On February 16, 2020, I had the honor of being Elevated to Senior Priest at Pantheacon in San Jose, California. I have spent the past 6 years studying, researching, writing, and doing the work. It's hard to believe that I've now completed the Clergy Training Program. I have received so many kind words and so much support from my friends and community. I love this community and, while I don't know exactly what the future holds, I'm excited to see what comes next.
I do want to take a few minutes to reflect on the ritual itself and my experience with elevation. I was elevated during the official ADF rite at Pantheacon on Sunday evening. Because my primary hearth is Hellenic, we (those of us who were planning the ritual together) decided to do a ritual for peace honoring Eirene, the Greek goddess of peace and new growth in spring. I was responsible for several parts of the ritual, including calling the being of occasion, as well as honoring Hestia at the beginning of our rite, beginning our praise offerings with my own personal offerings, performing the main ritual omen, and completing my final oath. However, all of the remaining parts were filled by friends and fellow-ADF members, and Rev. Jean 'Drum' Pagano acted as our ringleader. Overall, we had more than 50 members in attendance, and I couldn't be more pleased with how things went. I will warn you now, this may be a VERY long post.
We began our ritual with a description of an ADF rite, followed by an audio purification, using the ringing of a bell 9 times while processing around the room to make the space pure and set the tone. This method of purification seemed to help focus everyone in the room and began the focusing process. We then followed a beautiful two powers meditation to ground and center us all. I had the privilege of honoring Hestia at that point. Hestia is a deity that I have honored in each one of my oath rites, and it felt amazing to stand in front of new people and honor her once more. I called to her as the goddess of the hearth, and the center of community. She brings a warmth to my life that I would be lost without. While I don't have the exact wording for my call to her, typically it looks something like this:
We then honored the Earth Mother and called to the Spirits of Inspiration, which I most certainly felt throughout the rest of the ritual. Words seemed to almost fall from my mouth effortlessly. As someone who regularly battles anxiety and stage-fright, I was fearless. I actually texted my partner after the ritual "that was 100% the best ritual performance I have ever done. I'm so proud of myself right now." I am typically my harshest critic, remembering every missed word or stumble, and in that moment I felt none of that. I am so grateful for the wonderful memory and experience.
The ritual continued, cosmos recreated, gates opened with Hermes as our Gatekeeper, and the Kindreds were invited. I loved watching my community in those moments, some effortlessly performing, others you could see were nervous but pushing past to "do the thing" and I was so proud of each and every one of them.
It was then my turn once again to speak, and call forth Eirene, goddess of peace & new growth. Our ritual so far had been about new beginnings and harmony. I had planned a script that I expected to have to read...but in that moment the words just came and I called to Eirene as if we were old friends. I was moved by her presence and felt enormous joy calling her to our ritual. Again, I don't know the exact words I spoke, but this is the brief script I had intended to base my words upon. It's simple, but effective.
I then had the honor of beginning the Praise Offerings by giving my personal offerings to Athena, the goddess I have been devoted to since I was a child. I thanked her for the many gifts that I receive in my relationship with her. It was the one moment in the ritual that I truly felt on the verge of tears...but they were emotions of gratitude, and that is beautiful. I didn't cry, but I definitely knew I could in that moment. I then got to watch as 50 people made their own offerings and share their own gratitude with everyone who joined us. It was powerful to see so much love poured into our offering bowl. I'm glad we took the time to do so. The music played was peaceful and beautiful, and I felt a moment of "this is my home" that was a wonderful reminder. Drum then made our Prayer of Sacrifice, and I took out my Greek Alphabet Oracle, and knelt upon the ground to take my omen, using my dress as my altar. This is my "normal" stance for public ritual, but it had been so long that it was humbling to find myself in that stance, speaking for the Kindred. Below is the omen that I received for our ritual:
With the omen given, Drum called, hallowed, and affirmed the blessings, sharing them with all in attendance who wished to take part. And then, it was time for us to get to work. For the Elevation of a Senior Priest, there are three major pieces of the working:
1) Naming of all Senior Priests
2) The Oath
3) Laying on of Hands
I began by naming each of the Senior Priests who were elevated before me, and giving a very short bit of information on what I have received from each of them:
It was then that Drum took an omen for my Elevation:
I once more placed my hands upon the Arch Druid's sickle, and spoke the oath of the ADF priest, re-affirming my dedication to this path:
"I pledge to love the land, serve the folk, and honor the Gods. To this, I dedicate my hands, my heart, and my head."
It was moving for me to speak those words once again. At this point, the ritual participants, lead by Drum, shared their love, support, and well-wishes with me through intonation. I am so grateful for all of those people who took part, friends, family, strangers...it was a powerful moment and filled my heart with joy.
From there, it was time to wrap up our ritual. We thanked the beings, closed the gate, and ended our rite once more with the ringing of the bell. I received many well wishes and affirmations. People took photos of the omens and altars, and me. It was truly a wonderful experience and I couldn't have been more pleased.
Thank you to every person who has sent me congratulations since my Elevation, and to each and every one of you who supported me along the way. There are no words to express how much it means to me. I know I wouldn't be where I am today without my community.