The Satyr Game

I haven’t done group ritual in years, so I haven’t had cause to remember it for some time, but this came up at the Filled With Frenzy bebakcheumenion ritual at Many Gods West this weekend. Sometimes it takes people a bit to let go and give in to the frenzy and the ecstasy, and I find this is a good way to help them. I learned this weekend that it's also a good way to redirect someone who's a little too far into it and has fixated on someone or something that's inappropriate. I generally play the game as a maenad to a satyr, but both the game and those roles work well regardless of gender. It's ever so simple. I come up to someone, hands out, and say "Dance with me!" They don't need to take my hands, just to dance. Move faster and faster, preferable whirling in circles. Then I suddenly say "Chase me!" and turn and run, laughing. I had yet to have anyone fail to chase. Some instinct takes over, the unexpectedness of it surprises them into following, and before they know it, they've let go. I generally run as far as I'm up for, then "stumble" and slow, grab hold of them as they grab hold of me, and start dancing again....

Dead August

I've been feeling a strong pull to work more and more with the Dead this year. Between the Dionysian Dead theme (most of which was behind the scenes) for the Filled With Frenzy ritual and my own tradition of August being the Dead Time (which has multiple meanings), I've been putting off getting really deeply into it until the start of August. Now I'm devoting August to work with the Dead: the Dionysian Dead, the Hekataian Dead, the Ancestors, the Many Dead of the Litany. Any Dead. I kicked it off with the ritual group Bakcheion's private offerings and prayers to the Dead on Friday Night. I dressed in what became my "adventuring clothes" for the weekend, a black shirt with many tiny silver foil stars and black leggings with rhinestones up the side seams, plus my Dead Mask, a custom piece by my friend Dmitri at Tormented Artifacts made specifically for my ritual work with the Dead. I found myself at the lead of our procession (oops, I hadn't looked up where the park was; I put myself in the hands of Hekate, and found it anyhow). Originally, this had been a thing I meant to do for myself ahead of time. I told Sannion I was doing it, and he said, "Can I come?" Sure, I told him. "Can other people come?" Sure, but I don't write rituals for people, I'm just going to make the offering and say the prayers and that's it. "That's fine." Only we got to where I decided we were going, and I turned around and everyone was staring at me, expectantly. Well, shit. So I took the verses of the Litany that I wanted to use for the night, and made them a call-and-response. We pray to the Many Dead We pray to the Many Dead All over the world and throughout history All those who have gone before me We remember you, and hold you in my prayers We pray to the Many Dead We pray to the Many Dead We pray to the Beloved Dead We pray to the Beloved Dead Our ancestors of flesh and spirit 
We remember the names of those We knew We praise those whose names have been lost to me We pray to the Beloved Dead We pray to the Beloved Dead We pray to the Blessed Dead We pray to the Blessed Dead Those who lived great lives 
Those who were the chosen of gods 
May you continue in joy and glory below We pray to the Blessed Dead We pray to the Blessed Dead We pray to the Restless Dead We pray to the Restless Dead You whose names go unspoken You who died with things undone May you find release at last 
We pray to the Restless Dead We pray to the Restless Dead We pray to the Dionysian Dead We pray to the Dionysian Dead To the Children of Earth and Starry Heaven Whom we hope someday to join May you revel forever at our Lord’s side We pray to the Dionysian Dead We pray to the Dionysian DeadWe pray to the Many Dead We pray to the Many Dead All over the world and throughout history All those who have gone before us We remember you, and hold you in our prayers We pray to the Many Dead We pray to the Many Dead I told them that I had an offering, a promise, to make to the Dead, that anyone who wished to was welcome to repeat the lines after me, but that it was heavy, and they might not want to. Much to my surprise, two or three of them joined in, repeating each line without knowing what the next might be. I pray to the Silent Dead You have no voice; use my tongue to speak You have nothing not given to you; take my offerings You are with us always; let me know you I pray to the Silent Dead Which is scary, when you think about it, but that's what this August is about for me. And then I had done everything I meant to do, and they were still all staring at me. So I asked them if anyone else wanted to say anything to the Dead. That seemed to work. I performed the Invitation to the Dionysian Dead at the main ritual, too. Blessed Dead! Who walked, parched, past the river! Who found the spring of Memory! Who knew to say that you were Children of Earth and Starry Heaven! We are children of the same parents! We cannot yet come drink with you. We invite you to come and dance with us now! So that worked well for me. Sunday was wrapping up with Bakcheion and some Starry Bull stuff and...

Exhaustion After Frenzy

Wow. I'm home from Many Gods West, and completely exhausted. I spent the entire weekend completely focused on the ritual, and on the preparatory and finishing rituals our group did for ourselves. The only thing I caught was the last half of Rhyd Wildermuth's talk. No workshops, no anything. That's ok, that's all I meant to do. When I'm in a social situation that's scary for me, the best possible thing is to have Something To Do. At parties, I head for the kitchen and make something. The Chocolate Party Trick (melt chocolate in a double boiler, dip things in it, pop them in the freezer to set, and then distribute) is a favorite. For MGW, it was the ritual. The ritual itself was awesome, in the old sense. Truly amazing. And on Sunday, when I got to do a bit of socializing, it made a great conversation topic. Everyone who went loved it and complimented us on it. A few notes, largely for myself: Most of my job during the ritual itself was simply to check in with people. I discovered that a really good way to do this was to walk around with a bunch of grapes, and offer to feed them individually to people, with the simple phrase "a gift from the god". I could check pupils, assess them, connect to them without necessarily touching them. It worked beautifully. I discovered on Friday night, when we meant to make offerings to the Dead, that the Litany to the Many Dead converts well to call-and-response, simply by having them repeat the "We pray to the ____ Dead" lines after me. Playing Satyr (explanatory post later this week) works really well not only to get someone into satyr headspace and into the ritual, it gets those who witness it further into it. It also works well to refocus someone deep in trance who needs to be distracted from an inappropriate direction (we had somebody try to follow the maenads on their chase, which would have been bad). Ooof. I'm going to crash again now....