To The Fairest
A write-up of GOG's Yule Ritual by HJG
Around 4am during the Samhain vigil, "I" came up with the idea to do an Eris ritual for Yule. We all knew it was a terrible idea and that we were doomed, but it seemed like the inevitable right course. I've never worked with her - I know Jeff has, and Deb has some. I'm on vague aquaintance terms with her, I'd say. Yet I came up with the idea, and I was involved in the planning ritual, and I was the only one available to help Ed and Norma prep on Friday, night, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that she tapped me. On Sat night, the night before the ritual, I started to feel really strongly about an outfit that I would be wearing to the ritual. Then it came to me in dreams. It was pretty risque for a ritual, but all parts were apparently non-negotiable. So Sunday after breakfast, I began my transformation: Pink Cheshire cat boy-cut underwear that always went right up my butt, so functionally a thong My short, cute schoolgirl-esque skirt with pinstripes and red ribbon Knee-high red and black striped stockings Black velvet mary-janes Black velvet low-cup-cut bra Black strappy tank top Corset-laced black fleece armwarms Black velvet scarf Hair up in a bun with black and silver hairsticks Dangly red-and-black star earrings in my lower left hole, solid silver star in my upper left hole, and dangling earth with a tiny star in my right hole Heavy black eye makeup Dark red lipstick
I grinned at myself in the mirror, but it wasn't me grinning. I was Chaos Girl! I was doomed...My skirt was so freaking short that you could see right up it when I bent over, and it showed my entire ass...which didn't embarrass me until Nora thought I wasn't wearing *any* undies. I knew I was dressed for part of the mood - to cause chaos in the male-hormone set. When Jenniforensics showed up in a diaphanous white gown and cape, saying she too had been ordered to wear it, I knew we were a matched set. Ed tried to figure out who was the Good Eris and who was the Bad Eris, but we weren't telling (I honestly didn't know...I think it varied).
I was starting to lose my mind on the way over...through the whole thing, I didn't feel like I was drawing down, exactly. Less than 10 times I said something in her voice. Mostly I felt like she was sitting extremely heavy on me, watching, and fucking up my head something terrible...I drove ok, all the while praying for safety. Norma set me to counting out the utensils, and I couldn't get past 15 before I couldn't hold the numbers in my head anymore. I kept sweating and drinking water and, later, coffee. I couldn't remember what people said or hold conversations. Maggie-Crow asked me how school was going, and my response was something like, "I'm not in school, but it went very well while I was there, got two degrees, yes very well, but I'm not in school anymore. Work is ok, I guess, except it sucks. I'm sorry, I'm not thinking very well right now."
I couldn't really eat beforehand. I'm glad I had anchored my stomach with protein before I'd gotten dressed up at my house. I nibbled here and there, but nothing tasted right or appetizing, except the coffee. I said loudly to Norma right in front of Marc, one of the guys I knew would be admiring my outfit, "This is by far the best thing I've put in my mouth all day." Marc made noises as if to supress comments, and I wickedly grinned, "And I sleep alone." It's not that clever, but believe me, the vibe I sent out more than compensated. Norma heartily approved of the outfit, btw, and told me I didn't know how much I was showing. I assured her I did - I'd checked in the mirror at home. I floated nervously through the time beforehand, greeting everybody...I'm afraid my account is going to be pretty fuzzy. I was also drafted to sell raffle tickets for our "Chtulu for Yulu." Norma had dressed a miniature stuffed Cthulu gorgeously with a blonde curly wig, a toga with falsies, and a sparkly golden thong. We called him/her Ctheris/Discordulu - "Be the first to be eaten when Cthulu rises because you put him in a skirt!" I had fun selling it, but sadly, I didn't win - I haven't won a raffle yet, damnit. It went to Marc, who'd better enjoy it.
We had a fuscia tinsel tree for the bile and flashing pink lights for the fire and red vitamin water for the well. Ed and I had cut out lots of little snowflakes and written words on them taken by bibliomancy at the planning meeting. Each invoker had to pick a word and center their invokation around that. I was doing Earth Mother. Norma had wanted me to start off silly, and also to set precedent for weaving the word into the invokation. Debra/Sandrock had brought a squeezable earth to help me out. We also had a script to tell The One Known Story About Eris (the one with the golden apple) that Jeff had written. Norma and Ed and I had had a ball making the nametags, and Norma had extra-fun casting.
Eris (Jeff) - The E and S were all severe lines, the I
was a candle, and the R was all swirly. I'd also cut out a golden
apple from the gold paper and written "Kallisti" on it and stuck
it to her sign.
Jack rang the bell to give us the clear opening. The bell was a Tibetan
singing bowl, I think, and it had stuff in it, so the chime came out all
wobbly instead of pure, which was appropriate. Norma intoned, "We
are here to honor the Gods," immediately following by ethereal clanking
and shouting. Ed was hiding in the basement, and it was his job to punctuate
the ritual. Everyone was surprised and awed and amused by the weird sounds.
