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.

Avoiding Shipkowski’s First Comment on Liturgical Innovation

For the first time in a number of years, I went to another Grove’s High Day Rite. I knew some members of Grove of the Seven Hills, and their Yule rite was on the way to a visit to relatives.

It was really exciting to visit another grove. There are ways, big and little, in which things are done differently. You get to learn new takes on the same old chants. You observe how they handle their pre-ritual briefings. You see a variation on Kirk Thomas’s gate opening that requires less sure-footedness while still keeping the effect. All these ideas help you see what you’re doing a little differently, spark your own ideas — and give you things to incorporate.

Still, it was the things that didn’t go as planned that made me the happiest. Let me explain by proposing what I’ll term “Shipkowski’s First Comment on Liturgical Innovation” (with apologies to the ironically-named Arthur of “Arthur’s Laws of Love”):

Shipkowski’s First Comment on Liturgical Innovation

Other people’s liturgical innovations seem novel and exciting.

Your own liturgical innovations seem foolish and clumsy.

There were no big problems at all — but it was the little things, like thire Yule Log’s candles going out in the wind — that reminded me that, no matter what, we’re all still  humans doing this, dealing with fact that things don’t go as planned. It’s very easy to see someone’s ideas and go “wow, I wish I could do that!” It’s another thing to know that innovation happens not in an environment without mistakes, but in the same universe in which you live.

Of course, if they think I’m not borrowing their change to the Portal Song, they are mistaken.

Publicity and preparation

I had been thinking there has been something I wanted to post about, but could never remember when I went to write here.

Yesterday morning, as I reviewed the interested emails regarding our Midsummer Eve rite last night, I remembered what it was — an article on the local Pagan community (warning: PDF; bottom of the page) in Voices, the local alternative newspaper. I come in part-way through, with a picture of me engaged in ritual. They asked to take a picture, and after contemplation I figured that a picture of me being a public Pagan was better than a photograph of Art, public Pagan.

The photography for Voices was done spur-of-the-moment to fit their publication deadlines, and involved me grabbing appropriate items (including my personal shrine’s oil candle in the hope it would stay lit better in a breeze than tea-lights) last-minute. Despite this, I arrived with everything I wanted in-hand and improvised my way through ADF’s Core Order of Ritual without a hitch. Doing rites during the week has a similarly frrantic feel to me. On the day of, even with advance preparation and my noticing that everything is going as-expected or better, I’m still anxious. The last weekday rite involved me wondering why I was so wound up when everything was already packed the night before.

Midsummer Eve last night was the same way — everything went just fine. Still, the feeling of stress remains. In the future, I think I’ll try to take the days of weekday rituals off, to give me more time for calmness — and allow the focus to sit on the High Day rite itself.

Or encourage more weekends, in the modern Pagan fashion.