First, a somewhat belated Beltane blessing to all! I hope those of you who observe the holiday had a great celebration, and that we’ve all recovered somewhat from whatever wildness we got up to.
In CAYA’s liturigcal year our Beltane celebration is called the Festival of Bliss and Blessings, which is a title I love (I love all our names for moons and sabbats/esbats). I had not originally signed up to be on the ritual committee for this year’s event, but when a last-minute call for warders went out I happily stepped up (I enjoy warding a lot. That’s another post for another time).
Warding for an ecstatic trance ritual that was, in a sense, a Bacchanalia of sorts was a really interesting experience. I had mentally braced myself for a serious challenge, especially since I knew there would be lots of terrific drumming through the ritual (I came to CAYA after having received initiation in an Afro-Diasporic tradition; drumming is a major trance cue for me), but found it surprisingly easy to ride that razor’s edge of keeping vigilant and helping to maintain a safer ritual space, while still sampling a little of that wild ecstatic energy for myself. Finding myself in a place where warding comes easily is a really good feeling; it feels like not very long ago, I was someone who got caught up in the ritual energy and needed a lot of help to come down and ground again. Hooray, personal growth!
For our ritual this year we chose to call in Pan and Cybele, which I thought was a really fascinating choice. I know very little about Cybele, but from what little I know She would not have been an obvious choice to pair up with such a wild, free-spirited power like Pan. The ritual committee sure knew what they were doing there, though, because they played off each other incredibly. Cybele is the strong walls of the city or the temple, and by calling Her in we helped make our circle a strong, safe place to let down our inhibitions for a while and give ourselves over to our wilder natures. It was a joy and a privilege to look out over the sea of dancing bodies, to see the ecstasy on the faces of the attendees, and to know that I was one of the pillars holding up our temporary temple.
The most interesting and powerful moments of the ritual for me was watching how my own masculine energy interacted with Pan. I found myself feeling extremely protective of the participants in the ritual, in particular the attendees but also the ritual committee too; I felt myself doing the animalistic “I’m going to stand up really straight and puff out my chest to make myself look REALLY BIG!” behavior, as if responding to a challenge from Another Male In My Territory™. I was fully ready, metaphorically and physically, to lock horns with Him if I felt that He was acting out of line or enticing anyone into behavior they would not feel comfortable with (He can be, very persuasive). We take consent, enthusiastic consent, seriously in the CAYAverse; I had been charged with the duty of keeping the revelers safe, and by gods I was going to do it.
Thankfully, He behaved Himself (well, mostly), but there were a few intense moments where we locked eyes and held eye contact with each other for a few beats. Feeling the pull of His magic, but standing firm against it, was an experience I’ll not forget any time soon (also, really fucking hot. Ahem.). I learned some important things about myself, and about my particular flavor of warding. A very blissful blessing, indeed!
In Joyful Service,