Our Lady of the Earth and Sky (OLOTEAS) is a non-denominational Pagan church here in the Seattle area that a Quaker Pagan friend of mine is a member of. She invited me to sing with the chorus for their open, public ritual in August, centered around the current state of the global food system.
So first, there was a rehearsal at my F/friend's house last Wednesday. I know and feel comfortable with her, and so it didn't occur to me that I'd be working with a whole bunch of strangers! Folks quickly put me at ease, and we worked hard and had fun.
The piece we were singing for ritual is "Barge of Heaven," which is recorded on Reclaiming's Second Chants: More Ritual Music. (If you click on the MP3, be warned that it's likely to get stuck in your head.) It's a song I've known for years, but never had the chance to perform, or sing in ritual. So this was a neat opportunity. The plan was for us to sing while the participants were doing a spiral dance. (That part, by the way, was way cool to watch.)
"Barge of Heaven" is also, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, a highly suggestive song. While we of course noticed this, it wasn't until one of our on-site rehearsals that we were communally attacked by fits of laughter. We managed to sing through them, which impressed me to no end. :)
Although we were very focused while singing during ritual, once ritual was over, we found ourselves again overcome by silliness, this time with a need to share. We formed a chorus line, singing while kicking in unison and other silliness, with an appreciative audience egging us on and becoming as breathless with laughter as we were.
It's good to be with folks who can laugh about religion and spirituality. And sex.
There were about 70 people in circle, which I understand is slightly smaller than many OLOTEAS events. Ritual was good, and satisfying. (Something which can be a real challenge with large-group, open/public ritual.)
I found myself really glad to be heading to Meeting for Worship the following morning: I needed quiet worship. In ritual, I often find that I want more extended grounding and centering time after raising energy than is customary in a lot of groups, or than other people in circle with me want or need. Another way in which my Quakerliness makes itself known. :)
So, I had a lovely visit with OLOTEAS folks, and plan to visit again. Folks were warm and welcoming, which helped some with that dreaded introvert feeling of being one new person among a ton of strangers who must all know each other (and really well, too). It was also a real gift to spend so much of my day outside in a lovely place.