Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Doodling in Class: "The Animist's Bellwether"


Call it necessary multi-tasking, call it lingering adolescent rebellion. Whatever it may have been, I doodled in the High Priest's "class" this week, sketching out something I envisioned many months ago when I was first handed the gift from the Bovini. It has taken awhile, but I have finally drawn it up so that the idea is extracted from vision into material. It was a doodl-ey, exercise in commitment & focusing intent. Or something.

bellwether |ˈbelˌweðər|nounthe leading sheep of a flockwith a bell on its neck.• an indicator or predictor of something 
harbingerheraldindicatorpredictor.  -- Apple Dictionary 

"A bellwether is any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happeningsThe term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight."  -- Wikipedia

"The Animist's Bellwether"  Or more accurately, this animists bellwether.
"The Animist's Bellwether"
Or more accurately, this animists bellwether.

I don't pretend to know what an animist should "do." Animism is such a personal art form. I just do what I do because it makes complete sense. (Sometimes I am not so sure it makes sense, but I get this feeling I should do it anyway.) However, I have been thinking for quite a long time about group practice & the special requirements thereof. It is all fine & dandy for me to take my feral self, my mate & my younglings out for improv -- we like it that way. But, what if I/we were to share the ceremony-ing with others?

After going 'round & 'round, I have acquiesced to the fact that human groups like choreographed "ritual." Most humans are habit-ists. This is a slightly bitter pill for the intuitive, spontaneous, somewhat disorderly urchin under my skin, but yield I must if I ever want to share the communing with community. Dutifully, I work away at the task of assembling a very simple set of meaningful, symbolic (or not-so-symbolic) actions that could be used to compose a ceremonial formula worthy of representing animist beliefs & values. (Or, at the very least, this particular animist's beliefs & values.)

The "Bellwether"* (pictured above) is the first step in this formula. 

Unlike the common use of bells to mark commencement of a rite to group members, the Bellwether is used for extra-group communication. The idea is taken from my personal experiences with bells during last winter's Night-Altar work & what I feel is a natural desire to draw attention to our entrance, arrival, availability, affability & interest in communicating with, celebrating, honouring, etc., the other-than-human world. 

I am not so foolish as to think that a gaggle of humanoids processing here or there goes unnoticed. In fact, I am certain it is quite the opposite. Consequently, the Bellwether's principal function in this formula is not to announce the arrival of the herd, but rather to express our awareness & availability. It indicates that we are initiating & entering a unique occasion. It says, "Please pardon us. We know You know we're here. But today, we're not just passing through, absentmindedly doing our people-things. Today, we are here for You. Care to join us?

With this in mind, perhaps it would be more accurately described as a doorbell -- for Them & for us. Whether They decide to accept our invitation is another matter.


* I really like this word(!). "Bellwether" possesses so many layers of meaning, nearly all of which can be applied in this usage. More elaborate definitions are available & I could prattle on about it at length, but really, this post isn't about my love of semantics.

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