Archive for February, 2012
Last night I attended an Imbolc ritual at the Sacred Paths Center, our local Pagan/alternative religion community center. There were probably about 20 people there, it was a good mix of different ages and traditions. They did not cast a circle, but they did bless the space and went around anointing the participants with oil. Then the directions & elements were called. They did this quite creatively, rather than simply calling on each power, then went outside the circle spreading the element in some way- for air, the children blew bubbles, water was sprinkled, a candle was carried around for fire, and stones were set around the circle for earth. (Though we had to be careful not to trip on them!) Then the Ancestors, Nature Spirits and Gods & Goddesses were called- Brighid & Angus macOg specifically. We were then anointed with the element associated with each- water for Ancestors, earth for Nature Spirits and air (sage smoke) for the Deities. Then we each approached a cauldron and whispered what seeds (plans) we wished to plant for the spring. After that we had a spiral dance and each filled a small bag with seeds from the cauldron. Then the reverse of the opening was performed.
I noticed several similarities to Mists’ ritual structure- anointing for each of spiritual beings, and calling on Brighid and Angus mac Og. Brighid is obvious since Imbolc is a festival in her honor, Angus mac Og is a God of spring, youth and love. He is also Brighid’s brother, they are both children of the Dagda.
We also sang “Walk with Wisdom” at the end, which is a song used both by ADF, Mists and presumable Keltria.
I liked the ritual as a whole, and how they included the children by giving them a role/task. The main problem is that gathering the seeds didn’t work very well with the spiral dance, as you need to hold hands and it was confusing what you were supposed to do after getting the bag of seeds. The room, while a good size for a medium sized group, was not big enough to accommodate a spiral dance. It’s a very tricky dance to begin with, and I think it is best performed by a group that is practiced in it. It also doesn’t work for anyone with mobility issues, or simply those of us who are clumsy or uncoordinated!
Well, Mists’ ritual is tonight, so I’m definitely getting my Imbolc on!
Note: Please do what you can to support the SPC! It is so important to have our own place to gather as a community!
My church, Unity Unitarian has been focusing each month on what they call a “Worship Theme”. The sermons and programming all connect with that theme somehow. I have been meaning to blog on these topics- well here is a start. Both Pagans and U.U.s tend to be very anti-authoritarian in their spirituality. This is often a reaction to religious backgrounds that are more authoritative.
Unitarian Universalism is congregationalist, that is each congregation is governed by its members, who also choose and ordain their ministers. The Unitarian Universalist Association is more of a practical and administrative entity than a religious authority- we have no bishops or anything like that. The UUA oversees the seminaries, humanitarian mission programs and publishes the UU World and other publications through Beacon Press. As U.Us, we all follow a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”. Unlike most religions, we have neither an orthopraxy- a right practice or an orthodoxy- right beliefs. We look to thinkers and theologians of the past, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Ellery Channing, Henry David Thoreau and other people with three names. We find inspiration in world religions, nature and in the arts. But none of these sources are authoritative for all U.U.s
Some Pagan groups, such as traditional Wiccan covens (Gardnerian and Alexandrian) have a hierarchy, based on a system of training, led by the High Priest & Priestess. Many other Pagan groups, particularly feminist/Goddess based circles and eclectic groups have a much looser leadership, and many of them practice consensus-based decision making.
The national Druid group I’m a part of, Ar nDraiocht Fein, fall in between. ADF is democratic- the Arch Druid and other members of the Mother Grove, the governing body are elected by the entire membership. Each sub-group- grove, guild etc. holds its own elections for its leaders.
The local (non-ADF) druid grove I participate is somewhere in between the two in its governing structure. As with traditional Wicca, there is an initatory system of three levels. The members of the highest level, the Oaks make the major decisions for the grove, like any changes in liturgy or whether someone should be dedicated or initiated. However, from the impression I get they are really the “buck stops here” decision makers- the rest of the grove gets input in many things.
So that’s political authority- what about spiritual authority? What sources- be they written, natural features, spiritual beings, or our own ideas hold our personal paths or traditions together? Tell me, dear reader, what basis does your religion/spiritual tradition or path have? Where does it come from? I don’t mean who founded it, what culture it came from, or its history, but where do your beliefs and practices come from? Outside of yourself, what determines them?
I will put my own thoughts on this in the next post.