1.Keep a journal of your work directing five rituals, at least two of which must be ADF High Day rituals and all of which must include five or more total celebrants who have been assigned parts. Submit an essay in which you describe how you directed the celebrants in the following ritual performance elements, and what you learned over the period you journaled. (600 words minimum for essay)
e.Use of ritual space
f.Use of props
Overall, I have to say that I am lucky to have the group of ritualists in my Grove. The majority of them are good ritualists and have been doing good rituals for many years. This means that the direction we needed was very minimal. The rituals that were covered in this course were Summer Solstice which was a small, outside ritual, Lughnassadh which was a large outside ritual, Fall Equinox which was a small outside ritual, Veterans Day which was a small indoor ritual with no script, and Yule which was a small indoor ritual.
For the small outdoor rituals, movement turned out to not be an issue for anyone. They were instructed to either step forward from their spot in the circle, or come up to the alter (located on the edge of the circle) and speak their parts. They were also told what sacrifices were to be used, and where they go. There really was not much extra movement, including gesturing, than was required. For the indoor rituals, movement was really restricted as we were doing them around tables. This also limited the use of gestures to just raising up the sacrifices and making the sacrifices. The one outdoor large ritual was the only one that really needed any kind of direction, and the ritualists did a good job. They went as instructed to the center of the ritual space (a circle about 20 feet across) and did their part either before or after retrieving their sacrifice (their choice). They then moved to where the sacrifice was to be made and made the sacrifice. The gesturing was kept to a minimum, usually raising up the sacrifice while talking about it or making it, and there really was not much wandering around as happens in large spaces. Overall, the direction for intentional movement was minimal as everyone already knew what to do.
Vocal Projection and Diction
For the small rituals, when combined with the placement of the person speaking, these were really not an issue. Everyone was able to do proper diction, and enunciate the ritual just fine, and nobody complained about not being able to hear or understand the ritual, be it indoors or outdoors. The large outdoor ritual was my concern going in. We were lucky in that it was not a windy day, and we were in a relatively quiet (apart from an infant that made their noises) area. Everyone that was doing a part had no issues with diction and annunciation. The one slight problem was due to the placement of where they spoke, the center of the circle. This is a known issue with performing in the round though, and almost everyone did turn to make sure everyone heard them (part of the intentional movement), but not to the point of being distracting.
Use of Ritual Space
With the exception of the one large ritual, our ritual space tends to be small. As a result, we tend to use the entire space. In the case of the indoor rituals, we don't have space to really move around, so everything is set up on the table so everyone can get to them easily without having to physically move much. This means that the only time we really had to worry about using the entirety of the ritual space was the one big outdoor ritual. The way we set this up was to have the alter and sacrifices at one side of the circle, and the fire at the other side. We then used the whole space by doing the speaking in the center of the circle, and making the sacrifices at either end. This required moving with intention and people knowing what they were sacrificing before they did their part, which was laid out before the ritual began.
Use of Props
My grove does not really use that many props. The ones we do use, we have been using in the same way for ages that it is second nature to us all on how to use them. The purification props (incense and water) have become tradition to pass around the circle and then place on or near the alter. The other purification prop (ego jar) is also passed around and set outside of the ritual space. The hallows are also made prominent and used when hallowing them, and opening the gates. The only other prop that is used (unless you consider sacrifices to be props) is the idol of our patron, whom we make a sacrifice to during the ritual. Overall, we make sure that we use the props that are set out, use them for one purpose, and don't put stuff out that would be there only as a distraction. There really was no need for direction on their use.
This is the only place where there were problems. The majority of my grove's members were already good ritualists prior to me doing this course. Most of us have been working together for multiple years, and we all know the general ritual style that we perform. These people were able to receive the ritual text, take a part, and make it their own. One thing I always say to my grove is that the script is just a guideline and that I would prefer them to speak from their heart if they can. This has lead them to internalize the meaning of what they are saying, and get it across in a more personal and powerful way. So, for almost all of our ritualists, text internalization was not an issue.
One of the members of the grove has difficulty with memory, and is not confident in being able to speak extemporaneously. This is really the one person and one area that I had to focus on during this course. At first, I tried assigning the part weeks in advance and this did not work. They didn't look at the ritual, or spend time trying to learn their part beforehand. When we had a small, grove only ritual (Veterans Day) where we all are comfortable with each other and friends, we did an extemporaneous ritual, but assigned parts at the start in a round-robin fashion. The hope was that being forced to make something up as we went, they would be able to pull stuff out from deep in their memory. This didn't really work that well. They did their parts, but it was full of stops and corrections as they were speaking. It did work, but it became obvious that they need to have the part prepared and in front of them in order to do the rituals. So, we did written scripts again for the last ritual, and this time I assigned parts to them that I knew they would have a strong connection with (eg their patron). This too did not get past the reading from the script. I believe that due to their memory issues, that I could work on this for a long time (and I had been working on this prior to doing this course) and it will not dramatically improve. There is one more thing I will be trying in the future (not as part of this course) and that will be to have them write their parts beforehand, and use what they wrote in the script. Maybe, if they are using their own words, they will be able to better internalize the text. I would love to take the time to work with them one on one, in private, but both of us have busy schedules and it is difficult enough to find time for the monthly business meeting and the regular rituals, scheduling practice is not in the cards at this time.
2.Write an essay describing how you selected celebrants for ritual parts in the above 5 ritual performances and reflect upon your selections following each ritual performed. (minimum 200 words)
The part were assigned a couple different ways. For the first 2 rituals, the parts were assigned when the script was sent out. This meant that I was assigning the parts far in advance. What I considered for these cases was what connection the person had with what we were calling in that part. I tried to put the person that I knew had a strong connection with that part. This was mostly for the parts calling deities where I placed people that had them as patrons to do that part. The rest were assigned to spread them out as needed and to make sure that no one person was doing a large chunk of the ritual.
For the second two rituals, these were done round-robin style. This got everyone at the ritual doing parts. This was possible because both rituals were small (about 6 people each). This was done with an eye to making the being of the occasion offerings being on a person that had a strong connection. The participants were told at the start what their parts were so there wouldn't be a surprise (in case they didn't remember the COoR).
The last ritual the parts were assigned at the pre-ritual briefing. Again, the deity parts were assigned to those that had those deities as patrons, but the rest was up to who was comfortable with doing that part at the time of the ritual.
Overall, how the parts were assigned did not make a difference in the quality and outcome of the ritual. With the exception of the one person mentioned above, or in two of the rituals where one of the ritualists were not regular attendees, everyone did a decent job on everything, including the internalization of the text. My grove has found that providing a ritual script as a handout for the ritual has aided those that are not regular attendees, even if they are not doing a part, follow along and understand what we are trying to do. I am blessed in that everyone that I worked with on this were already relatively skilled ritualists and did not need much direction.
I did not find that there was any difference in the way the ritual turned out based off of who was assigned to what part. I believe that by making the assignments to the deity parts based off the the connections that the person has with the deity has worked, and plan to continue doing such. If we do find that we have time to practice and assign parts long in advance, I will do that, but in reality that is not practical at this time.
As I want to be equal opportunity for all those that are present though, and I strongly feel that everyone should participate as much as they can, my grove is going to go back to assigning the parts at the time of the ritual. My opinion is that even if we have one or two people reading from a script, the act of them doing the part and making the sacrifice for the group is much more important than what they say and whether or not it was internalized or just read.