t big on recording the omens immediately after the rite, and while that was usually not a problem, on occasion I found myself having to work to remember an omen. After a while I became cagey about writing down the symbols, but was then failing to write down the interpretation, which was often worse; further thought can elaborate an omen, but it’s important to know what was said at the time.

So, despite the ancient Druidic attitude toward writing, I do advocate taking notes; not only does it give a solid record, whether for personal or group use, but it helps enable further reflection.