I was taught that setting the bone is a crucial part of being a priest/ess, a leader. That sometimes we have to hurt in order to heal. And I was also taught that truth often hurts. We couch so many things in white lies to salve someone’s feelings, to soothe it over, to make it hurt less. But those attempts to ease pain in the short term often cause longer term pain. In essence–sometimes the deepest form of compassion is to say the hard thing. It hurts in the short term, but it heals in the long term.
This is part 2 of my post on using singing, toning, chanting, and other ecstatic techniques for aspecting and trance possession in ritual. You’re really going to want to read Part 1, and you’ll also likely want to read this post on the theology/function of aspecting and trance possession.
Using ecstatic techniques of singing, dancing, and drumming to draw down deities or get possessed by spirits is both an old ritual technology and a new one. It’s been used for thousands of years and you see this in the tribal customs of many religions that have continued on to the present day.
It’s a technique that also has become used more and more in modern Pagan groups, though many Pagan groups have had to rediscover it since certain traditions didn’t seem to use any ecstatic processes for this ritual function. Thus, as these techniques are rediscovered, the old is new again. However, it means we have to re-look at these techniques and look at what will work for us in our own traditions and rituals, and what won’t. And it also serves to burrow down a bit into why it works.
When I was first exploring more casual relationships, this was also the first time that I was seeing/dating men in the Pagan community. I immediately ran into the social complexities of that. I had just finished the leadership program at Diana’s Grove, and I was realizing how very, very quickly a bad breakup could lead to disharmony. I think I managed to keep on good terms with most of those guys, but I recognized that the whole prospect was fraught with peril.
At Pantheacon, I was invited to be part of a panel on warding and ritual safety. I blogged about my thoughts on the topic, but here’s the video of the panel discussion at Pantheacon. It includes everything except the Q&A at the end. So…feel free to ask questions here if you like 🙂
I’ve been invited to be a panelist on the topic of Warding in Ritual at Pantheacon, which is the largest Pagan conference and takes place in a few weeks in San Jose, California. The folks organizing the panel worked to create an outline of questions and topics, which is very helpful for us panelists! Since I’m thinking about all of these questions, I thought I’d work up my responses as a blog post. In fact, it’s a 2-parter, because (as I tend to) I went into some depth.
Part of why I want to think about these questions a bit is because I’m a bit of the “devil’s advocate” on the panel. Meaning, I don’t really approach warding as a magical act. For me, it’s very pragmatic. In fact, I don’t even really call it warding. And yet, that piece of what I do in a ritual is still incredibly important and is still the foundation of an effective ritual.
My own 5-10-year plan is to have land of my own outside of Chicago; a seminary/monastery/temple/farm/cooperative living space. I want to help offer leadership training to Pagans who are looking for that, as well as have self-sustaining land.
But there’s a few challenges to building that infrastructure, and to fundraising for that. Some challenges are easier to overcome than others.
One of my great regrets as a Pagan organizer is that when I run an event, I’m often asking people to present or perform for free. Granted–I’m often presenting for free myself. But I still feel that people offering up a professional skill should be paid for their work.
Yet, I know how much most regular Pagan events pull in financially. I know that an event without a big name will probably bring in just enough to pay expenses.
On the other hand, I meet a lot of people, including Pagan organizers, that assume that any Pagan should offer their skills and talents for free, and I’m not ok with that. But how do we negotiate the gray area on this?
I’d be very interested in hearing about other fundraising options that have worked for you and your group in the past–perhaps I’ll feature those ideas in a future blog post.
Should Pagan teachers charge? How are we going to pay for all the Pagan events and initiatives out there? I see those questions come up a lot. I also see some Pagans viciously attack anyone who charges for classes or events.
Context is important, and I’d offer that there’s a range of what we mean when we say, charging for classes and services.
I charge for what I do. I travel and teach, I host events. There’s a cost–a hard cost (venue rental, gas money) and a soft cost (time).
I charge for readings too. But, I also do rather a lot for free. In fact, most of the time even when I’m charging, I’d say I ultimately end up at a financial loss.