He also periodically poked up 6 flags through the hole in the floor:
It was my job to start off with the Earth Mother. My snowflake-word was "beautiful," which was easy, except that I was expressedly forbidden to do a New Agey syrupy invokation. I picked up the earth ball and hopped around and sang, "The Earth Mother is soooo beautiful, I just want to squeeze her and hug her and love her" and a heckler added, "and take her home and name her George," which was the bit I had forgotten. But then I told people to look at all the political labels rushing together and bumping up to one another and how there was all this chaos going on, but it was beautiful chaos, and this is where I really felt Eris talking. "Can you imagine how BORING "The Illiad" would be if there never was a Trojan War? And "The Odyssey" never would have happened! Chaos causes Beauty!" I got some laughs, and a sense of contentment from Eris.
Norma tried to do the meditation, but it was hard with the under-floor heckling. She told us we'd all chosen to be there, to bear the kiss of Eris, that it was our choice. She'd had to work "kiss" in there somehow. I tried closing my eyes and concentrating at first, but it just wasn't going to happen, so this is one of the few meditations I had my eyes open for.
Then came the directions, and Ed came stomping up from the basement. He was wearing gloves and a bit of orange taffeta from the flags sticking out of his pocket and a nametag. He grumbled about how everything was all wrong and he made a bunch of people change seats and move around. Then, proclaiming it better, he stomped away. It was wonderful!
Mischa had the well, and he went on and on about fire, which somehow worked. I think his word was "fire." Hearing Mischa intone is always a treat, so that's mostly what I remember.
Then came fire...Betty...and...I don't remember the invokation at all. I remember Norma nervously wiping off the electrical connectors on her skirt and plugging in the lights. Nothing happened, and then it did, and the tree lights blinked on and off. The audiences "yay"d and "oh"d with the blinking until they got tired of it.
Then the tree...and...total blank.
Blue, who works with Hermes, asked him to be our gatekeeper. He's vain,
so we all had to sing him a song three times:
I got a sense of a youngish man tinged blue with curly dark hair smiling happily/impishly. He seemed to be hovering over the tree, and only from the torso up. The gates opened, but it seemed like it took about 10 seconds from the time we said, "Let the gates be open!" to when I felt them open. Also, the gates broke Ed's Casio keyboard. He was going to do a grand organ, but instead it just went "plink." Rulin'.
And then the muses...or maybe the Outsiders?
Norma delighted in doing the Outsiders offering, as since it was Eris, the outsiders were in and the insiders were out, and since all the other rituals this year cleaned out her altar, she could actually tell the Shining Ones to "Go wait on the fucking porch!" Awesome. Norma's word was "sanctuary" and she told them there wasn't any.
Then we had 3 representitives to do the nine muses - Jenniforensics led, and then there was Daphne and Tiffanny. They had "dream," "mortal," and...I forget. I only really remember Jen's invokation, as she was doing the muse of tragedy. But it was a neat effect to have all three of them kneeling on the floor in the center of the room. Then...the kindreds. Deb/Sandrock did the ancestors. It was really sad because she was saying how chaos of life overwhelms people and we have to reach out to them and not let them become ancestors before their time. Even though Ed was doing sound effects, cuz he couldn't hear what was going on, everyone just tuned them out and focused on Deb. Her word was "listen."
Brice got picked to do nature spirits, and his word was "fertility," which he immediately thrust in the air. All the women recoiled and covered their uteruses (uteri?), as most women in our grove are nowhere near ready to conceive or are already done. He said some other stuff about winter and spring and fertility, but I was too busy protecting my reproductive system and making a mental note to be sure to get my birth control shot on time.
Finally, Nora did the gods and goddesses...her clue was "little mortal," so she did some variation on the "I'm a little teapot" song that I couldn't possible reproduce. It was tres cool.
Before we invoked Eris, we acted out the play. Half the ritual attendants were cast. The best part was little mousey shy Kristen squeaking out, "Hear me, for I am Zeus, the thunderer," etc. We all cracked up for about 5 minutes before she could get the line out. The rest of the play was fine and fun, especially Chuck's falsetto as he did Aphrodite (he's a big, grey-haired, Harley-riding-looking guy) and Mischa's pull-no-punches stentorian Athena.
With her story told, Jeff came out to do Eris. He'd cropped his hair short and shaved and was wearing a suit for the part. He talked about how he thinks the gods invented us, not the other way around, which isn't a popular theory these days. And about how we think the Erisian version of something is out of the ordinary but really it's the other way around. And how gods need their own entropy, their own chaos, or they'd stagnate, so she's a vital force in the world. He said other wonderful things, too.
The floor opened for praise, and I jumped up and did a faux-tapdance,
then read the limerick I'd written (with some help from Jeff) because
Eris had asked for a structured poem from me:
There was some serious praise, which started to bore me/Eris. I.e. Chaos is great, I love you, you're the best, we need you, thank you. Dull. Marc got things moving by having everyone sing a different line of "Row row row your boat," which was cool and effective. Jeff talked about how he'd dedicated his life to Eris, and got down on his knees and screamed that she was a fucking bitch. Quietly, speaking as Eris, I replied, "You're welcome." Jenniforensics talked about how Eris was giving her random rings. Norma read a Bukowski poem, and Ed recited a poem he'd written "in college" (which I think is a euphemism for "on acid") that suddenly came back into his head. Mischa started reading from the Bible and I let his words rolls over me like perfect thunder, and he was reading the story of Noah, but I noticed it started to change, and I realized he'd rewritten the story in Bible language but this time the jealous neighbors clubbed the righteous man god chose and instead elected their father, Noah, and said they'd write the history, so no one would know different, and they let the serpent on board (I'm not familiar with the Bible, so I don't know about the serpent thing, but I'm pretty sure the original version has Noah being the actual righteous man).
