Friday, October 25, 2013

Homework Hog-tie

I sure have dropped a few stitches on my book reports, eh? Haven't commented on Coven Craft since chapter 7. Jumping ahead to the most recent section we discussed in class, I will write about chapters 16-18. If I get ambitious, I'll review the previous chapters, but I ain't gonna promise. I know that I've read them carefully and got what I needed from them. And I know my teacher trusts me.

Chapter 16 addresses Education and Training. My copy of the book is missing this chapter entirely, so I had to borrow a friend's copy and do not have it anymore. My memory tells me it included a marvelous syllabus for an entire year of study and suggestions for how to organize the classes and provide mentorship for the students. Amber K has a rich imagination and a mind for detail, and just reading the descriptions of possible subjects was an excellent and entertaining review of the breadth of magickal studies. This book is really fun to read.

Chapter 17; On Initiation. Here is a checklist and set of questions that makes very clear the skills and experience a dedicant must have in order to begin more advanced training. It is reiterated here that, rather than an end point, initiation is the beginning of a formal commitment to the coven. Amber K also describes two forms of initiation—the one in the spiritual realm, which comes from within, and the Earth-plane initiation, which comes from the community. Wish I'd read this before my initiation!

Chapter 18; Group Dynamics in the Coven. This book came out right on the cusp of the Internet pandemic, so there are many tools and suggestions that could seem outdated or even antiquated, especially those concerning communications. One thing that never goes stale, however, is interpersonal conflicts. Amber K addresses potential issues and various methods of addressing them so thoroughly (and with the wit of one who's seen it all) that I might sneak in here to quote verbatim some of the more useful responses to challenging behavior. She explicates three modes of group operation (Work Mode, Process Mode, and Combat Mode), looks at individual needs vs. group needs and decribes roles people tend to take in groups. The most impressive part of this chapter, however, is the section with eye-popping visual charts of interpersonal relationships. I wish I could post one here. It'll make you want to crawl into a cave.

Getting interpersonal with the deity

"Argos is euthanized and killed by Hermes" Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, I'm preparing for my coven's Festival of Death and Wisdom this weekend. My little Hive of Initiates is doing some intense work for this one. I'm excited and nervous about aspecting for the first time. I'm working with Hermes, and He seems very eager and delighted to work with me. I seem to take to trance and sharing space with the Divine quite easily. My main concern is to not blow my god wad before Saturday night. Don't rush a good thing, my fleet-footed trickster!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Nuts and Bolts of Public Priest/ess Training

I see I haven't posted anything about my Priest/ess training since July 27. Well, it's not for lack of activities, lessons and homework. Many people have asked me what does this training entail, exactly? Well…

A brief glimpse at my calendar shows that since July 27 I've participated in:
65 Daily Practices— Though I have a rather involved set of prayers and meditations every day, including a special practice I share with my Big Sister, the core of the CAYA DP is a prayer that every member of the CAYA Clergy sings at at least one point during the day (I usually sing it several times throughout the day). Aspirants and members of the extended coven also participate. Every year, a new prayer is composed. Daily Practice 2013:

Rooted in my sense of self,
My inner light inspires.
As beauty transforms me,
I transform the world.
I am the legacy of my ancestors.
I am the legend of my descendants.
With grace & awe I create the Now.
Blessed be.
~ by Stella Iris RedRaven, High Priestess of Conscious Joy, and Athena Ixchel Firefly, Priestess of Imagination and Soul
3 get-togethers with my Big Sister— day-long ramblings in witch we have fun and adventures, eat tasty treats, share stories and in the midst of all that we interweave questions and musings, insight, dance lessons, spiritual quests, practical and emotional support, bison whispering, and moments of deep reverence for the wonder of it all. And Moomins! Plenty of Moomins.
2 Community events— The Lugh Games (served on the planning commitee) and the Harvest Home retreat (4 days at the Isis Oasis)
1 Sprouts event (activities for the enjoyment of pagan families with young uns) — a trip to the Ren Faire
1 Public service project— All I really did for this one was create a public post on my networking profile about our virtual food drive, but I saw very significant results from that small action!
1 Public ritual— for which I helped plan and serve
Several conference calls— (lost count)
 1 Community ritual— our Festival of Devotion Remembered at the retreat (got to kick back and enjoy this one, my chief responsibility was to be fully present, attentive and participatory, but no conference calls— wheee!)
1 Aspirants Class/Hive meeting— these go from 3pm-9pm or so once a month (I missed the August meeting as I was serving my camp community that weekend). The first two hours are for training the Aspirants, which includes activities, reading assignments and other homework in which the Initiates participate. The rest of the evening is my Hive supping and discussing Initiate year progress with our teachers. There's usually a wonderful magickal working designed by one of the teachers, such as a shamanic journey or crafting a mojo bag.
3 Hive rituals— When we were Aspirants we created a ritual to perform once a month at our personal altars, at the waxing quarter of the moon. The third ritual involved a magickal fire-scrying for the three Hivemates who attended the retreat (though I think the two who weren't present were holding space of some sort wherever they were).
Frequent, ongoing interactions on the listservs with the various groups within CAYA— We've just moved to G+, so my inbox has sighed with relief. However, there are many conversations going on within the coven at all times, and all Clergy are expected to maintain some sort of consistent presence within this swirl of prayer requests, birthday greetings, announcements, invitations, reports, planning brainswarms, and all of the other ways that our community continuously weaves our energies together.
Countless personal texts, emails, phone calls and get-togethers with other members of the Clergy— This was highly recommended as a way to get the most of one's Initiate year. Sometimes I'm picking their brains about Public Priest/esshood, sometimes it's purely social, but as my Initiator says, "We're never not Priest/esses." Everywhere we go, every interaction with fellow creatures, every word we say, the members of the CAYA Clergy are expected to conduct themselves with the respectful, reverent, and service-oriented comportment of a Priest/ess. That is not to say we can't be goofy. Oh, my goodness, no! There are plenty of deities who require such giddiness. However, it is to say that "Priest/ess" is not a mask or a role we can take off and put on at will or whim. It is a way of being and it is a lifelong commitment.

To me, serving as a Priest/ess is a natural expression of my authentic self. Looking back, I see it is how I have approached all areas of my life, from my home to the places where I've worked, and in every community in which I've served. Learning to be more mindful and intentional with this service-oriented approach has increased my pleasure and joy in life. It has deepened my feeling of contributing something worthwhile to the world. It has brought me to my home of homes.