Friday, September 7, 2012

Follow-up. The Summerland Practical Magic Working


Shrine with ritual script &Blessing Candle
The working was performed as planned, in the middle of a calm afternoon. It was a very interesting, and quite possibly unique occasion. As of this writing I still await news of any outcomes from the rite, so no one was so godstruck that they had to write. That doesn’t mean that things haven’t precolated, and I hope to get further news of results.

The event allowed us one long block of time - some three hours with a break. Since we needed both handicraft time, instruction time and time to prep for the ritual working itself this was actually a good thing. In the end we concluded well under the allotted time.

Since this working involved crafting paper shrine-talismans we chose a covered space in which to work. We assembled a square of rustic tables, and everyone received one of the talisman cards, a ritual handout and a small candle in glass. Everyone likes ‘take-aways’, and putting some objects into people’s hands drew them immediately into the participation mystique required to make a real magical rite work in a festival setting.

The simple Hallows of the rite.
I spent a good deal of time discussing personal intentions. Within the three main intentions of the rite - proesperity, Healing or Inspiration - each participant was to devise a personal and specific goal. I didn’t give a sub-workshop on sigilization. The shrine-forms had a box for the intention, and I suggested that if they couldn’t devise a bind-rune or reduction-sigil they might use the old hoodoo trick of writing the intention statement from each of the four sides. Every one of those methods was used by someone in the group.

The assembled folk were of many levels of skill, from very new ADF members with outside metaphysical backgrounds, to experienced ADF seers, to one of our small ADF/OTO crossovers, and another lodge member come to have a look. However people prepared their shrines, and we were ready in good time for the second portion of the work.

I remember Isaac Bonewits speculating about ‘thinking outside the circle’, using other ritual shapes for group work. Yes, I know that Masonic rites have been worked in squares for centuries, but Isaac was as much a neopagan as me, and our millieu was the circular group ritual. We’ve certainly moved past that in ADF. Many of our group rites are worked in horshoes and rectangles. Here was a practical magic rite worked at a square of camp tables. Allow me to hope that Isaac would have been pleased.

The performance of the rite went well, in my opinion. The short opening and closing was acceptable because most participants were familiar with the larger forms of ADF ritual. The invocations were normal, with nice loose incense offerings onto charcoal instead of less-impressive stick-incense offerings.

The one-lot ogam omen for the rite was Tinne - the ingot, the bar of iron, given to the holly tree, and sometimes glossed ‘mastery’.

The most challenging moment involved the chanting of the ‘conjuring words’. Each of the three intentions were given sets of irish words as the ‘barbarous names’, or ‘old speech’ of the spell. As the people were receiving the Blessing, in the form of having their candle lit by L or I, we began an intonation, setting up a chord. Within that chord each intoned their conjuring words. As I passed behind each seat, carrying the candle with the blessing-fire, I focused on the shrine, and chanted the specific words for each seat along with the sitter.

When I described this process in the pre-ritual briefing I was met with scepticism by the experienced ritualists. Like “you think this will be what?” In performance, it rocked. It was a fairly bardic crowd, so a harmonic, trancey chord came easily. There were three sets of words, so everyone could hear someone else chanting their three. The firelighters helped each in turn find their Irish pronunciations, and a really nice buzz was set up.

With all the candles lit, we called the six spirits of the charms. This went well, and I had a satisfactory feeling of getting the presence and attention of the Courtiers. My greatest confusion about this spell-model remains to what degree it is a rite of summoning, and to what degree it is a rite that more simply puts in a call to spirits already prepared to give aid. Nevertheless they came and received their small offerings, with offerings of greater to come.

The group left with a suitable level of buzz and a range from excitment to introspection. However I await news on specific goals and results.

The most important change I’ve made in the form has been to discard the upright ‘shrine’ object in favor of a conjuring circle that lays flat. Not only does this resonate better with tradition forms, but it doesn’t blow over in slight breezes. Note the bits of post-it used to secure the shrines to the tables in the photos... why didn’t they put them on the back?

May Brigid bless you and the spirits aid you in all your works.

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