Peggy scryed for the omen from a randomly generated bitmap website. She saw an angel with a candle and a reindeer. I'm pretty sure the message was "Merry Christmas," but the seer's interpretation is that the angel is lighting our way and the reindeer is flying dreams so we're all supposed to fly free, I think.
We wound down with the waters of life. Norma didn't bother going through the whole lines, as we just gave the response after a few words. We thanked everyone and tried to close the gates.
My job was to get a plate of food for Blue, but I was feeling pretty out of it myself. I got her a plate, and then wandered around aimlessly. I tried eating a pig in a blanket, but I was SO not ready for food. I remembered coffee had tasted good, so I made more coffee. It was hard because of all the counting of tablespoons and whatnot. I had a hard time keeping anything in my head.
We had the awful gift exchange, which Jenniforensics and EdnNorma arranged like a museum exhibit. They had all sorts of cool tags mocking famous artists, most of which I didn't remotely get. I took too long because my head hurt to think, but I settled on a not-totally-ugly mug full of mint hershey's kisses. And then I managed to give away the mug and keep the chocolate, which made me happy. Somewhere in there, I also got down 2 pieces of lasagna, so I knew I was ok for food. I also ate the Chuck-dip for a while, as long as my stomach held up.
But then I started fading out again sometime later. I needed to go outside sometimes even though it was snowing and I had nothing on my legs. It was snowing! My first snow since being back east - so happymaking!
The people got to be too much and I hid with the guinea pig for a while. then it calmed down and I was ok to be there for a bit and hang out. Finally I started feeling out of place, and a little like I was coming down again. I left nineish. A lot of people had left. There was still a bunch of younger people left, but I didn't feel so at home there. It was my energy/feeling, not the crowd. I was going to drive over to the West End to meet my exbf - in that outfit - to give him a study break. West End was normally within walking distance, but it was snowing and I was out of it and I wasn't wearing much under my winter coat.
Nora was blocking me in the driveway, and we had an oh-shit moment as she couldn't find her keys. I was really worried cuz something *really* bad had happened to someone who was at the ritual that day, and I was certain her keys were locked in her car. But I kept saying we'd just go out and look if they were there and if they were, we could worry. The good news is her keys were in her car and her door was unlocked cuz her chaos lasagna had exploded and they were cleaning it out earlier. She was freaked out, but I was just relieved cuz after all, her car was fine and we didn't need a locksmith.
I drove over to the coffeehouse and got a good spot and didn't hit anybody. I was pretty disoriented at first, but I had a super-sugary milk steamer and calmed down. I also got a lot of funny looks - viva la chaos! After almost 3 hours, I got *really* tired. I had suggested going for food, but he wasn't hungry, and I didn't think I was either.
I thought I'd go to bed when I got home, but I made a mad dash to the kitchen and also to shed my clothes. I couldn't get undressed fast enough or eat fast enough. I downed lots of salty food and protein and I finally started to feel better. But then I couldn't sleep for a while.
I went to visit Coyote before bed, and he actually told me to stay where I was and he'd come down to me, which almost never happens. So I stayed there and he said I was completely and utterly drained from carrying Eris as long as I had, and she'd taken everything I had. I tried hard to ground, and I almost couldn't. I got one tenuous little root into the cold ground, and that helped some. While I slept, I think Coyote was also helping my in my dreams (posted in my dream journal).
I woke up before my alarm and felt vaguely ok. I did AM yoga, but I actually felt more tired the more I did, when it's supposed to be the other way around. I called out sick to work and went back to bed. This time, I remembered to scrub off the chaos sigils I'd had drawn on in Sharpie the night before (the circle with arrows in and a smily face on my right arm, courtesy of Nora, and a pentagon with an apple in it on my left, from Ed). As I lay there, Coyote tried to get me to ground more, and I just couldn't. It was too cold and hard (the temperature dropped to 10 degrees yesterday and today - it'd been around 40 this week) and I was soooo nauseous. So finally he tried to get me just to soak up the sun, as it was shining really brightly and my room faces east, and that worked ok, so finally I slept and was able to recharge.
I slept another four hours and when I woke up, I was able to ground and do the two powers meditation. But it was scary how empty I'd been, so empty that Coyote was being *nice* and *solicitous.* Norma's policy is not to force-ground people if at all possible, but to let them take the ride as long as they could, and I really felt my limits. I've gotten drained from trancing before, but then it was exacerbated by chemical depression. This was just carrying someone for way longer than I could bear. That was my tithe to chaos, I suppose. I'm just glad that, as far as I can tell, she's not after me on a long term basis.
But, you know, I looked really hot yesterday.