So, L. and I have been working the Nine Moons system for 2 months now (See the Nine Moons category in the topics column at right to allow me to avoid posting specific links to a half-dozen former posts...). I’m learning a lot about practical application of what I wrote, and we’re enjoying the work a lot. I’m keeping my own journal of the work, but I’m not going to blog the individual entries. Instead I’ll post occasional summaries here along with any notable reports from later work.
I’m pleased to find that the level of work is far from crushing, even in a work-week setting. Each month requires four Retreat Days, timed with the phases of the moon. (Review the basic order of a Retreat Day here.) Especially in these early weeks the morning work has been short enough to easily do before leaving for work, and the other offerings can be done during meal-time, with the evening main rite or exercise taking no more than a couple of hours to set up and perform (assuming one has actually read the work and gotten the stuff…). All of that makes me comfortable giving it to students. I know that I’ll have to recommend more than four real working days per month in future months, though… we’ll see how intense it gets. The good news on the increasing complexity is that it has an end, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first months are review and preparation. The morning meditations emphasize Dedicant-level skills – Open Meditation and Two Powers energy work – aiming for greater facility and ease of use. The Dead and Sidhe offerings are quite short and simple, we’ve been able to do them from our back porch – that will change some as we make the later contact-points for the spirits. Since we’re experienced ritualists the evening workings have been pretty easy so far – we have a good home shrine that we can just adjust and use for the rites, and that makes it easy to get them done.
The first month feels like it’s addressed to the Three Kindreds, beginning the process of alignment and relationship that carries through the first half of the system. We began with the Self-Blessing from the new DP (having never worked it ourselves…). The Sixth Night rite is a Rite of Uncrossing. While this system is intended to meet the requirements of ADF’s Initiate’s Program, more directly it intends to make a Druidic Magician of the student. To do that it is always wise to begin with plenty of cleansing, protection and opening of ways, and these first two moons provide that. The Uncrossing Rite combines Gaelic symbolism with a little bit of hoodoo method, and we (certainly I) found it quite juicy – my hands were shining with the effects for a day after. That rite is also worked under the Three Kindreds generally, and the Full Moon rite for the first month brings all that to a head with a formal ‘introduction’ rite of the student to the Kins. This is the first big round of multiple sacrifices for each Kindred. By the end of the first month it felt as if we must have the Spirits’ attention. Incidentally, I can honestly say that ways have opened for me in other parts of my life that had stayed stubbornly closed before now. That sort of Uncrossing is hard to quantify, but I’m satisfied.
The second month gets more down to business. The early stages of the new Moon trance progression are all very familiar to L and I, so the first ‘stand up out of your body’ exercise was review. The Sixth Night rite is the consecration of a talisman of protection. This brings us right into spellbinding very quickly in the system, though it is low-stress in that one needn’t risk watching over one’s shoulder for results. It is also the first more complex rite, using Fionn’s Window sigils, multiple material symbols and recited charms. We liked the form of the rite, but felt like a little more ‘power raising’ (or excitement-building) would be welcome. Multiple repetitions of the charm will probably do it.
The Full Moon rite of the second month is a formal sacrifice to the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper. Having agonized rather a lot over how to move students toward finding a personal patron, I once again ducked the issue by choosing to make the E-mom and GK the patrons of this system and its work. Fact is, anyone who wants to use Our Druidic ritual methods will need a solid relationship with those two deities anyway. This rite is, then, the first phase of three months of formal establishment of more detailed work with the Three Kindreds – Gods first. The rite is the first formal rite of invocation of specific deities in the system, combining Visualized images, physical offerings and spoken hymns. While it still felt like review to us, it also felt well-structured and effective. Once again, we felt we saw and were seen.
Our Dark Moon Retreats have been haphazard. The truth is, it’s good to have a week off from mandatory ritual nights, but we have already fallen behind the recommended pace for divinations and journal exercises. Fortunately the IP standards call for a five month combined journal for trance, divination and liturgy, so we have plenty of time to catch up.
So, on we go. Next come basics of the Inner Grove work, the formal consecration of our personal Blessing Cauldrons, and the creation of the Shrine-fetish for the Dead. I suspect a newish student would reach this stage with a head full of images and energies from this pace of work – I know I have them, but I have a nicely structured mind for such things by now. Testing the work this way on ourselves is good, but soon I’ll be looking for a first round of students.