Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pleasantly Surprised and a RANT!

Next week I have an hour long phone interview with Cherry Hill Seminary. It is part of their admission process to the Master's program. Since it is mostly an on-line school, I expected some pro forma forms and a bill. However, I really did need three letters of reference. My thanks to those that took the time to do that even though only one may ever read this. Now, I have an interview with three people. I can't imagine they go to all that trouble just to rubber stamp someone in. 

So, whether I get in or not is not the issue. The fact that they have standards is very good. They are trying to create a well-trained pagan clergy. If they have standards to get in, they have standards of instruction. This is a good sign for pagans everywhere.

I should have stopped typing there. Somehow, somewhere, this turned into a rant. 

If I get in, this will be a lot of work. Frankly, I know one reason I am doing this, WitchDoctorJoe. He recommends the school and I have a lot of respect for what he does. Yet, I have no desire to do it! But more importantly, I kept feeling drawn to it. There is something there. 

When I signed up, I wanted to specialize in pastoral counseling. Those that do the work hit many road blocks and suffer some emotional trauma. I wanted to have some skills in helping people deal with that.  

I also wasn't signing up to be a priest. I signed up for an education. A priesthood is a calling. I have always wanted the title but but frankly, never felt drawn to a god/dess enough to do that. I don't wear titles I haven't earned. Pan may change that. We will see.

Now that this Dionysus thing is being written for Fresno's PPD, I am wondering if the specialty of rites of passage would be better. I've never done public ritual before but I really like what this is working out to be.

So many public rituals are the same ol' eccletic Wiccan stuff. There is nothing wrong with that. Though, many people aren't called to that. They attend but it is like church, flat and unappealing. My PPD ritual will not be same ol' Wiccan stuff. Maybe it will inspire someone to look beyond the pagan basics. Maybe not.

I do find some things wrong with public ritual in general. (Perhaps this is where the rant starts.)

One is that many people participating think they are going to church. They don't understand that when you call the gods, they have a tendency to show up! What happens when someone that has only been to church and felt not even the slightest inspiration feels the touch of Pan, Dionysus or Bridgid? In most cases, the first verbalized reaction is something like, "Maybe I'm crazy." The priest/priestess has a responsibility here. Yet so many don't offer their time after the ritual. They want to lead the show but not do the necessary follow-up work. 

Often, someone tries to do magick and the people in the ritual don't really believe magick works. I've seen people freak out at that realization. These so called priests and priestesses have no idea what to do. When I do a ritual, I will assume the participants haven't been exposed to magick and will give them a little warning of what may happen and make damn sure they have my card in case there are after effects. Running a ritual means the officiant has responsibility. 

Another mistake I've seen is the tendancy to pander to the pagan tendancy to be inclusive. Volunteers are sought to call the quarters or other such nonsense. Group ritual can work like that but the participants must have balanced skills or the orchastrator must have the ability to smooth things out.  If a pentagram is drawn at my rituals, I will do it or I will know the skill level of those I choose to participate. I'd rather have a safe circle then a wobbly one where everyone feels that they've been 'included'. I want folks to have a safe enjoyable rite. If they are in the circle, they are included!

Yet another error is the need to display power. BAH! These folks should be shot. There is nothing wrong with a quiet little devotional. There is no need to impress the few true sensitives. If a quiet devotional is called for just do that. You don't need to create talismans expressing the joy of Goddess X people can take with them. If you do the ritual right, the can take goddess back into their lives by carrying Her in their hearts.

Frankly, some of the circles I've seen done publicly give ritual a bad name. They are run by folks that I can charitably say have issues. If I was exposed to this from the beginning, I'd say the entire process is nuts! Or worse, makes you go nuts.

I have seen some well done ritual design at public rites. Reclaiming did a great one for Halloween in San Francisco about 5 years ago. Fresno's Lady Tambra use some existing teepees on the museum grounds and designed something very nice. I was impressed. Especially when she told me she made up that morning when she saw the teepees.  I didn't find the circle to be clean but she didn't cast it! She should have. She had the skills. The participants did not.

It is about here the rant just um...petered out. Insert a nice well thought out conclusion here. I am just too tired. 


The Scribbler said...

Slightly Off Topic (or maybe tangential to topic, since it relates to Dionysos ritual): are you still interested in good academic books on Dionysos? If so, e-mail me, and I'll e-mail you one. My address is on my blogger profile.

Lavanah said...

Do you need to pick a direction to specialize in, right away?

Also, regarding you comments about public ritual, in many group and public Seidh work, while the Seidkona is in her (usually a her) trance, there should be at least 1 assistant to help those in the gathering who are unexpectedly or badly affected. This may be a good idea to use more widely, Priest. :-)