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.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 6: Offerings. (More? Really?)

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.

Back to the business of documenting the Summer Solstice Ceremony -- no doubt with further interruption as life continues & other things also demand a voice...

Once I reach the point when this chronicle is complete, I will set all the pieces in a separate place in this blog where they can be easily accessed. I'm sure that once they are collated, so to speak, they will make more sense to someone wanting to use this as a model.

offering |ˈôf(ə)ri ng; äf-|nouna thing offered, esp. as a gift or contribution animals as sacrificial offerings.• a thing produced or manufactured for entertainment or sale :Hollywood's latest offerings for the European market.• a contribution, esp. of money, to a church.• a thing offered as a religious sacrifice or token of devotion. -- Apple Dictionary

Animas Ceremony Officiants with  Floral & Fungal Offerings. See also Art Eggs in background.
Animas Ceremony Officiants with
Floral & Fungal Offerings. See also
Art Eggs in background.
Offerings. Just who or what exactly do they serve? How do we classify them? Or, as I like to ask, should we? I believe that the effort of creating & providing ceremony can be an offering in itself. That is, some ceremonies are just fancy packaging for countless smaller offerings. The Invitation to Passion ceremony in its entirety was really one juicy, oversized offering -- the kind you for which get a pilot car and banners -- for our gods, the spirits & for our people

A brief aside: Sometimes I get the sense that humans who practice modern forms of animism forget the human-human side of relationship. Folks get wrapped up in summoning spirits, communing with corvids or talking with trees & take their relationships with other humans for granted (perhaps even as obligatory). Being a human animal is being part of the human social system (at least marginally) & being human is necessary to our part in other animistic relationships. In other words, don't deny who you are & don't forget your kin. Tend to your relationships.

Back to the subject at hand. Offerings, in this particular ceremony provided several important functions:

  • The offerings served their most conventional function as gratitude gifts & enticement for the spirits of Passion & their associated entities, in the context of the invocation.
  • The offerings served as a mechanism for self-expression & social bonding by providing opportunities to create art-objects together in groups & the company of others.
  • The offerings, as aesthetic elements, created atmosphere for the ceremony environment.
  • The offerings amplified the ceremonial experience by providing a multi-sensory adventure & reinforcing the symbolism, primary themes & intent of the ceremony.

Our offerings, in addition to the Art Bowls already discussed at length, included (but I am sure I will forget some):

    Offerings: Eighty-ish Art Eggs
    Offerings: Eighty-ish Art Eggs
  • Art Eggs: Eighty or so hollow hen's eggs blown over the course of several months & then hand decorated & charged/blessed/imbued during a gathering over dinner, drinks & discussion of Passion (or Star Trek, or whatever other rabbit holes). These eggs were placed in the central Officiant's bowl & poured onto the sand to be trampled into the circle during the dance. These eggs captured the eye & imagination, gave a gentle clacking to the close of the ceremony & gave an irresistible crunch underfoot.

    Animas Ceremony Officiants with Offering Bowls
    Animas Ceremony Officiants with Floral Offerings
    Photo credit HPS CC.
  • Florals & Fungals: Boxes & boxes of dried flowers & fungi were collected from family gatherings, public rites of passage ceremonies, household shrines, funerals, florist friends, etc. The flowers were used as offerings in four of the Officiants bowls & also the containers carried by two of the dancers for Fire Offerings. They were also abundantly distributed across the ceremonial area & ecstatic dance circle. The florals added to the visual, aromatic & tactile atmosphere & contributed to at least one improvisational ritual.

Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for
Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Photo credit HPS CC.

Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for  Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for
Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Photo credit HPS CC.

Additional baskets of Floral offerings used throughout the evening.
Additional baskets of Floral offerings used throughout the evening.

  • Home Brew & Cakes: A Lychee Cider was brewed specifically for this event. It was used by two dancers as Fire Offerings while the remainder of the cornelius keg was shared with the community as refreshment. We baked several Chocolate Chipotle cakes, some of which (I hope) were offered to the fire, most of which fueled the revelry & fed hungry dancers. In bear country, we must be sensible -- offerings made on the ground must be limited to things which will not serve as an attractant to our Ursidae neighbors. Thusly, the food in this ceremony was restricted to the fire & our bellies. Food & drink, are of course, traditional/old school offerings which please the spirits, our senses & satisfy the human body in numerous ways.

  • Music & Dance: The music, which was carefully collected & arranged by our DJ Magus, has already been discussed in detail in Trust Your People: The Magus (DJ, that is). The dance, thoughtfully choreographed by our teacher & the troupe has also already been discussed in Trust Your People: The Choreographer. My point in mentioning them here is to stress the point that these too were offerings, the dance being perhaps the central or key offering for the entire ceremony. Both served to please the spirits, create atmosphere, facilitate a sensory shift & allow for self-expression, among other things.
Resh K'eljesh Dance Offering for  Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Resh K'eljesh making a Dance Offering during
Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Photo credit PCC AK Facebook Page.

  • Poetry: Poetry was recited by the Officiants during the ceremonial Invoc/Evoc/Invit-ation. Each Officiant carefully selected their personal Offering-of-Words. In my opinion, this was very likely the most potent & moving portion of the ceremony (although I am sure some may argue that the dance was a fair contender). The poems spoke volumes about each individual & their relationship to Passion. In this way, they were presenting themselves very personally & with vulnerability, before the spirits & our people. Obviously, like the music & dance, the poetry was presented to please the spirits & allow for self-expression, as well as reinforce the symbolism, primary themes & intent of the ceremony. At the risk of receiving further messages to the complaints department, I will present the sacred poetry in a separate post as an appendix to this Offerings post.

  • Incense: Finally, let us not forget the primal olfactory. Among the most ancient & widespread of offerings, incense is a mainstay. Copious copal pleases, transports & transforms. Enough said. 


brian taylor said...

Once again I'm impressed with the care, love, energy, and fun, you evidently put into this ceremony. Re your aside, and as your documentation of the event reminds us, yes, of course, relations with other humans are pivotal. But all the 'work' we put into them, even the fun stuff, can be difficult to share publically, for a variety of reasons (good and bad). I hope that's the main reason why your fellow animists don't appear to be writing about them :).

Have a Happy Autumn Equinox


Moma Fauna said...

Thank you! It was a service & I aim to please.
The intimacy of human-human relationships is certainly cause for a want of privacy, yet it does not seem to stop people from airing their interpersonal *grievances* at length. Funny, isn't it? But yes, I also do not go on about my people relationships in public detail. My aside had more to do with the driving premise for the ceremony which was to draw in/draw upon Passion *for the benefit of our people.* This being in contrast to many animist activities which are more often geared towards honouring, regognizing, healing, etc. an "other" (for lack of a better term). In this situation, I was answering a pressing call(?) to serve the people, as opposed to say, the "Earth Mother" or the "Land" or some spirit beings of a particular sort. I hope that makes a wee bit more sense. ;)
May you have a lovely Equinox as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh my...this is just beautiful, like a trip in words and pictures, a virtual breath of fresh air! The ceremony must've been amazing. No detail was spared, even down to those wonderful baskets, especially that pine needle one holding Dancer's floral and fungal offerings (I make baskets of all kinds, including pine needle ones, and there is at least 20 hours in that one for sure). There is no substitute for a sincere investment of communal time, joy, and love.

Moma Fauna said...

Ah! I always wondered about that basket -- my husband brought that home from I-don't-know-where a couple of years ago. He has knack for finding such things. Just looking at it you can tell there was a great deal of work put into it. It might be grass though. We use it as a fruit basket -- perhaps we shouldn't. >.<

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