December 6, 2003
Last night was Beth's Fire ceremony night. In the end, it turned out to be a special kind of Despacho and a Fire ceremony. I participated in Despacho only. Instead of it being an Ayni Despacho, seeking harmony and balance, it was a release Despacho ritual to release all worries, fears and concerns. I put in four specific worries [detailed in Aver's Paradox] into the despacho bundle. It was really hard for me. For the first time in years, I shed tears in front of strangers as well as acquaintances. Also, in the kitchen, after the bundle was done, I gave Beth a hug. It was needed. I just didn't know how much so until I went to let go and she didn't. She just held on and that broke a bit of the dam inside me. I cried a bit on her shoulder, too.
I stayed inside as about half of the group went out to burn the despacho bundle and perform the Fire ceremony. As the time went on, I feel better and better. More at ease and comfortable. We sat around and talked about all sorts of things. It was really good. When Lori and David came back in, Lori shared a bit of her feelings with me. Later we headed home.
Since my computer was a casualty in the ongoing weather woes are currently having up here and I didn't have the energy to fix it last night, I did a bit of thinking and, call it psychosomatic if you want, but I felt so much better and so much less worried. So, I gave my sweetie a call and had an excellent, long talk. It was really good talking with him. I've missed him, his easy companionship and those talks.
The above is oddly synchronized with something I posted a couple days ago in SecularSpirit and got a marvelous response from Thea.
"The fine art of casual ritual is suffering in this country." - Mark Morford
I know I've been damn near silent in this community since it started. But, as I really like the topic and those in the community, I've hung on. The quote above really struck me as amazingly profound and true.
I never thought of the "Buffy" nights as a ritual. But, now that I think back on it, it had many of the same habits that rituals had. A specific name. A specific time and place for people to gather to do a specific activity that rarely changed. There was the specific consuming of pizza and drinks. There was the pre-event gathering to share and visit. It was a good event for new people to join to integrate themselves into the group. Finally, it was based around a topic that some people felt passionate about while others came more for the social aspect of it.
Boy, if that doesn't sound like church, I don't know what does.
We - people as a whole - by nature, are creatures of habit as well as social beings. [There are, of course, exceptions to this. But I'm not talking about them right now.] Even people who are generally misanthropic have their small group of favored friends they like to be social with. We like to come together for a common purpose - be it gaming, TV, sewing, poker games or what have you. It gives these friends a stronger bond through time spent together and common interest.
Once I moved to Seattle, I was fairly quick to restart the "casual ritual" of "Buffy" night with "Angel and Anime" night since Buffy was over and done with. It was something that Hans and I discussed as important in a social sense. We would miss our friends still in CA, but we would gather new friends in this regular casual ritual of [A] (short hand for A-squared) night. It is already working as we wanted it to. I have met a couple new people through [A] night, one of whom has become a gaming partner. Because, as one knows, there are commonalities within those people who like Angel - such as gaming.
In general, the idea of the "casual ritual" suddenly explains a lot of social norms to me and why some people attend certain regular functions with "religious" regularity - even if they don't enjoy it as much as they once did.
I believe, as Mark Morford does, that the fine art of the casual ritual is suffering. I also believe, it is changing. He is right in the fact that the internet is isolating people and keeping them in their homes. I do know that internet can, while making it easier to deal with people online, make it harder for people to deal with other in a face to face manner. But, at the same time, I do not believe he has taken into account the casual ritual of online gatherings. Guild meetings in the various MMORPGs, IRC role playing channels and topic channels, communities like Live Journal and E-Z boards. A regular weekly online gathering in Everquest to discuss Guild issues then go hunt monsters is a casual ritual.
The internet is not the only thing to blame for the loss of casual ritual. I believe TV is, too, despite it being the catalyst for my casual ritual. Most people watch TV alone, in the privacy of their home. There is little interaction with other people about it except in idle chit-chat the next day.
I know there are other factors - longer working hours, less community spirit and crime rates that all contribute to the ending of casual rituals. But, I can't help but think that perhaps, because of all these factors, the concept of the casual ritual is morphing to fit the times that there are more out there than I'm thinking of.
I actually made a bunch of Christmas gifts this year. I'm quite proud of myself for that. I just hope everyone likes them. I am completely done with the major parts of Christmas shopping. Hopefully, I'll actually get my New Year's letter out to people.
Tarot Card for the Day: The Devil