Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Beltane etc.

Golly, I haven't updated in bloomin' ages.

Well... I wont bore you with needless updates; but I shall just make a small post on recent stuff.

Yesterday was the Carmarthenshire Beltane celebration. First thing I have to say is: since when did I become so elitist?!
Though the circle went well, the parts was done, community togetherness was achieved and so forth, I just felt... so lacking. After a year of rituals and having experienced different group's rites, it's almost like I have a vision of what one should be like. The most frustrating thing though (for me) is that I don't even have the proper abilities to enact the parts are well as I wish I could. I have difficulty projecting, I panic at the last minute (i.e. I may have learned my lines, but then forget at the pivotal moment). What shocked me the most was how almost scathing I was at some of the people's performances - Ian had beautiful words but totally lacked any passion or conviction; no-one really knew what was happening and just silly things like that. Nagging thoughts like that have been going in my head for some time, like how awful the Carmarthen folk are at drumming, or how the raising of power is usually badly released etc. and I'm guilty of all that I dislike about the rites.
And it feels quite awful to be so critical.
And I blame Erin(!) She's planted biases into me head that I can't really seem to shake off. Oh, and Bonewits. And my general arrogance.

That said, the rite itself was lovely. It was nice to jump the fire, to be in Dom's garden, to be around these wonderful people. I tried telling a story (the story of Taliesin; which was far too long and frankly a bore), we ate and were watered. I loved it.
Wish I'd stayed longer...

Ho hum. Rant over.


Moonroot said...

I share some of your frustrations about things which could go better, but many of the group are very inexperienced. To be honest, I was delighted with how the ritual was (a) planned very enthusiastically by members who a few months back wouldn't have attended a planning meeting or if they did, wouldn't have had the confidence to offer any input at all; and (b) how many of the 'shyer' members stepped up to take roles (in some cases new and challenging roles for themselves)which again, a while back they wouldn't have dared to do.

I do think there was quite a lot of 'performance anxiety' from the less experienced members, especially as we had quite a lot of new people at the ritual - or at least people the newer members hadn't met before. That will wear off as they get more comfortable doing things in ritual and relax a bit! However, I should say that I'm comfortable with the odd fluffed line/inaudible invocation/need for prompting. I'd rather have that and a down-to-earth, inclusive ritual where everyone feels a part of what's going on than a high-falutin' word-perfect affair where the HP & HPS 'perform' the whole thing flawlessly and the rest of the group serves as a mute audience to proceedings. But that's just my personal preference.

Your parts were excellent, as always, I think you are being overly self-critical. The story wasn't boring but it was perhaps a little too long for the setting - I have usually found the best things to offer around a campfire setting tend to err on the short side - and often a 'comical' offering (funny song, shaggy dog story, amusing reminiscence etc) encourages others to offer something of their own when you've finished. A poetically-told Celtic myth is a hard act to follow, although it can be the perfect end to proceedings when everyone else has exhausted their party pieces!

Finally, one thing I'm hoping to work into the series of elements workshops is ritual skills - and actually I was thinking this morning that if the elements ones are enjoyed by everyone that I may teach a specific 'Planning and Performing Group Rituals' workshop sometime. Wanna co-teach it?

Sorry for overly long comment, perhaps I should have taken the debate over to my blog and blathered on there instead! Would like to continue it in RL sometime though?

Paul Rousselle said...

Mentioning that, I'm so glad when Alice volunteers to do things. Do you remember when she felt too shy to do anything?

I think you're right about the group. It is better, in a way, of having two leaders who do it all. Everyone can join in but, do you think it's wise to just throw the roles up for grabs? One quote from the Bonewits book was "Sincerity is not a substitute for competence", meaning that just because you mean well, it doesn't mean you're the best suited for that position.
Though, many have come out showing what that CAN do , and do it well!

I'm sorry for the blog post. I'm a point where I'm needing to overcriticise when I and the groups I work with do. I'm trying to be a decent magician and competent ritualist, and I don't feel like I'm really doing it right.

