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Author Topic: Ritual aftercare  (Read 2549 times)

Jenett

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Ritual aftercare
« on: September 01, 2011, 06:24:39 pm »
Discussion else-thread made me start my commentary about how I think many Pagan groups do a lousy job with ritual aftercare, and how we could - by taking some relatively simple steps - do a whole lot better. Then I decided it deserved its own thread.

So, to get started, some questions to get conversation going...

1) What does ritual aftercare mean to you?

2) When is it necessary? (Personal ritual? Group ritual? High-intensity group ritual? Other times?)

3) What bits of ritual aftercare do you look for in a competent ritual leader? Which bits don't matter as much to you?

4) Are there aspects of aftercare that you particularly feel strongly about? Things you think are overdone?

5) And for those of you who've got experience as teachers or ritual leaders: what do you consider your own obligations to appropriate aftercare to be? Do you still feel some obligation if you're a guest at a ritual (say something large and public?) but not in charge?

Please share whatever springs to mind for you: I'll come and chime in with my own thoughts eventually, but I'd love to hear other people's thoughts first, because I'm curious about which of my experiences are more broadly shared.

Questions also totally welcome.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2011, 06:32:39 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;17212


 
I have no comment of great substance to respond with right now, but I am reminded of the Esoteric Post-Ritual Grounding Technique of the Morningstar tradition, as taught by T. Thorn Coyle.

After your energy work, your circle-dismissal, or whatever else, you stand, feet slightly apart, pay attention to your breathing, and once you have achieved that place of stillness...

... lift your hands ...

... place them upon your head ...

... and begin to sing:

"HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES, KNEES AND TOES"

complete with the appropriate ritual gestures.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

SatSekhem

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Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2011, 08:42:53 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;17212



 
I've never been to a public ritual. In fact, this upcoming PPD in MA is my first pagan-oriented event. So, I don't really know what I would want when it came to proper aftercare. To be honest, it's been so long since I've done energy work (mostly because I like to, you know, stunt my energy) that I can't even remember how to ground properly. So, if I'm at a ritual and someone yells, as you guys mentioned, "don't forget to ground" I'll be the dumbass looking around with panic forming in my eyes.
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Tana

Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 01:30:55 am »
Quote from: Jenett;17212
Discussion else-thread made me start my commentary about how I think many Pagan groups do a lousy job with ritual aftercare, and how we could - by taking some relatively simple steps - do a whole lot better. Then I decided it deserved its own thread.

So, to get started, some questions to get conversation going...

1) What does ritual aftercare mean to you?



A topic that does not touch the life of a solitaire too much.

I'm glad I don't have to worry about people walking around in traffic in a still-buzzing energy state. Or having an after-ritual high and don't know how to take care about it.

It's a lot responsibility.

For myself, I let the energy linger a bit.
After cleaning up and eating something, it's mostly back to normal.
The only time I collected amounts of energy that really needed grounding, was when I did some online coordinated work with a group via chat.

It's really surprising how much energy a few people can raise in a virtually frame.
\'You had to repay, good or bad. There was more than one type of obligation.
That’s what people never really understood.….Things had to balance.
You couldn’t set out to be a good witch or a bad witch. It never worked out for long.
All you could try to be was a witch, as hard as you could.\'
Terry Pratchett \'Lords and Ladies\'

Confuzzled and proud. :p

Jenett

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Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 07:01:36 am »
Quote from: Jenett;17212


 
I'm going to come back and talk more about this tonight, but based on comments, here's a something to think about - for me, aftercare is really about "make sure people do not have unexpected (particularly negative) outcomes from ritual, and are safe to handle the pragmatic things they need to do (get themselves home, function at their job the next day, whatever)."

There's lots of ways to do that - and I love the one Darkhawk quotes because it's a great combo of realigning people with their physical bodies while breaking the "this is all Very Serious And Deep work mindset that can sometimes happen with ecstatic work, which a number of people have a hard time letting go of. (It is, however, not one that is in a style that works for me, so I use other techniques.)

