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Things Left Behind At My Ordination

As I approached my ordination, I found myself experiencing change in terms of my relationships with allies of the spirit kind. Of particular note was my changing and evolving relationship with Eris, who up until my ordination was one goddess I considered a patron of my work.

Some have pointed to my "glaring omission" of Eris during my ordination rite as a cause for the rain. The person responsible may be correct, but the reputed reason for the response by this deity shows a limited understanding of Eris and my relationship to her. The notion that Eris is vengeful or spiteful in all of this just doesn't fit her modus operandi with me, and anyone who comments to the contrary either doesn't know me, doesn't know Eris, or doesn't know jack about anything.

"Possibly," Eris tells me, "all of the above."

This has been one of the strangest experiences I have had in Paganism, and there isn't a lot of literature out there regarding what happens when you and a deity decide to "break up." Most experiences of leaving deity these days are done not by mutual consent, but by the worshiper of his or her own volition. For many, I imagine the deity who has been broken up with is more likely to say, "he never called after that night," than, "we decided to take a break."

I suspect that monotheistic, Abrahamic deities experience more spiritual one night stands than polytheistic deities, but that has to do with the sheer number of worshipers than it does with the nature of those deities. Still, it's kind of a funny picture to consider YHVH saying, "I don't get it. I mean, I lead them through the desert, give them stone tablets with all the rules they need, provide entire holy books for them. . . heck, I raised my son from the dead for them! Then one day they just stop returning my calls!"

That aside, though, there's nothing good out there on ending a relationship civilly with a deity. Most people get mad at their deities and walk away, and that's how the relationship ends. Others just let the relationship fade through non-maintenance (the "I'm not going to call you back anymore" paradigm). Still others may leave, come back, leave again, and come back again, over and over. No one seems to have a ritual or even a process for ending a relationship with a deity in an open, positive way. Hopefully, I have a model for such a break.

In many ways, this essay is an opportunity for me to reflect on where I have been, what it meant to me, and where I'm going now. It's a chance to take stock in my life and move forward in new ways. I've gone through three major rituals in that fire circle with Eris directly involved and evoked, but this ordination ritual was not one of them.

The first was a dark Friday night, when I stood alone at the Summerland fire circle and gave my Patron Oath eight years ago. It was a simple rite, but deep for me. I spoke to Eris and Esus by the light of the fire, each one responding and reciprocating when I offered to them. I ended the night closer to them than I expected to be.

The second was a bright sunny Saturday, the day following that Patronage Rite. There, I gave my Dedicant Oath, and I treated with Eris in the manner that I would for the entirety of our public relationship: as an outsider at ADF rites. These two nights brought out the two-leveled relationship I had with Eris: in public she was always at arm's length, while in private she was always desperately close at hand.

The third was my consecration as a Dedicant Priest in ADF in 2006: at that ritual, I called out to Eris formally, again as an Outdweller, and asked for her to hear my voice as I recited my oath. I made offerings to here, and further divided the public ritualist that I was to most and the private chaote that I was in my heart. I did this for the good of the folk, and Eris understood, as she always has.

It was my Initiation, though, that began to draw me away from Eris formally. During the vision work of that ritual, I encountered many fabulous things. . . but I did not encounter Eris. As I received new tools from the spirit allies I had, I found that Eris herself had already given me the tools I needed from her: I was a better priest because of her influence early in my life.

Somewhere along the way, in the months while I forced myself to focus and center on the work I would need to do as a Priest, Eris and I came to a new understanding of our relationship. No longer was our relationship one of patronage, but it was now one of quiet friendship and joy in one another. This change was gradual. . . in fact, so gradual, that I did not truly grasp that it had occurred until we were well past the point of no return on it. I like to think that it took her by surprise, too.

So now it has come to pass, that Eris and I are no longer patron-client, but merely friends who talk occasionally on the phone, or when we bump into one another at the market. I'm still a chaote, deep inside, and her lessons remain strong with me, but these things are not who I am to the folk. They are not the lessons I need to bring, nor the tools I need to work with around the folk. They are my inner tools, and they continue to work within me as my heart continues to beat.

I prayed to her on the day of my ordination, asking her to understand, to know that she and her lessons were not forgotten, but also admitting to her the reality of the situation as we both knew it: the relationship had run its course, and we had both moved on. And this was certainly "okay."

When the rains softly fell on my pre-ordination ritual, they drove off the Outdwellers who attended. Eris came to that rite, as was proper.

When Kirk called me forth, and drew me down into the place of ritual, the heavens opened in a torrent of rain. This was not Eris being childish and throwing a tantrum because she felt she had been forgotten or neglected. This was Eris giving her child the best present she knew how to give: a challenge that only his chaotic heart could overcome, a deep joy he could never forget, and a wet robe contest he'd always wanted.

When the rains stopped as I was presented as a Priest of the People, I knew she'd said, "Goodbye. . . for now."

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