I think though, that once people are comfortable enough with the rites, maybe we should start tightening up on ritual - not to mean someone hoards it, but that some things are tidied up. Like calling the Elements - all of the calls are done differently to a point that the Elemental energies aren't being called forth in an equal manner.
I call them in a modified version of OBOD, you call them as taught by Reclaiming, Alison uses a ceremonial/wiccan format.
Sometimes the elements are simply called upon, other times they're invoked, and at others, the gates are opened! Imagine if the gate to Earth is opened to none of the others, or that (as with Alison and Ian) a Pentagram is invoked at that quarter. Surely we should find more uniform ways of doing so?

I don't know.

This is just off-the-top of my head.

Sorry if the post offended you or them at all...

Moonroot said...

Not offended, just Reclaiming and hence a bit... more laid back about such things than other trads. And I like the eclecticism of everyone calling/invoking differently - but then that's what I'm used to in Reclaiming. Some people find it annoyingly undisciplined, but I think it keeps things alive and fresh (see Starhawk's working definition of Reclaiming and her 'EIEIO' acronym here: http://www.reclaiming.org/about/directions/definition.html
for why we do what we do the way we do.) :) YMMV. Certainly from my admittedly small knowledge of Druidry they seem to like things a bit more formal.

We used to try to keep things 'undeitied' to keep Don happy, perhaps we need to get a bit more formal to meet your Druidic needs? (I'm aware that sentence may sound snarky in plain print without the benefit of body language and voice tone, but it's not intended to be - it's a genuine well intentioned question. One of the plus points about being an undisciplined Reclaimer is that I'm willing to try out new ways of doing stuff and am genuinely interested in experimenting and seeing how things turn out!)

And FWIW I think constructive criticism is a good thing. Yours is constructive, so no problem!

I would really like to continue this juicy and interesting conversation in RL! Perhaps we should allow time for it at the next ritual planning meeting?

P.S. Sincerity is NOT a substitute for competence, that's true. But how do you get to be competent without practice?

Moonroot said...

P.S. I've nominated you for an award - details on my blog.

And now I'll leave you in peace... :)

Paul Rousselle said...

I think my main issue at the moment is...
I've worked with people with whom magic comes naturally.
I've worked with theatrically competent people and those who can think on their feet.
I've worked with and met excellent magicians.

And as such, I know what a ritual with oomph is. One that really hits the spot, the really WORKS.

Do you remember the one the rituals we had in Star of Venus? It was Midsummer or Beltane, I think.
The drumming was dire and the music was awful; but the magic that day was was amazing. I haven't been to a ritual that fine before or since. I had a buzz for a couple of days after. Beev and Andrea we in tears downstairs!

THAT ritual had power and oopmh. Energy was raised well everyone was merry.

Right Susan! New resolution! We're gonna oopmh the rituals damnit ;-)

Paul Rousselle said...

And in reply...
For the Druidry, things are more formal, yes. I think with that there is the issue that I'm trying to connect more with their way of doing thing, as that's where my training is at the moment.

That said, I try to keep that out of our rituals as much as possible, because is it my tradition and nt one the group is familiar with - but mostly because it is an eclectic group, and as such TIMTOWTDI.

I just... really wanna, as per the post above, have people in a ritual where they lose themselves in magic in a time between times.


Sue, I'm gonna be in Carmarthen tomorrow, and in the Drover's roughly around 2ish. Fancy meeting up RL? :-P

Haloquin said...

I really enjoyed myself, although, like you say... it was a little on the unfocussed side.

But then, thats ok.

Its very difficult to balance out people learning and being given space to practice and grow with magically intense rituals.

I reckon Susan's Elements classes will help with thigns though, allowing people to find their feet and develop confidence and skills :) And then the rituals will be a good space to bring skills out and apply them!

I'm really pleased to hear how people have been gathering courage and stepping up to planning and take on roles! Its lovely!

My preference is always for rituals with oomph... but on the other hand I'd much prefer to see people grow than watch. I always preferred Reclaiming's approach of everyone being involved, and dislike spectator-based rituals. And a ritual like at Beltane, I guess, allowed for more sibtle magics of confidence building and growth.

So yeah, I'm wondering, what would make for both a strong ritual, and space for people to grow into their power when they are just beginning to find their feet?

I hope my presence didn't put people off too much, and I'm hoping to make the next moot... but I don't know where I'll be in the country at that point, so I'll see...

~Halo xx