So, given that - any other thoughts? I'll come back and do deeper discussion after work.
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Tana

Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 08:21:15 am »
Quote from: Jenett;17344

So, given that - any other thoughts? I'll come back and do deeper discussion after work.

 
When a friend of mine had her Reiki attunement, the teacher would break the solemn mood on the last day by putting ABBA in the CD player and let it play at high volume. :D: I think stuff like this is pretty good too.
\'You had to repay, good or bad. There was more than one type of obligation.
That’s what people never really understood.….Things had to balance.
You couldn’t set out to be a good witch or a bad witch. It never worked out for long.
All you could try to be was a witch, as hard as you could.\'
Terry Pratchett \'Lords and Ladies\'

Confuzzled and proud. :p

monsnoleedra

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Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2011, 08:49:46 am »
Quote from: Jenett;17344
..So, given that - any other thoughts? I'll come back and do deeper discussion after work.


It's been years since I've been part of a formal open air ritual but at the time we camped out.  So the ritual, I'm not Wiccan so we didn't use circles or quarters or watchtower type things, was closed and people broke down into smaller groups and had thier meals, generally talked about what had happened or other post ritual type things.

Though I do agree the post ritual aftercare is something seldom mentioned in most books or in many of the groups I had dealings with.

Jenett

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Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2011, 08:10:35 pm »
So, let me answer my own questions

Quote from: Jenett;17212

1) What does ritual aftercare mean to you?


Most fundamentally, that people leave the ritual without being more broken than when they came in. Tired is fine. Lots of things to think about is fine. Having had an intense emotional experience is fine.

But - barring advance warning - they should be able to get themselves home safely, get a reasonable amount of sleep, function the next day doing whatever they need to do, etc.

(There are times when that advance warning may be appropriate - an initiation, for example, tends to be a multi-day or even multi-week adjustment. And of course, people with chronic medical stuff may have to adjust for circumstance - these days, I'm always more tired post-ritual than I'd ideally like to be, but it's a fair trade off for being in ritual.)

Quote
2) When is it necessary? (Personal ritual? Group ritual? High-intensity group ritual? Other times?)


I think attention to aftercare is important:
- Any time you are taking people deliberately out of normal consciousness and expecting them to come back (guided meditation, trance, ecstatic dance rituals)

- Any time you are expecting there may be strong emotions (remembering beloved dead at Samhain, a ritual around an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about, etc.)

- Any time there's a lot riding on the ritual (initiations, other one-big-moment sorts of events. Yes, that includes weddings.)

- Any time there is substantial energy being moved and directed (so, maybe not a more celebratory Sabbat ritual, but something like a focused healing ritual, or something else where a lot of intention is being directed very strongly.)

I also think it's important for some people even if those things aren't particularly true: anyone who is doing a Draw Down/possessory work, anyone taking on a major ritual role for the first time as a ritual leader, and anyone who is at their first group ritual at which any kind of energy work gets done.

By 'attention to aftercare', I don't always mean 'make a big deal out of it'. I do mean 'think about it in advance, have some plans ready in case they're needed'. In a ritual with people new to ritual work, or a public ritual where people aren't used to working together, it's a lot more necessary than a group that's been working together for an extended period.

Quote
3) What bits of ritual aftercare do you look for in a competent ritual leader? Which bits don't matter as much to you?


That people leave the ritual less broken than they came in. (Or at least not *worse*, but ideally, in my book, ritual should make things at least a tiny bit better.)

My basic "stuff I plan to do" includes:
- building in a solid way back into the relevant parts of the ritual (not just "everyone remember to ground", but actually walking through something. Depending on the people, this could be really short - 3-4 sentences, or longer.)

- having some time planned between the peak of the ritual and the end of the ritual (so people don't have to leap from deep ritual moments to 'we're done now'.) and between the end of the ritual and when people actually get in cars/go home. (This is why I believe in post-ritual food and social time. Doesn't need to be hours, but it's really handy.)

- have a plan for whatever might reasonably be an issue, based on what you're doing. (Trance work? How would you bring people back? Grounding issues? What are your favorite crash grounding techniques, and do you have any supplies you need for them? People having Major Emotional Experience? Who's good at dealing with that without feeding it and making it worse?)

