Cedric's Pagan Thoughts

The spiritual meanderings of a NeoPagan shaman, an eclectic Wiccan, a Celtic musician, a world traveler, a bard, and an uncompromising cat-loving Bast-worshipper

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Ritual of the Spoons

A few days ago, I got an email from a friend in the New Bedford, MA, chapter of CUUPS, who requested info on a ritual I performed while I was visiting up there with my band, the Bedlam Bards.

I first performed this ritual when I was a member of the Circle of Celestial Dance, and then I performed it as a guest with that CUUPS group. I revamped it slightly for publication in the Rising Wind. Here is its most recent incarnation. I hope you enjoy it:

I should mention that the ritual is most effective if the participants don’t know what to expect.

Materials needed:

a potluck of mushy foods, such as shepherd’s pie, mashed potatoes, bread pudding, and so on (ask participants to bring these dishes to the ritual)

several large bowls of water, perhaps with a small amount of vinegar or rum in each

a roll of paper towels

one long-handled spoon for each participant (the person conducting the ritual should provide these—I made a supply by attaching wooden serving spoons to half-inch dowels with masking tape)

a sheet or groundcloth you don’t mind getting dirty (if the ritual is to be performed indoors)

Set up:

Place the groundcloth in the center of the ritual space, and place the potluck foods on the ground cloth. Position the water bowls evenly between the bowls of food. Place the spoons where you can get to them during the ritual, but keep them concealed from view. Position any altars you typically use.

The Ritual Proper:

Cast circle according to your preference and the customs of your tradition; and invoke deities appropriate to the season and festivity.

Once the participants are gathered and circle is cast, tell this story:

Some time ago there lived in Greece a man who was an initiate of the mysteries, not only those of Kore and Demeter at Eleusis, but those of Mithras, Isis, and Osiris as well. It came to pass that he awoke one night in a great panic, and his wife, a wise and noble priestess, asked him what was the cause of his outcry and why he had awoke in such a sweat.

“In truth, I will tell you,” he said. “For I was visited in my dreams by Hermes Thrice-Blessed, and he has shown me wondrous visions. I have seen the depths of Hades, where the unenlightened suffer after death, and I have seen the Summerlands, where the virtuous await reincarnation.”

“Tell me of the realm below,” the priestess said. “What was it like?”

“In that place, there is a great feast laid out upon a long table, with all manner of foods and delicacies as far as my eyes could see. And yet there is no joy, for to each feaster’s arm is strapped a spoon with a handle so long that no elbow can bend. A guest at that table might scoop up food, but never will it reach the feaster’s lips. That realm is a place of torment.”

“But what of the Elysian Fields, the Summerlands? Tell me of that fair place.”

The dreamer sighed. “It is in some ways much like the darker realm, for in it, many are called to a great feast with dishes and delicacies as fine as those I saw at the earlier meal. And likewise each feaster has a long-handled spoon strapped to each arm, so they are similarly hampered. Yet it is a place of great joy.”

“How is joy possible,” asked the priestess, “when the feasters cannot feed themselves?”

“It is very simple,” replied the dreamer. “Each feaster feeds another.”

Pause for a moment to let the story’s point sink in, then continue with these words:

“As we celebrate together, let us honor not only the gifts the Lord and Lady give us, but also the gifts we give each other. And to help us remember the lesson the ancient dreamer learned, I have brought long-handled spoons with which we will feed one another.”

Hand out the spoons (but don’t strap them to anyone’s arms), and invite the participants to sit down on the ground to feast. The bowls of water are there for the spoons to be dipped in between serving, both for purposes of sanitation and to keep the mashed potatoes out of the chocolate mousse. The paper towels are there for the same reasons.

Once the feasting is done and all participants have laughed at least once, close the circle according to your personal preference or the customs of your tradition.

Closing note: It's my plan to post to this blog about once a week, but I thought I'd kickstart it with a double post. :-)

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This Title is False

My name is not Cedric. However, I’m called “Cedric” by a lot of people, and I’ve decided to title this blog Cedric’s Pagan Thoughts. Get it? It’s not my name, but it’s who I am.

Anyway, some of the posts in this blog will be reprints of articles I wrote for the now-defunct Rising Wind magazine. Some posts will be music and movie reviews with a Pagan bent. Some will be descriptions of actual rituals I’ve performed or been involved with. Some will be classes I’ve written. Finally, some posts will simply be rants and explorations of my spiritual thoughts.

I suppose that I should start by telling a little about myself. I’m a freelance writer/editor by trade and a professional musician by passion. (You can learn more about my band at www.BedlamBards.com). The son of two Unitarian-Universalists, I’ve been a detached student of comparative religion and mythology all my life—yet I’ve also been a spiritual seeker as well.

My teen rebellion involved becoming a fundamentalist Christian and joining the Assembly of God church. My parents' reaction included taking me to many different churches and making me read about many religions. I hated it then, but it did give me a broad religious education that I cherish to this day. (I’ll tell more about that experience in a later post.)

As an adult, I’ve investigated many religious paths and explored a few first-hand. I’ve studied Wicca with both the American Tradition of the Goddess and the Sybilline Order. I studied shamanism with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. I’m a founding member of the Circle of the Compass Star, a small Wiccan group that is nonheirarchic, eclectic, and egalitarian.

I have a deep respect for any honest spiritual seeker, and I feel I have more in common with a devout Buddhist or Christian than I do with a hypocritical Pagan. We’re all on our own paths to the same destination. Spirituality is a room with many doors, or perhaps a freeway with many on-ramps.

Oh, and here's the obligatory line about where and how I live: I live in a quaint cottage in the Lost Pines of Bastrop County, Texas, with (at the time of writing) five cats, three hens, two rats, a dog, a guinea, a snake, and a beautiful incarnation of the Goddess.