The event was Four Quarters Drum and Splash, a veritable feast of dancing, drumming, singing, and swimming, all over the US Independence Day weekend. I don’t remember the year, but it’s some time ago now. Ten years? Twelve? A long time ago.
The ritual team had talked for a long time about this ceremony, main ceremony for the festival. The team talked over the fact that Drum and Splash was one of the low-ceremony festivals at Four Quarters of the time. It wasn’t Stones Rising—the high holy week of the community—and it wasn’t Beltaine or Samhain—events specifically around Pagan holidays. Drum and Splash was about the magic of music, of bodies moving, and people clapping. Of appreciation and encouragement. Of excellence and beginning. Of the doumbek and the dundun. Of belly dancing and wild bonfire improve.
And so we didn’t do the ceremony the way we had in the past.
We made it a ceremony of the Crossroads. A ceremony honoring the distances people traveled to come to the festival. We made it a ceremony highlighting the differences that came together in people’s expertise and inclination. We made a ceremony of performance, appreciation, and the gift of making the performance.
The Divine, as we invited It into our Circle, was the Divine Performer, the Holy Music, and the Sacred Hearer. Later in our work together, we would often call the Divine as Male, Female, Both, and Neither. But in this ceremony, We were Three.
We manifested the Quarters with long streamers of yellow, red, blue, and green coming from the central altar to the edges. Every participant—and there were at least 200—left the Circle with a small stone, an image of that crossroads, marked in our lives and histories, marked in the streamers crossing and uncrossing, and marked in tiny lines of colored paint.
For years, I have seen those stones on people’s personal altars. For years, I have remembered the ceremony. I remember the look of the sun through the trees coming down into the grove and across my face as I called on the Holy Music of the Universe.
The little stones, though, remind me not only of the ceremony, but of the practice of ritual, the importance of creativity, and the beauty of difference in community. The little painted stones remind me of the young woman called Joan of Arc, who painted so many of them with her partner. Tiny brushes. Four colors. Each stone with four lines crossed around a center.
The little stones remind me of the beauty of community work, of coming together, each to have a part, each to be included, each to be invited.
There were people who offered celebrants incense as they came into the Circle. There were people sprinkling lightly scented water. There were the four who unwound the streamers of the Quarters. There were the three who called the Divine-Holy-Sacred into our Circle. There was the one who “cut” the space of the Circle. There were all who sang and danced and drummed us out back into “the world,” the place of time.
Just so, each of us has our own personal practice. Mine usually has lots of ritual, lots of smells and bells, as it were.
But sometimes it is simply silence in the dark.
Sometimes it is looking at image until that image is imprinted on my heart.
Sometimes it is writing, writing, writing until I learn what song my heart is singing.
What might work for you?
What might you discover about practice, its fruits and joys, if we were to talk about it, if we were to share some time together?
Consider, won’t you, looking into Discovery and Deepening, the upcoming class I’m offering? More than a class, it will be a discussion group, a way of sharing, a place to learn and grow and, most of all, experiment.
Learn more about it here, and let me know whether you have any questions.
Many blessings on you and on your house –