Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Meditations on a Year

This week marks the first anniversary of the local Seattle CR Schmooze. We started meeting last January on second Mondays of every month and in that time we've developed a pretty solid core of about ten people who show up regularly, even if not every month. We've had several rituals outside of the monthly meetings as well. The group is composed of folks from a number of backgrounds, from people new to the Pagan community as a whole to folks who have moved on from ADF to a couple of what pass for "big names" in the CR movement. One of our number is a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies, which helps us immensely. We have people interested in Irish, Welsh and Scottish material and cultures. One of our number, the woman who had no previous exposure to the Pagan community, has become so enthusiastic for the culture and the material that she's joined a local Scots Gaelic class to learn the Gaidhlig language.

We are working on pieces of ritual for the group as a collective effort. We've done a vigil and blessing ritual for one of our number who was shipped out to Iraq last year and will be doing a welcoming home ritual when he returns late this year. We have explored different ritual formats and tried some guided meditation work together. We've shared book recommendations and meals together. We've held night-long vigils together and read stories from the corpus of traditional texts and tales. We head for a shared dinner at a nearby restaurant every month after our meeting for socializing. We've had a few incompatible people come and go.  We talk on LiveJournal and on our yahoogroup together from time to time outside of our formal times together. We have running in-jokes and repeating themes in our meetings.

Our group still has a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do in developing ritual and in working with Welsh deities, as most of our work has been with the Irish material so far. We're still at a very elemental level in sharing our private work together. But we have a schedule for the year so far that runs to Samhain, with topics to work on, ritual elements to write, and discoveries to make. We're getting together later this month for a Burns supper and looking for ways to grow closer to cultural traditions that aren't strictly spiritual as we explore our interests. 

In February, three of us will be presenting a panel discussion at PantheaCon in San Jose about the warrior ritual we performed, as a way to expand the dialogue with the larger community.  Two of us will be participating in another panel discussion on mysticism in reconstructionist religions. I'll be teaching two workshops down there; one on advanced topics in ogam, and the other an experiential workshop on meditative techniques derived from some of the filidecht materials. This will include the guided cosmological meditation created by one of our members who won't be able to attend, but who is working on a book on CR and the Gaelic warrior tradition.

I'm excited and very proud of our small group, not just for surviving the first year -- a milestone for any Pagan group -- but for how everyone is contributing to discussion and feedback, and how we're working to create community out of a small group of disparate individuals.

I'm looking forward to the coming year. I hope that we're blessed by continuing development in our work as a group, and in our own lives.