- checking in with people (or, if there are lots of people, the ones most likely to have problems) afterwards, to see how things went. My trad preferably works with four ritual roles, and it's the job of the Handmaiden and Summoner to do this kind of post-ritual check-in when there's four people. (If there's two, it's the HPS and HP, or someone they designate, like an experienced member of the group.)

- And for especially intense rituals, checking in with everyone relevant the next day or so, to make sure there aren't residual things that need to be dealt with.

Quote
4) Are there aspects of aftercare that you particularly feel strongly about? Things you think are overdone?


I think that good after care, done well, is actually pretty subtle. It should be like a stage manager's job in a play: if everything goes right, you wonder why you needed them. But it's the time when you need it that you want something handy.

It doesn't need to be a big production - a lot of it builds naturally into other steps of what you're doing, or general cleanup type stuff. It doesn't need to be a big fancy "So how are you *really* feeling, dear" thing - just a casual conversation with each person after ritual to make sure they're tracking, eating the way they normally do, not zoning out, etc.

Quote
5) And for those of you who've got experience as teachers or ritual leaders: what do you consider your own obligations to appropriate aftercare to be? Do you still feel some obligation if you're a guest at a ritual (say something large and public?) but not in charge?


I think one of my obligations as a priestess with some level of commitment to the community at large (in the sense that I want there to continue to be one that works better over time) is that if I'm there, and I see a thing that needs help, I need to be prepared to help within reason of my own limits. If I can't do that, I'd rather be somewhere else. (And I have left events when I'd be okay with ritual if nothing went wonky, but too tired to get home safely myself if something did, for example.)

At the same time, I prefer not to step on other people's toes, so most of the time, I'll wait to see if the event leaders do something about it. If they don't, I'll step up. Also if, as I've done in the past, I'm at a ritual with new folks in my group, and know them (and their normal patterns) well enough to notice something's not quite settled, and help them out.
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Re: Ritual aftercare
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2011, 03:41:51 am »
Quote from: Jenett;17212

Please share whatever springs to mind for you:

I think if anything beyond standard ritual after care is needed, then it will become apparent immediately afterwards, which is why it's good having Elders around. I've often found that rubbing my hands together, and flicking my fingers helps shake off some of the extra charges of energy. Most of the people in our coven were required to complete an 11 week course before being taken on for training as a Neophyte, so everyone is familiar with grounding techniques.

Unless it's a Sabbat that occurs on a Sunday, most circles start around 10 p.m, and since we have long feasts, can end at 3, 4, or when the sun comes up. I have to travel too, and most of the time have an 1 1/2 hour drive ahead of me, and most of the time I'm still buzzing with energy that keeps me safely alert during the drive home. Rituals taking place 'between the worlds' always becomes more apparent to me after you've cleaned up, and that sitting room or garden that you transformed for the rite becomes as it was, as if nothing had taken place. Some good conversation, and cups of tea, coffee, or booze for those staying over, or leaving in a cab is always a good way to wrap things up.

One thing I've found, is being of a sound mind beforehand. We have a short rite where all mundane thoughts are extinguished beforehand, but sometimes it's hard when not feeling the best physically. Sometimes I have O.T.O meetings, and coven rituals back to back, and the O.T.O ones can get a little 'messy'. I had one before Midsummer, and every bottle of wine in the house ended up being consumed. Three people were sick, including myself, and we found an empty bottle of cooking sherry mixed in with the others. I had a pounding headache, and could barely keep tea down the next day, in a state that I would normally be sleeping it off the whole day, but I battled throughout the day until the coven members arrived. I thought my head was going to burst when cutting firewood, but I soldiered through, and was able to completely ground myself before the ritual, as to not bring any awkward energies. Since I ignored my body's warning signs in order to do so, I had a week long migraine afterwards, and after going to the doctor on the 4th day of it, had alarmingly high blood pressure for the first time in my life.....so some good after care could also be ensuring proper pre-care.

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