Friday, October 14, 2011

A Dance of Silver

A Spirit Contact Rite

In early October I had a chance to once again apply the basic spirit-arte methods I’ve been developing. Our ADF Clergy met in retreat, with about 21 of our 27 or so ordained folks able to make the event. On Saturday evening of the retreat we worked a rite intended to begin to establish an alliance between our Clergy Order and the beings who we sometimes call the Third Kindred, or the Nature Spirits.

When we began our round of Clergy Retreats, some six years ago, we begin building an inner locale from which we could work. In doing so we arrived at a relationship with two deities – the Earth Mother and the Keeper of Gates – who we have come to identify as the patrons of our Druidic order’s work, since they are who we invoke in every liturgy. A little later we established a contact with a category of spirit we call the Ancient Wise – ancestral or former-mortal spirits who in life were Pagan priests, poets, mages etc. From those we have sought instruction about our Druidic work in modern times.

That has left us without a formal alliance with the Third Kindred. This category of spirits is always somewhat difficult for us. It becomes a catch-all for ‘everybody else’ who isn’t the human Dead or one of the great Shining Ones. This has made it more difficult to build a model by which our multi-regional gang of clergy can make alliances that are both powerful and applicable in any ecosystem. The moist green land of the temple where we hold our retreats won’t produce the same spirits that our priests in the desert or the western mountains might meet in their land. Even winds and clouds vary widely in their local natures. As we thought it through, it seemed to us that spirits of the Sky, especially of the Great Lights, might be a proper target.

In looking at the Sun, Moon and Stars, we began by setting aside the highest and strangest first. The multiple stars offer too many kinds of power, too many flavors of spirit, to be our first wave of allies. We discussed sun-spirits a lot, but even the sun has many feels and faces around the globe. Also there’s a basic distinction in Indo-European symbolism in which the sun refers to exoteric, warrior-based power, while the moon is associated with mind, mystery and magic – i.e. the priesthood or magical class. For us white-robed, sickle-bearing Druids it eventually seemed entirely proper to begin our ‘nature spirits’ work by evoking lunar spirits.

We spent a good bit of time discussing just what we meant by lunar spirits. I wanted to point us toward the most terrestrial possible kind of being, with the sense of seeking the spirits who might appear in or as the rays of the moon’s light touching and affecting the land itself. In a hierarchical sense, I sought to contact ‘sublunar’ spirits of the ‘Court of the Moon’. At this level I expected to find beings sufficiently manifest and connected to organic life to be able to treat sensibly with mortals.

Incidentally, our intent in making this alliance was dual. First we meant to find spirits that could be always available to us as ‘heralds’ that could help our priests make further contacts with the Others wherever they might be. Second we were looking for ‘familiars’ – spirits who would actively work as agents for us. It might be that the second goal wasn’t as well served as the first in the type of spirits we chose to call, but only time will tell.

The working was done on a Saturday night, under the eleventh night of the waxing moon, in perfect, still, warm conditions. Actually, it was the very best ritual night weather we’ve had in six years of early October retreats. The combination of moonlight on the meadows of the land and still, warm air was ideal. We didn’t do much in the way of preparatory ritual, though we had done a full liturgy of general offering the evening before. However, between the ritualists present we probably had aggregated some 300 years of consistently making offerings to the spirits. In my opinion we were well-prepared, and well-bestowed with the authority to call the spirits for the intent we had in mind.

One of the delights of working with this crew is that we never need scripts. The ordinary of the rite was accomplished smoothly, the hallowings and purifications done nicely, with some extra protective bits added for the sake of the special work at hand. I’ve gotten to where I dislike doing complex rituals for a group entirely by myself, or even just with L, and having the various parts done by the many skilled ritualists present was a blessing. Since I’m still the one developing the tech we’re using it fell to me to do the actual calling of the spirits.

I used impromptu invocations with forms based on the work from Book of Summoning. Having just used a fully scripted version for the Court of Brigid I felt pretty fresh, and the incantations seemed to flow well. I think we could have been more specific and correspondent with the offerings, but I also think that the years of offerings to the Noble Ones, asking nothing more than general blessing and good will, stood this group in good stead. Once the actual callings were done I used the three-fold “Stay if you will abide by these terms” form of oath and/or binding (See the Court of Brigid rite for an example). After a welcome and final offering, I sat to the vision, along with the rest of the crew.

For me the vision came swift and immediate. Opening the Inner Eye, I saw a dance of silver beings on the green in the rays of moonlight, and a small crowd of them approached when I called to them. From these I received only one name and set of abilities. I must say that I simply hadn’t been thinking about gossamer moon-maidens when I had contemplated this work, but that’s who I got.

The visions were remarkably coherent among the crew. The Silver Dance, the female-ish nature of the set of beings, their tenuous connection to form and manifest reality. We Despite the focus of the work being on the Third Kindred we had avoided discussing this as connection with ‘the Sidhe’, focusing instead on the specific ‘nature spirit’ contact with the lower spirits of the Court of the Moon. Nevertheless we received very traditional Sidhe images – the Shining Folk dancing on the meadow, with their dark partners, birds and rays of the moon.

Several other names and powers were received – these I intend to keep for the Clergy Order, unlike the published names from the CoB. In this way we mean to make compacts and alliances unique to our Priestly Order, just as we have done with specific members of the Ancient Wise. The general message from the spirits was that they offered us methods of seership, distant viewing and speech, and prophecy, as well as serving as heralds to the rest of the Noble Courts.

One week later, we have before us the task of integrating these new contacts into our work. We agreed that this contact was entirely more strange and inhuman than the fairly warm contact with the Dead. We’ll go slowly and individually, and compare notes. However we are surely one step closer to have a Book of Spirits unique to our work.

1 comment:

Nick Egelhoff said...

As more Initiates are inducted in the Pittsburgh area, I think I would definitely like to do something like this - though tailored to a more local level (e.g. focus on cementing ties with the local spirits, Courts, etc.). Thanks for posting this, Ian!