A Weekend Around the Fire

For the first time since 2013, I was officially part of putting on ritual at a festival. I helped with the fire rituals at Crossroads. Over the years, as I've identified myself more strongly with the community, I've worked to help out with the rituals. However, prior to this event, I was not part of planning the rituals beforehand.

It felt good. I brought in one of the core lessons from Nonviolent Communication. I talked about the role of guilt and walked through an exercise for how we might approach feelings of guilt. We can work to understand our needs that generate the feeling; we can understand both how we wished we behaved and how we're actually behaving. We can work to understand the tradeoffs and to connect with all aspects of ourselves that come forward. Then we can either choose to change or actively choose not to change. Accepting guilt as a force that can help guide us without crippling us or making us small is one of the most important self-care lessons I have ever learned. Sharing that is not something I could have done from the side; it's something that I could do only by being involved in the planning.

This was a lot easier than 2013. For one thing, I was only one of the people planning the ritual rather than someone leading the effort. Also, that was a difficult ritual. We were trying to carry forward aspects of the Fires of Venus work even though it was clear that the community didn't have a lot of energy. As part of that, we wanted to have the ritual put together by a team of people who had not put on the previous event to symbolize transition and the power given to the community at the 2012 fires. As a result, none of us had experience leading ritual of this type. While I'm quite proud of that work, putting on ritual with an experienced team who work together well is a lot easier.

I look forward to working on ritual in the future. One thing I hope I can bring to the community is a focus on looking at the big picture and integrating things together. For example, at the Saturday ritual, we decided to use breath, brain, blood and bone as the elemental symbols. That symbology has been used for a number of rituals in this space. Typically in that symbol set, bone is used as a focus on ancestor work. The invocation in this ritual was the traditional ancestor-focused invocation we use. And yet in this ritual, bone was much more about the sensual aspects of our physicality. Perhaps we used the ancestor-based invocation because it has become a tradition in our work. I actually think that we did not consciously make a decision and as a result we introduced symbolic dissonance into the ritual. I don't know if we would have acted differently had been aware, but thinking about that sort of issue, looking across multiple rituals, and understanding how elements work together is something I'm good at. I want to be careful of course: I want to find a way to offer what I have without disrupting something that is already working really well.